Editorials and Op-Eds

Make Primary Care Free For All
April 03, 2016

For the past 25 years, Vermont has searched for ways to better manage health care costs. In all that time a solution — one that has worked everywhere it has been tried — has been overlooked: Make primary care free to all.Primary care is the care received from family doctors and pediatricians and, in Vermont, includes mental health care and substance abuse treatment. Where it is freely accessible it improves the health of a population and the quality of health care while lowering over...

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Make Primary Care Free For All
March 20, 2016

 Vermont DiggerEditor’s note: This commentary is by Deborah Richter, M.D., a practicing physician who lives in Montpelier.For the past 25 years, Vermont has searched for ways to better manage health care costs. In all that time a solution – one that has worked everywhere it has been tried – has been overlooked: Make primary care free to all.Primary care is the care received from family doctors and pediatricians and, in Vermont, includes mental health care and substance abu...

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Opinion: Primary Care For All
February 02, 2016

Burlington Free Press A publicly financed universal health care system (single payer) removes health insurers as the “middleman,” reduces administrative complexity and paperwork costs, and by removing barriers to health care, gets us to the doctor earlier, when our conditions are less serious.Although Gov. Shumlin pressed the pause button on single payer in 2014, it is worth asking if we can still make progress toward the goal of health care as a public good originally enacted i...

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Primary Care for All
January 10, 2016

Rutland HeraldA publicly financed universal health care system (single-payer) removes health insurers as the middleman, reduces administrative complexity and paperwork costs and by removing barriers to health care gets us to the doctor earlier, when our conditions are less serious.Although Gov. Peter Shumlin pressed the pause button on single payer in 2014, it is worth asking if we can still make progress toward the goal of health care as a public good, originally enacted in Act 48 (passed by th...

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Health insurers prey upon those in need
August 05, 2015

Rutland HeraldThis is a letter that I wrote to the Green Mountain Care Board as a follow-up to testimony that I gave at the public hearing on July 29 in Montpelier concerning a request by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont for yet another rate increase.Green Mountain Care Board:As I said at the hearing, I implore you to deny BC/BS Vermont a rate increase of any amount.First of all, they received a 7.7 percent increase last year, and are requesting a rate increase for this year of 7.2 percent;...

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Our Opinion: Health care should be a birthright
July 30, 2015

Bennington BannerBy Bennington BannerAs the nation marks the 50th anniversary of Medicare the discussion of expanding the program and offering universal health care is resurfacing.It's not a new debate. Fifty years before Medicare's enactment, progressives had fought unsuccessfully for universal, government-provided health insurance, wrote Nancy Altman, founding co-director of Social Security Works, for the Huffington Post.In 1912, President Theodore Roosevelt's Progressive Party platform advoca...

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Opinion: Need more than Obamacare ruling
July 01, 2015

Burlington Free PressLast week the U.S. Supreme Court upheld subsidies for buying private health insurance in states with federally-run marketplaces or exchanges.The court's decision has been an enormous relief for the millions of people who stood to lose access to coverage had the subsidies been revoked, and is seen as a vindication of Obamacare. However, many people with health care issues are asking whether it's time to move beyond Obamacare's market-based insurance system — in which su...

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Affordable Care Act is not enough
June 29, 2015

Brattleboro ReformerLast week's Supreme Court decision upholding a provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allowing states using the federal exchanges for health insurance to continue receiving subsidies seems like a major victory on the surface. The real story is much more complicated.It is a good thing that about 16 million Americans will be able to continue to afford health insurance because of subsidies based on their income. Cutting them off just because a powerful group of Republicans d...

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Affordable Care Act is not enough
June 29, 2015

Brattleboro ReformerLast week's Supreme Court decision upholding a provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allowing states using the federal exchanges for health insurance to continue receiving subsidies seems like a major victory on the surface. The real story is much more complicated.It is a good thing that about 16 million Americans will be able to continue to afford health insurance because of subsidies based on their income. Cutting them off just because a powerful group of Republicans d...

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UVM medical center and concierge hospitality
June 10, 2015

VT Digger Editor’s note: This commentary is by Dr. Anna Carey, who lives in Burlington and works at a family practice in Cambridge. UVM’s presentation to the Green Mountain Care Board of its “Inpatient Bed Replacement Project” has four objectives. Quality: To meet the first objective, the University of Vermont Medical School intends to build “a new inpatient building that is highly patient-centered.” As a family doctor in Cambridge, I am familiar with this ...

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Why this American doctor has decided to move to Canada
May 01, 2015

Although this OpEd is not about Vermont, it is a good illustration of how a single payer system allows providers to focus on taking care of patients rather than doing battle with insurance companies:The Record:I'm a U.S. family physician who has decided to relocate to Canada. The hassles of working in the dysfunctional health-care system in the U.S. have simply become too intense.I'm not alone. According to a physician recruiter in Windsor, over the past decade more than 100 U.S. doctors have re...

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Health insurance system is all about profit
April 22, 2015

Health insurance system is all about profit : Times Argus Online$587,206. That’s what Blue Cross Blue Shield CEO Don George made last year — before his bonus.That makes Don George one of the highest paid executives in the state of Vermont and puts him at the top of the state’s 1 percent.BCBS’ six other executives made between $270,000 and $350,000 before bonuses last year, putting many of them in the 1 percent too.Seems like a lot of money to pay the top executives at Ve...

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Doctor Deb\'s new prescription
April 02, 2015

A Vermont Journal: Doctor Deb's New Prescription March 25, 2015 by Hamilton E. Davis One of the most important principles underpinning health care reform in Vermont is the proposition that health care financing should be separated from employment. If you lose your job, or if your employer doesn’t pay for health insurance, that shouldn’t leave you without access to health care. That principle was one of the victims of Governor Peter Shumlin’s decision last December to sc...

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Ron Krupp: Medicare for all
April 02, 2015

VT Digger:  Stephen Brill’s new book “Bitter Pill” further elaborates on his Time Magazine article in spring 2013 entitled, “America’s Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us.” Brill explains in detail why hospitals are a big part of the problem. The University of Vermont Medical Center, formerly called Fletcher Allen, offers services at prices that bear little relationship to costs. Heart bypass surgery costs $9,319 in Argentina and an average...

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Lack of primary care can be deadly
March 31, 2015

Rutland Herald: Although the governor put single payer on hold, this does not mean Vermont cannot move toward this goal in other ways. The misnamed Affordable Care Act cannot, and will not, do this job.Perhaps a more appropriate nomenclature for the ACA (or Obamacare, as it is known) would be the analogy given to it by Mr. Wendell Potter, former vice president of Cigna health insurance company. It is, as he said, “The Insurance Industry Profit Protection and Enhancement Act.” As...

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Pushing to help health profiteers
March 28, 2015

Rutland Herald: How do you kill a bull with a red rag? Wendy Wilton (“Getting facts on health exchange,” March 22) knows how: You wave it in the bull’s face and while he rages at it, you stab him between the shoulder blades.Wilton’s recent piece on questions the state auditor should ask about Vermont Health Connect is once again the red rag in our face. Her larger purpose is revealed in this: “Three years ago, I concluded a single-payer health care system would...

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Primary Care is a Good Start
March 13, 2015

Vermont Standard“This is not reformism and being incremental in the Obamacare vein by any stretch of the imagination because it is a change in our current system of looking at health care as a private commodity. Instead, these bills would establish health care as a public good and for everyone, regardless of age, income, job status or any other life circumstance.” — Ellen Oxfeld of Vermont Healthcare for AllLast week in the column it was mentioned that there were bills in the V...

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Primary care legislation a good place to start
February 18, 2015

VT Digger: Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Ellen Oxfeld, a member of the boards of the single payer advocacy groups Vermont Health Care for All and Vermont Leads. She lives in Middlebury. Two new bills (H.207 and S.88) have been introduced with tri-partisan co-sponsorship (Democrat, Republican and Progressive in the House version). They hold the promise of getting Vermont back on track in creating a system where health care is a public good for all Vermonters. They do so by starting ...

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Falko Schilling: The fight for health care goes on
January 27, 2015

Vermont Digger: Editor’s note: This commentary is by Falko Schilling, who is a consumer protection advocate with the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. Recently we’ve seen all sorts of conspiracy theories about why Gov. Shumlin decided to shelve his top legislative priority – the universal health care plan. As one who worked closely with citizens, advocates, policy makers and the administration to advance this plan in concept, I’m not buying some of the most strid...

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Payroll tax will contain rising premiums
January 25, 2015

Rutland Herald: As someone who for the past 25 years has owned, advised or worked closely with a Vermont business, I know firsthand how confusing our health care system is for employers.But here’s the most confusing aspect of all: Over the past three years, hospital budget growth has been kept at 3 percent, the lowest rate in 40 years. However, many private insurance premiums have risen way beyond that rate over that same time period. How can that be? The answer is the cost shift.Here...

