Donít cop out on health care

March 29, 2014

Rutland Herald

By: JUDY and MICHAEL OLINICK, Middlebury

We urge Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell to resume his essential leadership role in bringing guaranteed, publicly funded health care to all Vermonters through implementation of Act 48.

Senator Campbell was a hero in the marriage equality struggle, with which Vermont will always be proudly associated as the first state whose legislature freely recognized this basic human right.

Health care for all is another fundamental human right, and again Vermont is poised to show the way for the country.

Single-payer care differs from marriage equality in requiring complicated funding; but the question must be how — not whether — we will do it. We need strong leadership and single-minded focus from our legislators, not a search for another path in case this one is uncomfortably challenging. We chose this path for excellent reasons, and we must remember that it is the only one that will get us to our goal.

It is demonstrated fact that comparable countries have better medical outcomes at far lower cost than we do. Their citizens not only enjoy longer, healthier lives, but they are spared the battles with insurance companies and threatened financial catastrophe that torment millions of Americans when they become ill. If publicly funded systems work for other countries, they can work for us, just as Medicare does.

Obamacare, like civil unions, offers genuine improvements over an intolerable status quo. But neither is “the real thing” — marriage equality and guaranteed universal health care — for which there are no substitutes. We must remind our governor and legislators that Vermont is counting on them to make single-payer a reality and not to give up when faced with genuinely tough financing questions. Senator Campbell, don’t desert us when we are so close to this huge achievement.