Recent News Stories

Universal Primary Health Care: Good Idea?
September 21, 2017

Stowe Reporter As the country squabbles about the best health care system for the nation, a number of Vermonters have been pushing for guaranteed primary care for everyone in the state. But a number of questions remain to be answered, such as what primary care means and how it will be funded. In 2015, two bills proposing publicly financed primary care were introduced in the Vermont House and Senate with tri-partisan support. A study found that for $48 more per Vermonter each year, every...

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Bill Providing Primary Care for All Vermonters Viewed as First Step to Single Payer
August 21, 2017

Vermont Public RadioA plan to create a publicly financed primary health care system for all Vermonters will be a top priority for the Senate Health and Welfare committee during the 2018 session.The legislation enjoys strong support in the Senate where 13 senators have signed on to the bill as co-sponsors.The bill calls for a comprehensive study of a plan that would provide all Vermonters with primary health care services. The proposal would be financed using tax dollars; part of the study would ...

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Dozens call for universal health care
May 26, 2017

Bennington BannerBy Edward Damon edamon@benningtonbanner.comBENNINGTON — Dozens of supporters of universal health care turned out to the River Street fire facility on Friday night, calling for the implementation of Vermont's "Healthcare for All" law.High-quality, consistent care, would make for a more efficient healthcare system, according to Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman. "The system is far less expensive when we treat people early, treat people well, and take care of them so ch...

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For Forty Plus Years He's Advocated for Single Payer Health Care
April 09, 2017

 The CommonsBy Joyce Marcel Before Robert W. Backus M.D., who recently retired from family practice after nearly four decades at Grace Cottage Family Health in Townshend, rode off into the sunset, he had plenty to say about the state of the U.S. health-care system.Backus was revered by the residents of the West River Valley as one of the last of the old-time country doctors. His involvement in the lives of his patients and his community was the stuff of legends.Unfortunately, that era ...

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Save Healthcare rally in Montpelier draws couple hundred supporters
February 25, 2017

NBC5Updated: 6:25 PM EST Feb 25, 2017 Abby Isaacs, WNBC 5 ReporterMONTPELIER, Vt. —A couple of hundred people turned out for a Save Healthcare rally in Montpelier Saturday as part of Sen. Bernie Sanders' National Day of Action.The point is to resist the national Republican proposals to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and work on a universal health care system in Vermont."I think it's probably fair to say that when it comes to healthcare, Vermont is Donald Trump's nightmare," st...

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Universal Primary Care Bills Introduced!
February 10, 2017

We have great news in the fight for publicly financed health care for all Vermonters. Two new bills, S53 and H248, which propose creating publicly financed primary care for all, have been introduced with tri-partisan support!  This is a way to move forward on the roadmap laid out in Act 48 to create health care as a public good in Vermont.  Every Vermonter would be entitled to free primary care with no barriers. Accessible primary care has been shown in numerous studies to be the s...

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Vermonters Rally Opposition To Obamacare Repeal
January 18, 2017

VT Digger BURLINGTON — About 1,000 Vermonters flooded the auditorium of Burlington High School on Sunday for a rally opposing Republicans’ planned repeal of the Affordable Care Act and pushing for universal health care.The demonstration was part of a nationwide day of action spearheaded by Sen. Bernie Sanders and others and came just two days after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to initiate the swift repeal of the ACA. Sanders said 70 rallies were held from Main...

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Galbriath Plan: Universal Basic Care and Two Percent Payroll Tax
July 13, 2016

Vermont DiggerPeter Galbraith outlined a health care plan Wednesday that he said would improve Vermonters’ access to primary care while restricting hospital executive pay and “monopolistic behavior” in the health care system.Galbraith was a latecomer to the race for governor, running against Matt Dunne and Sue Minter for the Democratic nomination. The only available poll puts him behind each candidate by more than 20 percentage points.But he told reporters that his health care ...

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Dunne Embraces Universal Primary Care As Step to Single Payer
July 01, 2016

Vermont Digger Matt Dunne outlined a three-point plan on Thursday for moving Vermont to a universal health care system.Dunne, who is running against Sue Minter and Peter Galbraith for the Democratic nomination, said he would fix Vermont Health Connect, embrace payment reform under the all-payer model, and then implement a universal primary care system.All three initiatives would support his vision for shifting the state from commercial insurance plans paid for by employers and individuals t...

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Dunne Embraces Universal Primary Care As Step to Single Payer
July 01, 2016

Vermont Digger Matt Dunne outlined a three-point plan on Thursday for moving Vermont to a universal health care system.Dunne, who is running against Sue Minter and Peter Galbraith for the Democratic nomination, said he would fix Vermont Health Connect, embrace payment reform under the all-payer model, and then implement a universal primary care system.All three initiatives would support his vision for shifting the state from commercial insurance plans paid for by employers and individuals t...

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Health Care Advocates Duel Over Funding For Expansion Studies
April 12, 2016

Vermont Digger There’s a showdown in the Statehouse between two universal health care advocates who are seeking funding to move closer to single-payer health care in Vermont.Peter Sterling, the architect of Dr. Dynasaur 2.0, has persuaded the House to give his coalition $310,000 in state and federal money to study how to expand one of the state’s most successful Medicaid programs to everyone under age 27. The program currently covers low-income and lower-middle-income kids up to...

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New Report Says Universal Primary Care Could Work In Vermont
January 04, 2016

 Vermont Public RadioLawmakers and administration officials abandoned their push for a single-payer health care system over a year ago. Advocates of a publicly funded program haven’t given up on the concept, however, and a new report could re-ignite a debate over whether to socialize portions of the health care system in Vermont.Dr. Deb Richter is head of Vermont Health Care for All, and was among the leading proponents of single-payer health care in Vermont. When the proposal fell of...

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Session Preview 2016: Medicaid, all-payer reform, universal primary care to dominate health care agenda
January 03, 2016

VTDiggerThe No. 1 issues for lawmakers this year is how to pay for a growing gap between Medicaid spending and the state’s share of the cost.The Medicaid gap in the 2016 fiscal year is between $30 million and $40 million. (The number varies based on projections.) The state faces another gap of $50 million to $60 million in fiscal year 2017.....(continue to site for rest of story). ...

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Vermont's health exchange stands as a cautionary tale in Vermont, frustrations mount over affordable care act
June 10, 2015

Rutland Herald: Just a few years ago, Vermont lawmakers in this left-leaning state viewed President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act as little more than a pit stop on the road to a far more ambitious goal: single-payer, universal health care for all residents.Then things unraveled. The online insurance marketplace that Vermont built to enroll people in private coverage under the law had extensive technical failures. The problems soured public and legislative enthusiasm for sweeping ...

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Where government excels
April 10, 2015

The New York Times:April 10, 2015Where Government ExcelsBy Paul KrugmanLike all advanced nations, America mainly relies on private markets and private initiatives to provide its citizens with the things they want and need, and hardly anyone in our political discourse would propose changing that. The days when it sounded like a good idea to have the government directly run large parts of the economy are long past.Yet we also know that some things more or less must be done by government. Every eco...

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Health Connect Leaves Low Income Vermonters Struggling
March 28, 2015

Seven Days VT: As 2014 drew to a close, 24-year-old Alissa Carberry hoped that her insulin pump wouldn't need to be replaced. Carberry has Type 1 diabetes, a chronic disease that requires expensive medication and constant monitoring. On paper, she was lucky: She had insurance through her employer, Burlington Children's Space, so her monthly insurance premiums were covered.Yet Carberry still struggled to pay her medical bills. She faced a $1,900 deductible before her insurance — obtain...

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House Health Reform Package Pared Down to $52 million
March 16, 2015

VTDiggerThe House health care reform package has been revised downward to $52 million, according to figures from the legislative Joint Fiscal Office posted Friday.The package is supported by a 0.3 percent employer payroll tax, which is expected to raise $39 million, plus a 2 cent per ounce excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, which would generate $31 million.....[continue to VTDigger website for the rest of the article]...

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Democrats Discuss Health Reforms
March 11, 2015

Valley NewsBy Rick JurgensValley News Staff WriterHartland — About 20 people responded to a call from the Windsor County Democratic Committee and gathered in Damon Hall Monday evening to discuss how to keep the banner of health care reform raised during a period of state budget deficits and public skepticism fueled by the woes of Vermont’s health insurance website.Deborah Richter, a doctor and chairwoman of Vermont Health Care for All, urged her listeners — including three Demo...

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Universal primary care proposal makes legislative debut
February 15, 2015

VT Digger: A tri-partisan group of House lawmakers has introduced a bill that would publicly finance universal access to primary care services in Vermont.The bill, H.207, would create a dedicated Universal Primary Care Fund within the Treasury to make capitated payments to health care providers that would cover primary care for all Vermont residents.The legislation’s primary sponsor, Rep. Leigh Dakin, D-Chester, a member of the House Health Care Committee, is a career nurse who has wo...

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UVM medical center has grown into a billion-dollar monolith
January 21, 2015

Seven Days VT:  It started as a three-story brick manor on 35 open acres overlooking downtown Burlington. With a $400,000 inheritance from her parents, Queen City resident Mary Martha Fletcher financed construction of the original hospital on the hill in 1879.The medical center has since mushroomed into a dense building complex. It has gobbled up other area hospitals — the nearby Bishop DeGoesbriand Memorial and Fanny Allen in Colchester — and sprouted satellite operations acros...

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UVM health network, BCBS supports parts of Shumlin's premium reduction plan
January 20, 2015

 Vermont Digger:Vermont’s largest hospital network and its largest health insurer both say they are on board with Gov. Peter Shumlin’s health reform proposal, which will rely on their support.Shumlin wants to levy a 0.7 percent payroll tax to raise $92 million to pay for the package, which — along with a slew of related initiatives — would increase Medicaid payments. The program for low-income Vermonters doesn’t cover costs incurred by providers, causing them t...

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Shumlin reverses course on health records
January 19, 2015

Shumlin reverses course on health recordsBy DAVE GRAMThe Associated PressMONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin has reversed course and is withholding from the media some of the documents that helped shape his decision to shelve his push for a single-payer health care plan.When he announced last month that he was dropping the main goal of his administration, Shumlin promised in response to a reporter’s question to release “any documents you wish to look at.”But in recent days, m...

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Some say protest hurt single payer cause
January 15, 2015

Rutland Herald: MONTPELIER — A sentiment is brewing inside the State House that protests staged there this week may have hurt the cause they were hoping to boost.The Vermont Workers’ Center organized protests Thursday during the inaugural ceremony for Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin. Hundreds of supporters of a single-payer health care system sang, chanted and disrupted proceedings during the afternoon before staging a House chamber sit-in that ended with the arrest of 29 people.Anger ...

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Vermont workers' center at the fore of health care advocacy
January 15, 2015

 Vermont Digger: Last week’s pro-universal health care demonstration during Gov. Peter Shumlin’s inaugural address drew attention locally and nationally, and left many wanting to know more about its organizers — the Vermont Workers’ Center, which has grown substantially in the past five years.Founded nearly two decades ago as Central Vermonters for a Livable Wage, the nonprofit labor and human rights group has evolved into a substantial grassroots organization.I...

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Advocate says ACA could pave the way for state single payer plan
January 15, 2015

Vermont Digger: The single payer advocacy group Vermont Leads says the state could still implement a publicly financed universal health care program in the next three to four years.New elements of the Affordable Care Act will continue to change the health insurance market in ways that will increase the public’s appetite for a sweeping new program, according to Peter Sterling, the group’s executive director.Gov. Peter Shumlin’s recent single payer report highlights two “st...

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Miller, Lunge, and Costa: Fact matter when facing hard choices
January 11, 2015

 Vermont Digger: Editor’s note: This commentary is by Lawrence Miller, Robin Lunge and Michael Costa, chief, director and deputy director respectively of Health Care Reform for the Shumlin administration.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 ...

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Money gap, fears of business backlash led to single payer demise
January 11, 2015

 Valley News: “Missed it by that much.” With that exclamation, secret agent Maxwell Smart, the hero of the 1970s television comedy Get Smart, would shrug and seek to placate his skeptical boss in the wake of a comical misassessment of the facts and situation at hand.Substitute Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin for Smart, and Vermont’s voters for the skeptical boss, and you have a workable description of the administration’s labored explanations of the decision in Decem...

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Moving on with healthcare after Statehouse protests
January 11, 2015

 WPTV News Channel 5: MONTPELIER, Vt. —They sang, they screamed, and they sat in silence on the floor of the statehouse for hours. In all, 29 people were forced out by police Thursday night.One day later, the focus is on what kind of impact, if any, the demonstration will have on any revival of Gov. Peter Shumlin's single-payer health care plan.“This is literally a life and death issue,” said James Haslam, head of the Vermont Workers’ Union, as he stood by Thur...

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Shumlin releases single payer report, says decision was never politcal
January 01, 2015

Vermont Digger: Gov. Peter Shumlin says speculation that his decision to abandon plans to move forward with a single payer program after the election was not politically motivated.The governor announced on Dec. 17 that he would pull the plug on his signature universal publicly financed health care program because the cost would be prohibitive.The 57-page report detailing how and when his administration came to that conclusion was released just after 4 p.m. Tuesday. The report is accompanied by h...

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With single payer shelved, Progressives may shelve Shumlin
January 01, 2015

Rutland Herald: The political ascendance of Peter Shumlin came thanks in part to support from the Progressive Party. But the Democratic governor’s decision to shelve single-payer health care last week could shatter that alliance.One of the first calls Shumlin made after announcing his stunning reversal on single-payer health care was to Burlington Rep. Chris Pearson. Pearson is a leader of the Vermont Progressive Party, a political organization that has long pushed for a universal, pu...

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Why Vermont pulled the plug on single payer health care
January 01, 2015

Modern Healthcare:Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin stunned the healthcare policy world last week when he announced the state was scrapping plans to create a single-payer system. The state said the economics didn't work, but not everyone is convinced.“This is all politics,” said Gerald Friedman, a healthcare economist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. “The most interesting thing in the governor's statement is how little has changed in the economics.”Shumlin has long...

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Single payer in Vermont enters utility phase
January 01, 2015

Valley News:The push for health care reform in Vermont entered a new phase last week, when Gov. Peter Shumlin announced that he would abandon his attempt to design a system that used broad-based taxes and other public sources to replace premiums paid by employers and employees. The sticker shock of the necessary taxes and fees would just be too great, he said.Although no longer united under the “single-payer” banner that so enthused progressives locally and nationally, reformers say ...

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How Vermont's single-payer health care dream fell apart
December 22, 2014

Note: VTHCA does not think single payer has fallen apart for Vermont, only that we need to find a way forward to implement it in stages.  However, this is a good news analysis of the most recent events.VOX.com: It was Friday, December 12, when Robin Lunge began worrying that Vermont's single-payer plan was doomed.Lunge, Gov. Peter Shumlin's director of health reform, had spent weeks trying to make the math work for a public health insurance plan that would cover all Vermonters. Si...

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Shumlin team to push less ambitious health plan
December 22, 2014

Times Argus: MONTPELIER — After Gov. Peter Shumlin dropped his long-sought goal of a universal, publicly funded health care system last week, key members of his health care team immediately got back to work picking up less ambitious pieces of the plan. Appearing Wednesday before reporters and two boards that had advised him, the second-term Democrat said there were steps the state can still take in a bid to reduce health care costs. The less ambitious steps described by aides ...

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VT For Single Payer Response to Delay of Act 48
December 21, 2014

Offical Response from Vermont for Single Payer on Governor Shumlin's announcement not to put forth a financing plan for Green Mountain Care and to delay the transition to a single payer health care system in VermontThis week’s announcement by Governor Shumlin not to proceed with Act 48 as outlined was a major disappointment to Vermonters.To be clear, Gov. Shumlin never said, “Single Payer is Dead.” That was a headline produced by the media. While it is true the path we were on ...

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Interview with Gov. Shumlin
December 19, 2014

WDEV The Mark Johnson Show: Governor Shumlin discusses decision to not pursue a single-payer health care system. Listen to the one hour interview with  Mark Johnson....

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Single-payer dies in Shumlin's biggest disappointment
December 18, 2014

 Burlington FreePress: MONTPELIER – Calling it the biggest disappointment of his career, Gov. Peter Shumlin says he is abandoning plans to make Vermont the first state in the country with a universal, publicly funded health care system.Going forward with a project four years in the making would require tax increases too big for the state to absorb, Shumlin said. The measure had been the centerpiece of the Democratic governor's agenda and was watched and rooted for by single-payer...

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Responses range from disappointment to ‘I told you so’
December 18, 2014

Rutland Herald: MONTPELIER — Reaction was plentiful Wednesday to Gov. Peter Shumlin’s announcement that he would not pursue his signature policy goal of a single-payer health care system for the state.Advocates who favored his dream of a universal, publicly financed health care system expressed disappointment, while opponents said they were pleased the policy was being shelved.The following is a sampling of reaction from across the state: Scott Milne, Republican nominee&nbs...

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Shumlin scraps single payer plans
December 18, 2014

Rutland Herald: MONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin swiftly and abruptly abandoned his longtime pledge to deliver a single-payer health care system to Vermonters on Wednesday, citing the “enormous” 11.5 percent payroll tax it would levy on Vermont’s small businesses and a financing system that would run deficits just a few years into the program.Shumlin delivered his surprise announcement to his Business Advisory Council and Consumer Advisory Council as well as the media and ...

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Mixed Reactions In Wake Of Shumlin's Single Payer Surprise
December 18, 2014

Vermont Public Radio: Gov. Peter Shumlin’s decision to abandon his plan for single-payer health care has spurred feelings of relief, anger, surprise and confusion. And the political bombshell has everyone trying to figure out what’s next for health care reform.About 60 protestors made their way down Main Street in Montpelier on Thursday, carrying cardboard effigies of the same Democratic governor they worked to elect not so long ago.These demonstrators had stuck by Shumlin polit...

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REP. BILL LIPPERT TO PLAY PIVOTAL ROLE AS CHAIR OF HOUSE HEALTH CARE
December 17, 2014

Vermont Digger: Knowledgable sources say Rep. Bill Lippert will chair the House Health Care Committee. The Democrat from Hinesburg has served in the House for 20 years. Paul Heintz, a columnist for Seven Days, broke the story.In his role as chair of House Judiciary, Lippert helped to lead the passage of the state’s gay marriage in 2009. The state enacted a bias-free policing bill in 2012 under his leadership. Last year, Lippert oversaw the vetting of the GMO labeling bill, which was e...

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Business survey shows support for paid sick leave, universal health care and better support for child care
December 16, 2014

 Brattleboro Reformer: MONTPELIER >'> A survey of business owners released by an advocacy group shows that a majority support mandatory sick days, universal health care and better funding for child care.Forty-nine percent of respondents would support a minimum number of sick days for employees; 58 percent supported a universal health care system, and 60 percent would like to see more public funding for child care in Vermont.The non-scientific poll of 259 small business owners fro...

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Critical Months Ahead for Single-Payer Advocates
December 15, 2014

Huffington Post, By Wendell Potter: Two weeks from now, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin will describe how he thinks the country's first state-based single-payer system will be financed. Whether the Green Mountain State keeps moving forward with its goal of achieving universal coverage while also reducing the growth of health care spending depends largely on how the state's residents and businesses react to what Shumlin has in mind.Vermont lawmakers passed a bill in May 2011 that set the state on...

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The anti-greed: Universal health care
December 14, 2014

 Rutland Herald: I am writing this letter to ask my neighbors, in this season of giving, to join us as we stand up to corporate greed, demand dignified, meaningful work and make a case for health care as a human right. My name is Kris White, and I live in Grand Isle. I am a mother, a FairPoint worker and a steward in my union, Communication Workers of America Local 1400, which, along with our sister union, IBEW Local 2326, is striking against a shameful anti-human trend in this countr...

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Vermont's Health Care Reform Office releases 2nd health care explainer video
December 11, 2014

 Bennington Banner: MONTPELIER >> The Office of Health Care Reform today released the second in a series of videos designed to raise awareness about the current health care financing system in Vermont.WATCH VIDEO HEREThe video shows how for some Vermonters, monthly health care premium costs can eat up over 10 percent of their yearly income. And that's before co-pays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs are taken into account."Health care is expensive and the way we cur...

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Large Employers Grow Wary Of Single-Payer Plan
December 11, 2014

 VPR: Some of the state’s largest employers are on edge over the Shumlin administration’s plan to lure them into a single-payer health care system. And business officials worry that new taxes on those companies could drive them out of state.Gov. Peter Shumlin won’t unveil his single-payer financing proposal until the end of the month. But in an interview on VPR last week, Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding revealed that the plan will likely seek new revenues from ...

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TOO MUCH COST SHARING IN HEALTH EXCHANGE, ADVOCATES SAY
December 10, 2014

 VT Digger: Alissa Carberry, 24, is an early childhood educator working at a nonprofit in Burlington’s Old North End. She has type 1 diabetes and employer-sponsored health insurance from Vermont Health Connect.Carberry said she has become active with Vermont’s Health Care is a Human Right campaign because she can’t keep up with the cost of managing her condition.Alissa Carberry, who has type 1 diabetes, is working Vermont’s Health Care is a Human Right campaign ...

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HEALTH CARE ADVOCATES PUSH FOR ‘EQUITY’ IN SINGLE-PAYER FINANCING
December 09, 2014

 VT Digger: BURLINGTON — Members of Vermont’s Health Care Is a Human Right campaign are calling on Gov. Peter Shumlin to “equitably” finance the state’s planned universal health care program.Advocates say the Shumlin administration’s single payer program should be supported by a progressive tax structure that doesn’t shift costs from large businesses to smaller ones and individuals.“Green Mountain Care should be funded by a mix of income ...