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Why payroll tax is a good thing
January 20, 2015

St.Albans Messenger: As someone who for the past 25 years has owned, advised or worked closely with a Vermont business, I know firsthand how confusing our health care system is for employers. But here’s the most confusing aspect of all: Over the past three years, hospital budget growth has been kept at 3 percent, the lowest rate in 40 years. However, many private insurance premiums have risen way beyond that rate over that same time period. How can that be? The answer is the cost shif...

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Unfair charge on healthcare decision
January 20, 2015

Times Argus: The decision to not move forward with a public financing system for health care in Vermont was an incredibly difficult one, and it was not taken lightly. The charge that we essentially cooked the books for political purposes is both absurd and insulting.There are many difficult trade-offs in designing a new health care system that affects the lives of almost all Vermonters. It is neither fair nor borne out by serious scrutiny of our plan and the documents we released with it to...

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Single payer's time will come
January 11, 2015

Rutland Herald: Gov. Peter Shumlin's decision to suspend moving forward on the financing package for single payer in the coming legislative session does not mean that the dream of health care as a public good in Vermont is dead.At his press conference announcing his decision not to pursue single-payer financing in 2015, the governor stated that "now is not the right time." But he also made clear that Vermonters must not abandon the goal of universal publicly financed health care s...

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Health care decision no surprise
January 01, 2015

Addison County Independent:Gov. Shumlin announced last Wednesday that “it is not the right time” to introduce a single-payer health care system in Vermont. He said he would not propose such a plan to the Legislature in 2015.A version of a financing plan for single-payer that was leaked to the press earlier this month received a strongly negative reaction, so the governor’s decision to abandon further action is not a surprise.The leaked reports were based on information provided...

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Terry Doran: Shumlin never said ‘never’
December 22, 2014

Vermont Digger: Editor’s note: This commentary is by Terry Doran, who is co-author (with Con Hogan and Deb Richter) of “At the Crossroads: The Future of Health Care in Vermont” and “Gridlock: The Unhealthy Politics of Health Care in Vermont.” He lives in Montpelier. It’s no surprise that Gov. Shumlin decided against presenting a financing plan for a universal health care system to the Legislature. Practically speaking, the numbers were unfavorable. Polit...

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Shumlin: ‘This is discouraging news’
December 21, 2014

Rutland Herald: Last week, I made one of the most difficult decisions of my public life when I announced that I cannot support a move to a publicly financed health care system in Vermont at this time. I have advocated for such a system for much of my public life, but over the past two weeks, it has become clear to me that the risks and economic shocks of moving forward at this time are too great. To understand why I came to that conclusion, it’s important that Vermonters understand t...

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Sterling: We must keep trying
December 21, 2014

Rutland Herald: The governor shocked the political world this past Wednesday by announcing his administration is no longer supporting a tax package to publicly finance health care. The plan had been to eliminate insurance companies and the roughly $3 billion we Vermonters pay them each year in the form of deductibles, premiums, co-pays, etc., with an approximately $2 billion package of taxes to fund the nation’s first universal health care system. I truly believe the governor and his...

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Richter: Single payer is not dead
December 21, 2014

Rutland Herald: I moved to Vermont more than 15 years ago to practice medicine and to engage in an educational, and ultimately political effort to achieve universal, publicly funded health care in one small state. The prospect of such reform happening at the federal level had always seemed very dim. The prospect just got dimmer in Vermont, but I am not giving up. I am a primary-care physician. I help my patients to the extent I can, but there is little I can do when someone can’t aff...

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Health care shock
December 19, 2014

Rutland Herald Editorial: Gov. Peter Shumlin upended Vermont politics Wednesday when he announced he would abandon his plan to introduce single-payer health care in the coming year. He crushed the hopes of supporters and touched off a jubilant round of I-told-you-sos among opponents. The upshot is that, for now, establishment of a publicly financed, universal health care system for the state will not happen.Shumlin always promised that if the numbers didn’t add up, he would not pursue...

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Time for single-payer re-education
December 16, 2014

Brattleboro Reformer: One of the primary reasons that Vermont is poised to become the first state to enact a single-payer health insurance system is because of about 25 years of grass-roots activism. A solid core of single-payer supporters have created the foundation that Gov. Shumlin and the Legislature can now build upon.Over the years, those activists have made it their mission to educate and re-educate the public about the details and implications of a single-payer system. That effort h...

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Balanced plan for health care
December 14, 2014

 Rutland Herald: Vermont has long been a leader in providing quality health care coverage, and now we have an opportunity as a state to demonstrate how to deliver an affordable and comprehensive universal health care system. This system could potentially save Vermonters half a billion dollars a year in overall health care costs, which is great news for small businesses. Currently, it’s estimated that Vermonters spend about $2.7 billion annually on health care premiums and out-o...

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JIM MASLAND: HEALTH CARE REFORM CAN’T WAIT
December 14, 2014

Vermont Digger: Editor’s note: Rep. James Masland, a Democrat, lives in Thetford and has represented District 2 in Windsor and Orange counties since 1998. He was director of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns from 1991 to 1998.The Vermont Legislature is poised to begin the task of reviewing and evaluating the advisability a financing plan proposed by the administration for Green Mountain Care, a publicly funded universal health care system. Green Mountain Care is the statutory name for...

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MAIN STREET ALLIANCE: YES TO A BALANCED PLAN FOR UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE
December 10, 2014

 VT Digger: Vermont has long been a leader in providing quality health care coverage, and now we have an opportunity as a state to demonstrate how to deliver an affordable and comprehensive universal health care system. This system could potentially save Vermonters half a billion dollars a year in overall health care costs, which is great news for small businesses. Currently, it’s estimated that Vermonters spend about $2.7 billion annually on health care premiums and out-of-pock...

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The crucial test
December 07, 2014

Rutland HeraldGov. Peter Shumlin has said he will reveal details of the financing for his new single-payer health care proposal at the end of the month. His announcement will touch off a historic exercise in lawmaking, requiring his administration and the Legislature to negotiate the treacherous currents of policy and politics.Much hangs in the balance. The health of Vermonters is the primary concern. Shumlin is launching the state on a quest to create a system that will provide care fairly, com...

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Care Above Coverage
November 30, 2014

Rutland HeraldAs the holiday season begins, we talk about caring and giving, yet I’m struck by how little “care” today’s health care system gives.As a mother of two kids, I’d do anything to make sure my kids are healthy, yet making sure everyone in my family has access to care has always been a huge struggle. Sometimes my husband and I have been poor enough to qualify for public health programs, and sometimes we haven’t.I’ve changed jobs just to get heal...

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Green Mountain Care will benefit women
November 28, 2014

VTDiggerEditor’s note: This commentary is by Stephanie Hainley, who is a founding board member of Main Street Alliance of Vermont and past president of the Burlington Business & Professional Women.Is Vermont delivering on the promise of quality, affordable health care for women?Families depend on both men and women to make ends meet. Women across Vermont are leading households and supporting families. It’s critical to make sure that all women are getting the health care they need...

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Attacking teachers doesn't help
November 23, 2014

Rutland HeraldInstead of renewing calls to work with the state’s educators to make our schools even better for our children, the Vermont School Boards Association has chosen chose to attack the men and women in Vermont’s classrooms.After many, many years of state-level collaboration between teachers and school boards, their statewide association now seems to think that their fellow Vermonters who teach our children have it too good. Rather than acknowledging decades of negotiation an...

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Talk, Listen, Learn
November 20, 2014

Vermont StandardI believe that moving Vermont to a single payer system of health care will save us money, make us a better state and will improve the affordability that our businesses and individuals are faced with… It’s clear that on any issue there was a very clear message to this governor to listen, learn, reflect; be more inclusive. It was humbling. And on every issue I am taking that approach” — Governor Peter Shumlin at his first press conference after the election...

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The Gruber Affair
November 19, 2014

Rutland HeraldJonathan Gruber’s ill-advised, indefensible and arrogant language is just what Gov.Peter Shumlin does not need as he prepares to unveil plans for a long-awaited single-payer health care program that would be a pioneering step for the state and nation.Gruber is the economist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was captured on video making statements about the “stupidity” of the American people and the lack of transparency required to slip health care...

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Taking the next step on health care
November 16, 2014

Rutland HeraldVermont’s unexpected election results have led to a lot of speculation among Vermonters and in the media. Many have asked whether this election should be interpreted as a reflection on Green Mountain Care, Vermont’s proposed universal, publicly financed, single-payer health care system. My response to this is: yes. The election results suggest we should move forward.It’s no secret that the implementation of Vermont Health Connect, our execution of the federal Affo...

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Cracks in Coalition
November 11, 2014

Rutland HeraldPanic may be too strong a word, but advocates of single-payer health care experienced a shock to their confidence last week when Gov. Peter Shumlin came close to defeat at the polls.Opponents of single payer, mainly Republicans, took heart, as if the vote represented a repudiation of Shumlin’s health care reforms. It is more accurate to say that voters’ confidence in Shumlin’s leadership has weakened, even if a majority remains supportive of the health care overha...

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Medicare is Safe No Matter Nov. 4 Outcome
October 27, 2014

VTDigger Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Margaret Newton, MD, a retired physician who lives in West Brattleboro. Republican Rob Roper, president of Ethan Allen Institute, has been claiming that Vermont’s universal health care law, Act 48, and Gov. Shumlin intend to take over Medicare, to administer and alter it. Three years later, we need to look forward, not backward. After Act 48 was signed into law on May 26, 2011, by the governor, there was some public discussion by him and hi...

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A path to equality
October 27, 2014

Times ArgusIs Vermont delivering on the promise of quality, affordable health care for women?Families depend on both men and women to make ends meet. Women across Vermont are leading households and supporting families. It’s critical to make sure that all women are getting the health care they need to lead healthy, prosperous lives. As the World Bank says: Gender equality is smart economics.The 2014 Women’s Health Report Card for Vermont underscores that we have a lot to be proud of &...

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Irrational Fears About Single Payer
October 19, 2014

Times ArgusAt his first inaugural, Franklin D. Roosevelt made his famous remark about fear being the enemy of change. The year was 1933 and the country was in the depths of the Great Depression. Government intervention was required to save people from joblessness and starvation.Now we are facing a similar — if less momentous — juncture in Vermont. Health care costs threaten to cripple the economy— they push school and municipal budgets to unforeseen heights; they saddle busines...

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Single-payer a true solution
October 16, 2014

VTDigger   Editor’s note: This commentary is by Peter Sterling, the director of Vermont Leads, a nonprofit organization working to educate the public about the advantages of implementing a publicly funded, universal access health care system in Vermont. I agree with the main point made by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont’s Don George: the way we currently pay for health care is unfair to businesses and health care providers and it unnecessarily makes health care more expensi...

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Not what it seems
September 24, 2014

Brattleboro Reformer Last week it was announced that Vermont's health insurance web site, Vermont Health Connect, was being taken offline line for two months to deal with security issues and to prepare for open enrollment in November. While some may look at this move as a reason to trash Vermont's efforts at health care reform, I think they may be misguided in their interpretation. The electronic version of the health exchange has been a nightmare, but that is not all there is when it com...

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You can get there from here
September 17, 2014

VTDigger Editor’s note: This commentary is by Walter Carpenter of Montpelier. Mr. Randy Brock’s parable “You Can’t Get There from Here,” (VTDigger 09/04/14) is a fairy tale employing the stereotypical “old Vermonter at the country store” telling newcomers how they “can’t get there from here” in buying health insurance in Vermont. A striking irony about Mr. Brock’s parable is what has been omitted: The Old Vermonter is probab...

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Single-payer has built-in safeguards
August 31, 2014

Rutalnd HeraldRep. Paul Ralston’s recent commentary, “Single-payer is the only campaign issue,” raises some understandable concerns about Vermont’s move to create a publicly funded, universal health care system. Fortunately, in 2011 the Legislature foresaw the need to have these questions answered as it had its debate over passing legislation to create Green Mountain Care.The Legislature installed “triggers” that would prevent Green Mountain Care from being im...

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Confronting Doubts
August 31, 2014

Rutland HeraldAn op-ed piece appearing in these pages last Sunday has struck a nerve among advocates for the single-payer health care plan that is due to be unveiled this January.Paul Ralston, a Democratic House member from Middlebury who is not running for re-election, warned that the poor performance of Vermont Health Connect, the state's new health care exchange, has created doubts about the state's ability to manage a new single-payer plan. He warned legislators against becoming lemmings mar...

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The Tax
August 27, 2014

Brattleboro ReformerAs we head into the final lap of the biennial Vermont campaign season there is one topic that is begging for more debate. How should we finance a new single payer health care system? Political forums and debates have raised the simplistic question of whether or not a candidate is in favor of a single payer health care system. That is a moot question because the state has already decided that we are moving in that direction. On Jan. 1 it is expected that the governor will fina...

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Allaying concerns on universal health care
August 21, 2014

VTDigger Editor’s note: This commentary is by Peter Sterling, the director of Vermont Leads, a nonprofit organization working to educate the public about the advantages of implementing a publicly funded, universal access health care system in Vermont. Rep. Paul Ralston’s commentary of Aug. 19, “Single-payer is the Only Campaign Issue,” raises some understandable concerns about Vermont’s move to create a publicly funded, universal health care system. Fortunately,...

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Down the rabbit hole
July 27, 2014

Rutland HeraldIn the middle of fretting about my upcoming cataract surgery — I am too young for this, I hope the surgeon knows what he’s doing, I hope that when it’s over I’ll see that all this worrying was unnecessary — I did something that seemed straightforward and easy: went to the drug store to fill the surgeon’s prescriptions for eye drops.Rutland Herald“Can’t do it,” the pharmacist said. He explained that two of the drops were not incl...

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Health insurance as employee compensation
July 25, 2014

Essex ReporterBy Jack HoffmanEmployer-sponsored health insurance is a misnomer. Money that an employer putatively “contributes” to a company health insurance plan is simply employee compensation in another form. The point is driven home in a recent column in the American Prospect by Paul Waldman about the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case.Understanding that health insurance is part of an employee’s compensation package will be critical as Vermont moves forward...

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Evidence supports single payer
July 02, 2014

Rutland HeraldIn his recent column on health care (June 29), John McClaughry criticizes Vermont’s road map to universal health care as laid out in Act 48. This road map hopes to create a publicly financed health care system, in which health care is a guaranteed public good for all Vermonters The target date for implementation is 2017.According to Mr. McClaughry, the recent VA scandals, in addition to evidence from Canada and other countries where health care is universal and publicly funde...

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Health care
July 01, 2014

Bennington BannerI am compelled to write a rebuttal to Mr. Lawrence Harrington’s June 20 Letter to the Editor. I do feel sorry for him -- it must be difficult to live in Vermont surrounded by so many screaming liberals. He must feel a lot like General Custer at the Little Bighorn. To summarize his letter, Mr. Harrington is not an Obamacare enthusiast. He cites the complexity of Medicare billing and its influence on whether a doctor will be able to stay in private practice or feel forced to...

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My Turn:The 15% Health Care Tax You’re Already Paying
June 20, 2014

Burlington Free Press By Lawrence Miller, Chief of Health Care Reform What’s the biggest state tax Vermonters already pay? It’s not property, income or sales tax. It’s a 15 percent health care tax that Vermont businesses and individuals are paying today. And many don’t even know they are paying it. In 2012, Vermonters spent $1.886 billion on private health insurance premiums. Total payroll in Vermont in 2012 was $12.3 billion. Do the math: Vermonters paid a combined ...

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Single-payer is the way on health care
June 09, 2014

 Burlington FreepressEllen Oxfeld, Middlebury. Ellen is a member of the Vermont Health Care for All Board of Directors.In March, Senate President John Campbell backed away from an unwavering commitment to the historic task set out in Act 48 — creating a publicly funded guaranteed health care system for all Vermonters.Campbell’s stated reason for this was disappointing. He demurred that he was not sure that a single-payer financing plan would be “politically viable” i...

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Single-payer is the way on health care
June 09, 2014

 Burlington FreepressEllen Oxfeld, Middlebury. Ellen is a member of the Vermont Health Care for All Board of Directors.In March, Senate President John Campbell backed away from an unwavering commitment to the historic task set out in Act 48 — creating a publicly funded guaranteed health care system for all Vermonters.Campbell’s stated reason for this was disappointing. He demurred that he was not sure that a single-payer financing plan would be “politically viable” i...

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D-H Should Explain Big Pay Packages
June 08, 2014

 Valley News EditorialIf you seek confirmation that health care is big business, look no further than Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s most recent federal tax filing.As staff writer Rick Jurgens reported last month, D-H made severance payments totaling more than $3 million in 2012 to three top executives displaced in a management shuffle in November of the previous year. That restructuring, undertaken during a time of great financial stress for the organization, dismantled a troika of executives...

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Vermont Health Connect: A glass half full
May 18, 2014

Rutland HeraldBy: Donna Sutton Fay, Policy Director for the Vermont Campaign for Health Care Security Education FundThere is an old saying that you can look at a glass as half empty or half full. This can be said of Vermont Health Connect (VHC). The success of VHC has not been as bad as opponents say, nor has it been as rosy as some predicted. Now that open enrollment for 2014 has ended, it is a good time to take stock of how VHC has helped Vermonters and examine what can be improved.Our or...

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Canadian health care system represents a better way
April 28, 2014

Tucson SentinelBy:Wendell Potter, Center for Public IntegrityWhen I returned home after a two-week speaking tour of Canada and began catching up on news about Obamacare, I was angry and upset, and not just at politicians and special interests that benefit from deception-based PR tactics. I was — and still am — mostly angry and upset with myself. And I know I always will be.Over the course of a two-decade career as a health insurance executive, I spent hours and hours implementing my ...