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REACTIONS TO DETAILS OF SINGLE PAYER FINANCE PLAN
December 07, 2014

VT Digger: Rich Harvie wants to see universal publicly financed health care succeed in Vermont, but he’s not sure a payroll tax is a good way to get there, the co-owner of Montpelier Pharmacy said Friday. Harvie has 41 employees at three locations, and though some are part time, he pays the full premium for health insurance bought on the exchange for 16 of his employees and, in some cases, their families. Click to read all....

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SINGLE-PAYER HEALTH CARE Gruber emails show plan still developing
December 07, 2014

 Times Argus - MONTPELIER — Emails between the state and an economist under fire for impolitic comments he made years ago highlight the administration’s work since the summer preparing a long-awaited financing plan for Gov. Peter Shumlin’s proposed universal, publicly financed health care plan.Shumlin, a second-term Democrat who won a slim plurality last month and is expected to be selected for a third term by the Legislature in January, has promised to deliver his fi...

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SHUMLIN BACKS OFF SINGLE PAYER PLAN
December 07, 2014

Vermont Digger: Gov. Peter Shumlin will not pursue a single payer health care plan this legislative session or in the near future.The governor had pinned his hopes on making Vermont the first state in the nation to implement a single payer system.Three years ago, Shumlin touted Act 48, the framework for single payer as an unparalleled political achievement. Wednesday, the governor said economic conditions precluded making that dream a reality. Click here to read the entire article. ...

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Shumlin promises health care financing plan
December 03, 2014

Burlington Free PressMike Donoghue, Free Press Staff WriterGov. Peter Shumlin said Wednesday he plans to have his new health care financing plan unveiled by the end of this month.Shumlin also released a new video designed to highlight what the governor maintains is the often unfair, complex and hidden way in which health care is currently funded in Vermont.The governor said he plans to disclose by Dec. 29 or 30 his vision of single payer's proposed benefits and public-financing proposals for Gre...

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Shumlin Releases Single Payer Promo Video Ahead Of Financing Plan
December 03, 2014

VPR By Peter Hirschfeld Four years ago, Gov. Peter Shumlin vowed to institute a single-payer health care system in Vermont. Later this month, he’ll finally tell Vermonters how he plans to pay for it. Shumlin is among the most gifted political sales people in Vermont history. But he’s got his work cut out for him on his signature policy venture. After spending his first two terms in office singing the virtues of single-payer, Shumlin says he’s now on the verge of actually re...

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Single payer advocates rally support in statehouse
December 02, 2014

VTDiggerThe November election that unseated a number of Democratic lawmakers and nearly cost Gov. Peter Shumlin his job was not a referendum on the state’s plans for a single payer health care system, according to proponents of reform.Historically low voter turnout and frustration with rising property taxes were larger factors on Election Day, said Peter Sterling, director of the health care reform group Vermont Leads...continue to site...

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Health reform advocates push for single-payer health care
December 02, 2014

WCAX By Kyle MiduraMONTPELIER, Vt. -Health reform advocates say November's election results should not stop the state from pursuing single-payer health care.Groups like the state's teachers union and state employees association laid out their arguments at a news conference Tuesday morning.The advocates argue November's election, which saw Republicans make gains in the Legislature and left the governor's race unsettled, was not a referendum on plans for a universal health care system.Proponents a...

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Health reform advocates urge Vt. move to single-payer system
December 02, 2014

WPTZBy Stewart LedbetterMONTPELIER, Vt. —Supporters of a plan for Vermont to become the first state in the country to enact a single-payer health care system are urging the governor and Legislature to move forward with the plan without delay.Sixteen groups, including the state employees' and teachers' unions said Tuesday that the November election results should not slow the push to adopt Green Mountain Care, the state's universal, publicly funded system."We need to do this," Ver...

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Advocates continue single-payer health push
December 02, 2014

Burlington Free PressLisa Rathke, Associated PressMONTPELIER Supporters of a plan to make Vermont the first state in the country to enact a single-payer health care system urged Gov. Peter Shumlin and the Legislature on Tuesday to move forward with the overhaul, despite Shumlin's narrow victory in the November election.Sixteen groups, including the state employees and teachers unions, held a Statehouse press conference to rebut critics of Green Mountain Care who say the election was a referendum...

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Legislators Face Serious Headwinds in Move to Single-Payer
November 29, 2014

Valley NewsWhite River Junction — Vermont’s path-breaking health care reform project seems headed into daunting terrain that will challenge legislative leaders to find common ground, stay true to their principles and deal with increasingly difficult political and budget realities.“I’m seeing a yellow blinking light,” said state Rep. Sarah Copeland-Hanzas, a Bradford Democrat who supports a so-called single-payer system of universal, publicly funded health insurance....

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Access to VHC difficult for navigators and patients alike
November 25, 2014

VTDiggerBy Morgan TrueAbout 70 navigators have had trouble accessing their Vermont Health Connect accounts since the start of open enrollment earlier this month, making it difficult for them to help people sign up.Security upgrades made during the two months the state’s health exchange was offline caused some navigators to lose access to their accounts, said Sean Sheehan, a spokesman for VHC....continue article on site...

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Despite election, health pros stay the course
November 23, 2014

Rutland Herald By Patrick McArdle STAFF WRITER | November 23,2014 A close gubernatorial election raised questions about support for Gov. Peter Shumlin’s proposed single-payer system and the future of health care in Vermont — but those working in the industry say their goals haven’t changed. Bea Grause, president of the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, said her members have priorities other than just how to pay for health care. “I think single pa...

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State: No More Pay for Gruber
November 20, 2014

Times Argus By Neal P. Goswami VERMONT PRESS BUREAU MONTPELIER — The economist under fire for his remarks regarding American voters and a Vermont commentator is being asked to complete his contract with the state but will receive no further payments, state officials said Wednesday. The governor’s chief of health care reform, Lawrence Miller, said Jonathan Gruber has been told he will not be paid for any further work under the $400,000 contract he signed with the state in July...

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Shumlin Committed to Single Payer, Vows to Listen, Learn
November 12, 2014

VTDIgger In a wide-ranging news conference Wednesday, Gov. Peter Shumlin repeated his commitment to single payer health care but promised to listen to Vermonters who feel he’s moving too fast on that and other issues. Holding his first full-blown news conference since his narrow victory over Republican Scott Milne in last week’s election, Shumlin promised to “talk, listen and learn” from the results....continue to site.....  ...

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GOP expected to try to slow health changes
November 11, 2014

Burlington Free PressMONTPELIER – Health care was already going to be a big issue in the upcoming Vermont legislative session, with the Shumlin administration overdue to present its financing plan for universal coverage.But now some older battles may be fought anew, as Republicans prepare to question the path the state is on and advocates for what is often called single-payer health care prepare to defend it.House Minority Leader Don Turner said Tuesday that House Republicans, still in the...

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What might transitioning to the federal exchange mean for Vermonters?
November 10, 2014

VTDigger By Morgan True Republican lawmakers are calling for the state to scrap Vermont Health Connect and join the federal health care exchange, but the implications of such a move are unclear. Vermont Health Connect has never worked properly and is currently propped up by a number of manual processes. It was taken offline in mid-September, but is expected to relaunch Saturday for open enrollment, a three-month period in which consumers can buy or renew health insurance...continue to sit...

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Future of single payer in doubt
November 10, 2014

Times ArgusBY NEAL P. GOSWAMI VERMONT PRESS BUREAUMONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin’s near defeat coupled with the ouster of the House Health Care Committee chairman in Tuesday’s midterm election have some saying the governor’s single-payer health care proposal is no longer feasible in Vermont’s post-election political landscape.But others, particularly advocates of Shumlin’s vision for health care reform, argue the political setback suffered by Shumlin and some...

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Single Payer Hits Snag As Shumlin Falters At Polls
November 10, 2014

Vermont Public RadioBy Peter HirschfeldGov. Peter Shumlin had previously vowed to make Vermont the first state in the country to adopt a single-payer health care system. But after a near miss in last week’s election, the Democrat might to be backing away from that pledge.The promise of single-payer health care has been part and parcel of Shumlin’s political identity. From the kickoff of his inaugural gubernatorial campaign in 2010, to the launch of his latest reelection bid this fall...

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Administration Hopes Payroll Tax Will Pressure Exempt Companies To Join Single Payer
November 09, 2014

 VPR: Gov. Peter Shumlin says he'll unveil his financing plan for a single-payer health care system at the end of this month and the administration has made a critical decision to impose new payroll taxes on large companies that are exempt from being part of the Green Mountain Care program."You can not force them to participate in Green Mountain Care if they want to maintain they own program but on the flip side you can not leave them out very easily on the pay in side." - Ad...

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Can single payer now proceed? Some doubt it
November 07, 2014

Rutland HeraldBY NEAL P. GOSWAMI VERMONT PRESS BUREAUMONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin’s near defeat coupled with the ouster of the House Health Care Committee chairman in Tuesday’s midterm election have some saying the governor’s single-payer health care proposal is no longer feasible in Vermont’s post-election political landscape.But others, particularly advocates of Shumlin’s vision for health care reform, argue the political setback suffered by Shumlin and s...

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What will the election mean for single-payer?
November 05, 2014

VTDigger For many observers, Rep. Mike Fisher’s defeat in the Addison 4 district came as a surprise, and as a rebuke of Vermont’s push for single-payer health care. Fisher, an eight-term incumbent Democrat, serves as Chair of the House Health Care Committee, and helped to craft Act 48, the legislation putting Vermont on a path to single-payer. “Having him out of the picture is a big loss,” said Dr. Deb Richter, president of Vermont Health Care For All, a single-payer...

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Republican Mailer Accuses Dems of \'Taking Over Medicare\'
November 03, 2014

VTDigger Anne Galloway John Mattison and Valerie Mullin, Republican candidates for the House, sent out a last-minute mailing to voters this weekend that accuses Democrats of attempting to “take over your Medicare.” The mailing is targeted at Democratic Reps. Herb Russell, Dave Sharpe and Mike Fisher. Mattison is vying with Russell for a Rutland City seat, and Mullin is in a hotly contested race with Fisher, chair of the House Health Care Committee, and Sharpe, the ranking mem...

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Old Mistakes, New Problems, Haunt Vermont Health Connect
October 31, 2014

VTDigger Morgan True With two weeks before the Vermont Health Connect web portal is due to go back online, state officials insist users will enjoy a smooth open enrollment period. But internal documents provided to VTDigger show that while new registrants — who are expected to number about 8,000 — may have an improved experience, the exchange is far from resolving issues for its existing customers. And just getting through open enrollment will cost as much as $20 million, the do...

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Medicare Becomes Hot Issue in Governor's Race
October 29, 2014

Vermont Public RadioBob KinzelIn the final weeks of the campaign, the future of Medicare benefits for Vermont seniors has become a hotly debated issue in the race for governor.It's an explosive subject because candidates who suggest changes to Medicare risk losing the support of many voters over 65.So how did Medicare become an issue in the governor’s race? When Act 48, the landmark health care reform law, was passed in 2011, it contained a provision that allowed the state to “assume...

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New report: Vt. could save millions if schools transition to single-payer health care
October 29, 2014

WCAXBy Shelby CashmanBURLINGTON, Vt. -Vermont schools could save millions of dollars in health care costs according to a new report released Tuesday.The study was ordered by the Vermont School Boards Association and it documents the enormous cost of providing health care to teachers and staff at the state's K-12 schools. It shows what switching to either single-payer or a Gold plan under Vermont Health Connect could save schools. But without actually seeing what single-payer looks like, critics ...

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Correction: State No Longer Looking to Administer Medicare
October 26, 2014

VTDiggerAnne GallowayTwo recent stories about the relationship between Medicare and Green Mountain Care, the state’s planned universal publicly financed health care program – often called single-payer – were inaccurate. The stories were based on statutes on the Legislature’s website that had not been updated.The online statutes do not reflect the latest changes made by the Legislature in 2014.Section (e) of chapter 18, Public Private Universal Health Care System, in Title...

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Study:Health Care Reforms Could Save Property Taxpayers Tens of Millions of Dollars
October 17, 2014

VTDigger Anne Galloway Taxpayers and school districts could save tens of millions of dollars if school staff were insured on the Vermont health care exchange or through a single payer system, according to a new report. Districts could see a $39 million statewide drop in health care premium costs if school districts offered gold level insurance plans to school staff under the exchange, according to the report, which was commissioned by the Vermont School Boards Association....continue to sit...

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Single Payer: "We haven't figure it out yet"
October 14, 2014

Rutland HeraldBy Neal P. GoswamiVermont Press BureaMONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin is adamant that his plan for a universal, publicly financed health care system is on track to move forward in the coming legislative session. But as the months have ticked by without a financing plan from the governor, some key stakeholders and allies have begun to express doubts.According to Act 48, the legislation passed in 2010 that laid the foundation for the so-called single-payer Green Mountain Care pl...

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Poll: Many Insured Struggle With Medical Bills
October 13, 2014

NOTE: Although this news story is not about Vermont, it also helps to show one of the consistent problems with private insurance plans.  Many people have high deductible plans and have to pay so much money before the plan actually kicks in that costs are still a barrier to care, and many people delay or put off treatment altogether because of the costs. In Vermont, about 1/3 of the population is  underinsured in this way due to high deductible plans. Washington Post By Associated P...

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Professor appointed to Green Mtn. Care Board
October 08, 2014

Burlington Free PressGov. Peter Shumlin has appointed a Middlebury College economics professor to fill a vacancy on the Green Mountain Care Board.Jessica Holmes replaces Karen Hein, who didn’t seek a re-appointment when her term ended. Holmes will serve a six-year term.“Jessica has extensive academic and professional experience in health care economics,” Shumlin said. “She comes to the board with an in-depth knowledge of how the health care system is funded currently, and...

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New Report Examines Medical Service Price Variation
October 06, 2014

VTDiggerBy Morgan TrueA new report prepared for the Green Mountain Care Board confirms wide variations in the price of medical services throughout the state and examines policy approaches to regulate them.Prices that Vermont’s 14 hospitals and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire receive from commercial insurers vary by between 72 percent and 132 percent of the average price received, according to the report.The study also found wide variance in the payments received by hosp...

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Shumlin Talks Health, Education Reform
October 04, 2014

Valley NewsBy Rick JurgensValley News Staff WriterWest Lebanon — Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin promised Friday to continue to push for health care and education reforms if re-elected but said that no fresh injections of funding are expected for Vermont’s overloaded mental health care and prison systems.In a wide-ranging 75-minute talk with Valley News editors and reporters, the second-term Democrat sounded a familiar theme: The importance of boosting the economy and bringing good jobs t...

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Shumlin Team in D.C. to Seek Waivers for Single-Payer Health Care
October 01, 2014

VTDiggerBy Morgan TrueGov. Peter Shumlin and his top health care officials were in Washington, D.C., last week to discuss waivers to federal programs that would allow Vermont to move forward with a single-payer health care program.Traveling with Shumlin were Robin Lunge, director of health care reform; Lawrence Miller, chief of health care reform; Al Gobeille, chair of the Green Mountain Care Board; and Anya Rader-Wallack, a consultant managing a large federal grant funding health care innovatio...

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September 27, 2014

Vermont Public RadioBy Bob  Kinzel Montpelier — State Auditor Doug Hoffer says an upcoming audit of Vermont Health Connect will reveal if the Shumlin Administration has effectively dealt with many of the problems that have surfaced at the exchange’s website. The results of the audit could play a critical role in the Legislative debate about the future of health care in Vermont, Hoffer said. It’s been a very difficult year for the state’s health care exchange sin...

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Details Still the Hang-up on Vermont Health System
September 25, 2014

Stowe TodayTwo state officials tried last Friday to sell a room full of hospital executives on the state’s pending universal health insurance system by appealing to its fairness, while offering scant details on how the state would raise the $2 billion to fund it.Their remarks came during a panel discussion at the annual meeting of the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, held at Stoweflake Resort in Stowe.“There are only two types of taxes: simple taxes and fair taxes...

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Advotcate Says Exchange Copays Hurt Low Income Vermonters with Chronic Conditions
September 21, 2014

VTDiggerBy Morgan TrueMany people with chronic health conditions who are covered through Vermont’s exchange are finding it difficult to pay out-of-pocket costs for care, a consumer advocate says.Trinka Kerr, who leads Legal Aid’s Office of Health Care Advocate, told lawmakers this week that the problem is the way health plans offered through Vermont Health Connect are designed.People with chronic conditions that require frequent treatment, such as diabetes or heart disease, and who f...

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Payroll tax eyed to fund health care
September 20, 2014

Valley NewsBy Rick JurgensValley News Staff WriterStowe, Vt. — A roomful of hospital executives listened raptly Friday as a pair of Shumlin administration officials shared their thoughts, but few details, about how the state could raise $2 billion to pay for a universal health insurance program that could take effect in 2017.A comprehensive plan spelling out how much revenue would come from a payroll tax or other sources won’t surface until January, while details of what benefits the...

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Brock forgot all those old streets
September 18, 2014

Stowe TodayTo the Editor:I would like to reply to Mr. Randy Brock’s column (Stowe Reporter Sept. 11), “Health Care parable: You can’t get there from here.”Mr. Brock’s parable is interesting, but excessively incomplete. He missed many of the streets leading into the “Old Free Market.” These are streets like “Claim Denial Street,” “High Deductible Road,” or “Medical Debt Way.” Then there is “No Insurance” hig...

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State Takes Vermont Health Connect Website Offline
September 16, 2014

VTDiggerWINOOSKI — The Vermont Health Connect website was taken down Monday night and will remain offline to correct functionality problems and allow for improvements to data security, state officials said Tuesday.Customers who need to report changes in income or make changes to their coverage or personal information will need to contact the customer service call center at 855-899-9600. Everyone with health insurance purchased through the exchange is still covered, officials said.Officials...

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Health care dominates gubernatorial debate
September 14, 2014

Times ArgusBy Amy Ash NixonHealth care dominates gubernatorial debate : Times Argus OnlineTUNBRIDGE — Gov. Peter Shumlin, hoping to persuade voters to re-elect him so he can implement the nation’s first single-payer health care system, was pressed at the first 2014 gubernatorial debate Saturday to share details of the plan before the election.The Democratic governor said he would if he could, but the plan will not be ready until January.Mark Johnson of radio station WDEV moderated t...

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Corren challenges Scott's skepticism of single payer
September 14, 2014

Burlington Free PressIs it OK for a candidate to say he is skeptical about a policy direction, or is that a way to avoid making a commitment on an issue that some voters see as controversial?That question underlay the first debate Friday between Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, who is seeking a third term, and challenger Dean Corren, who is running as a Progressive and Democrat.Corren has said he is in the race because he wants to help the Shumlin administration and Democratic Legislature complet...

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In Campaign Kickoff, Shumlin Vows To Finish Job On Single-Payer
September 09, 2014

VPR NewsBy PETER HIRSCHFELDPeter Shumlin has kicked off his bid for a third term in the governor’s office. And the Democrat says he won’t rest until he’s put a single-payer health care system in place.Vermont is one of only two states where governors serve two-year terms. And the brevity of the span between elections means sitting governors are pretty much always on the stump.Gov. Peter Shumlin is no exception. And he’s spent much of the past summer using his official app...

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High Deductible Plans Lead to Increase in Bad Debt, Hospital Says
September 08, 2014

VTDiggerBy Morgan TrueThe state’s second-largest hospital says high deductibles and out-of-pocket costs for some health insurance plans sold through Vermont Health Connect are contributing to its rising bad debt.Rutland Regional Medical Center is projecting that its uncollectible accounts will grow by $729,151 this year over last, an increase of close to 10 percent in the first year of the state’s health exchange marketplace.A portion of that is due to the increase in people choosing...

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Vermont set to become trailblazer for single-payer health care
August 08, 2014

St. Louis Post-DispatchBERLIN, Vt. • Dr. Marvin Malek has been yearning and advocating for a publicly financed, single-payer health care system for at least two decades. Now, as Vermont stands on the threshold of being the first state to launch such a plan, he’s confessing to trepidation.“I am pretty damn nervous,” he confided before bounding off for rounds at the Vermont Central Medical Center, still clutching the bicycle helmet he wore on his ride to work.It’s not...

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Lawmakers got sneak preview of single payer financing plans
August 04, 2014

VTDiggerIs it legal for the Shumlin administration to keep financing plans for the single payer health care system a secret? Even when those plans have been shared with House legislative leadership?Those are the questions at the heart of a lawsuit brought by Rep. Cynthia Browning, D-Arlington, against the state of Vermont.Gov. Peter Shumlin has used executive privilege, a legal doctrine that protects his decision-making process, to keep the deliberations of the Business Advisory Council on Healt...

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State, CGI agree to part ways in September
August 04, 2014

VTDiggerAfter months of pressuring CGI to repair the state’s dysfunctional health care exchange website, the state of Vermont is finally cutting ties with the IT firm.Lawrence Miller, chief of health care reform, announced Monday that the state has reached an exit agreement with the Canadian technology company and the remaining Web development work that needs to be finished will be carried out by OptumInsight, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, a national insurance company.Miller said the...

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Group endorses single-payer supporters
August 04, 2014

Burlington Free PressWith the primary election fast approaching on Aug. 26, and early voting already underway, political advocacy groups are becoming active.One organization that supports government-financed health care recently weighed in on four House races and one Senate race. Vermont Leads wants to help voters differentiate among the Democrats based on who is committed to help the state move to a single-payer health system."We wanted to be involved in the primary," said Peter Sterl...

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Coming to America, very quietly: A plan for universal health care
July 24, 2014

The Canadian PressBURLINGTON, Vt. - An American state has quietly taken another step toward the type of universal health coverage Canadians might recognize, even as the rest of the United States bickers noisily over so-called Obamacare.Two court challenges to President Barack Obama's signature health-care reform got all the attention this week while, beneath the radar of the national media, one of that program's architects began working for the government of Vermont to help set up America's firs...