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An ‘exchange on steroids’ helps no one
April 24, 2014

Vermont DiggerBy: Peter Sterling, MontpelierEditor’s note: This commentary is by Peter Sterling, the director of Vermont Leads, a nonprofit organization working to create a universal, publicly fund health care system in Vermont.The visionaries who founded our country did not give women the right to vote. Nor did they outlaw one of the most heinous of all crimes: slavery. Proof positive that even brilliant people sometimes come up with bad ideas, just like the rest of us. And Vermont’...

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Miller's appointment resets pledge to proceed with care
April 20, 2014

 Addison IndependentBy Angelo LynnIn an interview with Lawrence Miller last week that ran in Thursday’s Addison Independent that explored Miller’s new position as the governor’s senior advisor and Chief of Health Care Reform, there were two take-home comments that can’t be emphasized enough: that the state won’t push forward with a single payer system that puts the state’s economy in jeopardy, while also saying the state would not go back to the status qu...

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A PROPOSAL FOR REAL UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE, PENSION AND BENEFITS
April 15, 2014

 Vermont DiggerEditor’s note: This commentary is by Dawn Griffis, a retired nurse practitioner who trained in England under the National Health Service and who has nursed all over the United States since 1965. She has been involved with the Vermont Workers’ Center and Physicians for a National Health Program. She is the author of “Living and Nursing in America — The Way It Is and Was,” and lives in White River Junction.The United States is the only industrializ...

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As Vermont Goes, So Goes the Nation?
April 05, 2014

    New York Times By MOLLY WORTHENAPRIL 5, 2014       Photo   CreditAlexander Glandien Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main storyShare This Page Continue reading the main story WHEN most liberals hear the words “third party,” they have nasty flashbacks to Ralph Nader’s spoiler campaign in 2000. The history buffs among them might think of the populist Greenback Party...

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The Money And Politics Of Change
March 30, 2014

The Vermont StandardBy: Kurt StaudterFor most of my adult life I’ve been a supporter of systemic change to the way we deal with the care and well-being of our citizens.Our health care system is broken. Wait. That’s just a little too kind a way of saying it: Perhaps a better way to say it is… But no, I can’t use those kinds of words in a family paper. Just this last week I lost a classmate that had good insurance, and did everything he was supposed to when he unexplainabl...

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Run the numbers again
March 13, 2014

Bennington Banner By: Ashley Illinski, Arlington This is a commentary on the Affordable Care Act but it provides valuable comparisons focusing on why we must make health care accessible and affordable to everyone if we want to reduce costs. The current administration seems to think that the only issue with the health exchange is the website itself. This could not be further from the truth. The goal of the exchange, of the Affordable Care Act, was to bring affordable care not to a select few, ...

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A measured approach
March 11, 2014

Times Argus OnlineAn article in Sunday’s edition of The Times Argus went behind the scenes of the controversial Vermont Health Connect.Vermont Press Bureau Chief Neal Goswami took readers into the chronology of the exchange and showed, in no uncertain terms, how muddled and troubled the process had become between the Department of Vermont Health Access and CGI Systems and Technologies.The reporting confirmed what we already knew — the timing and testing fell short — but it also...

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Maine Voices: Universal health care is only fair
March 09, 2014

The Press Herald Maine VoicesThis article is not about our work in Vermont but always good to hear what is going on in other states. By Alice KnappRICHMOND — Let’s be clear. We haven’t come close to solving the problems with our health care system. The Maine Republicans’ bill, PL 90, didn’t come close, nor does the Affordable Care Act. We already subsidize the elderly, the poor, politicians and public-sector workers. But all of us deserve freedom from worry.Premium ...

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Reliable Investments in health reform
March 06, 2014

Manchester JournalBy: Cynthia Browning, Representative for the towns of Manchester, Arlington, Sunderland and Sandgate in the State Legislature.As Vermont continues along the path of reforming health care and health insurance we must keep our eyes on the prize: quality health care that is affordable while controlling costs.There are many unanswered questions about the proposed state run "single payer" health insurance program called Green Mountain Care (GMC). We do not yet know what th...

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Broad public support for single payer
March 05, 2014

Brattleboro Reformer By Richard Davis The Vermont National Education Association (NEA) and the single payer organization Vermont Leads (of which I am a board member) have released the results of a survey conducted with 502 Vermonters between Jan. 14-16, by Bostonbased Kiley & Company, opinion research consultants. That survey indicates that there is broad public support for Vermont to move to create a single payer health care system. Here are some of the key results as reported by ...

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Why we support Green Mountain Care
March 02, 2014

Rutland Herald By Martha Allen Martha Allen is a K-12 school librarian and president of Vermont-NEA. She lives in Canaan. Many people may have been surprised and a little curious about the announcement last week that Vermont-NEA was backing the move toward universal, publicly funded health care. After all, the thinking goes, members of the state’s largest union already have comprehensive and affordable health insurance, so why on earth would they support Vermont’s efforts t...

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Cost trends actually support to Vermont’s reform efforts
February 26, 2014

Vermont DiggerEditor’s note: Marvin Malek, MD MPH, is an internist practicing in Berlin.Over the last month, opponents to Vermont’s health reform have come up with a novel rationale for delaying or aborting the reform: that health inflation has been tamed even before the national or Vermont’s state-based reforms were rolled out. (VTDigger Feb. 5, 2014)In fact, for three main reasons, health cost inflation has moderated considerably during the last 10 years:• This has been ...

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MARK LARSON: NEWSWEEK’S FAILURE
February 16, 2014

Editor’s note: This commentary is by Mark Larson, commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access, the home of Vermont Health Connect. It was also submitted to Newsweek magazine. I feel obligated to respond to the story “Doubling Down on Obamacare” by Lynnley Browning that was published on the website Newsweek. Despite providing Newsweek with a list of inaccuracies in the story, only two of which have been corrected, there are more inaccuracies with the story and the r...

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The U.S. insurance model doesn’t work
February 10, 2014

Addressing health care challenges on the national level but this is relevent to some of the same issues we will face when implementing a single payer system in Vermont.Editorial from the Washington Post By Charles LaneThe left-right battle that erupted over last week’s Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report showing that Obamacare reduces work incentives was, on the surface, yet another argument about the health-care law’s impact on the U.S. economy.On a deeper level, however, what&...

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Healthcare hope — Single payer & the ACA
January 23, 2014

By Greg Dennis What’s the true nature of our expensive healthcare system? Is it an overregulated mess that’s crying out for free-market forces to improve quality and lower costs, by expanding competition among providers?Or is it an under-regulated mess that’s crying out for a single-payer system to improve quality and lower costs, by eliminating the expensive, greedy middlemen known as insurance companies?Or (more likely), is it a mish-mash of these ideological ...

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Getting Ready
January 21, 2014

Rutland Herald Op EdA bill introduced in the Vermont Senate promises to provoke discussion about how Vermonters will pay for the new single-payer health care system that the Shumlin administration is busily piecing together. The bill may provide an oversimplified revenue scheme, but discussion of the question is welcome.Sen. Peter Galbraith, author of the bill, has proposed to use a payroll tax to pay for Green Mountain Care, the single-payer system due to go into effect in 2017. According...

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The Obamacare We Deserve
December 31, 2013

NOTE:  We usually only post editorials and opinion pieces that deal directly with Vermont. Michael Moore's piece is on the national situation, but it takes special note of Vermont as leading the way on health care, with its plans to enact a single payer plan.  So, we are including the editorial here: The New York Times By MICHAEL MOORE TODAY marks the beginning of health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act’s new insurance exchanges, for which two million Amer...

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Most Valuable State Initiative
December 18, 2013

The NationVermont's Single-payer ExperimentAs everyone else wrangled over even the mildest Affordable Care Act reforms, Governor Peter Shumlin and his legislative allies were busy preparing a single-payer system for Vermont. Yes, they worked with federal officials to set up the Vermont Health Connect exchange as part of the ACA. But they also allocated resources to study development of a state-based single-payer system and prepared to seek the federal waiver required to implement it in 2017. It ...

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Keep Eyes on the Prize for Universal Healthcare
December 13, 2013

Burlington Free PressWhen did the people’s need for universal health care get hijacked by the money-making interests of big insurers, big business and big hospitals?Was it when federal health reformers bowed to the health industry by setting up a marketplace that is about to channel significant public subsidies to private insurance companies?Or was it when corporate lobbyists presented to Vermont legislators a financing “study” (more accurately, a memo) that worries about a &ld...

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John Podesta\'s Medicare experience
November 18, 2013

PNHP Blog [Note: This column from the blog of Physicians for a National Health Program is about national single payer and not merely Vermont.  But, it illustrates quite succinctly the administrative simplicity of the single payer concept, so we are also posting it here]. By Harvey Fernbach, M.D. "I just enrolled in Medicare. It took me 5 minutes. Single payer anyone?" -- John Podesta, Twitter, Nov. 14, 2013 The delays, glitches, complexity and time involved in enrolling in ...

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Canadian health care – facts, not fears
November 01, 2013

VTDiggerEditor’s note: This commentary is by Lee Russ, a member of the Vermont Workers’ Center. He is a semi-retired legal writer and editor, who was the lead author of “Couch on Insurance.”Canada, O Canada, how some Americans love to disparage you — especially your health care system. In an editorial titled “Decoding the Language of Green Mountain Care” almost a year and a half ago, John McClaughry informed readers that:… an examination of the Qu...

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The Cure for America's Ailing Healthcare
October 01, 2013

The GuardianBy Bernie SandersObamacare's reforms are a welcome but small step. To give all Americans healthcare as a right, we need a fair, efficient solution.I start my approach to healthcare from two very basic premises. First, healthcare must be recognized as a right, not a privilege. Every man, woman and child in our country should be able to access the healthcare they need regardless of their income. Second, we must create a national healthcare system that provides quality healthcare for al...

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Canadians don’t understand Ted Cruz’s health-care battle
September 25, 2013

Note: This op-ed is not focused on Vermont, but we are posting it here because it is relevant to Vermont.  It focuses on the way business people in Canada find a single payer system much more business friendly than the private insurance system in the United States.The Washington PostBy Matt MillerWhen you’re being forced to endure another rabid Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) soliloquy on Obamacare’s threat to human freedom, it’s easy to forget how absurd our health-care debate see...

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A single-payer system makes economic sense
September 13, 2013

The HillBy Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)Americans spend about twice as much per capita on healthcare as almost any other developed nation, but our outcomes are not as good as others that spend much less. We can do better. We must do better.Today, some 50 million Americans lack health insurance. Many others delay going to the doctor because of high deductibles and unaffordable copayments. While the number of uninsured Americans will go down with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, widely...

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Finding the Money: Shumlin Looks to Payroll Tax
September 12, 2013

Valley News Which is less surprising — that Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin identified the payroll tax as a major source of revenue for the single-payer health care system his administration is designing or that the Vermont Chamber of Commerce immediately expressed its disapproval? Shumlin’s acknowledgment, which came recently in interviews with the news media, qualifies less as breaking news than a statement of the obvious. It has been estimated that the state will need to raise $1.6...

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Analysis: Care Board Clout Reflected in Hospital Budgets
September 05, 2013

VPRBy Hamilton E. DavisWhen someone writes the history of health care reform in Vermont, he or she would do well to look closely at the Green Mountain Care Board hearing last week on Fletcher Allen Health Care’s proposed fiscal 2014 budget.There are 14 hospitals in Vermont and they and the doctors that work for them spend upwards of $2.1 billion a year to keep Vermonters healthy. Fletcher Allen accounts for a billion dollars or so of that amount, nearly half the system. No other hospital c...

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The Higher Health Insurers\' Claim Denial Rate, the Higher the CEO Pay
April 23, 2013

Huffington Post By Wendell Potter [Note: Although this opinion piece appeared in a national publication, it is focused on Vermont and that is why we are posting it on our website. Click here for related Vermont news story]. When you're shopping for health insurance, wouldn't it be great if you could find out every insurer's claim denial rate? And how much each one spent on lobbying and advertising -- and how much they paid their CEO? You can now find all of that information and more if ...

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OneCare is altogether a bad idea
April 17, 2013

VTDiggerEditor’s note: This op-ed is by Ann Raynolds of Pomfret, a psychologist licensed in Vermont and New Hampshire.Open letter to Vermont senior citizens on Medicare: Watch your mail closely. There’s a big new health care bureaucracy about to scoop you into it, not even asking for your approval to join. It’s called an “accountable care organization” (ACO) or OneCare. Not to join requires careful reading of the letter and then signing the enclosed “opt-out&r...

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Accountable Care Organization no progress
April 15, 2013

Burlington Free PressThe newest trend for health care reform is “accountable care.” In 2006 Elliott Fischer of Dartmouth proposed this new kid on the block to reform our health care woes and created the name, Accountable Care Organization (ACO). Vermont’s Fletcher Allen Healthcare and New Hampshire’s Dartmouth Mary Hitchcock have formed OneCare Vermont touted as the country’s first statewide ACO.Defining ACO is a challenge, but goes something like this: a consolidat...

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What do we get for all our health care spending?
April 12, 2013

VTDigger Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Ron Krupp, a gardener and author whose most recent book is “Lifting the Yoke — Local Solutions to America’s Farm and Food Crisis.” “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us” is the title of a special Time magazine article on March 4 by Stephen Brill. Brill asks: Why do we spend 20 percent of our gross domestic product on health care, twice as much as other developed countries? There are many “reaso...

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Why Vermont needs a broader open meeting law
April 10, 2013

VTDiggerEditor’s note: This op-ed is by Dr. Anna Carey, a family physician in Burlington.The newest trend for health care reform is “accountable care.” In 2006 Elliott Fischer of Dartmouth proposed this new kid on the block to reform our health care woes and created the name, accountable care organization (ACO). Vermont’s Fletcher Allen Health Care (FAHC) and New Hampshire’s Dartmouth-Hitchcock have formed OneCare VT, touted as the country’s first statewide AC...

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Addressing inadequate health coverage
April 04, 2013

Brattleboro ReformerAlmost every week, here in Vermont, patients come to see me who are "self-pay" -- a euphemism for having no health insurance. Sometimes they have delayed seeking care, because of their lack of insurance, until a relatively small problem has progressed to becoming a dangerous one.Numerous other patients I see aren't "self-pay," but have "under-insurance." High deductibles, co-pays, and "co-insurance" (another euphemism) require some pati...

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Addressing inadequate health coverage
April 04, 2013

Brattleboro ReformerAlmost every week, here in Vermont, patients come to see me who are "self-pay" -- a euphemism for having no health insurance. Sometimes they have delayed seeking care, because of their lack of insurance, until a relatively small problem has progressed to becoming a dangerous one.Numerous other patients I see aren't "self-pay," but have "under-insurance." High deductibles, co-pays, and "co-insurance" (another euphemism) require some pati...

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Ensuring affordable health care for all
April 03, 2013

VTDigger Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Dr. Bill Wood, an ear, nose and throat specialist who practices in Brattleboro. Almost every week, here in Vermont, patients come to see me who are “self-pay” – a euphemism for having no health insurance. Sometimes they have delayed seeking care, because of their lack of insurance, until a relatively small problem has progressed to becoming a dangerous one. Numerous other patients I see aren’t “self-pay,” but...

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Economic Development Disguised as Health Care Reform
March 24, 2013

Rutland HeraldBusinesses face an all too familiar annual decision: Living in a competitive environment with labor costs rising, how much health insurance do I provide my employees? How much do I pay, how much do they pay? What is a reasonable plan, what level of deductible, what level of copay?I know that health insurance is important for my employees who depend upon my business for their livelihood, but I am struggling with profitability. If I didn’t have to pay 10 to 20 percent of my pay...

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Keep Vermont Strong
March 15, 2013

VTDiggerEditor’s note: This op-ed is by Peter Sterling, the director of the Vermont Campaign for Health Care Security [1], a nonprofit organization that works to educate Vermonters about and assist them in enrolling in Vermont’s public health care programs: Catamount Health, VHAP and Dr Dynasaur.Hurricane Irene made headlines when it tore apart communities and families across Vermont. “Vermont Strong” became a rallying cry for how private citizens, businesses and state go...

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Analysis: Shumlin Has Much Left To Do On Health Care Agenda
March 04, 2013

VPR Hamilton E. Davis On a quiet morning in late February, Jonathan Martin, a political analyst for Politico, a leading national Web site, published a speculative piece about Hillary Clinton's effect on the 2016 presidential election. Given her immense popularity, the possibility that Clinton might run is blocking the next generation of Democratic leaders from moving into position to replace President Obama, Martin wrote. This dynamic is particularly frustrating to a half-dozen or so Democra...

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Community Forum: Health records problems must be solved
February 25, 2013

Addison IndependentBy Marvin MalekThis week’s writer is Dr. Marvin Malek, MD MPH, who is an internist working at Central Vermont Hospital in Berlin.The financial problem that occurred recently at Porter Hospital isn’t the first and won’t be the last cost overrun we’ll see in Vermont related to the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs). Unfortunately, Angelo Lynn (Addison Independent, Jan. 10) grossly understates the magnitude of the health information technology (H...

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Comment and Debate: Health care reform - Designing the best system
February 19, 2013

Burlington Free PressAs we see more and more of our dollars going toward the rising costs of health care, it is critically important that we continue our efforts to control costs while providing better care for all Vermonters. The governor remains committed to this goal and we are working tirelessly toward achieving this much-needed reform by 2017.Recently, we released a study that once again shows the clear benefits of moving Vermonters to a single payer health insurance system. Once this plan ...