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Obamacare Architect To Help Vermont Design Single Payer
July 22, 2014

VPR An economist who helped the Obama administration design the Affordable Care Act is coming to Vermont to help Gov. Peter Shumlin develop a proposal for single-payer health care. And his work will help decide which taxes Shumlin will propose using to raise the $2 billion needed to support the new system. Jonathan Gruber is an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his most recent claim to fame is as a key advisor in the creation of Obamacare. The Shumlin administration t...

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Sterrett’s goal: Get VT to single-payer finish line
July 14, 2014

Burlington Free PressThe man holding the chart Thursday for Dean Corren, Progressive candidate for lieutenant governor, was working a year ago as health care counsel for Public Citizen, a nonprofit based in Washington D.C. with a mission to promote the interests of the public with Congress and government agencies.At Corren’s news event, David Sterrett, 37, introduced himself as the candidate’s campaign coordinator.Sterrett’s professional career took a turn after he co-wrote a P...

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Legislature To Conduct Independent Analysis of Health Care Costs
July 02, 2014

VPRAs Vermont heads down the path toward a single-payer health care system, lawmakers want to make sure the options are affordable for taxpayers and consumers. And the economic analysis about to be launched by the Legislature may duplicate similar work being performed for the Shumlin Administration.Gov. Peter Shumlin wants to institute the nation’s first state-based single-payer health care system. But before policy makers can move to a public financed program, they need to understand how ...

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Auditor's Report Says State Could be Doing More to Make Health Care Costs Transparent to Consumers
June 25, 2014

VTDiggerMorgan TrueVermont is not meeting a legal obligation to use its health care claims database to provide the public with consumer information, according to a new report from the State Auditor’s Office.The report also found that Vermonters are taking on a growing amount of liability for their health care costs.The number of high-deductible health plans has grown from 21 percent of the commercial market to 34 percent in three years from 2009 to 2012. A deductible is the amount one pays...

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State hires contractor to evaluate Shumlin\'s single-payer financing options
June 24, 2014

VTDigger Morgan True Bids on a state contract to evaluate financing plans for a public, universal health care program in Vermont were due Tuesday. The selected vendor will design microeconomic models that will allow the Shumlin administration to test the economic impact of the different financing plans. The universal health care system is expected to cost the state between $1.8 billion and $2.6 billion in the first year of operations, according to Robin Lunge, director of Health Care Reform. ...

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State to hire analyst for single-player design
June 22, 2014

Rutland HeraldThe Associated PressMONTPELIER — The state plans to hire an analyst to help design a single-payer health care system, and officials are narrowing the options that could be used to raise about $2 billion in public financing for the program.Potential bidders for the single-payer design include consultants for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Rand Corporation.“There are three big things we’re looking for,” said Michael Costa, deputy director of...

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State Seeks Economists To Vet Single-Payer Financing Plan
June 18, 2014

VPR News By Peter Hirschfeld The Shumlin Administration will soon enlist outside analysts to help design a single-payer health care system. And state officials are beginning to narrow the options they could use to raise about $2 billion in public financing for the program. Potential bidders for the latest single-payer contract up for grabs in Vermont include consultants from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Rand Corporation. Michael Costa, the administration official in char...

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FLETCHER ALLEN CEO CONCERNED ABOUT SUSTAINABLITY OF SINGLE PAYER
June 09, 2014

By: MORGAN TRUEThe CEO of Vermont’s largest hospital and health care system is concerned about whether a publicly financed health care program can consistently bring in enough money to cover the needs of all Vermonters.But state officials say they’ll be able to design a program that avoids the budgetary battles that plague Medicaid, the state-run health care program for the poor, and other government programs that rely on appropriations of state money.Much of the dialogue around...

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Health care conundrum
June 08, 2014

 Rutland Herald Online Insurance rate hikes proposed by Vermont’s two principal health insurers have raised new questions about whether the state will be able to afford the plan by Gov. Peter Shumlin to move to a single-payer health care system in 2017.Supporters of a single-payer system say the state can’t afford not to move to single-payer. But the Shumlin administration has yet to unveil a financing plan for its single-payer proposal, leaving many Vermonters wondering ab...

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Health care conundrum
June 08, 2014

 Rutland Herald Online Insurance rate hikes proposed by Vermont’s two principal health insurers have raised new questions about whether the state will be able to afford the plan by Gov. Peter Shumlin to move to a single-payer health care system in 2017.Supporters of a single-payer system say the state can’t afford not to move to single-payer. But the Shumlin administration has yet to unveil a financing plan for its single-payer proposal, leaving many Vermonters wondering ab...

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Single Payer: Where do we go from here?
May 21, 2014

A Panel Discussion hosted by Senator Bernie Sanders Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt)Robert Weissman, President, Public CitizenGerald Friedman, Professor, Economics, University of Massachusetts at AmherstDr. Margaret Flowers, PopularResistance. orgDr. Andrew Coates, President, Physicians for a National Health ProgramMichael Lighty, Director of Public Policy, National Nurses United  Dr. Andrew Coates:   In a modern democracy, it seems to me that it’s a ...

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Health reform — outside legislative spotlight in 2014
May 18, 2014

 Burlington FreepressBy: Nancy Remsen, Free Press Staff WriterMONTPELIER – Health care reform could easily have been the spotlighted topic of the 2014 legislative session given the nonstop headlines about Obamacare and insurance exchanges for the past six months.Add to that the fact that Gov. Peter Shumlin and the 2011 Legislature put the Vermont on a course leading to Green Mountain Care, a government-financed health insurance system that would cover all Vermont residents beginning i...

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Universal health care funding to be based on ‘ability to pay’
May 17, 2014

Vermont Business MagazineBy: Timothy McQuistonCiting as examples of what Vermont has done for renewable energy and the local food movement, Governor Peter Shumlin pushed for universal health care in a speech made at the closing of the Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility annual meeting. The 24th annual VBSR meeting was held Wednesday at UVM’s Davis Center in Burlington.The governor, while urging VBSR members "to call your legislator" to get him to craft the necessary laws...

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Analysis: On Its Third Birthday, Shumlin's Single Payer Deserves A Smallish Cake
May 16, 2014

VPRBy HAMILTON E. DAVISThe Legislature’s adjournment last week marked a third birthday of sorts for Gov. Peter Shumlin’s single-payer health care reform plan. The campaign has done well in some areas, not so well in others. It probably deserves a smallish cake.At the birth of the single-payer push in mid-winter of 2011, the Shumlin team had to accomplish four fundamental tasks, all of them difficult:The first and most important was to get health care costs under control. Those costs ...

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DEADLINE FOR HEALTH CARE FINANCING PLAN A MERCURIAL TARGET FOR LAWMAKERS
May 14, 2014

 VT DiggerBy: MORGAN TRUE It happened on several occasions throughout the legislative session, first with the budget and then with a health care reform bill.House Republicans tried, but were unable, to put a deadline in statute for Gov. Peter Shumlin to deliver a financing plan for Green Mountain Care, Vermont’s planned universal health care program.They argued that the governor failed to deliver in 2013 when Act 48, the state’s health care reform law, called for a financing pla...

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Legislative leadership rescues health care reform bill
May 09, 2014

Vermont DiggerBy: Morgan TrueDemocratic leadership has found a way to resurrect a health care reform bill that earlier in the week looked as though it was on life-support.In its new form, S.252, a bill that originally set deadlines for the development of financing plans for Green Mountain Care, now includes no scheduled date requirement for the Shumlin administration to reveal how it plans to pay for a government-funded universal health care system.Sen. Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden, had said at a Tu...

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HEALTH CARE REFORM BILL COULD FALL APART IN CONFERENCE
May 06, 2014

 Vermont DiggerBy: MORGAN TRUEAfter gathering testimony from dozens of witnesses and spending hours crafting a bill in several committees starting in January, the Legislature’s primary piece of health care legislation this session is likely going nowhere.Sen. Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden, is chair of the Senate Committee on Finance. Photo by Roger Crowley/for VTDiggerSen. Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden, is chair of the Senate Committee on Finance. Photo by Roger Crowley/for VTDiggerThe bil...

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The Ken Thorpe problem
April 24, 2014

 Vermont Digger Lots of buzzing in political circles the past week or so, regarding the possible existence of a "Plan B" on health care reform. A mysterious Plan... from beyond the limits of our galaxy... threatening the American Way of Life™ with its hideously alien ideas... Who Can Stop This Menace From The Stars?... Er. Ahem. Sorry. Word of this Plan B came first from VPR's Pete "Scoop" Hirschfeld, who got hold of a memo written by Ken Thorpe, health care ex...

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CONSULTANT’S MEMO STIRS SINGLE-PAYER CONTROVERSY
April 17, 2014

 Vermont DiggerPress reports about a supposed “Plan B” that would replace Gov. Peter Shumlin’s universal health care proposal has stirred controversy again this week in the Statehouse.But a memo from a legislative consultant outlining a watered down version of single-payer doesn’t appear to have backing from lawmakers – or at least not publicly.The Legislature hired consultant Ken Thorpe to help lawmakers sort through the complexities of developing a universal ...

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Shumlin Says Single-Payer Alternative Based On 'Failed Model'
April 16, 2014

 Vermont Public RadioBy JOHN DILLONGov. Peter Shumlin is dismissing a legislative consultant’s plan that lawmakers could use as an alternative to the administration’s single-payer health proposal.The concept memo was drafted for the Legislature by health care economist Ken Thorpe. His plan was conceived as an alternative to single-payer, and would extend health coverage for more Vermonters by relying on state and federal subsidies as well as the existing insurance-based system.S...

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Canadians spending more out of pocket on health care
April 16, 2014

 CBC News Faster increases in spending for lower-income households may result in 'inequities,' StatsCan saysCBC News Posted: Apr 16, 2014 10:26 AM ET Last Updated: Apr 16, 2014 10:44 PM ET Out of pocket health-care spending 4:20Report highlights dental surgery rate in kids 2:15 Related Stories Unfilled Prescriptions, Dr. Brian Goldman Private health insurance in Canada deemed inefficient Treating poverty works like medicine, doctors sayExternal Li...

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HOUSE COMMITTEE LOOKS TO SET FEBRUARY DEADLINE FOR HEALTH CARE FINANCING PLAN, ADDS CONSEQUENCE
April 15, 2014

 Vermont DiggerA new legislative proposal would freeze the funding for the Shumlin administration’s transition to a universal health care program if officials don’t present lawmakers with public financing details by February 2015.“The clock is running out. They have got to deliver us a plan by that time if (the program) is going to be viable,” said Rep. Mike Fisher, D-Lincoln, chair of House Health Care.Robin Lunge, the administration’s director of Health Care ...

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HOUSE LAWMAKERS LOOK TO TAKE ON PRESCRIPTION DRUG COMPANIES IN PUSH FOR TRANSPARENCY
April 13, 2014

This article is not directly connected to Vermont creating a single payer health care plan but one aspect of single payer is controling costs.Vermont Digger The amendment, submitted by committee chairman Rep. Mike Fisher, D-Lincoln, would require pharmacy benefit managers to report the percentage or dollar amount they pocket on each claim charged to an insurer in addition to what is paid to pharmacies for filling and dispensing prescriptions.It would also require the benefits managers to re...

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STATE AUDITOR TO TAKE ON VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT ROLLOUT
April 11, 2014

 Vermont Digger Doug HofferThe Vermont state auditor plans to look into how money was spent on Vermont Health Connect.Auditor Doug Hoffer said he will conduct a performance audit of the state-run online insurance marketplace, perhaps later this year. He has not determined what the scope of the audit will be.The problems associated with the Vermont Health Connect website have been well-documented.Recently, a state consultant released a detailed report that said a smooth rollout of the o...

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Miller to leave Commerce to head Shumlin’s health care reform
April 10, 2014

Vermont DiggerLawrence Miller’s job of fronting the state’s health care reform effort will not end anytime soon.Gov. Peter Shumlin on Thursday tabbed Miller, Secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, to become his senior adviser and chief of health care reform.Replacing Miller at ACCD will be Patricia Moulton, who previously held key positions in the administrations of Shumlin and former Gov. Jim Douglas. The changes will become effective around June 1, Secretary...

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House, Senate Ponder Single-Payer Details
April 10, 2014

Vermont Public RadioBy Peter HirschfeldLess than three years from now, Vermont is scheduled to make the transition to a single-payer health care system. And while the all-important question of how to pay for it has been put off until 2015, lawmakers say it’s time to start making some tough decisions about what that future system will look like.Act 48 is the landmark statute that set Vermont on a course toward a publicly financed, universal health care system. But the law left plenty of de...

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Single Payer Would Boost Economy
April 10, 2014

Single Payer ActionA publicly funded, universal health care system would aid businesses by engendering a more dynamic economy, taming costs and freeing businesses that provide health insurance of the costs of administering benefits and subsidizing the nation’s health care, a Public Citizen report concludes.“Small businesses have rated the cost of health insurance as their top concern for a quarter century, and large businesses struggle with health care obligations that their int...

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Vermont’s work on health-care far from done
April 09, 2014

Vermont Commons OnlineBy Randolph T. Holhut/The CommonsGUILFORD—Vermont likes to think of itself as a leader in health care, but Peter Sterling will quickly tell you that doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is fine.There are 44,000 uninsured Vermonters, he says, and 70 percent cite cost as the reason why.If you are enrolled in Vermont Health Connect, Sterling says people have to pay up to 30 percent of their gross income for health care should an individual or family reach their...

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Forget Obamacare: Vermont wants to bring single payer to America
April 06, 2014

Vox.com by Sarah Kliff on April 9, 2014 Saskatchewan is a vast prairie province in the middle of Canada. It’s home to hockey great Gordie Howe and the world’s first curling museum. But Canadians know it for another reason: it’s the birthplace of the country’s single-payer health-care system. In 1947, Saskatchewan began doing something very different from the rest of the country: it decided to pay the hospital bills for all residents. The system wa...

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MARGOLIS: WHAT ABOUT WHAT WENT RIGHT?
April 03, 2014

Vermont Digger Editor’s note: Jon Margolis is VTDigger’s political columnist.“What Went Wrong?” was how WCAX-TV (Channel 3) introduced its lead story last Friday evening, a story about the troubles of Vermont Health Connect.A lot had gone wrong, according to a report by the BerryDunn McNeil & Parker consulting firm. To be both brief and pitiless, the report concluded that some of the folks putting together the state’s online health insurance market didn&rsq...

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What would a single-payer system look like?
April 03, 2014

Sunday morning MSNBC UP with Steve Kornacki interview Rep. Chris Pearson about Vermont's plans to create a single payer health care system. Click to watch Part 1Click to watch Part 2 ...

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Healthcare expert forecasts bumpy road in Vermont
March 31, 2014

Addison Independent By John FlowersMIDDLEBURY — Green Mountain Care Board member Dr. Allan Ramsay urged Addison County’s medical community to be patient as the state transitions to a new health care system that he acknowledged will be fraught with change and challenges.“One of the things I’ve learned intensely over the past two years is that change is very hard,” Ramsay said at Porter Medical Center’s annual meeting last week. “It is very hard ...

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Dems defeat ultimatum on single-payer plan
March 29, 2014

Rutland HeraldBy DAVE GRAMMONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin was spared a tough squeeze Friday when his fellow Democrats in the Vermont House defeated a demand that he soon produce a financing plan for the universal, state-backed health care system he wants to launch in 2017.The battle was fought in a series of amendments on a budget bill, and concluded with one offered by a Democrat, Rep. Mitzi Johnson, D-South Hero, that was much less tough than alternatives offered by minority Republicans ...

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Shumlin: 'Don't Quit' On Single Payer Before Work Begins
March 27, 2014

Vermont Public RadioBy Bob KinzelGov. Peter Shumlin is fiercely defending his plan to implement a single payer health care system after Senate President John Campbell expressed concerns about the plan.A number of Democrats are reluctant to commit to a single payer plan before there’s a comprehensive review of the $2 billion financing system that will be needed to pay for it. Some Democratic lawmakers worry that moving to a single payer health care system in several years could be a politic...

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New Group Puts $100k Behind Single Payer Push, Says Much More Likely Coming
March 20, 2014

 Vermont Public RadioBy PETER HIRSCHFELDVermont's Coalition for Universal Reform is an advocacy organization pushing for single payer health care.The fight for single payer health care promises to be one of the heaviest political lifts in state history. And a new group is about to put some financial weight behind the lobbying push.Vermont’s Coalition for Universal Reform is barely off the ground. But the issue advocacy organization already has $100,000 in the bank, thanks to a single ...

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SENATE PUSH AHEAD WITH HEALTH CARE REFORM, IN WAKE OF ADMINISTRATION DELAYS
March 19, 2014

 Vermont DiggerThe Vermont Senate doesn’t intend to sit on its hands when it comes to health care reform this session.Frustration with the troubled rollout of Vermont Health Connect has undermined public confidence in the state’s ability to execute reform plans, and senators say they are intent on ensuring the same mistakes aren’t repeated in the transition to a universal publicly financed health care system.That same experience has left the Shumlin administration cagey ab...

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Legislators want to set February 2015 deadline for universal health care funding plan
March 16, 2014

 Vermont Biz Magazine  by Morgan True vtdigger.org A new legislative proposal would freeze the funding for the Shumlin administration’s transition to a universal health care program if officials don’t present lawmakers with public financing details by February 2015. Governor Shumlin wants the universal program to go live on January 1, 2017. But fiscal year 2017 begins on July 1, 2016, and lawmakers want to have enough time to develop and pass a funding scheme, whi...

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Health care leaders join Shumlin to create new cost reduction program
March 13, 2014

Vermont DiggerHealth care providers and insurers joined Gov. Peter Shumlin Wednesday to announce two new programs they hope will contain system-wide costs and improve treatment quality.“We all know that as we move to the first sensible health care system in America we’ve got to find a way to deliver better quality care for less of a cost increase,” Shumlin told a group of reporters at the Green Mountain Care Board offices in Montpelier.The so-called “shared-savings”...

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Watch an expert teach a smug U.S. senator about Canadian healthcare
March 12, 2014

This national story includes our own Senator Sanders and a short but informative video! Los Angeles TimesWhere to start? Dr. Danielle Martin of Women's College Hospital, Toronto, tries telling Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C) what he doesn't know about Canadian healthcare.By Michael HiltzikMarch 12, 2014, 10:50 a.m. A U.S. politician's I-don't-need-no-stinkin'-facts approach to health policy ran smack into some of those troublesome facts Tuesday at a Senate hearing on single-payer h...

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What the U.S. Health Care System Can Learn from Other Countries
March 11, 2014

Vermont DiggerWASHINGTON, March 11 – A Senate panel chaired by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) heard today that other major countries offer better health care at less cost than the United States.“What this hearing is really about is two fundamental issues. First, the U.S., the wealthiest country on the planet, is the only major industrialized country in the world that does not guarantee health care as a right to its citizens. Should we consider joining the rest of the world? I’d ar...

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Lawmakers Work To Meet 2015 Deadline For Single Payer Financing Plan
February 28, 2014

Vermont Public RadioBy: Bob KinzelLegislative leaders say putting together a plan to finance a single payer health care system during the 2015 session is a very aggressive goal.But they say it’s also a timeline that’s critical to meet if the state is going to implement a publicly financed system in 2017.The two key finance committees at the Statehouse, the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, have spent a lot of time during the first half of the sessi...

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Single payer critique does not hold up
February 28, 2014

Stowe TodayBy: Lee Russ, BenningtonRep. Heidi Scheuermann’s column “Single-payer system: an unhealthy choice” (Feb. 20) spends more time criticizing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and our state’s online health exchange than it does explaining her opposition to single payer health care. It makes no sense to use problems with the ACA rollout as a justification for opposing Green Mountain Care (GMC), the completely different publicly funded universal health care program plann...

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Former House Whip Joins Shumlin's Single-Payer Team
February 26, 2014

Vermont Public RadioBy Peter Hirschfeld Former House Majority Leader Floyd Nease, who left the Statehouse in 2011, has been tapped to join Gov. Peter Shumlin's single payer team. In this Jan. 5, 2011 file photo, Nease speaks with Secretary of State Deb Markowitz.Credit Toby Talbot / APAs the Shumlin Administration fine tunes its case to lawmakers for a publicly financed health care system, the governor is tapping a familiar name to help make the sale.Former House Majority Leader Floyd Nease left...

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Teachers' Pet: The Vermont-NEA Polishes An Apple For Single Payer
February 26, 2014

Seven Daysby Paul Heintz @paulheintzNearly two months into the legislative session, the scene at the Statehouse remains unusually slow.It's the calm before the storm.Next spring, if Gov. Peter Shumlin gets his way, the legislature will vote on a historic, expensive and politically perilous bill to finance the governor's long-sought goal of providing universal health insurance.But to get there from here, he'll need a legislature that has his back. That's why the state's biggest union — the ...

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Head Of Green Mountain Care Board Ready To Discuss New Taxes
February 24, 2014

Vermont Public RadioBy Bob Kinzel Green Mountain Care Board Chair Al Gobeille, pictured here at the Vermont Statehouse on Jan. 7, says an affordable, publicly-financed health care system will require additional tax revenue.Credit Angela Evancie / VPRAl Gobeille, the chair of the Green Mountain Care Board, says additional tax revenue will be needed in order to make a publicly-financed health care system affordable for all Vermonters.And Gobeille says he won't shy away from the challenge.While the...

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Board Works Toward A Single-Payer System By 2017
February 21, 2014

Click on the direct link above to listen to the 45 minute recording of  this Vermont Edition.By Bob Kinzel and Patti DanielsThe Green Mountain Care Board is trying to create an affordable, publicly financed health care system for Vermont by 2017. The chair of that board, business-owner Al Gobeille, says the current financing system is a mess.“Two-thousand years from now, someone will find our health care financing system and it will be our Mayan calendar,” says Gobille. “T...