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A new market place
February 06, 2013

Brattleboro Reformer In 2014 the world of health insurance will look very different for about 250,000 Vermonters. According to state officials, up to 40 percent of the state's population could be buying their insurance through something called Vermont Health Connect, the state's version of the federally mandated exchange. More enlightened health policy advocates think we should be calling the exchanges market places, to more accurately reflect the true nature of the beast. The Vermonters w...

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Through the labyrinth
February 05, 2013

Rutland HeraldAs more details come to light about the financing of Vermont’s new health care exchange, the difficulty of constructing a hybrid system based on health insurance becomes increasingly evident.Vermont is on a pathway toward a single-payer system that would be independent of insurance. Instead, it would provide something like Medicare for all, administered by the state or by an entity hired by the state.But at present, state officials are constructing an important way station on...

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Forward and backward on health care
February 05, 2013

VTDiggerEditor’s note: This op-ed is by Peter Youngbaer, who is the director of the People’s Health & Wellness Clinic in Barre, which provides primary health care and wellness education to uninsured and underinsured residents of central Vermont who cannot otherwise afford these services.On Jan. 24, Gov. Peter Shumlin presented his budget for the State of Vermont. Included in his proposals was funding to help Vermonters with some of the cost-sharing requirements under the soon-to-...

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A Rubik’s cube of health care
February 03, 2013

Rutland HeraldThe University of Massachusetts Medical School released the fourth Vermont single-payer health care study done since 2001. Each has confirmed that both health care security and substantial savings are possible.UMass makes perhaps the most compelling case for single-payer of them all. Without reform, Vermonters in 2017 will be paying more than $2 billion in private insurance premiums, plus more than $800 million in out-of-pocket medical expenses — the product of the current re...

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A monumental step ahead for single payer
January 30, 2013

Brattleboro ReformerLast Thursday a report was released by two consulting firms hired to run the numbers for Vermont's universal health care system, Green Mountain Care (GMC), to begin in 2017. It marks the beginning of a new era in Vermont health care reform.The 156 page document, titled "Health Care Reform Financing Plan," submitted by Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding and Director of Health Care Reform Robin Lunge, includes the consultants' report. New numbers relating to Ve...

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Shumlincare
January 29, 2013

Rutland Herald A new report on the projected savings of single-payer health care in Vermont represents a green light for planners putting together the new system. The report from the University of Massachusetts Medical School confirms the working assumptions contained in previous studies: that a new health care system could save many millions of dollars, which could then be used to extend health care to those who lack it now and to improve the coverage of those who at present are underinsured....

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Obamacare and Vermont
January 25, 2013

Times Argus [Note: This article was published under the title:  "The Benefits of Obamacare to Vermont"]Kudos to the grant writers at Vermont’s Dept. of Health Access for obtaining $156 million from the federal government to assist with the implementation of the health exchange, the new insurance marketplace scheduled to go online in October, 2013 as part of Obamacare (“Vt. ranks third in federal health exchange money, Times Argus Jan 5, 2013). The $156 million wil...

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My Turn: Keep Health Care Access Affordable
January 10, 2013

Burlington Free Press As director since 2000 of a program whose mission is to help the uninsured and underinsured stay healthy, I was concerned with Gov. Shumlin’s recent comments saying that “state health care subsidies for working class Vermonters might be more generous than they need to be, and that some residents here could soon be facing higher insurance premiums and deductibles.” Vermont has been ahead of the nation for years in providing affordable health insurance p...

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Moving Backward?
December 12, 2012

VTDiggerBy Richard DavisJust because Vermont is a leader in health care reform does not mean the state can step backward and hide behind the budget when it comes to people’s lives. Politics and the games that are played in that realm are generally driven by budgets. That is a fact of life.Unfortunately, almost all health care reform is done in the political arena and that means budgets rule. But should the budget battles have the same priority when they have to do with roads and health ins...

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Voice of the Free Press: A Go for Health Care Reform
November 16, 2012

Burlington Free PressTuesday’s election victories by President Barack Obama and Gov. Peter Shumlin ensures that the experiment to extend access to health care will move forward.The nation and the state face many challenges including shoring up the economy and finding a way to pay for the services people need and expect of government.How Congress and the president finally deal with the so-called “fiscal cliff” in the coming weeks will have wide-reaching impact on the nation.Stil...

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My Turn: Doctors will give reform a chance
November 15, 2012

By Dr. Marvin MalekIn their efforts to thwart Vermont’s health reform effort, opponents of reform are peppering the media with scare tactics. Prominent on this list is the assertion that if we proceed with the reform effort, huge numbers of physicians will exit the state.As a practicing physician, I know that our decisions on where to live and practice involve many factors. Most important are the specifics of the clinical setting available: Compatibility with other practitioners, frequency...

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Welcome to the Health Care Debate
November 04, 2012

by Dr. Marvin MalekThe mudslinging that passes for a health policy debate between the presidential candidates must be almost incomprehensible to those who don’t follow the health issue closely, and can only be viewed as bizarre by those who do.Each is accusing the other of proposing policies that will destroy the Medicare program. Over a 10-year period, President Obama proposes to cut spending in Medicare. These cuts don’t affect the benefit package, but reduce reimbursements to hosp...

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Will Profit-Making Be Job One at OneCare?
October 06, 2012

by Wendell PotterWhen I read that Fletcher Allen Health Care and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center were forming a new for-profit entity to administer Vermonters’ Medicare benefits, one thing leapt off the screen: the term “for-profit.” As someone who worked for two of the country’s largest for-profit health insurers over nearly 20 years, I know how the quest for profit can supercede the best interests of patients.I want to believe that the executives of Fletcher Allen an...

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Carey: ACOs Are Another Distraction from Universal Single Payer Health Care
September 28, 2012

Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Dr. Peggy Anna Carey of Burlington, who is a family physician.Fletcher Allen Health Care and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center have formed their new accountable care organization (ACO) called OneCare Vermont. The stated vision is “a statewide network with a coordinated clinical model and toolset … to enhance the quality of the care provided to Vermont’s Medicare beneficiaries while remaining good stewards of health care expenditures &hell...

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Davis: Green Mountain Care Board Consideration of Dental Benefits
September 28, 2012

Citizen activism is alive and well in Vermont. Thanks to more than 1,000 people who contacted the Green Mountain Care Board, the recommendation to add dental benefits to exchange health plans is now on the table.This does not mean that the board will finally vote for a comprehensive dental coverage package, but it does mean that they now know how important this issue is to Vermonters.Legislators have told me that when they receive 10 or more correspondences from constituents they know that it is...

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Burlington Free Press: Give Health Care Reform A Chance
September 28, 2012

The attempt to make health care reform a central issues in this year’s gubernatorial race is a step backwards in an area in which Vermont needs to move forward.At some point, we have to stop arguing and start doing.Vermont’s efforts to come up with a single-payer system for health care deserves a chance, at least to the point where we know what that plan will look like and how much it will cost.The timid, piece-meal approaches being offered as an alternative to single-payer opponents...

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No going back
September 12, 2012

Rutland Herald Gov. Peter Shumlin launched his re-election campaign on a positive note, saying he would say nothing negative about his opponent, Republican Randy Brock.But Shumlin was happy to trash Brock’s proposals on health care, which, according to the governor, would reverse the state’s considerable progress and hand over Vermonters’ well-being to the self-interested clutches of insurance companies.Brock has unveiled a health care proposal that emphasizes the role of ...

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Health care reform: New ad, old tricks
September 09, 2012

Rutland Herald After watching Vermonters for Health Care Freedom’s new commercial, I was reminded of what my former colleagues in the health insurance industry and I used to do to influence public opinion, often using deceptive tactics. I was also reminded of why I left my job as an industry executive and began speaking out about how the use of those tactics helped perpetuate a system that fails more and more Americans, including Vermonters, every year.The 30-second commercial is a cl...

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Legislative Report: Two (personal) reasons for health reform
August 30, 2012

Addison Independent By Willem Jewett [Note: Willem Jewett is Assistant Majority Leader, Vermont State House of Representatives, and Representative from Addison-2 District] Health reform continues to be debated on national and state political stages. Sometimes the power of personal stories is lost in these debates. As we head toward another winter of debating health care in Montpelier I wanted to share a couple of my own experiences and ask you to share yours with me. The names in the storie...

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Health care cost -- myth versus reality
August 09, 2012

VTDiggerEditor’s note: This op-ed is by Ethan Parke, a resident of Montpelier.Single payer critics warn that Vermont should not go forward with Green Mountain Care because there are too many unknowns. But one thing is certain — if we do nothing, health care expenditures in Vermont (from all sources) are expected to reach $10 billion a year by the year 2020. That’s a back-breaking $16,000 per person, which could very well doom our economy.A single-payer system would empower Verm...

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Another Lesson From Colorado
August 05, 2012

Rutland HeraldThree hospitals in Colorado have announced that they will forgive the medical bills of the victims of the Aurora, Colo., mass shooting. A kind gesture. These individuals suffered serious gunshot wounds, and many will be left with lifelong disabilities. It seemed like this was enough suffering for these individuals and their families to endure.These hospitals may forgive the bills of the victims of the shootings, but the care these patients received is anything but free. Teams of cr...

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Facts Matter in Fixing Health Care System
July 05, 2012

Burlington Free Press By Paul Cillo Last year, some of Vermont’s largest employers spent 10 percent of payroll or more on health insurance for their employees. A large majority (95 percent) of these businesses provided coverage equivalent to “gold” or “platinum” plans — that is, plans in which the insurer covers a minimum of 80 percent (gold) or 90 percent (platinum) of the average policyholder’s annual health care costs. Few of their employees were ...

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A Good Day
June 30, 2012

Bernie Sanders,U.S. Senator for Vermont, Newsroom "It is a good day for 30 million uninsured Americans who will have access to healthcare. It is a good day for seniors who will continue to see their prescription drug costs go down as the so-called doughnut hole goes away. It is a good day for small businesses who simply cannot continue to afford the escalating costs of providing insurance for their employees. It is a good day for 20 million Americans who will soon be able to find acce...

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Memo from Maine -- Don't follow our example on health care
June 22, 2012

VTDiggerEditor’s note Garrett Martin is the executive director of the Maine Center for Economic Policy [1]. He has been observing the effects of changes to Maine’s health insurance laws made in 2011.Vermont’s courageous effort to provide health insurance to all its residents is an inspiring model for other states. Maine’s recent experience? Not so much.That’s why it’s so surprising that Jeff Wennberg of Vermonters for Health Care Freedom recently suggested tha...

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The Puzzle
June 20, 2012

Brattleboro ReformerBy Richard DavisAs we move closer to campaign season and closer to changing some of the elements in the Vermont health care system it is important to separate political posturing from fact. It is also important to provide context for proposals. Single payer is not the solution to the currently broken health care non-system, it is one piece of a very complex puzzle.Single payer only refers to how health care is financed, which means that it is an alternative to the current hea...

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Health Care Choice
May 30, 2012

Rutland HeraldIf you like your health insurance company, you may favor Randy Brock for governor in the election in November.But if you have been priced out of the insurance market or can afford only bare-bones, high-deductible plans, you may think twice about the market choices Brock proposes to unleash on the state. Of if you find the complexity of insurance paperwork and the denial of care that it seems designed to effect to be offensive and predatory, then you may have little patience for Bro...

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My Turn: Exchange Levels the Playing Field
May 29, 2012

Burlington Free PressJeff Wennberg complains that Vermont’s implementation of H.559 limits insurance to those who meet the criteria and are listed on the Vermont exchange (Free Press, May 8). He conveniently ignores the fact that health coverage within the exchange must meet minimum standards for each of the coverage levels, Bronze, Silver, Gold, etc. This means that the insurance companies must provide standard, well-defined coverage and compete on cost. This is good for the Vermont cons...

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How much will single payer cost
May 20, 2012

Times Argus Lawmakers in the next biennium are scheduled to take up the financing of the Green Mountain Care single payer health care system. That has already generated much discussion, including criticism from Rutland City Treasurer Wendy Wilton. What Is A Single Payer? The best definition I have come across is that by Harvard economist William Hsiao: “one insurance fund and a uniform benefit package for all non-Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.” This saves money in two...

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And now, for the payment plan ...
May 13, 2012

Rutland HeraldNow the really hard work begins.The health care exchange legislation just passed was a small precursor to the next item of business in health care reform, scheduled for the 2013 session: financing of Green Mountain Care single-payer health care. Chief among the challenges will be how to pay for a universal coverage plan without overburdening small businesses. An employer payroll tax is often cited as a financing source because it would replace the $1.35 billion Vermont employers al...

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Trying to Follow the Money
May 10, 2012

Times ArgusBy Dr. Marvin MalekI was surprised to read that Jeff Wennberg, executive director of Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, is encouraging readers to follow the money (April 29).The money Wennberg is referring to is federal money potentially available to Vermont to support the reform effort. He points out that the legislature’s actions have worked to maximize this federal support. Last time I checked most every state government tries to maximize federal support for health care, dis...

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An important next step in health care reform
May 07, 2012

VTDiggerEditor’s note: This op-ed is by Robin Lunge, Vermont’s director of Health Care Reform.The Vermont House and Senate should be applauded for putting Vermonters first by passing H.559, the health insurance reform and exchange bill.Legislators voting in favor of the bill recognized the needs of Vermonters by ensuring that under the insurance coverage system of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), effective Jan. 1, 2014, Vermont small employers and individuals will truly have the opport...

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Slowing cost growth a worthy goal
April 29, 2012

Rutland HeraldIt’s an election year in an era of divisive politics, so the campaign-style attacks on Vermont’s health care reform efforts probably shouldn’t be surprising. And from what we’ve seen on the national political stage, we know that campaign ads don’t have to make sense.Still, why would anyone want to convince Vermonters there was something wrong with bending the curve on health care costs — that is, reducing the long-term growth rate? Recent radio a...

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Health Care Myths Get in Way of Solution
April 28, 2012

Burlington Free PressIn the April 12 “My Turn” in the Burlington Free Press, Bruce Lisman writes “Is health care reform important? Of course it is. Yet politicians in Montpelier are ‘rocketing’ us to a new system without showing us the cost.”Really?Mr. Lisman is apparently ignorant of, or is ignoring, four official studies commissioned by the state on health care costs since 2001. These include the Lewin report in 2001; the Thorpe report in 2006; the Hsiao rep...

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Health insurance is not health care
April 19, 2012

The Valley Reporter Written by Russ Bennett NorthLand Design & Construction Inc. has been providing health insurance and a living wage since we started in 1978. NorthLand, like all businesses, has to manage its production costs. We have to meet our clients’ budgets and deadlines. To survive, all businesses have to be able to control costs. Our health insurance costs are out of control. In 9 of the last 15 years, our health insurance costs have increased by double digits, with m...

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Indiana health care plan deeply flawed
April 09, 2012

VTDigger Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Peter Sterling, the executive director of the Vermont Campaign for Health Care Security [1]. Just last week Jeff Wennberg and his organization Vermonters for Health Care Freedom finally offered the public a look at what opponents of universal health care believe can solve Vermont’s health care crisis (WCAX’s “You Can Quote Me,” April 1, and Burlington Free Press, April 2). I’ll set aside detailing the factual errors ...

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Conservative shadow organization misinforms and fails to offer solutions
April 03, 2012

VTDigger Vermont Democratic Party Press Release Jesse Bragg Recently, the conservative anti-health care reform group, “Vermonters for Health Care Freedom”, underwent a change of leadership when its Director, Republican operative Darcy Johnson, came clean and decided to dedicate her efforts overtly to Republican Randy Brock’s bid to become Governor of Vermont. Taking Ms. Johnson’s place is Jeff Wennberg. Unfortunately, rather than taking the opportunity to change dire...

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Stand Firm for Health Care Reform
March 30, 2012

VTDigger Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Kelly Cummings of Fletcher, who is a member of the Vermont Workers Center’s Healthcare is a Human Right Campaign. OK, folks, here we go! Health care has made it to the big show. The United States Supreme Court. The fear mongering is really going to ratchet up, so look out! I cannot implore you enough to stand firm. As Bruce Springsteen says in his new song, “Wrecking Ball,” “Hold tight to your anger. Don’t fall to ...

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Health Information Technology is a Tower of Babel By Intent
March 29, 2012

VTDigger Editor’s note: Marvin Malek, MD, is a physician who practices internal medicine at Central Vermont Hospital. On Feb. 12, 2002, Fred Hernden, a retired Vietnam veteran, developed weakness and abdominal pain. He had recently moved to New Mexico from Woodstock, Vt. It was not by accident that the small home he bought was located near the Albuquerque Veterans Affairs Hospital. Within seconds of sitting down with Fred in the examining room at the VA, Dr. Steve Searles, Fred&rsquo...

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Exchanges temporary and mandated, but single payer only real solution
March 28, 2012

Burlington Free Press There has been a lot of discussion about the health insurance exchange — about “bronze,” “silver” and “platinum” plans. Vermont is required by federal law to implement the exchange in 2014. How can Vermont’s legislature best configure the exchange? Many people are wondering what this all means for them. Let’s remember that the exchange is just about a format to purchase private insurance. It is not the same as the si...

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Lies and Damn Lies
March 24, 2012

Brattleboro ReformerBy Richard DavisGUILFORD- In the coming months Vermonters will be subjected to lies and emotional tirades from those who oppose the direction in which health care reform is headed. Unfortunately, lies have become the accepted standard vehicle for political rhetoric in this country. The principle is that if you tell a lie long enough, people will eventually believe it.I would like to make a pre-emptive strike because it is pretty clear which lies will be presented. The best pl...