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Vermont NEA puts $80,000 into pro-single-payer advocacy group
February 20, 2014

VPR By Peter Hirschfeld The state’s largest union is throwing its weight, and its money, behind the push for single-payer health care. And the move by the Vermont teachers union lends considerable strength to what will be the heaviest political lift of Gov. Peter Shumlin’s career. Labor groups have had good reason to be skeptical of single-payer. Their members already tend to enjoy premium health insurance benefits. And many union members fear they’ll be asked to pay more ...

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Health tax hike raises concern
February 07, 2014

Times Argus OnlineMONTPELIER — A Shumlin administration proposal to double the tax on health care claims will add significant costs to businesses and individuals already struggling to pay for health care, opponents of the plan told the House tax-writing committee Wednesday.Meanwhile, members of the House Ways and Means Committee signaled they will seek alternative ways to plug holes in health care budgets.Laura Soares, president and CEO of the Vermont School Boards Insurance Trust, told th...

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Single-payer would require up to $2.18B in taxes
February 07, 2014

By Neal P. GoswamiVermont Press BureauMONTPELIER — Taxpayers will need to raise between $1.77 billion and $2.18 billion to cover the costs of Gov. Peter Shumlin’s proposed single-payer health care system, according to a consensus cost estimate revealed Thursday.The consensus figures fall between the estimates of two earlier reports. An analysis by the University of Massachusetts for the Shumlin administration pegged the cost at about $1.6 billion.A report by Avalere Health on behalf ...

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New Report Shows Success In Controlling Spiraling Health Care Costs
February 06, 2014

By: Bob Kinzel The Vermont Blueprint for Health is a public-private statewide program that’s designed to transform the delivery of health care. Now there’s solid evidence to demonstrate that the program can help reduce overall health care costs.The Blueprint program encourages primary care providers to create community health teams to develop a comprehensive treatment approach for individual patients. It also creates a system where the physicians and their teams can be reimbursed for...

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HOUSE HEALTH CARE COMMITTEE QUASHES BILL TO DELAY SINGLE-PAYER
February 05, 2014

Source: VT Digger A bill that would delay the implementation of Green Mountain Care, the state’s planned universal public health care program, won’t make it out of committee.The bill was sent to the House Health Care Committee, which voted Wednesday on bills it plans to work through before crossover. H.858, which would push the governor’s single payer plan to 2019, didn’t make the cut.“It’s disappointing but not surprising,” said Rep. Patti Komline,...

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GOP takes stand against single-payer plan
February 03, 2014

MONTPELIER — The Republican State Committee approved resolutions Saturday formally opposing Gov. Peter Shumlin’s single-payer health care plan, and putting more pressure on Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, the party’s only statewide candidate, to declare his own position.One resolution approved Saturday at the Montpelier Elks Club urges “legislative and statewide candidates to publicly oppose single-payer/government run health care due to the negative impacts on the state’s eco...

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Shumlin: Timing Key For Single-Payer
January 29, 2014

Hanover — The biggest challenge in moving Vermont toward a single-payer health care system is time, while the political will to achieve it still exists at the state and federal levels, Gov. Peter Shumlin said Monday.“Governors have very short shelf-lives. We really do. And we also know that in order to get what we need to get done... we don’t want to have to work with a president that we don’t know,” Shumlin told a crowd of 120 health experts at Dartmouth Coll...

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Bucks spent, buzz begins on Green Mountain Care
January 28, 2014

NANCY REMSEN Free Press Staff Writer12:36, Jan 28, 2014MONTPELIER — The earliest launch date for Green Mountain Care is January of 2017, but at the Statehouse it feels like the switch to this state-financed health insurance system covering all Vermonters is imminent.Several legislative committees schedule time each week to talk about issues related to Green Mountain Care and both the Shumlin Administration and the Legislature are hiring consultants."The committees want to ...

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Can Canadian-Style Healthcare Work in America? Vermont Thinks So.
January 22, 2014

  This post has been updated on January 24 to reflect new information.While the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, has been criticized by its opposition as “socialized medicine,” it relies heavily on private health insurance. On the other end of the political spectrum is the idea that a government-run single payer system, similar to Canada’s, is the best way to deliver health care. (This is sometimes shorthanded in the U.S. as “Medicare for All.”) How...

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Lawmakers Tap $10,000-A-Month Consultant To Help Assess Single Payer
January 21, 2014

VPR By PETER HIRSCHFELDVermont lawmakers are at a critical juncture in their quest for a publicly financed health care system. And they’re bringing aboard a $10,000-a-month consultant to help them get it right.The Legislature already has a small staff of fiscal analysts to call on. But as lawmakers undertake the most ambitious health care reform agenda in state history, they’re spending some money on outside experts.“When you’re talking about doing a $1.6 billion...

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Lawmakers push the single-payer financing issue
January 20, 2014

Times Argus Online: MONTPELIER — Lawmakers have begun looking at how to finance a single-payer health care system that Gov. Peter Shumlin hopes will be his crowning achievement.Shumlin, a second-term Democrat, wants to launch a universal, publicly financed health care system known as Green Mountain Care in 2017. He has repeatedly told lawmakers that the financing plan to support the system, which his administration has estimated will cost $1.6 billion in its first year, will be...

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CCTV’S UNDER THE DOME: REP. CHRIS PEARSON – HOUSE HEALTH CARE OVERVIEW
January 19, 2014

 Lauren Glenn-Davitian, executive director of CCTV’s Center for Media and Democracy, interviewed Rep. Chris Pearson, P-Burlington, on Feb. 3, 2014.Representative Chris Pearson (Burlington), member of the VT House Committee on Health Care provides an overview of current health care discussions, prospects for financing proposed Vermont’s Universal Health Care system, use of Results-Based Accountability in Legislative policy making, the re-introduced “Economic Bill of Rights&...

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Single-Payer Financing
January 17, 2014

Vermont Public Radio The man in charge of developing the financing mechanism for Gov. Peter Shumlin’s single-payer health care plan made his first appearance of the year before the Legislature Friday. That man is Michael Costa, a lawyer whose title in the Shumlin Administration is deputy director of health care reform. But Costa isn’t tipping the administration’s hand about what taxes will be used to pay for the new system. Shumlin has told lawmakers he’ll roll out ...

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Panel considers road to single-payer
January 14, 2014

Rutland HeraldBy WILSON RINGThe Associated PressMONTPELIER — The House Health Care Committee on Friday began lining up some of the “heavy lifting” tasks that will have to be finished before the state can roll out its first-in-the-nation single-payer health care system scheduled for 2017.The committee heard from legislative staff members and outlined the details that have yet to be worked out — such as who would be covered and when to seek formal permission from the federa...

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Shumlin pitches single-payer to legislators
January 08, 2014

Rutland HeraldBy Neal P. GoswamiVermont Press BureauMONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin took the rare step of appearing before a legislative panel on the opening day of the legislative session, reasserting his commitment to a single-payer health-care system.The state is in the midst of implementing Vermont Health Connect, the state-operated online health- insurance marketplace required under the federal Affordable Care Act. But Shumlin said current reform efforts are simply “nibbling aro...

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Peg Franzen, human rights advocate, is remembered
December 16, 2013

Times ArgusBy Peter HirschfeldVermont Press BureauBARRE — Even now, Joyce Werntgen can’t quite recall how her new friend convinced her to host counseling sessions for struggling teenagers inside her home.Werntgen was a single mother of three young children at the time, and wasn’t particularly interested in taking on the task. But she did it, as most people tended to do, when Peg Franzen was doing the asking.“If there was something that needed attention, or a group of peop...

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Health care – exchange and single payer – dominate House Democrats’ caucus
December 15, 2013

VTDiggerThe Democratic members of the Vermont House of Representatives met at the Statehouse Saturday for a taste of what’s to come during the second half of the two-year biennium.Gov. Peter Shumlin told Democratic lawmakers to “plow the ground” for a single payer health care system this year and “take the criticism, take the bullets,” before tackling a financing mechanism in 2015. He asked them hold off on new tax proposals until then.House Speaker Shap Smith, mean...

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Health Care is Front and Center for Democrats
December 15, 2013

Times ArgusMONTPELIER — As Democratic lawmakers struggle to help constituents navigate the troubled waters of the new insurance exchange, Gov. Peter Shumlin said Saturday their difficulties are all the more reason for legislators to keep their eyes on the single-payer prize.“If ever there is an example in this nation … for why we need to take the Affordable Care Act and make it even better,” Shumlin said, “it is evidenced across this country by the roll-out of the ...

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Problems aside, health care changes help many
December 15, 2013

Times ArgusMONTPELIER — Much has been made of all the tumult surrounding the rollout of the federal Affordable Care Act.But for a significant swath of the Vermont population, the arrival of the new law has brought with it the solution to many of their health care problems.Revised income eligibility limits mean that about 40,000 residents of the state have become newly eligible for Medicaid, the federal health care subsidy that provides free insurance to the poorest citizens in the nation.T...

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Balance shifts on health care committee
December 14, 2013

Times ArgusBy Peter HirschfeldVermont Press BureauMONTPELIER — The balance of power in the House Committee on Health Care will shift in favor of Democrats next year when House Speaker Shap Smith drops a Republican from the 11-person panel and replaces him with a member of the ruling party.Gone from the committee, Smith said late Friday evening, is Rep. John Mitchell, a Republican from Fairfax now headed to the House Committee on Education. Replacing him is incoming Democratic Rep. Kathy Ho...

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First steps to single-payer health care eyed
December 09, 2013

Rutland HeraldBy Peter HirschfeldVermont Press BureauMONTPELIER — In an attempt to avoid some of the same operational challenges they continue to encounter on the new online insurance exchange, administration officials are asking lawmakers for money to begin preparing now for the next phase of reform: single-payer health care.Robin Lunge, director of health care reform for Gov. Peter Shumlin, asked the House Committee on Appropriations last week for more than $200,000 in mid-year budget ad...

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Man charged with creating single-payer finance system faces challenge
December 06, 2013

VTDigger Finding a way to pay for a health care system that doesn’t yet exist is a daunting task. And as Vermont marches toward single-payer health care by 2017, that task largely falls to Michael Costa, the state’s deputy director of health care reform. Speaking to an audience of tax and insurance professionals Friday at the 41st annual Vermont Tax Seminar in Burlington, Costa mapped out his plan for getting there. Preliminary studies peg the cost at $1.6 billion of public mone...

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Shumlin to rely on payroll tax hikes
September 05, 2013

Times-Argus By Peter Hirschfeld Vermont Press Bureau MONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin said increases in the payroll tax will “play a major role” in the public financing system he wants to use to fund single-payer health care. The public discussion over single-payer has taken a back seat of late to the health insurance “exchange” set to come online in the beginning of October. The new online marketplace, a product of the federal Affordable Care Act, will offer c...

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Al Gobeille succeeds Anya Rader Wallack as head of health care board
August 01, 2013

VTDiggerPosted By Andrew Stein On August 1, 2013 Prominent Burlington restaurateur Al Gobeille took over as chair of Vermont’s Green Mountain Care Board on Thursday.With his rise to the board’s top seat comes the exit of Anya Rader Wallack — a central architect of the bill that created the board and its first chair. The board’s mission is to control the growing cost of health care in Vermont, and Wallack stepped down from the post almost two years into her seven-year term...

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Shumlin administration gearing up for the nitty-gritty of single payer
July 29, 2013

VTDigger   Gov. Peter Shumlin put Vermont on a path to creating the nation’s first single payer health care system when he signed Act 48 in 2011. But since then, his administration has made little progress up that mountain, drawing questions and accusations from the far political left and right about the governor’s sincerity. Now, Shumlin and his team are beginning to shift gears, planning the implementation of a publicly funded, universal health care system. In the past two ...

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Sequester cuts changing Vt. hospital budgets
July 07, 2013

Rutland Herald By Brent CurtisSTAFF WRITERFederal budget cuts have hit hospitals across the state, provoking a new assessment of medical spending and putting dozens of jobs on the line in an effort to preserve care while restraining costs.Days after Rutland Regional Medical Center president Thomas Huebner said the hospital was eliminating 100 full-time-equivalent jobs — mostly due to a $4 million loss in Medicare reimbursements — administrators at other state hospitals said they...

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While hospitals cut jobs, CEO pay continues to rise
June 11, 2013

NOTE: This is not an article on Vermont, as it is about hospital costs trends nationally, but it is relevant to Vermont as well, since hospital costs in Vermont, as elsewhere, are a large part of total health care costs.By Ron ShinkmanFierce Health FinanceAlthough hospitals are cutting jobs and compensation, pay for their chief executive officers continues to rise.According to the Boston Business Journal, a majority of Massachusetts' hospital systems reported a decline in expenses for compensati...

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Why Vermont's Health CO-OP Is on Life Support
June 05, 2013

Seven DaysBy Kathryn Flagg [06.05.13] On the surface, the Vermont Health CO-OP seems like the kind of endeavor the state would embrace with open arms. Using federal funds from so-called “Obamacare,” the South Burlington-based nonprofit wants to offer a member-owned alternative to much-maligned corporate insurance companies. All of its profits would be reinvested to lower health-care costs and expand coverage.What’s not to like, especially in a state that goes gaga for co-ops?Pl...

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Many questions await health care implementation
May 27, 2013

Rutland Heraldwww.timesargus.com/apps/pbcs.dll/articleBy Art Edelstein, CorrespondentGreen Mountain Care, the state-mandated health care program that will affect businesses with less that 50 employees when implemented in 2014, has many in the business community confused and apprehensive about what the new law means for their companies.“It’s confusion wrapped up in mystery,” asserts George Malek, who heads the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce.“There is a lot of competin...

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Vermont Health CO-OP denied chance to sell health insurance through exchange
May 22, 2013

VTDigger Posted By Anne Galloway On May 22, 2013 A state regulatory agency has denied a license to the Vermont Health CO-OP to sell health care insurance in Vermont. The Vermont Health CO-OP sought a certificate of public good to sell health insurance in the new state exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act. The nonprofit, mutual member-owned health insurance company failed to show the Department of Financial Regulation that it would be financially solvent in the first few years o...

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Shumlin’s commitment to single payer health care questioned
May 21, 2013

VTDIggerPosted By Andrew Stein On May 21, 2013 When Gov. Peter Shumlin signed Act 48 into law in 2011, he set Vermont on a path toward a single payer health care system.Two years later, lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle are questioning his sincerity. And a strategy to draw up a financing plan for a single payer system is nowhere in sight.Act 48 required Shumlin’s Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding to submit a recommendation for the “amounts and necessary mechanism...

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Cigna leads Vermont health insurers in denied claims
May 19, 2013

VTDiggerPosted By Andrew Stein On May 19, 2013 Chart shows differences in Cigna compensations filings.When Cigna disclosed its claims denials and executive compensation to the state, the publicly traded health insurance company revealed the highest rejection rate in Vermont. Its 2012 filing also contained some key inconsistencies.The public disclosure, which arrived 25 days after its due date on March 1, painted a very different view of the company’s executive compensation than the one sub...

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Legislative Wrap-up: Health insurance marketplace
May 16, 2013

VTDigger Posted By Andrew Stein On May 16, 2013 On Oct. 1, the state is slated to open the doors to Vermont Health Connect, Vermont’s new health insurance marketplace. Three months later, on Jan. 1, 2014, the web-based exchange will become the sole insurance marketplace for an estimated 118,000 Vermonters, who purchase individual plans or work for businesses with 50 or fewer employees. At that time, the state subsidized health insurance programs Catamount and VHAP will end, and the...

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Legislature approves exchange financing plan and health care reform bill
May 14, 2013

VTDiggerPosted By Andrew Stein On May 14, 2013 In a final-hour move, the Vermont House voted on Tuesday to strip a charge on health insurance premiums from Senate bill 152.The bill, which began this legislative session as a streamlining of the state’s health insurance rate review process, became the vehicle for financing the operation of the state’s new health insurance marketplace, Vermont Health Connect. The language the House added to S.152 — concerning a new health care adv...

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Employer assessment and premium charges set to finance health insurance exchange
May 13, 2013

VTDiggerPosted By Andrew Stein The state Senate voted Monday to place a charge on health insurance premiums and extend an employer assessment to pay for the operation of the state’s new health insurance marketplace, called Vermont Health Connect.Senate bill 152, which began this legislative session as a streamlining of the state’s health insurance rate review process, has become the vehicle for financing the operation of the insurance exchange. The language that the House tacked onto...

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Financing plan for Vt. health care exchange up in the air
May 01, 2013

VTDiggerPosted By Andrew Stein When the federal government gave the Shumlin administration permission in January to create a state-based insurance marketplace, the approval of Vermont Health Connect [2]was conditional.With fewer than two weeks left in the legislative session, a key condition — legislative approval of a self-sustaining financing plan — remains unmet.The Shumlin administration has maintained that the state needs $18.4 million annually to run the web-based marketplace, ...

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Ads target majority unsure of Vt. health changes
April 21, 2013

Rutland HeraldBy Kevin O’ConnorSTAFF WRITERThe state will spend more than $100 million to launch Vermont Health Connect, an insurance program that promises to “touch a quarter-million Vermonters in 2014.”But first, its leaders will roll out a nearly $7 million advertising and awareness campaign to alert the majority of the public that so far is unaware of what’s coming.The Vermont Health Connect benefits exchange is a linchpin of a new federal reform law and potential sta...

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Costa will be the Shumlin administration’s health care finance czar
April 18, 2013

VTDiggerMichael Costa has a daunting task before him, and he’s staring it down with cool confidence.After the legislative session wraps up in mid-May, the Vermont Tax Department’s policy director will take on the job of developing the tax structure for a publicly funded health care system. In essence, Costa will become Gov. Peter Shumlin’s health care finance czar.“He is going to be the point person on developing a finance plan for Green Mountain Care,” said Jeb Spa...

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Legislators question administration’s numbers on operating costs for Vermont Health Connect
April 17, 2013

VTDigger Yet another fiscal rift is emerging between the Shumlin administration and the Legislature. The administration is asking the Legislature to allocate $18.4 million annually to operate and maintain the state’s new health insurance marketplace — the web-based exchange called Vermont Health Connect [2]. But before the House Ways and Means Committee determines how to raise that new sum on a yearly basis, legislators want to verify that the administration has done its due dili...

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Subsidies for state health care programs could see boost from Senate
April 15, 2013

VTDiggerThe Senate Health and Welfare Committee plans to vote this week on whether to recommend millions of dollars more in health insurance assistance for low- and middle-income Vermonters. And their proposal may very well call for leaving a contentious employer assessment on the table.The committee will make the recommendation to the Senate Appropriations Committee, which is expected to vote out a budget bill by the end of the week. The subsidies would mitigate increases in deductibles and ann...

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Single parents would see sharpest increase in health care premiums under House subsidy plan
April 13, 2013

VTDiggerPosted By Andrew Stein On April 13, 2013 @ 3:40 am In Recent | 7 CommentsThe above graph represents the shift in what families earning 186 percent of the 2013 federal poverty line would pay for adult health insurance premiums under the Vermont House proposal for state aid and the Affordable Care Act.Lawmakers have repeatedly said that when Vermont’s new health insurance marketplace — Vermont Health Connect [2] — goes into effect, there will be winners and there will be ...

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Lawmakers urged to require hospitals to open meetings
April 10, 2013

Burlington Free PressWritten by Nancy Remsen, Free Press Staff WriterMONTPELIER: Ethan Parke of Montpelier, a director of Vermont Health Care for All, urged lawmakers Wednesday to require the state’s nonprofit private hospitals to open meetings of their governing boards to the public.The public has a stake in the decisions that hospitals make, Parke said, noting that more than $800 million in public funds is spent in private hospitals through the Medicare and Medicaid programs.And the rea...

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Bill would make hospitals subject to open meeting law
April 08, 2013

VTDiggerPosted By Andrew Stein On April 8, 2013 @ 11:05 pm Should Vermont hospitals be subject to the state’s open meeting law?That’s the question legislators will consider Wednesday at a joint hearing of the House and Senate health committees [1]. If House Bill 440 [2] is enacted, the government transparency law [3] would apply to board meetings for hospitals and accountable care organizations [4] come July 1. “I think hospitals essentially operate as public institutions....

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Shumlin forms business council to advise on single payer financing
April 08, 2013

VTDiggerPosted By Andrew Stein On April 8, 2013 @ 10:17 pm Last week, Gov. Peter Shumlin created a 20-member business council to advise him on financing a publicly funded health care system.“It is to ensure that single payer is implemented as the governor plans in a timely way in 2017, with all risks to the Vermont economy identified, considered and managed,” said Lawrence Miller, Shumlin’s secretary of Commerce and Community Development.In January 2011, a few months before the...

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Doctors Have a Say on Health Care Reform: Local Documentary Seeks Focus on Patients Instead of Data and Profit
April 01, 2013

Valley NewsWhite River Junction — With all the dramatic change taking place in medicine, Dr. Richard White is concerned that one voice is being lost in the debate among policy makers, insurance companies and the public — the doctor’s.Federal health care reform happened only with the blessing of insurance companies, said White, a Windsor family doctor who also served for seven years as co-medical director of the Good Neighbor Health Clinic in White River Junction. Doctors in Ver...

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Health care headed for an overhaul
March 29, 2013

by Randy Capitani Deerfield Valley News WILMINGTON- Big changes in the health care system are coming soon to the state of Vermont and the Deerfield Valley. That was the message delivered by officials of the SVMC Deerfield Valley Campus and its parent company, Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, at an information meeting held Tuesday afternoon at Memorial Hall.“Health care delivery is going to change,” said CEO Tom Dee. “Health care spending is rising, and the average family ca...

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Clock is ticking as new era in health care approaches
March 25, 2013

Times ArgusAnya Rader Wallack is the chairwoman of the Green Mountain Care Board, the state board created to improve the overall health care system in Vermont with an emphasis on improving the health of the state’s residents while at the same time making health care more affordable. Herald business reporter Bruce Edwards interviewed Wallack about the ongoing changes to Vermont’s health care system and the launch later this year of Vermont Health Connect — an online exchange (he...

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New disclosures show MVP denied 15.5 percent of patient claims in 2012; Blue Cross denied 7.6 percent
March 20, 2013

Vermontbiz.com by Andrew Stein, vtdigger.org For the first time, Vermont health insurers disclosed a bundle of information about how much money they spend on executive salaries and how many patients are denied coverage. Two health insurance companies — in accordance with Act 150 from last legislative session — divulged CEO salaries, lobbying expenses, legal fees and denial rates, among other details. Blue Cross Blue Shield Vermont and MVP Health Care submitted their 2012 Act 150 ...

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Bill would open hospital board meetings in Vermont
March 03, 2013

Associate PressMONTPELIER, Vermont — A leading advocate for single-payer health care in Vermont is pushing legislation that would require that hospital board meetings be subject to the state's open meeting law.Dr. Deb Richter of the Vermont chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, says Vermont's hospitals spend about $2 billion a year, much of it coming from taxpayers who support public health insurance programs.While the open meeting law would apply, the Vermont Public Records...

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Health Care Committee brings sugar-sweetened beverage tax back to life
February 27, 2013

VTDiggerPosted By Andrew Stein On February 27, 2013 In dramatic fashion, the House Health Care Committee voted on Wednesday to resurrect a comprehensive budget bill from a premature “death.”The committee’s approval advances a penny per ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, a $4.5 million state subsidy for low-income health insurance and the repeal of an employer assessment for companies that don’t provide health insurance for employees. To learn more about the assessmen...

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Green Mountain Care Board reels in hospital patient revenues at 3 percent
February 25, 2013

VTDiggerOver the next three fiscal years, the Green Mountain Care Board plans to crack down on hospital budgets to mitigate Vermont’s rising health care costs.The board is reeling in the limit on the amount hospitals can raise in revenues from patients. It is decreasing the patient revenue cap from 3.75 percent in fiscal year 2013 to 3 percent in 2014, 2015 and 2016.The board is also removing routine exemptions, like those for increases in the provider tax and costs associated with impleme...

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Self-funded insurance complicates single-payer
February 25, 2013

Rutland HeraldAt a news conference Wednesday, opponents of single-payer health care accused the Shumlin administration of covering up a politically toxic financing plan that would be used to fund the new system.The evidence was entirely circumstantial, and while the allegations will play well with the base, they’re unlikely to move the mainstream.But the more significant finding in the “investigative report” produced by Vermonters for Health Care Freedom may have less to do wit...

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Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility: Shumlin administration’s lack of details on single payer financing plan is sowing fear and misinformation
February 24, 2013

VTDigger Posted By Andrew Stein On February 24, 2013 @ 1:34 pm In News Briefs | 2 CommentsVermont Businesses for Social Responsibility officials say the Shumlin administration’s decision to delay the tax plan for a publicly financed health care system is creating uncertainty for businesses and has led to the spread of misinformation.Dan Barlow, a lobbyist for VBSR, a statewide business trade organization that advances economic, social and environmental business ethics, says members of...

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Shumlin administration disputes claim it has withheld tax plan costs to support single-payer health care
February 22, 2013

VTDiggerPosted By Andrew Stein On February 22, 2013 @ 4:47 am In HealthA group of Republican representatives and opponents of a single-payer health system allege that the Shumlin administration withheld critical tax analyses from a so-called financing plan for a universal health care system.Vermonters for Health Care Freedom alleges that state officials are purposely witholding a tax analysis that would have provided lawmakers with details about how such a financial plan would be implemented. Th...

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House committee votes to double health care costs for low-income, chronically ill Vermonters
February 19, 2013

VTDigger  Posted By Andrew Stein On February 19, 2013 @ 10:29 pm In Recent | 9 CommentsThe above graph shows the discrepancy in out-of-pocket maximum costs between what Vermonters enrolled in the Catamount health insurance program currently pay and what they would pay under the subsidy program passed by the House Health Care Committee on Tuesday. Annual out-of-pocket maximums are reached only for those individuals with high costs, like the chronically ill. These figures were compiled from b...

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Shumlin administration, legislative leaders to charge committee with creating financing plan for single payer health care system
February 19, 2013

VTDiggerThe Shumlin administration and top legislative leaders are planning to form a nine-member committee tasked with creating a financing plan to fund a single-payer health care system.These talks among state government leadership come roughly one month after the administration submitted an outline for a plan [1] that called for $1.6 billion in new taxes — without specifying the sources of revenue. House representatives, mainly from the Republican Party, called out the administration fo...

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Feds deal blow to Shumlin's plan for health insurance subsidies
February 06, 2013

VTDiggerGov. Peter Shumlin’s $10.3 million proposal to fund health insurance subsidies is fraying at the seams.The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare (CMS) said it is unwilling to fund roughly 20 percent of the subsidies’ cost, money which the administration was counting on.This fiscal year 2014 proposal [2]is composed of two parts: a $6.5 million allocation to help pay premiums for Vermonters earning up to 300 percent of the federal poverty line, and a $3.8 million allotment to reduc...

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Advocates: Vt. health aid won't be enough
February 03, 2013

Rutland HeraldMONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin last month unveiled a budget proposal that aims to ease health insurance costs for about 45,000 low- and middle-income Vermonters in 2014.But advocates say the state aid won’t bring the price of insurance to within reach of poor and working-class residents, and that failing additional appropriations, thousands of Vermonters could soon join the ranks of the uninsured.The onset of the “health benefit exchange” next year has trig...

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Single-payer takes on fresh debate
January 27, 2013

Rutland Herald By Peter Hirschfeld Vermont press bureau MONTPELIER — A battle of ideas will be waged with a book of numbers as the Shumlin administration this year continues to make its case for single-payer health care. A long-awaited report unveiled by administration officials last week has become the latest touchstone in a three-year-old debate over the merits of moving to a publicly financed system of universal care. To proponents of reform, the 90-page document confirms the clar...

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Report details single-payer funding options
January 25, 2013

WCAX MONTPELIER, Vt. - Politicians, health advocates and journalists are wading through a new report outlining possible funding options for single-payer healthcare. Vermonters currently spend 20 cents of every dollar they earn on health care. Proponents of a state run health care system say we could be getting more for less. On Friday top officials with the Governor's team explained a long awaited financing plan for a single-payer system drawn up by the University of Massachusetts. In 201...

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Shumlin proposal aims to cushion cost increases of health insurance exchange
January 25, 2013

VTDigger [Posted By Andrew Stein On January 25, 2013} Gov. Peter Shumlin recommended two fiscal measures to the Legislature on Thursday that would mitigate rising health care costs, but would not prevent hikes for lower-income Vermonters. While Shumlin said during his budget address, “Vermonters currently in Catamount and VHAP (would) not suffer federally imposed cost increases,” the math tells a different story. In 2014, the state’s new health benefit exchange goes int...

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Past rivals join on health goals overhaul
January 19, 2013

Rutland HeraldBy DAVE GRAMTHE Associated PressMONTPELIER — The two big academic medical centers serving Vermont, often seen as rivals in the past, announced Friday they are joining forces with 13 other Vermont hospitals and health clinics to form a new “accountable care organization” — OneCare Vermont — to focus on efficiency and quality in health care.“OneCare Vermont represents a huge shift in medical practice in Vermont,” said Dr. John Brumsted, presi...

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Legislative preview: Health care committee to look at insurance subsidies, financing for single payer, role of Green Mountain Care Board
January 13, 2013

VTDiggerRepresentatives in the House Health Care Committee laid out their priorities last Thursday in the absence of Chair Mike Fisher, D-Lincoln, who was out of town.The concern most frequently raised by lawmakers was how to handle the elevated out-of-pocket health insurance costs slated to hit Vermont’s lower income populations in 2014. [1] At that time, the state subsidized health insurance programs VHAP and Catamount will end, and all Vermonters above 133 percent of the federal poverty...

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House to tackle health care dilemma
December 31, 2012

Times ArgusMONTPELIER — The 11 members of the House Committee on Health Care will dedicate much of the 2013 legislative session to solving a fiscal dilemma that threatens to spike insurance costs for nearly 20,000 Vermonters.Rep. Mike Fisher, a Lincoln Democrat and chairman of the health care committee, said he has grave concerns about the increased out-of-pocket expenses awaiting some lower-income residents beginning in January 2014. The potential jumps in premiums and deductibles will af...

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Unease about Vermont's coming health exchange
December 30, 2012

 Burlington Free PressWritten by NANCY REMSEN Free Press Staff WriterMike Plageman’s remodeling crew was busy the week before Christmas finishing a job on a house at the base of Lincoln Peak at Sugarbush ski resort.“We could use another set of hands or two,” said Plageman, co-founder of Plageman, Gagnon and Daughters of Williston.The crew numbers eight now, but Plageman said he won’t be hiring because he worries about the future financialimpact of the federally manda...

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Low-income Vermonters face sharp increases in health care premiums under state exchange plan
December 10, 2012

VTDigger By Andrew Stein These cost estimates are from the Vermont Campaign for Health Care Security Education fund, which helps enroll Vermonters in state subsidized insurance programs, like Catamount and VHAP. These estimates are based on the shift of annual health insurance costs for lower income Vermonters when the exchange takes place, and they include federal subsidies. Lawmakers have frequently referenced these numbers in recent months, and they refer to the maximum amount ...

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Vermont officials say Accretive Health has not engaged in questionable billing practices here
December 05, 2012

VTDiggerPosted By Andrew Stein On December 5, 2012 @ 8:19 pm In News Briefs | Vermont officials subpoenaed Accretive Health Inc. this past summer after the medical billing services firm settled a suit with the state of Minnesota, agreeing to stay out of the state for six years.The Vermont Department of Financial Regulation wanted to know what interactions the firm might have had with Vermont hospital patients, and if it had violated any state laws. The investigation found that the only hospital ...

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Health Insurance Subsidies May Get Cut
December 02, 2012

Rutland HeraldBy Peter HirschfeldStaff WriterMONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin says 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.Administration officials and lawmakers will spend much of the next year fine-tuning the “health benefits exchange,” a hallmark of the federal Affordable Care Act projected to lower insurance costs for tens ...

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Taking Accountability: DHMC Explores ACOs
November 18, 2012

Valley NewsBy Chris Fleisher Valley News Staff Writer .Lebanon — Diane Flint’s 85-year-old patient ended up in the emergency room recently and didn’t want to tell doctors about the pain in her abdomen.As it turned out, she needed her gall bladder removed. Flint has been trying ever since to get this tough, reserved Granite Stater to open up and recognize that she needs surgery.“I’m trying to educate her on what could happen if she waits too long,” said Flint, ...

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One Care: Profiting Off Patients?
November 18, 2012

Valley NewsBy Chris Fleisher Valley News Staff Writer Burlington — At a recent health care conference in Burlington, Church Hindes wanted to make something clear to the audience of physicians and hospital administrators in the audience.There’d been a lot of questions lately over the new accountable care organization that Fletcher Allen Health Care and Dartmouth-Hitchcock were proposing to form. Specifically, around its tax status.“I assure you, we made OneCare Vermont as non-pr...

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Vt. health reform on track with election results
November 10, 2012

Rutland HeraldBy DAVE GRAMThe Associated PressMONTPELIER — Vermont can move ahead with its plan for a public health care system following the outcome of this week’s presidential and gubernatorial elections and new assurances that the federal Affordable Care Act will not be repealed anytime soon, senior state officials involved with health care reform said Friday.“It gives us the green light to move ahead with our plan, so it is quite a relief in terms of having certainty about ...

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First contractor for single payer financing plan backs out; proposal on track for January report to the Legislature
October 13, 2012

Jeb Spaulding, secretary of the Agency of Administration, talks to reporters at a press conference called by Sen. Randy Brock, the GOP candidate for governor. Photo by Anne GallowayThe Shumlin administration said this week that a financing plan for a single-payer health insurance system is still on track to be completed by Jan. 15, 2013.Lewin Group, a health policy research firm, was originally slated to draw up the plan. But when its parent company, United Health Group, realized that arrangemen...

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Green Mountain Care Board applies for $60 million federal grant for data analysis, payment models
October 13, 2012

At the end of last month, the Green Mountain Care Board submitted an application for a $60 million State Innovation Model (SIM) grant to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. The grant would give the state the opportunity to build its data capacity and test new payment reform models that are aimed at cutting costs and improving the value of care — not necessarily creating a single-payer system. According to Anya Rader Wallack, chair of the Green Mountain Care Board, these fund...

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Fletcher-Allen, Dartmouth propose for-profit Medicare program for 13 of Vermont's hospitals
September 24, 2012

VTDiggerPosted By Andrew Stein Fletcher Allen Health Care and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center have teamed up to propose a for-profit entity for administering Vermont Medicare benefits called OneCare Vermont, LLC.Earlier this month, the two academic medical centers — in conjunction with almost 80 other Vermont providers — submitted an application to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to establish an ACO, or accountable care organization. [2]The Affordable ...

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Single payer ad blitz to fill airwaves
July 31, 2012

Times ArgusBy Peter HirschfeldVermont Press BureauMONTPELIER — The newest comer to Vermont’s health care debate already has become one of its loudest voices, launching a midsummer advertising blitz that aims to spread the single-payer gospel to key demographics.The group Vermont Leads is running a pair of 30-second spots on network television stations across Vermont.In one, a business owner cites the soaring cost of health care as the chief obstacle to growth. In the other, a longtim...

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Decision hailed in Vermont
June 29, 2012

Rutland Herald By Peter Hirschfeld Vermont Press Bureau MONTPELIER — Health care advocates and Democratic politicians on Thursday cheered a Supreme Court decision that preserves the foundation on which Gov. Peter Shumlin plans to build the nation’s first single-payer health care system. While he vowed earlier this week to proceed with a publicly funded, universal system regardless of how the country’s highest court ruled on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Shumlin said Thur...

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Single payer gains supporter in national union
June 27, 2012

Times ArgusBy Peter HirschfeldVermont Press BureauMONTPELIER — Proponents of single-payer health care are celebrating the arrival of a well-heeled patron prepared to spend heavily to advance the cause.But the introduction of out-of-state money from a national labor union has raised the eyebrows of at least one prominent reform activist and touched off a turf war between labor groups fighting to represent home care workers in Vermont.At a news conference Thursday, the founders of Vermont Le...

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State braces for Supreme Court decision on health care law
June 14, 2012

VTDiggerThe U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the controversial health care law known as the Affordable Care Act later this month, and Vermont health care officials are preparing for what could be a variety of outcomes.Robin Lunge, director of health care reform for the Shumlin administration, said the state is looking at three possible outcomes from the country’s highest court, which could affect Vermont’s efforts at health care reform in different ways.One possibility is th...

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At hearing, activists press for single payer health care system
May 31, 2012

VTDigger By Alan Panebaker For hours Thursday afternoon, advocates pleaded with the Green Mountain Care Board to ensure services are covered under a single-payer health care system. Members of the Vermont Workers’ Center, a group that supports health care reform, dominated much of the air time. Some asked that the board ensure coverage of dental and vision under the new health care plan. Others shared stories of hardships they had experienced in the current health care system. Do...

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Health Care Reform Passes in Vermont
May 02, 2012

WCAXMontpelier, VT. --  A happy exchange over the health care exchange-- lawmakers shook hands in congratulations Wednesday, as they passed one of the most controversial bills of the session out of conference committee."Everyone at this table signed the conference committee report and supports the bill going forward, everyone at this table and a majority of members of the House and Senate support the creation of the exchange," said Rep. Mike Fisher, D-Lincoln.The health care excha...

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Senate gives final approval to health care exchange bill
April 25, 2012

VTDigger The Senate passed H.559, the health care exchange bill, Tuesday evening, 20-7. The legislation allows Vermont to take advantage of federal subsidies and tax credits associated with the federal Affordable Care Act. The Shumlin administration plans to use the exchange as a stepping stone toward financing a single-payer health care system. The bill requires individuals and employers with 50 or fewer workers to buy insurance through the exchange beginning in January 2014. Vermont is th...

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Health Care Exchange Heads to Senate Floor
April 23, 2012

Rutland Herald By Peter Hirschfeld Vermont Press Bureau MONTPELIER — The Senate this week is on course to approve a health care bill that could soon change the way thousands of Vermonters purchase insurance. Sen. Claire Ayer, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare, said Sunday that she expects a floor debate either today or Tuesday on legislation establishing the so-called “health benefits exchange.” Likened to a health insurance version of the Hotwire ...

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Doctor-flight fears may be overblown
March 29, 2012

Stowe ReporterGreen Mountain Care, First of two articles: By Lisa McCormack Fears that physicians will leave Vermont if the state enacts universal, single-payer health care may be unfounded.Many local physicians say they favor single-payer because it would lower their administrative costs and reduce their current paperwork headaches.Others support health-care reform because it would give their patients affordable access to care.And at least 200 physicians from across the U.S. have said they woul...

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Vermont Ponders Ripple Effect of Changes to Health Care Law
March 26, 2012

In an interview conducted for VPR news, Governor Peter Shumlin explains that single payer is still possible and necessary in Vermont, and that he is firmly committed to creating a single payer system in Vermont regardless of the outcome of the Supreme Court decision regarding the Affordable Care Act.   See below: Vermont Public Radio Bob Kinzel (Host) Governor Peter Shumlin says his health care reform initiatives will still be viable if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes ...

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Spin Doctors
March 21, 2012

Seven DaysAn industry defector warns of outside influence in the single-payer debateBy Kathryn Flagg Maybe you’ve seen the commercial [1]. It debuted on Vermont airwaves last month, and the message goes something like this:“Governor Peter Shumlin and the Democratic majorities in Montpelier want to completely uproot our health care system and spend more than $5 billion on a single-payer health care scheme,” says a middle-aged woman sitting down to tea in her kitchen. She looks e...

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HEALTH CARE REFORM DEAD? NOT IN VERMONT
March 02, 2012

The American Reporterby Randolph T. HolhutChief of AR CorrespondentsDUMMERSTON, Vt. -- While the national media was fixated last week on the kabuki theater of the new Republican majority in the U.S. House voting to repeal last year's health care reform bill, they missed another, more important, development in Vermont.As the House Republicans engaged in empty symbolism with its repeal vote, the Vermont Legislature took its first step toward developing a single-payer health care system that could ...

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Health Care Exchange Bill Clears Committee
February 16, 2012

VTDiggerThe complicated and controversial health care bill cleared a House committee Thursday after weeks of tinkering and some close votes.Eight members of the committee voted to approve the bill with the two Republicans on the committee, Jim Eckhardt and Patti Komline voting against.For nearly a month, members of the House Committee on Health Care wrestled with legislation that lays the ground work for a health benefits exchange.The confusion surrounding the exchange and the intersection betwe...

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Shumlin's Health Care Strategy Would Pave Way for Single Payer System
February 14, 2012

VPRThe Shumlin Administration revealed a strategy on Tuesday that, at first glance, appears to undermine its own health care plan for small businesses.But as VPR's Bob Kinzel reports, the Administration's actions are geared to make it easier to implement a single-payer system.(Kinzel) Under the new federal health care law, states are required to establish their own consumer marketplace exchange where small businesses and individuals can purchase policies beginning in 2014.The federal law also pr...

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HSPH Professor Helps with Vermont Health Care Reform
December 07, 2011

The Harvard CrimsonWilliam C. Hsiao is not an imposing man. He stands barely five feet eight inches tall and at age 75 affects an air of unpretentious expertise. He speaks slowly, in accented English—a remainder of his immigrant childhood—that expresses his ideas simply and logically, point by point.Despite his approachability and clarity, the points that Hsiao, an economics professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, has chosen to study and argue are neither simple nor without...

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Vermont universal care seen as costing less than existing system
November 14, 2011

Amednews.comA universal health care program in Vermont would cost between $8.2 billion and $9.5 billion a year by 2020. But the state's existing health system would cost $10 billion by 2020, according to an estimate released Nov. 1 by the Vermont Legislative Joint Fiscal Office and the Vermont Dept. of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration. Vermont's health care spending was $4.7 billion in 2009.The report is part of the process of creating a universal health care program...

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Vermont universal care seen as costing less than existing system
November 11, 2011

amednews.comA universal health care program in Vermont would cost between $8.2 billion and $9.5 billion a year by 2020. But the state's existing health system would cost $10 billion by 2020, according to an estimate released Nov. 1 by the Vermont Legislative Joint Fiscal Office and the Vermont Dept. of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration. Vermont's health care spending was $4.7 billion in 2009.The report is part of the process of creating a universal health care program...

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Universal health care plan could save $1.834 billion
November 03, 2011

VTDiggerThe Shumlin administration’s signature “single-payer” style health care plan could save as much as $1.834 billion by 2020, according to a report released on Tuesday.That’s the best-case scenario. Under more conservative estimates, the report from the Joint Fiscal Office and Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration, [2] puts savings at $553 million by 2020. The report, produced with assistance from consultant Steve Kappel with Pol...

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Gov. Shumlin and the Push for Single Payer Health Care
October 26, 2011

Governing the States and Localities By John Buntin At a time when states are struggling to comply with healthcare reform, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin sees his state's push for a single-payer system as common sense. At a time when states are struggling to comply with the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Vermont's ambitious plan to create the nation's first single-payer health financing system might be hard to comprehend. Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin sees this initiative as ...

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Green Mountain Care Board begins health care reform effort
October 04, 2011

VTDiggerBy Alan PanebakerThe five members of the recently appointed Green Mountain Care Board have their work cut out for them. Anya Rader Wallack, the board’s chair, reeled off a daunting to-do list for each of the new members at the board’s first official meeting on Tuesday.Dr. Allan Ramsay, a primary care physician at Fletcher Allen Health Care, will take the lead on payment reform, workforce development and outreach. Dr. Karen Hein, a pediatrician from Jacksonville, will focus on...