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Reform takes on tough problems of health care
March 11, 2012

Rutland HeraldMisinformation about Vermont’s health care reform effort is proliferating. At the recent forum hosted by the Republican legislators for Caledonia County, Darcie Johnston, of Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, made three major points about Vermont’s health care reform that are just plain wrong.She claimed that it will: 1) severely limit freedom of choice, 2) increase the cost of health care, and 3) create a huge bureaucracy. I’ve practiced medicine in St. Johnsbur...

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Vermonters should back health care plan for all
March 10, 2012

Burlington Free Press It is in the interest of every Vermonter to support the Vermont Legislature’s efforts to plan and implement a single-payer health care system. It is important to realize that as a single state among 50, we must comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) enacted by Congress last year. Therefore, the most recent legislation passed out of the Vermont House of Representatives, H.559, is solely working to comply with the ACA’s mandated health care exchanges. The Ve...

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Delivering A Misinformed Message On Health Care
March 09, 2012

Caledonian RecordMisinformation about Vermont's health care reform effort is proliferating. At the recent forum hosted by the Republican legislators for Caledonia County, Darcie Johnston, of Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, made three major points about Vermont's health care reform that are just plain wrong. She claimed that it will 1) severely limit freedom of choice; 2) increase the cost of health care; and 3) create a huge bureaucracy. I've practiced medicine in St. Johnsbury for 20 years ...

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Insurance or health care?
March 05, 2012

VtDiggerEditor’s note: This op-ed is by Kelly Cummings of Fletcher, who is a member of the Vermont Workers Center’s Healthcare is a Human Right Campaign.You have got to ask yourself, do you want insurance or do you want health care? If you answered health care, well, beware the Fear Monger. According to the dictionary, the term “fear mongering” means the action of deliberately arousing public fear or alarm about a particular issue. This is a tactic that historically has b...

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Compromise is bad policy and politics
February 23, 2012

Rutland HeraldThe original recommendation to require purchase of health insurance in the exchange starting in 2014 has now been downsized to include individuals and only small business with 50 or fewer employees. “Bronze” levels of coverage — policies that cover only 60 percent of medical costs — will now also be allowed to be sold in the exchange, a major retreat from the promise last year not to allow the dumbing down of coverage. This is a bad idea on a number of count...

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Single-payer is only real solution
February 16, 2012

Rutland HeraldThere has been a lot of discussion about the new health care exchange – about “bronze,” “silver” and “platinum” plans. Vermont is required by federal law to implement the exchange in 2014. How can Vermont’s Legislature best configure the exchange? Many people are wondering what this all means for them.Let’s remember that the exchange is just about a format to purchase private insurance. It is not the same as the single-payer sys...

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Single-payer health care will increase choice in Vermont
February 02, 2012

My Turn: Burlington Free PressOpponents of Vermont’s new single payer health law are fear- mongering about the supposed conse¬quences of lack of “robust choice” in the health insurance marketplace. What they ignore is that health care doesn’t work like other “products.” It is better seen as a public good, like electricity. A publicly financed, single-payer system will actually give us more choice. • Right now, employers have little choice of affordabl...

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Medicare for All Too Simple A Solution?
January 15, 2012

Burlington Free Press By Beach Conger Hardly a week goes by these days without someone asking me what I think about 'all this health care stuff' as they call it, lumping together into one wad, ObamaCare, Green Mountain Health Care, and their own particular plot of the health insurance swamp. They don't really want to know what I think, of course. Even though I am their doctor, which I realize full well. I am no fool. I have been around the block enough times to know that, even when they ...

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Single Payer Health Care Will Increase Choice
January 15, 2012

VtDigger Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Susan Leigh Deppe, a psychiatrist with a practice in Colchester. Opponents of Vermont’s new single-payer health law are fear-mongering about the supposed consequences of lack of “robust choice” in the health insurance marketplace. What they ignore is that health care doesn’t work like other “products.” It is better seen as a public good, like electricity. A publicly financed, single-payer system will actually gi...

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Single-payer still comes out on top
November 20, 2011

Rutland Herald By Ellen Oxfeld What are the potential savings from a single-payer health care system in Vermont? A recent report from the Joint Fiscal Office and the Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration has led some single-payer opponents to claim that significant cost containment can occur without single-payer. This is a spurious claim that misinterprets the report and challenges the fundamental precepts of the study the Legislature commissioned las...

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Seven reasons single-payer health care will be great for Vermont business
September 15, 2011

Burlington Free Press By Bram Kleppner One: Quality. Our health care system doesn’t produce very good health. Of the world’s 33 developed countries, the United States ranks near the bottom in health indicators like infant death, death that could have been prevented by proper health care, and life expectancy. From North America to Europe to the Middle East to Asia, people in countries with single-payer systems are consistently healthier than Americans. Healthy workers do better wor...

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The Economic Urgency of Health Care Reform
August 05, 2011

Huffington Post By Governor Peter Shumlin, Governor of Vermont Watching the events of the past several weeks in Washington has been sobering. Decades of failed fiscal policy have finally come home to roost and Congress is tied in knots trying to find a compromise solution and avoid American default. Americans rightly are scared that our leaders can't find a way out of this muddle. But the really sobering part is this: the solutions under consideration don't fix the problem. Even if Congress ...

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Universal Health Care - Can We Afford Anything Less?
August 03, 2011

Dollars & Sense magazine July/August -Gerald Friedman, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts. America’s broken health-care system suffers from what appear to be two separate problems. From the right, a chorus warns of the dangers of rising costs; we on the left focus on the growing number of people going without health care because they lack adequate insurance. This division of labor allows the right to dismiss attempts to extend coverage while crying crocodile tea...

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The Great Switch
July 28, 2011

Editorial, Rutland HeraldThe Shumlin administration is energetically selling its health care plan even before it has drawn up its details, which often means fielding questions from the public that still have no answers.Gov. Peter Shumlin and others were in Rutland this week for a forum to talk about the health care reforms that are taking shape following passage of Shumlin's health care bill earlier this year. At this point the most that Shumlin and his top health aide, Anya Rader Wallack, could...

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Vermont Leads the Way
June 15, 2011

Truthout Op-EdBy Jim Hightower"We have a problem," said House Speaker Shap Smith of Vermont. "We need to solve it."This comment reflects a no-nonsense, hands-on, can-do attitude you rarely find in legislative bodies these days. Instead, when most so-called leaders are confronted with a problem, they tend to say, "We need to cover it up," or, "Let's turn this thing into a political football." But Smith and a big majority of his Vermont colleagues refused to...

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Fertile ground for a single-payer bill
May 27, 2011

Burlington Free Press Written by Ellen Oxfeld Gov. Peter Shumlin signed the new health care bill into law Thursday. Many people may wonder how we came to this point. Why is it that Vermont is the first state to pass legislation that acknowledges that health care is a public good, and that the best route toward universal access and cost control is to create a healthcaresystem that is publicly funded? There are still many more steps to go be fore we reach this goal. One thin...

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Fear-mongering over health care
May 26, 2011

Rutland Herald By John L. Franco Jr. In a recent opinion piece, Republican Rutland City Treasurer Wendy Wilton critiqued the analysis of potential single-payer costs and savings developed for the Vermont Legislature by Harvard economist William Hsiao. Ms. Wilton purports to “prove” that a single-payer program in Vermont will be doomed from the start. Her analysis is flawed in several ways: n She first overstates the program size by about 25,000 people. A single-payer system is def...

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A State of Healthy Firsts
May 26, 2011

Vermont is a land of proud firsts. This small, New England state was the first to join the 13 Colonies. Its constitution was the first to ban slavery. It was the first to establish the right to free education for all — public education. Today, Vermont will boast another first: the first state in the nation to offer single-payer health care, which eliminates the costly insurance companies that many believe are the root cause of our spiraling health care costs. In a single-payer system, bot...

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My Turn: Canadian health care misstated
May 01, 2011

I am a medical doctor, semi-retired living in Vermont and having a limited practice. Prior to moving to Vermont two and a half years ago I practiced full time, dividing my practice between the Detroit area in Michigan and Windsor, Ontario, an hour drive from Detroit. Thus I have a substantial personal knowledge of medical practice in the USA and Canada. I have been distressed to hear opinions by Vermont medical professionals and local conservatives about the poor care available in Canada, espec...

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My Turn: Let\'s have health care access for all
March 19, 2011

Burlington Free Press The time is long overdue for this great nation to provide all of its citizen with good and accessible health care. As a public psychiatrist practicing in public clinic settings over the last 15 years I have seen how lack of insurance and underinsurance has led to extensive suffering for both individuals and their families. In my experience the hard-working middle class has been the worst affected. They make too much to be eligible for programs for the poor, but have no he...

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Single Payer System: Why It Would Save US in Healthcare
March 19, 2011

MedscapeThis piece is about single-payer health care in the United States. It includes extensive information about Vermont and highlights recent efforts to create a publicly funded universal health care system. Don Berwick, MD, helped launch the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – considered at the time to be the only health reform this country would need – when he was administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2010 to 2011.But five years later, Dr. Berwick...

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