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Hsiao: Better health care access helps economy grow
September 23, 2011

VTDiggerEditor’s note: This article is by Randolph T. Holhut; it first appeared in The Commons, commonsnews.org [2].BRATTLEBORO—There is a direct relationship between health and economic vitality. The lack of good health care has a significant effect on Vermont’s economy and the lives of its residents.That was the takeaway from the prominent health care reformer, Professor William C. Hsiao, an economics professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, who is advising Vermont a...

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Green Mountain Care Board members appointed
September 13, 2011

VTDiggerGov. Peter Shumlin Tuesday appointed Anya Rader Wallack, the consultant who has been leading the design of a single-payer health care system for Vermont, to chair the new, five-member Green Mountain Care Board that will oversee management of the health care system in the state.The new board will continue to design some aspects of the proposed single-payer system, but will also assume ultimate responsibility for the functions now carried out by the Department of Banking, Insurance, Securi...

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Vermont state employees union to see what members think of single-payer health care
August 25, 2011

Burlington Free PressBy Terri HallenbeckThe Vermont State Employees Association has stayed uncomfortably neutral on the issue of single-payer health care under discussion in the state Legislature. The union endorsed the concept of universal health care but not the details. Members, after all, have a pretty good health coverage system they’d be loathe to see change.Now, the union is looking to hone its opinion by surveying members. In a letter to members this morning, VSEA Legislative Commi...

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Canadian health system more efficient than the one in the U.S.: study
August 04, 2011

National Post The Canadian health-care system may be plagued by countless stories of lengthy wait times and crowded emergency rooms, but a new study shows the amount of time and money spent on administrative duties is a fraction of that required by the U.S. system. The study from the University of Toronto and New York’s Cornell University says U.S. doctors pay an average of nearly $83,000 each for administrative costs associated with insurance documents. In Canada, for doctors based in...

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Much Ado About MVP and Single Payer Health Care Reform
July 31, 2011

VTDiggerA nasty tit-for-tat ensued last week between a GOP operative and the Vermont Democratic Party over Gov. Peter Shumlin’s single-payer health care plan, and the Dems, who aggressively counter-attacked, won the dogfight.Darcie Johnston, a Republican politico and head of Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, an anti-single payer group, issued the first salvo on Wednesday and penetrated the Vermont Dems’ no-fly-zone in cyberspace.Johnston declared in an email blast that MVP Health C...

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Shumlin welcomes input on heatlh care system
July 27, 2011

Rutland HeraldBy Brent CurtisSTAFF WRITERGov. Peter Shumlin said he knew there were doubters in the audience he addressed at universal health care forum in Rutland on Monday.“I know not everyone in this room or in Vermont thinks we’re on the right track with health care,” Shumlin said to the roughly 100 people gathered in the Rutland Intermediate School auditorium.But he said Vermont has nothing to lose and more than healthy living to gain if a plan to implement the first singl...

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Lobbying on Vermont Health Reform Bill Cost Alot, But Exactly How Much is Unknown
July 25, 2011

Daily JournalAP, Dave GramMONTPELIER, Vt. — Hospitals, doctors, drug companies, insurers and others with a stake in health care spent more than $750,000 lobbying at the Vermont Statehouse this year as lawmakers debated landmark legislation designed to put Vermont on the road toward universal health insurance.But exactly how much was spent on the bill itself is impossible to tell. That's because Vermont's lobbyist disclosure law is vague, and the reporting system used to implement it is not...

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Insurers mishandle 1 in 5 claims, AMA finds
July 04, 2011

amednews.comChicago -- Barbara McAneny, MD, says insurers' inability to consistently pay claims correctly is costing her practice a lot of money -- hundreds of thousands of dollars a year."I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation in my own practice and figured if I could get all of the implemented changes the AMA is working for, I could probably drop about $70,000 per physician, per year to our bottom line," said Dr. McAneny, CEO of the New Mexico Cancer Center, an oncology group of 10...

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Insurers mishandle 1 in 5 claims, AMA finds
July 04, 2011

amednews.comChicago -- Barbara McAneny, MD, says insurers' inability to consistently pay claims correctly is costing her practice a lot of money -- hundreds of thousands of dollars a year."I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation in my own practice and figured if I could get all of the implemented changes the AMA is working for, I could probably drop about $70,000 per physician, per year to our bottom line," said Dr. McAneny, CEO of the New Mexico Cancer Center, an oncology group of 10...

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Fletcher Allen paid $8.4M in executive compensation in 2008
June 15, 2011

VTDiggerPosted by Anne GallowayThe average chief executive officer’s compensation at a Standard and Poor 500 company is $11 million, according to Executive Paywatch, a website sponsored by the AFL-CIO [2].J. Wayne Leonard CEO of Entergy Corp., the company that owns Vermont Yankee, for example, made $8.2 million in 2010, or about 249 times the pay for an average worker at a nuclear power plant run by the Louisiana-based company.George Paz CEO of Express Scripts received $10 million in total...

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Vermont Passes Single-Payer Health Care, World Doesn't End
May 30, 2011

David Goodman, Mother JonesAs Gov. Peter Shumlin took his spot on the granite steps of the Vermont State House, a row of people fanned out behind him wearing bright red t-shirts proclaiming, “Health care is a human right.” The slogan sounded noble, and wildly unrealistic. Until the governor spoke.“We gather here today to launch the first single-payer health care system in America,” began Shumlin, a Democrat who has been governor barely four months. “To do in Vermont...

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Gov. Shumlin signs health care reform bill
May 27, 2011

Burlington Free PressMONTPELIER — Three second-year medical students wearing white jackets stood on the edge of a crowd of more than 200 people who had come to watch Gov. Peter Shumlin sign a law that puts Vermont on the road toward a consolidated health care system, publicly financed and covering all Vermont residents.“We were really involved in trying to pass this bill,” Therese Ray said. “There is a lot of support among medical students across the country.” Ray s...

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A Doctor’s Push for Single-Payer Health Care for All Finds Traction in Vermont
May 21, 2011

The New York Times By ABBY GOODNOUGH MONTPELIER, Vt. — Many people move to Vermont in search of a slower pace; Dr. Deb Richter came in 1999 to work obsessively toward a far-fetched goal. She wanted Vermont to become the first state to adopt a single-payer health care system, run and paid for by the government, with every resident eligible for a uniform benefit package. So Dr. Richter, a buoyant primary care doctor from Buffalo who had given up on New York’s embracing such a syst...

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How Two 50-Something Women Put Vermont on the Path Toward Single-Payer Health Care
May 09, 2011

Huffington PostBy Wendell PotterWhile several states are suing the federal government to block health care reform and dragging their feet on implementing any part of it, Vermont this week will be taking a giant leap in the other direction -- toward universal coverage and greater cost control -- when Gov. Peter Shumlin signs legislation putting the state on the path toward a single-payer health care system.The Vermont House last week voted 94-49 to approve legislation that has been years in the m...

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Vt. physician’s work pays off on health care
May 02, 2011

By DAVE GRAMThe Associated Press MONTPELIER — Even now, Dr. Deb Richter is haunted by images of some of the patients she saw at inner-city clinics where she worked in Buffalo, N.Y., during the 1980s.One young man without health insurance didn’t get the early intervention he needed for diabetes. He went blind, got an infection and died at 21. His sister, who also had lived with juvenile diabetes, delivered a baby three months premature. The baby died. Two years later, the 25-year-old ...

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Report: Health care reform could save millions
April 23, 2011

VtdiggerA new draft report [2] shows that the state of Vermont could save hundreds of millions of dollars if it adopts the recommendations outlined by H.202, the health care reform bill as passed by the Vermont House of Representatives. (The bill was altered somewhat by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee last week and the legislation, and a number of amendments, will be taken up by the full Senate at 2 p.m. on Monday.)If a single-payer style health care system is implemented, the state woul...

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Vermont\'s Medicare for All Single Payer Plan
March 31, 2011

RACHEL MADDOW: Vermont's "Medicare for all" single payer plan Vermont has taken up Obama's challenge and is voting to install a single payer "Medicare for all" plan. It will cut Vermont's state expenses $580 million and is supported by Republican mayors....

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Supporting Single Payer
March 26, 2011

WCAXMarch 26, 2011 - Montpelier, VermontAdvocates of a single payer health care system in Vermont rallied at the state house Saturday. It came following the passage of a single payer bill in the House this week.It had the feel of a labor rally, and in fact many of the advocates of single payer work in health care or attend medical school."What is unique and important about your presence here today is that you are saying I want to be the best doctor that I can be, but I can't be that unless ...

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Hundreds Of Health Advocates Rally For Single Payer System
March 26, 2011

WPTZ Doctors Say It Would Save Money, Provide Better Treatment MONTPELIER, Vt. -- Hundreds of health advocates and lawmakers rallied for a single payer health system inside Vermont's Statehouse Saturday afternoon. The sweep of support comes two days after Vermont's House of Representatives approved a bill for a single payer system. There was little room to move as medical students and Vermont lawmakers packed the conference room. Many stood up one by one to make their appeals for single pay...

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Medical students rally for single-payer system
March 26, 2011

By Daniel Staples, Times ArgusStaff Writer - Published: March 27, 2011PHOTO: More than 100 supporters of Gov. Peter Shumlin’s proposed single-payer health plan converged on the Statehouse Saturday. The group, many of them medical professionals and students, were joined by the governor and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who proclaimed Vermont could lead the way in fixing the U.S. health care systemMONTPELIER — U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Gov. Peter Shumlin spoke before health profession s...

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Single payer or universal? Semantics struggle continues for health care
March 21, 2011

By Peter HirschfeldVermont Press BureauMONTPELIER — Plenty of legislative proposals this year will engender opposition. None will instill the fear that Gov. Peter Shumlin’s health-care bill has wrought on opponents of his single-payer concept.Late last Wednesday evening, in a cramped Statehouse meeting room, a crowd of more than 50 single-payer opponents listened to an invited speaker talk in grave terms about the plan.Delivering universal coverage through a publicly financed system,...

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State Based Single-Payer: Health Care: A Solution for the United States?
March 16, 2011

The New England Journal of MedicineWilliam C. Hsiao, Ph.D.The United States faces two major problems in the health care arena: the swelling ranks of the uninsured and soaring costs. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) makes great strides in addressing the former problem but offers only modest pilot efforts to address the latter. Experience in countries such as Taiwan and Canada shows that single-payer health care systems can achieve universal coverage and control inflation of he...

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Single-payer supporters dominate public hearing
March 15, 2011

By Peter HirschfeldVermont Press BureauMONTPELIER — When Kate Farrington’s mother lost her job, Farrington lost her health insurance.The young woman from Brattleboro is now confronting the relapse of a gynecological condition that, left untreated, could result in lifelong pain and an inability to have children.Since Farrington lacks the thousands of dollars needed to pay for treatment, “my life could be devastated at a time when the future was starting to look promising.”...

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Forum leans toward single-payer health care
March 15, 2011

NEAL P. GOSWAMIBennington BannerMonday March 14, 2011BENNINGTON -- Dozens of Vermonters offered thoughts on health care reform in Vermont to members of the House and Senate Health Care Committees during a statewide interactive hearing Monday.The meeting, held at 15 Vermont Interactive Television sites across the state, was largely dominated by supporters of a single-payer health care system that would provide coverage to all Vermonters. Many wore the customary red shirts of the Health Care is a ...

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What would single-payer mean for Vt. businesses?
March 09, 2011

WCAX"We're about to take one the largest undertakings in the history of the United States," said Bob Gaydos, an insurance consultant. "Employers right now have been caught off guard."Insurance expert Bob Gaydos is talking about Vermont's proposal to switch over to a single-payer health care system, called Green Mountain Care, by 2017. At this point in the process there are several unanswered questions and no one wants answers more than the employers themselves."Well, I t...

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N.H. Hospital Watches Vermont Single Payer Debate
March 02, 2011

WCAXLebanon, New Hampshire - March 2, 2011Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center's Frank McDougall knows a lot of people who impact the health care industry in New Hampshire and Vermont, and all the way to the White House."We can't go on the way we are going," said McDougall, the VP of government relations at DHMC. "The system is significantly broken, the financing system. The percentage of our Gross National Product is getting to the point where we can't afford this, can't sustain it...

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Obama lends support to states\' health alternative
February 28, 2011

Burlington Free Press By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press WASHINGTON — In a concession over his divisive health care overhaul, President Barack Obama offered Monday to let unhappy states design alternative plans as long as they fulfill the goals of his landmark law. Addressing the nation's governors, Obama also challenged state chiefs who have sought to balance their budgets through weakening unions and curbing employees' benefits, telling them that they sho...

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Whistleblower says insurers will try to undermine single-payer
February 26, 2011

By Mell Huff vtdigger Wendell Potter alleges the health insurance industry did everything in its power to discredit the movie “SICKO” Vermonters should be prepared for a campaign by health insurance companies to undermine public support for single-payer health care, an industry whistleblower declared at a Statehouse hearing Thursday. Wendell Potter, who until 2008 was a public relations executive for CIGNA, said he witnessed such a campaign in 2007, when industry pollsters rep...

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On video: Doctors speak out in favor of single payer
January 29, 2011

By Anne Galloway vtdigger Physicians were in attendance at the Statehouse on Thursday. They came dressed in lab coats and scrubs, and stethoscopes dangling around their necks. The ailment they came to cure was the medical system itself: In a rare “house call” to the Capitol, they issued a prescription for Vermont’s Byzantine system of insurance and government programs – they called for a single payer health care system. About 40 Vermont medical practitioners lined one w...

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Doctors Say Patient Needs are Buried in Paperwork
January 23, 2011

Times ArgusBy Kevin O’ConnorSTAFF WRITERRUTLAND — Middlebury’s Dr. Jack Mayer knows that most patients want health care reform to cut rising prices. But he, along with a growing group of Vermont medical providers, hopes to point a scalpel at piles of related paperwork.Back in 1976 when Mayer opened his first pediatric office in the tiny northernmost town of Enosburg Falls, the Bronx native often bartered his services for eggs, firewood or knitted afghans.In a larger community a...

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Dean Endorses Shumlin\'s Strategy for Health Care
January 22, 2011

vtdigger Gov. Peter Shumlin announced Thursday that he would look to cut health care costs first—then figure out how to pay for a single-payer plan for Vermont. In a press conference, Shumlin repeatedly said that extending coverage to all Vermonters, and finding a way to pay for the new system, is not a big deal—compared with altering the economics of the health care system. He said the elimination of administrative waste and duplicative services will go a long way toward creatin...

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Take It Back
December 09, 2009

Fair GameBy Shay Totten [Seven Days]The jaw-dropping $6.8 million retirement package [1] awarded to the outgoing president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont may have been illegal, according to the state’s top insurance regulator.The finding was issued last month by Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration commissioner Paulette Thabault in a six-page “show cause order” denying the insurance company’s proposed rate hikes f...

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Bill would make hospitals subject to open meeting law
December 09, 2009

VTDiggerShould Vermont hospitals be subject to the state’s open meeting law?That’s the question legislators will consider Wednesday at a joint hearing of the House and Senate health committees . If House Bill 440 is enacted, the government transparency law  would apply to board meetings for hospitals and accountable care organizations come July 1.“I think hospitals essentially operate as public institutions. They account for an enormous amount of our taxpayer dollars,&rdqu...

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Teachers union: Loss of single payer hurts cost-saving
December 09, 2009

 WCAXPosted: Jan 13, 2015 9:41 AM ESTUpdated: Jan 13, 2015 4:14 PM ESTMONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The head of Vermont's statewide teachers' union says efforts to trim school costs may have been set back by Gov. Peter Shumlin's decision to shelve his push for a universal, publicly-financed health care system.Joel Cook of the National Education Association made the comment to the House Education Committee on Tuesday, adding later that the NEA had a plan to save between $35 million and $100 million...

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Letters to the Editor

Medicare for All -- Now
October 11, 2017

Seven DaysI am delighted that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has introduced a plan for national universal health care [Fair Game, September 13]. Vermont needs a backup plan just in case Bernie's bill doesn't succeed this year. We could show the nation how the compassionate and rational people of Vermont address the health care crisis. As I understand it, the biggest impediment to Vermont's recent efforts was finding the tax dollars. Like many affluent Americans, I earn most of my income through cap...

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Enough Patchwork Healthcare
October 02, 2017

Bennington Banner To the editor: I work as an after school teacher and a personal care assistant in the city of Burlington. I love my jobs — I spend my time caring for people and making their lives easier. Unfortunately, this care work is not paid well and I do not receive benefits. If I didn't have Medicaid, I would not have health insurance. I'm young and healthy — I eat vegetables, don't smoke, and get lots of exercise. When I started getting heart palpitations a few months...

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Current health care proposals aren't the real answer
August 07, 2017

Addison IndependentBy Jason KayeIn a recent guest editorial published in this paper, the co-authors — four top executives of medical centers and health insurance companies in Vermont — promoted the ideas of healthy lifestyles and individual responsibility as the primary strategy to end the health care crisis.Living a healthy lifestyle is probably easy to do for these four folks, considering that in fiscal year 2015 they made the following in total compensation: $353,000 (Jill Berry B...

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Fight for single-payer
June 08, 2017

Times ArgusI am a physical therapy student and athletic trainer living in Burlington. The health care crisis has affected me as a patient and a provider. Growing up in Vermont, I had Dr. Dinosaur until middle school. I had regular checkups, dental visits and asthma medications, covered stress-free. Then funding got cut and my parents had to pay everything out of pocket. I remember my mom getting medical bills for weeks after I sprained my ankle in high school, and it cost $2,000 for wisdom tooth...

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Misdirected Anger
June 08, 2017

Times ArgusLately in Vermont, there has been a certain amount of animosity directed toward teachers and their union regarding health care benefits. While this anger is somewhat understandable, it is also misdirected. Instead of questioning or complaining about the teacher’s so-called “Cadillac” health care plans, we should be asking why ours isn’t as good!First, the anger about teacher’s health care should be aimed at our political leaders who have failed to insure ...

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Misdirected Anger
June 08, 2017

Times ArgusLately in Vermont, there has been a certain amount of animosity directed toward teachers and their union regarding health care benefits. While this anger is somewhat understandable, it is also misdirected. Instead of questioning or complaining about the teacher’s so-called “Cadillac” health care plans, we should be asking why ours isn’t as good!First, the anger about teacher’s health care should be aimed at our political leaders who have failed to insure ...

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Single-payer healthcare needed now
May 12, 2017

Bennington BannerTo the Editor: I have witnessed and felt the impacts of the healthcare system's many manifestations over the course of my lifetime. My parents spent nearly two decades paying off medical bills from my younger brothers' stints in the hospital with infant asthma. I was forced to put off graduate school for several years after breaking my collarbone and using my savings on the subsequent costs. My wife and I will be paying off a $5,600 tax bill for the foreseeable future after...

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Medicare for All
April 04, 2017

Times-ArgusI was interested in the commentaries of Walter Amses (March 28) and Esther Farnsworth (March 29) on the subject of health care and health insurance.Walter pointed out that U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan didn’t quite get the idea of insurance when he said, “Insurance cannot work if healthy people have to pay more to subsidize the sick.” This is precisely how all insurance works, fire, auto, life, etc. Esther extolled the benefits of Medicare for all pointing out that th...

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Primary Care Is Key to Health
March 24, 2017

Rutland HeraldImagine a health care system that allows you see a doctor when you feel sick without stressful billing considerations. Two universal primary care bills, Vermont Senate bill 53 and Vermont House bill 248, will do just that.Primary care is the foundation of any successful health care system and also one of the most cost-effective ways for a healthy society. Many minor medical conditions are treatable before they become major ones if found in time, including mental health and addictio...

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Primary Care Essential
March 14, 2017

Times ArgusImagine a health care system that allows you see a doctor when you feel sick without stressful billing considerations. Two universal primary care bills, Vermont Senate bill S.53 and Vermont House bill H.248, will do just that.Primary care is the foundation of any successful health care system and also one of the most cost-effective ways for a healthy society. Many minor medical conditions are treatable before they become major ones if found in time, including mental health and addicti...

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A Way Forward in Health Care Reform
March 11, 2017

Vermont  StandardGuaranteed Primary Care for every Vermonter is up for further financial feasibility study in our Vermont Legislature.House bill #248 and Senate bill #53 ask the Joint Fiscal Office to develop options for considerations by the legislature next year. Primary care, which provides, medical, mental health and substance abuse first-line care, is the health care most of us use most of the time. It is the cheapest of all health care and in the long run, saves money. Many of today&r...

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Universal primary care offers a good answer
March 09, 2017

Stowe TodayTo the Editor:I would like to respond to “Spending money to make money can work” (opinion column by Rep. Dave Yacovone, News & Citizen, March 2).I have heard this as well, and for more circumstances than just health care. It is perfectly true in all of them, including health care.Our system is the world’s most expensive, with the least covered for this expense. Our system is this way, however, because it is not a system. It is a medley of different parts working ...

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We Need Primary Care Help
March 04, 2017

 St. Albans MessengerThe House and Senate Health Care Committees are now considering legislation proposing publicly funded primary care for all Vermonters (H.248 and S.53). The League of Women Voters strongly supports these bills.Primary care can be described as the care typically provided by pediatricians, internists, family physicians, and nurse practitioners who specialize in primary care. The bills also include outpatient mental health and substance abuse providers. The League of Women ...

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The Next Health Care Victim
January 17, 2017

The Burlington Free PressA health care crisis is coming down the road at very high speed. Getting rid of the ACA (Obamacare) is one of our new president’s top priorities. That will end subsidized health insurance under the ACA, and the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid.Millions of people, including many, many thousands of Vermonters, will rapidly become unable to afford trips to doctors and hospitals.Medicare, already too expensive for many seniors, is also looking at “reform” ...

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Universal Primary Care the Right Direction
December 02, 2016

Times Argus Burr Morse’s supposedly humorous commentary on health care reform, which is implying that reform “is going in the wrong direction,” is far from humorous to the many health care providers working hard to solve the crises of past years. Yes, Burr, it was once quite hard to find a doctor taking on new patients, but it can be getting better with health care reform that prioritizes primary care. Yes, as a fellow old Yankee, a year older than Burr’s brother, Elliot...

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Universal Primary Care, The Right Prescription
June 10, 2016

The Caledonian RecordThe editorial “Another Terrible Prescription” (Caledonian-Record, 05/21/2016) is an editorial conflicting with its own irony. It disses two proposals for publicly-funded universal systems currently in the statehouse — Dr. Dynasaur for children up to age 26 and Universal Primary Care — while simultaneously defending another universal program called Medicare. The editorial says of this program that the state of Vermont cannot get its grubby paws on the ...

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Paying for Lack of Single Payer
May 14, 2016

 Rutland HerladDawn Smith Pliner (“Health care nightmare, May 13) ought to be married to a Canadian. The health enrollment form is one page long — and it covers the entire family. An American acquaintance of mine, married to a Canadian, suffered a three-months-long, life-threatening crisis a month after they moved there and received excellent, affordable care, no further paperwork required.The inept processing Ms. Pliner is subject to is not a bug; it’s a feature. Vermonte...

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Opinion: Universal Care System Favored
May 05, 2016

 Addison IndependentThe letter “Vermont must address health insurance conundrum” (Addison Independent, April 11, 2016) was right on. This health insurance conundrum cannot be repeated enough. Our wages can never keep up with the never-ending rise of health care costs, no matter how high we raise the minimum wage. That “Of the roughly 630,000 people living in Vermont, almost 40 percent of them are on some form of public health care,” as the letter said, plainly shows ...

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Make Primary Care Free
April 08, 2016

 Times ArgusMake Primary Care FreeThe commentary “Make primary care free” (Times Argus, March 27) is on to something. Primary care is the core of our health care. The recent attempts at reform, like the Accountable Care Organizations (ACO), and the all-payer waiver, are revolving around the necessity of primary care.Hard experience taught me some years ago how absolutely essential it is to have access to a primary care physician. This is not only for routine maintenance, but to ...

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Question the System
February 15, 2016

The Times Argus The latest Times Argus/Rutland Herald editorial, “Sanders’ Challenge,” once again seems to paint Bernie Sanders as an unrealistic “populist” versus Hillary Clinton, the pragmatic realist. One example is the ACA (Obamacare) which Hillary Clinton wants to improve incrementally while Bernie wants to replace with a “single payer” Medicare-for-all health care plan.Health care in the U.S. is one of the most glaring examples of inequality, ...

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Health Care Overload
February 08, 2016

 The Valley NewsTo the Editor:Having recently helped a friend renew her supplemental health insurance, I was astounded by the amount of complexity the current system involves. First, we spent several hours learning about the overwhelming number of choices available to her from One Exchange, the health care exchange that now handles the health care coverage of DHMC retirees. Then we were on the phone for over an hour with a One Exchange representative reconfirming information (particularly m...

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Obama Care Not Enough
January 21, 2016

 Rutland HerladPaul Krugman’s “Health reform realities” (Jan. 19) claims that reality limits us to working with Obamacare; a national health care plan like the one Bernie Sanders proposes is unrealistic. But Krugman’s assessment leaves out one extremely important reality and understates a second.He left out the reality that his approach is a surrender to the power of the health insurance industry that, as he says, “played a major part in killing health reform i...

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Obamacare Not the Answer
January 21, 2016

Rutland Herlad It’s disheartening to see a respected newspaper like the Herald and a celebrated economist like Paul Krugman echo Hillary Clinton’s claim that the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) is a great achievement and the best we can get. If so, why are thousands thronging to hear Bernie Sanders and cheering his assertion that health care is a human right which the government should provide? When Krugman’s column ran in the New York Times, hundreds of eloq...

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Galling Reasons for Giving Up
January 20, 2016

Rutland Herald How very disappointing that Paul Krugman calls the ongoing fight for guaranteed health care for all Americans a “quixotic attempt” by progressives. Until insurance companies are not lined up at the trough, siphoning off health care dollars in the name of profit, our work is not done, and we will not give up regardless of Krugman’s “three big reasons,” the first the most galling. He claims that we can’t change the system because “incumbe...

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Single Payer is the Way To Go
January 19, 2016

Bennington BannerObamacare has definitely done some good. The main benefit has been to make health insurance available to many who did not have access before. Also patients with preexisting conditions cannot be denied coverage by the insurance companies. But Obamacare falls short in many ways:• About 25 million of us will be left uninsured and many more will be underinsured• Administrative complexity and waste have not been reduced; they have increased• High deductibles and copays...

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Why Primary Care is Essential
January 16, 2016

Rutland Herald The commentary “Primary care for all” describes two bills which propose to build a system of universal primary care in Vermont. These are H.207 and S.88. As I learned the difficult way through a near fatal experience some years ago, access to primary care is vital. Without it, problems can go either undetected or are put off by costs or insane insurance complexities until they require costlier care or become life threatening. The latter instance is what happened ...

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Healthcare Reform and the Fear Factor
October 06, 2015

Bennington BannerJohn McClaughry's column "Vermont's coming all payer 'reform'" (09/30/2015) raises an awful lot of fears in its roughly 750 words. One thing it does not do is mention that since 1971 Maryland has been operating a version of the all payer system that applies to hospital care. Between 1976 and 2007, Maryland had the second lowest rate of increase in costs per hospital admission in the country.A few other points from Mr. McClaughry's column need to be addressed. He says t...

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Not much has changed
August 20, 2015

Times ArgusI wear a button that says “Health care is a human right.”Growing up in Germany, I never ever thought that it couldn’t be. Yes, we had money taken out from our pay checks but it was definitely worth it: There was never a question or a problem to go to the doctor of my choice, to have procedures done or to go for recuperation to a sanatorium.I was totally shocked when I came to the states and experienced the state of affairs in health care. How can a society function w...

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Health care for the public
August 07, 2015

Rutland HeraldIn her letter printed on Saturday, Nan Dubin made a very important point. Ms. Dubin wrote that it is time to remove profit-making incentives (specifically profit-making insurance companies) from health care. I absolutely agree. In a civil, democratic society, there are quite a few services that we agree to supply as a community for the community. These services, such as health care, should be managed as government services for the benefit of all. There is a prevailing myth that pri...

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Health Care for All
July 31, 2015

Rutland Herald Yes, we can allow anyone to open an urgent care facility which has minimal overhead compared to hospital emergency rooms. Why not? Let all the easy¬ to care ¬for patients give their money to the businessmen who would take “profits” from the hospital, and put them into their own pockets. We could even allow giant drug chains to open competing stores right next to each other with a third just around the corner (Oh my, I think we have done that in Rutland). ...

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We need improved Medicare for All
July 16, 2015

Bennington Banner I would like to comment on two recent pieces in the Banner: First, Bob Stannard, who usually gets things right, says that Obamacare will provide universal health care. In truth, it will not. When Obamacare is fully implemented, there will still be 35,000,000 Americans without health insurance. This is not universal health care. Second, there is the story about police officer Nick Colanerie who has Hodgkins lymphoma and who will lose his health insurance before he finishes ...

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Healthcare in the US
June 26, 2015

The Caledonian RecordTo the Editor:John McClaughry recently wrote a column, "Sander's Medicare-For-All Pipe Dream." John is not a fan of Senator Sanders or government-sponsored healthcare, so his opinion was quite predictable.For an honest look at how health insurance companies operate, I recommend following Wendell Potter (WendellPotter.com). He says, "As a senior public relations executive, or 'spinmeister,' for two decades with two of the largest for-profit health insurance com...

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Private insurance root of problem
June 19, 2015

Rutland Herald The commentary, “Health care problems run deep” (Rutland Herald, June 14) was an excellent recipe for how not to return Vermont to prosperity in regards to health care reform. While the solutions for which the commentary advocates — make the exchanges voluntary, get rid of the Green Mountain Care Board’s rate-setting authority for private practice, stop the Medicaid expansion, restore and rebuild the private market, to quote several at random — wou...

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Failure to act on health care
May 20, 2015

Rutland Herald:  It is extremely disappointing to those of us who see a single-payer, universal health care system as the best way to provide health care to all Vermonters to learn what the Legislature has produced to “fix” our health care system. As with the rest of the country, we are left with a system that still allows for huge profits for insurance companies (according to the Times Argus in April, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Don George made $587,206 last year, 10 times the a...

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Other countries do it
April 28, 2015

Times Argus: The recent Times Argus editorial “Health care fiasco” points out the multiple problems, both technical and political, of Vermont Health Connect, the state’s version of the federally mandated Affordable Care Act. At this point it is still a quagmire of a nonfunctioning, convoluted and overly expensive attempt to provide health care for Vermonters. The IT “experts” in this mess were contracted from the supposedly superior private sector and it is see...

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System doesn't make sense
April 20, 2015

Rutland Herald: This is the story of my experience with Vermont Health Connect. I retired in the beginning of 2014. At that time our family was covered under my husband’s policy through his employer. My husband died in March of that year, and the coverage ended.I had the option of being covered as a retiree, but that was prohibitively expensive on my limited income — a pension and Social Security. I contacted a navigator with VHC, who guided me through the process. I was only able to...

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Keep Vermonters distracted with a red rag
April 02, 2015

The Caledonian Record: How do you kill a bull with a red rag? Wendy Wilton ( "It's Time We Had The Facts On Vermont Health Connect," 3/13/2015) 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 car...

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Dealing with primary care costs
March 31, 2015

St Albans Messenger: Access to basic primary health care is something that many people don’t have (almost 1/3 of Vermonters have no insurance or are underinsured). Many policies have very large deductibles. This means that people must pay the full cost of an office visit to treat a common infection or other simple problem. Many who can’t afford these outof-pocket costs put off that visit to the doctor, and their problem is left untreated and can escalate into a much more serious...

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Universal Primary Care is Essential
March 23, 2015

VTDigger:Editor’s note: This commentary is by Walter Carpenter, a writer who lives in Montpelier and who has been active in the health care reform movement for many years after a severe medical crisis put him up against the private insurance industry.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, provide universal care. Perhaps a more appropriate nomenclature for th...

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My Wife Had a Right to Decent Health Care
March 19, 2015

Stowe TodayOn Jan. 23, 2014, my wife, Jeanette, died of cancer.She was first diagnosed with thyroid cancer back in 2008. We were fortunate to have comprehensive health insurance at the time, and Jeanette responded well to treatment. Her cancer went into remission, and everything was great.Then 15 months ago Jeanette came down with a chronic cough. She went to the doctor and was told that she may have allergies. Looking for a second opinion, she went back to the oncologist who had treated her thy...

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Primary care merits funding
March 18, 2015

Rutland HeraldThe League of Women Voters of Vermont supports companion bills, H.207 and H.88, which provide for publicly funded primary health care for all Vermonters.Primary care is the most important step in maintaining a healthy population by treating routine medical problems and identifying more serious conditions before they become difficult and expensive to treat or chronically debilitating.Publicly funded primary care is cost effective, as little as $500 per person per year, and removes b...

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Real repairs
March 05, 2015

 Times Argus: Rep. Don Turner, R-Milton, in his commentary “Toward health care repairs” (Feb. 20) offers no fix on our health care mess except to criticize what others have had the courage to try. This is easy. Unfortunately, he offers nothing in the way of fixing them except a vague promise and some snappy phrases.Turner’s piece says that his party would offer “alternatives to bring some stability, protect patient rights and choices, offer greater access and im...

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Primary care first
February 26, 2015

Rutland Herald: Two new bills, H.207 and S.88, are being submitted for consideration of the Vermont House and Senate that would cover all Vermonters for primary doctor visits starting in 2017. These bills have bipartisan support in the Senate and even tri-partisan support in the House and would go a long way in containing or even reducing our escalating health care costs.Primary care is essential for quality health care as many small medical problems can be dealt with before they become big...

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Primary care is essential
February 26, 2015

Rutland Herald:  As a primary care physician in Vermont for 40 years I want to encourage Vermont’s Legislature to give thoughtful consideration to proposed bills (H.207/S.88) that advocate universal, publicly financed primary care.This approach to health care would give Vermonters easy and affordable access to primary care — the cornerstone of a health care delivery system. Primary care providers are the backbone of the medical care delivery system, and comparatively inexpensive...

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Building a medical empire
February 18, 2015

Seven Days:As presented by "Single Provider?" [January 21], the strategy of the newly rebranded University of Vermont Medical Center is clearly to develop political clout by consolidation, overgrowth and overemphasis on technology. According to CEO Brumsted, UVMMC is "gaining scale" to better position the hospital to respond to the ever-changing health care landscape. What has happened to the primary value that the needs of patients come first? Patients' basic health care nee...

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Who are the misfits
February 15, 2015

Caledonian Record:To the Editor:I want to apologize to the Caledonian Record before I start this letter. I normally do not laugh at the opinions of others, unless the opinion was meant to be taken that way. The editorial "Deja Vu" (Caledonian Record 02/05/15) did it. Deja Vu calls several New Hampshire law makers who have introduced legislation to institute a single-payer health care system in New Hampshire as "ideological misfits." This is one ideology calling another a misf...

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Toward humane healthcare
February 06, 2015

Rutland Herald: I write in support of the many Vermont citizens, elected officials and public servants who are working hard to create a health care system that will serve all Vermonters fairly and well. Can’t we Americans learn from people in other nations that are doing better? Here is my personal experience. A few years ago, I suffered from a condition which required emergency care at a hospital in Vermont and again later while my wife and I were visiting her relatives in Scotland. For...

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Health costs still too high
February 06, 2015

Rutland Herald: Dr. Anna Carey’s recent commentary regarding our insurance/business-based health care system is very much to the point. Having an ACA exchange policy such as bronze, or even silver, mainly benefits the insurer, not the insured. If one can’t access health care due to the high cost of out-of-pocket expenses, how can it be considered health care?After years of trying to reform our very unequal system of accessibility, it is still inaccessible for many. The increment...

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The insurance system isn't healthy for all in Vermont
January 25, 2015

Valley News: A 60-year-old man, who I’ll call C.C., recently walked into my family medical practice. The nurse handed me a thin chart record. His last visit was five years before for a skin infection. Written across the top in large block letters were the words, “NO INSURANCE.”C.C. and I started talking. Over the past month, he’d experienced darkening and diminishing urine, clay-colored stools, fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, parched mouth and windedness. His vitals were...

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Persevere on health care
January 23, 2015

Rutland Herald: It’s easy to condemn the Jan. 8 sit-in at the State House by Vermont Workers Center members and other single-payer health care supporters. Practically speaking, the demonstration was counter-productive because it left Vermonters talking about tactics (disruption) rather than substance (health care.) Other longtime, knowledgeable and passionate backers of universal, state-sponsored care felt obliged to dissociate themselves from the demonstrators, although they share t...

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McClaughry has it wrong
January 23, 2015

Valley News:To the Editor: John McClaughry’s Jan. 6 column (“Single-Payer Has Failed in Vermont — So What Next?”) was incorrect on the death of single-payer in Vermont. It is on hold; it is not deceased. While Mr. McClaughry did acknowledge this, the crying need for it is not going away. Mr. McClaughry suggests that the state government “invite some experts in who really understand how health care works.” One of his “experts” is “Regina Herzl...

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Despite the governor's assertion that 'now is not the time,' we haven't given up on single payer health care
January 23, 2015

Commons News:Single-payer health insurance is not dead, contrary to recent headlines and the media spin on it.Those of us in the Legislature who have been working for decades to bring about this change are not that easily deterred. Despite Governor Peter Shumlin’s statement — “Now is not the time” — we will continue to work toward this goal.As determined as we are to see this change come about, though, we are equally inspired to make it happen in a way that is both ...

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Good advice appreciated
January 20, 2015

Times Argus: Thank you, Dr. Michael Scollins, for your letter to The Times Argus reminding us that as Rome wasn’t built in a day, a single-payer health care plan won’t be either. Reminding us of successful single-payer plans already in operation in this country like Social Security and Medicare show that it certainly can be done and done successfully. But most of us have no idea of the amount of research and planning that is needed behind the scenes to get this done. We are so u...

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Just wondering
January 20, 2015

Times Argus:Why are the costs for single payer so high? Right now, in Vermont at least, we have Medicaid for low income folks. Who pays for that? What were the startup costs for that? How is that sustainable? It seems to me that single payer — where we all pay in what we can afford through taxes — would be a much more sustainable system for everyone in Vermont.Sandra BettisMiddlesex...

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Protest should be expected
January 20, 2015

 Rutland Herald: Regarding the Jan. 8 State House protests:We are in a nation that began with the likes of Sam Adams and the Sons of Liberty, and in a state established by the outlaw Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys, and some of us are concerned that the State House might witness further scenes of confrontational protesters? In publicly exercising their rights to speak freely, assemble peacefully and petition the government, the State House protesters made the concept of the Peo...

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Justice for all
January 20, 2015

 Times Argus: Justice for allAs a registered nurse, I am held responsible to follow a set of ethical principles that guide my work: non-maleficence (do no harm), beneficence (do good), respect for the autonomy of individuals, truthfulness, and justice. I am proud to be achieving the first four principles in my work, but to achieve justice — to provide all my patients with the best care possible — is impossible within our unjust health care system.My patients have served our...

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Sitting in for health care
January 19, 2015

 Rutland Herald: On Thursday, Jan. 8, I was arrested. I was taken into custody by state police for standing up for the rights of the people of Vermont.Hundreds of us from all over the state went to the State House to speak out for our human right to health care after the governor took it upon himself to abandon Vermont’s move to universal health care. Twenty-nine of us put our bodies on the line to demand a public hearing on health care financing, holding a sit-in in the well of ...

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Governor was myopic about health care
January 15, 2015

The Caledonian Record.To the Editor:Your editorial, "Yeah, Right," (1/6) is spot on for identifying Gov. Shumlin's campaign tactic, but misfires on his policy error: The reason he has deferred his decades-long push for health care reform (he committed to it first in 1994) was that he did not look far enough afield.He missed the fact that one out of every six holders of the best for-profit health insurance policies in Vermont pays over $5,000 yearly in out-of-pocket expenses. They were ...

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A teachable moment for us all
January 15, 2015

St. Albans Messenger:Mr. [Jim]Fitzgerald: There is something much bigger going on here. It is unfortunate that you chose to belittle these folks for trying to improve our current health care system. A system that is dysfunctional, at best - inaccessible, unsustainable and that you yourself, given the right circumstances, could find yourself unable to access or pay for in the future if things continue as they are. First let me make clear, I do not speak for the Vermont Workers Center or any other...

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America already has three single payer plans
January 11, 2015

The Valley Reporter: About the only thing I learned from Steve Allen's letter "The Unaffordable Care Act, Part Two" (The Valley Reporter, 12/24/14) is that he does not like liberal/socialism. I wonder why. Whenever he drives on a road, for example, plowed and maintained by the state or town, sends his children to school, goes to a library, etc., he is enjoying what liberal/socialism has done for him: public money for the public good.This is what single-payer is all about. Vermont'...

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What's behind Shumlin cop-out?
January 11, 2015

Rutland Herald: I have questions about Governor Shumlin’s cessation of single-payer health care for Vermont.— Was there a coalition of conservative Democratic and Republican legislators who threatened to vote for the Republican gubernatorial candidate if Shumlin carried out his plan for Act 48?— Why the failure in gaining the promised federal funding? After three and a half years since the passage of Act 48, can we believe that the federal funding was not certain?— T...

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Don't be afraid of single payer
January 01, 2015

Rutland Herald: In response to Enid K. Reiman’s letter, we are encouraged to know she recognizes the health care delivery system in the U.S. “needs to be fixed.” Without quoting figures everyone has heard, we know that we have the most expensive health care of all industrialized countries and that we provide a much lower percentage of our citizens with access to any health care. All those countries provided some form of a universal access plan, commonly referred to as “si...

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Single payer is doable
January 01, 2015

Rutland Herald: Beyond the accusations, rationalizations and gloating, the derailed progress toward universal, publicly funded health care is a tragedy for Vermont and for the rest of the country which might have followed our example as it often has.Yes, the funding is very complicated. But with strong enough commitment, dedicated minds can find a way. Single payer’s goal is good, affordable health care for everyone, regardless of income or employment: like Medicare for all. Underlyin...

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Worth the fight
January 01, 2015

Times Argus: Rep. Don Turner’s op-ed, “Single Payer Already Took its Toll,” misses many key points about Vermont’s march toward single payer. This is most likely on purpose.One of these is when Turner dubbed our attempts at single payer “ideological experiment” and “egregious waste of taxpayer dollars and the administration’s human capital.” It is not ideological, but pragmatic. It also accomplished two more firsts on the notch of firsts...

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Still pushing for single payer
January 01, 2015

Rutland Herald: Gov. Peter Shumlin has consistently dragged his feet on health care. The media called his near defeat in November a referendum on his policies, particularly his signature policy universal health care. But the referendum was over his feet dragging. He has consistently failed to present financing or other details for the universal health care system not because he did not have them yet, but because he never intended to have them.Today the governor has shown his true colors. Pe...

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Debate is just beginning
December 23, 2014

Rutland Herald: The key words in your Dec. 19 editorial are “abandoned ... in the coming year.” Abandoned, yes, but not forever, like little pregnant Nell at the home for fallen women.Now that the financial information is out there, we can start dealing with it. For those who want it to be a spectator sport, here’s a list of the players. The Legislature, which as all state legislatures behaves toward taxation like a debutante who believes her boyfriend is the only man in ...

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Health care for all
December 21, 2014

The Colchester Sun: As a person who once had to pay $97,000 for one ill-timed medical expense, and now over $9,000 a month, healthcare is for me not just a human right but a matter of life and death. Can America afford to slowly put to death 315 million people just because of costs? A fully funded and comprehensive universal health plan must be available to each and every citizen not just the rich, few, and far between. The falsely raised fear factors of cost and over-taxation is far outweigh...

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Rally for health care
December 21, 2014

The Essex Reporter: My name is Jessica Moore. I live in Burlington and have lived in Vermont all my life. I became a nurse because I wanted to help people, but the real world of health care is far from what I thought it was. I see patients every day who are diagnosed with debilitating and potentially life threatening diseases. Fortunately, there are excellent curative treatments for many of these medical conditions. However, the insurance companies frequently refuse to pay for the treatment. If...

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Scare tactics on health care
December 17, 2014

 Rutland Herald: Just a few days before the Nov. 4 election, a very misleading and untruthful campaign brochure was mailed to the constituents of some Rutland County legislative districts. It was designed to make Medicare recipients fear that their health benefits would be taken over by Gov. Shumlin’s health reform efforts and they might not be able to continue to see their doctor or might be denied care and to make Medicare recipients vote for the Republican candidate. In the Ru...

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Heath care effort must proceed
December 17, 2014

Addison Independent: In the wake of the upcoming legislative session, and anticipation over the release of a financing package for a single-payer health care system in Vermont, many have asked why we need a publicly financed health care system in the first place. They wonder why we passed Act 48 in 2011, and ask if there might not be another why to get to universal health care — such as 100 percent enrollment in private insurance. In short, why do we need a publicly financed plan and ...

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Gambling with people’s health
December 16, 2014

Rutland Herald: In the next few months — maybe much longer — Vermonters will be discussing and debating the future of health care in Vermont. Will we stick with the current model of insurance-provided health care, or move to a “single-payer” plan as suggested by the Legislature in 2011 and supported by Gov. Peter Shumlin? In my judgment, insurance is the wrong model for health care. Providing for your well-being with insurance is putting your health in the hands of...

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Health care system for all
December 16, 2014

Rutland Herald: Vermont needs to move forward with a health care system that provides all of the care we need and treats everyone equally. When I was 8 months old, I came down with grand mal seizures. Because of this, my dad needed to get a job to pay for the medications I would be on for the rest of my life. Over the years, things got worse, and my parents had to go to the Social Security office in 1983 because I was sicker then a dog at home and needed an operation to have my gall bladd...

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Now is not time to falter
December 05, 2014

Rutland HeraldThe League of Women Voters joined 15 other organizations in support of single-payer health care at a press conference at the State House recently.The League of Women Voters does not jump on bandwagons.We study an issue and come to member consensus before reaching an advocacy position. The LWVUS used that process before adopting a position in favor of a national single-payer health care system more than 20 years ago.While continuing to pursue that goal, the League recognized that th...

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Fair Health Care for Everyone
December 04, 2014

Rutland HeraldAs a young Vermonter who grew up in the Green Mountain State, I have long been proud of the ways in which our state has led the way on so many issues of human rights and dignity. As the 2015 legislative session comes ever nearer, it’s critical we move forward on our path toward Green Mountain Care that is about all care and all people, and not about filling the pockets of health insurance privateers.Two years ago, I had a major hernia operation. I had been suffering from mino...

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What he really said
December 04, 2014

Rutland HeraldWhen Professor Jonathan Gruber explained why the Affordable Care Act was worded in a confusing way, right-wing hypocrites had a field day trumpeting their outrage about lack of “transparency” and quoting his comment about “call it the stupidity of the American voter” without including his next words, “or whatever.” Here are the words Gruber actually spoke:“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as...

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Gruber flawed, but helped many
December 03, 2014

Addison IndependentValerie Mullin (“Deception used for single payer,” Nov. 27) gives your readers a wedgie.Republicans usually appeal to voters’ fears and resentments to drive a wedge between them and their good judgment on issues affecting them. Ever since Ronald Reagan kicked off his first presidential campaign in the podunk town of Philadelphia, Miss. (the site of the murder of three civil rights activists), signaling to America’s white racists that he was on their sid...

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Handy scapegoat
November 22, 2014

Rutland HeraldI find Rob Roper’s commentary on Jonathan Gruber to be nothing more than a political scapegoating process to cynically confuse Vermonters.Jonathan Gruber has certainly said some offensive and insulting things that clearly point out his cynical view of some of the processes and techniques used to draft legislation. We all dislike this, find it disturbing and are insulted. Gruber has been remarkably consistent in saying these things to several different state and national forum...

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Handy scapegoat
November 22, 2014

Rutland HeraldI find Rob Roper’s commentary on Jonathan Gruber to be nothing more than a political scapegoating process to cynically confuse Vermonters.Jonathan Gruber has certainly said some offensive and insulting things that clearly point out his cynical view of some of the processes and techniques used to draft legislation. We all dislike this, find it disturbing and are insulted. Gruber has been remarkably consistent in saying these things to several different state and national forum...

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Red herrings
November 21, 2014

Rutland HeraldBefore we lose all perspective on Jonathan Gruber’s “stupid” and arrogant words concerning the American public, we should consider the following. His faux pas really has nothing to do with the goals of universal health care of Act 48’s single payer. The same is true concerning the Vermont Health Connect website and its problems. A website is not health care. It is merely an administrative tool, though a poorly executed one. Vermont Health Connect is not sing...

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Stay Committed to Single Payer
November 18, 2014

Rutland Herald Last week I spent the day of the elections at Hartford High school, asking people to sign petitions in support of the Healthcare is a Human Right campaign. One of the points I pressed was no matter what happened in the voting booth, we must continue to hold our politicians accountable for the things we need in order to live lives with dignity. My experience tells me that no matter who’s in office, without an organized force demanding change, those in power will continue to ...

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Don't turn back
November 14, 2014

Time ArgusOn a typical foggy September morning I was commuting to work on my bicycle and every car was shrouded in a 50-foot cocoon of visibility. It occurred to me that what I was seeing was similar to how so many of us live — day to day — in our own protective cocoons. The way many of us cope is to deal with what is in our immediate field of vision and hope nothing serious happens to our health, to our family, to our jobs.It is not our fault that we may not want to peer outside of ...

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A vote is a choice, not a protest
November 14, 2014

Brattleboro Reformer"You're so sharp you'll cut yourself," the old saying goes, and a lot of people post-election think that applies to Peter Shumlin. He withheld his single-payer plan until 2015, the reasoning goes, to avoid taking a political risk, and doubting his resolve, the left stayed home, or cast a protest vote.I don't know the true reason for Governor Shumlin's actions. He says the plan isn't ready yet, and that the Vermont HealthConnect experience has taught him not to bring...

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Hold to beliefs on health care
November 13, 2014

Rutland HeraldPeter Shumlin won the popular vote. Presumably, many of us voted for him in part because we support his vigorous efforts to move Vermont to a single-payer system, removing insurance company profits from the equation of health care costs. This is simply an excellent way to pay for health care, for all Vermonters and, indeed, for all citizens of the United States. (Trace opposition to its source: The only losers in a single-payer system are insurance company stockholders, who current...

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Be Afraid of Incorrect Information
November 13, 2014

The Valley ReporterBy concerned Medicare recipients.Be afraid ...be very afraid! But be sure you don't do any research to learn the facts.Vermont seniors are being told that if Vermont's single-payer health care (Green Mountain Care) becomes law in 2017, we're all in jeopardy of losing or seeing drastically reduced Medicare and Medicare supplementary insurance benefits.'Tain't so, folks! We're being fed old news and partial truths by those who want to see the "free market" rule. But, h...

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Spreading fear
November 13, 2014

Valley ReporterBy Walter CarpenterI would like to respond to the "My View" commentary "Green Mountain Care and Medicare" (The Valley Reporter, 10/30/14) by Gene Bifano. Unfortunately, it is difficult within the brief span of a letter to call all the bluffs this piece makes in order to attempt to deliver its true intent: spreading fear.A certain hypocrisy should not be lost here. This commentary is defending one publicly funded, single-payer system to hopefully knock down anot...

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Laughed off the stage
November 13, 2014

The Valley ReporterBy Chuck GregoryGene Bifano's piece (Green Mountain Care and Medicare, 11/6/14) is being laughed off the stage by us seniors. Anybody who believes AARP is better than socialism does not know AARP. Rather than fight to protect us against the destruction of Medicare, it supported the Republicans' attempt in 2003 to deny the government the power to negotiate the prices of medications in its Medicare Part D legislation. As a $1 billion-a-year business, with $600 million coming fro...

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Single-Payer Can Be Done
November 12, 2014

Valley News“Single-Payer Supporters Push Ahead” (front page, Nov. 6) has it just right. We do not see Gov. Shumlin’s near-defeat as a referendum on health care reform at all. Vermonters are hungry for a universal, simplified and less costly system and so are many of our leaders in the state Senate and House of Representatives. I am one of the supporters of getting insurance companies with high-profit margins out of complicated and deductible-ridden health policies, and I trust ...

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In defense of ‘single payer’
November 11, 2014

Times ArgusI am very upset that people think that the narrow vote for Shumlin is a vote against single payer. It might be a vote against the present health care system (or lack thereof) but I do not see it as a vote against single payer. Single payer and the present system have nothing to do with each other. The present system was forced on us by the feds. Single payer, as I’ve said many times, is the only way to go and the only problem with it is that it is not in effect right now.Sandra ...

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Oops
November 11, 2014

Time ArgusIn his recent op-ed decrying rising health care costs, Don George says Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont is a nonprofit whose guiding principle is “putting Vermonters first.” Oops. He forgot to mention that his predecessor took a $7.9 million bonus when he left. To put that in perspective, for my current $1,240 premium for a family of four, I would have to pay 6,370 months, or 530 years, of premiums just to pay for that bonus. So much for Mr. George’s claims of concer...

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Scare tactics on health care
November 11, 2014

Rutland HeraldJust a few days before the Nov. 4 election, a very misleading and untruthful campaign brochure was mailed to the constituents of some Rutland County legislative districts. It was designed to make Medicare recipients fear that their health benefits would be taken over by Governor Shumlin’s health reform efforts and they might not be able to continue to see their doctor or might be denied care and to make Medicare recipients vote for the Republican candidate. In the Rutland 5-4...

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Single-Payer No Medicare Threat
November 06, 2014

Addison IndependentRecent letters and news stories have expressed the fear that a Vermont based single-payer system would be a threat to Medicare. This is simply untrue and here is why. The law that set Vermont on the path to single payer specifies on its very first page that Green Mountain Care will cover all Vermonters “regardless of income, assets, health status, or availability of other health coverage.” Also, federal law does not allow for any state to take away Medicare or chan...

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Democrats losing heart
October 31, 2014

Valley NewsThere seems to be a growing trend of Democratic politicians in Vermont preparing the ground rhetorically for a retreat from the state’s commitment to true universal health care. I first noticed this at the People’s Forum on Human Rights and the Economy held in Hartford on Oct. 16, where several Windsor County politicians expressed their love for universal health care in theory, while sounding uncomfortably vague, even fiscally conservative, on questions like how it would b...

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Legislature must continue toward single-payer goal
October 31, 2014

Addison IndependentMy name is Suzanne Boyle. I am retired now and have Medicare plus a Supplemental Health Insurance Plan — USAA, a nonprofit healthcare plan. However, it wasn’t always this simple.I lived 30 years in Connecticut, raising three children as a single parent, working at Cigna Insurance, attending night college courses for nine years to receive a double degree in education and American studies. With my degree I returned to teaching. Fifteen years later I found myself faci...

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Single payer is the answer
October 23, 2014

Rutland Herald Re: Keith Stern’s “Failings of Obamacare” (Rutland Herald, Oct. 18): Vermont Health Connect’s “bronze plan” has the cheapest monthly premium and a $6,000 deductible. To understand its true cost, you have to add $500 a month to the premium. The bronze plan is most likely to be chosen by the young, who are at the start of their climb (if they are lucky) up the income ladder and by those who are stuck in their climb. The young are also the heal...

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Not a threat to Medicare
October 21, 2014

Rutland HeraldRecent letters have expressed the fear that a Vermont-based single-payer system would be a threat to Medicare. This is simply untrue and here is why. The law which set Vermont on the path to single payer specifies on its very first page that Green Mountain Care will cover all Vermonters “regardless of income, assets, health status, or availability of other health coverage.” Also, federal law does not allow for any state to take away Medicare or change Medicare benefits ...

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Greed is root of health issue
October 14, 2014

Rutland HeraldThe perspective of the officials of Southwest Vermont Health Care may appear to be neutral in its point of view, but it is anything but. The writers state the three principles of health reform, which must be adhered to: universal coverage, based on a person’s ability to pay and having the right to choose your doctor. The writers tell voters that any reform of health care in Vermont must include the details of how much each Vermonter will pay. They state all this, implying tha...

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More clear than ever
October 10, 2014

Times ArgusThe recent article in The Times Argus concerning security shortcomings of the Vermont Health Connect exchange website should, if nothing else, point out the need for the future Green Mountain Care’s single payer/universal heath care plan. Instead of having to submit a complex application with personal financial information, single payer health care would only require proof of residency. Your health care will exist because you exist.This is similar to Medicare, where a short visi...

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Editorial sorely misguided
October 09, 2014

St. Albans MessengerThe editorial, “Vermont’s not so funny rendition of Looney Tunes,” (9/26) ought to have been titled, “We’re not the capable Americans of 1965.” That was the year Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law and gave the government and America’s hospitals one year to create a single-payer system to cover 19 million elderly people.Washington Post writer Sara Kliff, (“When Medicare launched, nobody had any clue whether it would work,&rd...

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Single-Payer for All
October 08, 2014

Valley NewsTo the Editor: I would like to thank the Valley News for the article “Shumlin Talks Health, Education Reform (Oct. 4)”. It was refreshing to read the governor’s commitment to “a more fair way of paying for health care where everybody has health care as a right, not a privilege.” I fully concur with him. Why does quality health care have to be a privilege of those with the economic resources or the luck to hit it right? While the exchanges do some right th...

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Make Sure Shumlin Doesn't Back Down
October 08, 2014

Rutland HeraldIn 2011, Vermont passed Act 48, setting us on the course to have the first universal, publicly financed health care system in the United States. This came about because hundreds of Vermont residents took action: contacting legislators, packing public hearings, testifying about the debilitating effects of the current health care system on their lives. By bringing their voices forward, these people changed the political landscape. Montpelier insiders who once said universal health ca...

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John McClaughry -- an interesting read
October 07, 2014

Caledonian RecodMcClaughry is always interesting to read. He researches his topics well, and always presents an interesting view of history. His latest thesis on "Health Care Mutual Aid", (September 30, 2014), was one of many ways he tries to discredit the "health care for all" movement and, in particular, the Accountable Care Act, or "Obamacare". He disagrees with me on the concept that health care is right for all Americans. He finds this to be an anathema and is ...

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It’s not so looney
October 07, 2014

St. Alban's MessengerEmerson Lynn’s editorial “Vermont’s not so funny rendition of Looney Tunes, (St Albans Messenger 09/26/14), missed several key points about why Vermont’s progress toward single-payer is not so looney after all.Mr. Lynn said Vermonters must reach into their pockets “over $2 billion each year to pay for this untried system.” As Mr. Lynn knows, Green Mountain Care (single-payer) is not an untried system. It is working all over the democratic ...

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Vermont Health Connect is Better for Vermont than the Federal Exchange
October 03, 2014

Caledonian RecordVermont Health Connect (VHC) made headlines when the state announced that it was taking down the web portal until further notice. While the policy reasons for taking this action were sound, this certainly was unwelcome news.Opponents of health care reform have used this decision to renew their call for Vermont to drop VHC altogether and join the federal health insurance exchange. This is a misguided reaction and one that would greatly impact consumer protections and low and midd...

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Health Editorial Missed the Point
September 25, 2014

The Herald of RandolophAs is typical of most of the comment about Vermont Health Connect and single payer, your editorial omits one fact: that citizens lack health insurance. Your editorial states that the reason the governor is pushing single payer is to control costs that crush small business. If that statement is even true then he’s pursing single payer for the wrong reason. The reason must always be because people lack coverage. To do anything else is immoral.Yes, it is a problem that ...

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The Crying Need for Single Payer
September 25, 2014

Randolph HeraldThe letter “Single Payer Hurts Quality” (09/18/14) has some explaining to do.If “Economics 101 teaches that price controls always lead to scarcity and loss of quality,” as the writer suggests, then why do nations with global budgets and single-payer systems consistently turn in better quality care than we do? What does Economics 101 teach about this?The letter said that “controlling prices does not control costs.” If this is so, then why are our...

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Sanders not to blame
September 24, 2014

Rutland HeraldA recent letter (“Single payer avoids problems,” Sept. 17) comes to the correct conclusion that single payer is the only way to guarantee health care for all in a cost-effective system. However, the letter seems to hold Sen. Bernie Sanders responsible for the passage of the Affordable Care Act instead of a national single-payer plan. The fault for that can hardly be put in the lap of Senator Sanders. Indeed, he has long introduced single-payer Medicare for All bills and...

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Recessive gene proved dominant
September 21, 2014

VTDiggerEditor’s note: This commentary is by Chuck Gregory, who is a member of the Springfield Town Democratic Committee, a volunteer with the Vermont Workers’ Center, and Valley Court Diversion. Hindsight is always 20-20, but Republican Randy Brock’s recent VTDigger pieces — “Out of the Frying Pan,” (Aug. 6), an attempt to tarnish the reputation of OptumInsight as a zombie version of its corporate criminal predecessor, Ingenix, and “You can’t get ...

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Vermont Health Connect not single-payer
September 19, 2014

Burlington Free PressThe League of Women Voters of Vermont strongly supports universal, state-supported health care for Vermont.There seems to be a misconception that because Vermont Health Connect is having technical difficulties, administering a single-payer system will somehow be worse. There's every reason in the world to believe the opposite is true.Under single payer, there will be:• No need to determine the best balance of deductibles vs. premiums vs. copays.• No need to submit ...

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How to get to free market
September 10, 2014

Rutland HeraldRe: Randy Brock’s Sunday funny:A man and his family stopped their car in front of the general store and, spying an old Vermonter, called out, “We’re moving into town. Can you give us directions to where we can buy health insurance?”The old man thought for a moment and said, “You just keep on through town ’til you come to the Free Market.“It’s only got three stalls nowadays, because the gummint says insurers can’t pass profits on...

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Single payer's many benefits
September 06, 2014

Rutland HeraldMr. Steve Trahan’s letter “How does state generate $4,800 per person for health care?” (Rutland Herald, Sept. 2) shows a complete lack of understanding of single payer, or of Vermont’s health care situation in general.Mr. Trahan’s first gaffe concerns the costs of single payer. He says, for example, that the “vast cost” of single payer will reach “upwards of three billion dollars,” or about $4,800 per Vermonter. Even if Mr. Trah...

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Single payer is not VT Health Connect
September 03, 2014

Manchester JournalOne of most disingenuous ways some would try to derail Act 48's Green Mountain Care's single payer universal health care plan is to link it to the Vermont Health Connect insurance plans. In spite of a couple of needed reforms, there is no way, shape, or form, that these heath plans are comparable or similar. Far from it. Green Mountain Care, due in 2017 resembles Medicare which is for the most part a "single payer" plan.Vermont Heath Connect is a convoluted, federally...

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Single payer will save money
August 28, 2014

The Herald of RandolphIn his August 21 column in The Herald, Middlebury’s outgoing state representative, Paul Ralston, raises some questions about the state’s roadmap to single payer. However, his conclusions are based on assumptions that need more probing. Here are a few issues that need to be looked at more carefully:1. The column asserts that the state has performed poorly in its “first attempt at health care reform” and that therefore people must now be cautious.Howev...

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Life or money
August 27, 2014

Times ArgusI was at a drugstore the other day when a little old lady in front of me went to fill a script and was not given the script. From what I could hear there was a problem with the insurance that needed to be resolved first. What I cannot understand is why working out a billing problem trumps getting needed medication to people who are sick. When most people do not get needed medications, it has much more costly effects elsewhere in society. Health care is about making people better. Inst...

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Are you kidding? Single-payer plan is the biggest bargain ever
August 22, 2014

St. Albans MessengerRepublicans often hurl fear, uncertainty and doubt (“fud-flinging”) like monkey poo in hopes that it will stick. Franklin County Republican Party chairman Steve Trahan (“Calling out local Democrats … what’s the governor’s plan?” 8/16) does just the opposite: Thanks to his predictions, I can hardly wait to pay more in taxes!I earned $34,079 gross and paid federal taxes on R an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $26,129, the basis on which...

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How do we pay for single payer? We’re still working on it
August 22, 2014

St. Albans MessengerTwo years ago I had the pleasure to sit across the table from Steve Trahan and debate policy when we were both candidates for the Vermont House. I have enormous respect for Mr. Trahan, although we disagree onTwo years ago I had the pleasure to sit across the table from Steve Trahan and debate policy when we were both candidates for the Vermont House. I have enormous respect for Mr. Trahan, although we disagree on many issues.many issues. That’s why I’m willing to ...

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Single-payer is simple
August 22, 2014

Times ArgusThe League of Women Voters of Vermont strongly supports universal, state-supported health care for Vermont.There seems to be a misconception that, because Vermont Health Connect is having technical difficulties, administering a single-payer system will somehow be worse. There’s every reason in the world to believe the opposite is true. Under single-payer, there will be:1. No need to determine the best balance of deductibles versus premiums versus copays.2. No need to submit pers...

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Critics are ignoring broken health system
August 21, 2014

Stowe Reporter The commentary by state Reps. Patti Komline and Heidi Scheuermann, “Health care must work for all Vermonters” (Stowe Reporter, Aug. 14), predictably has taken the Shumlin administration to task concerning the health exchange rollout and its IT problems. Also predictably, they think the solution for universal/affordable health care is more health insurance companies and less regulation, despite decades of evidence to the contrary. Just to recap such negative ev...

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Not about balance
August 15, 2014

Times ArgusAlan Parent in his letter “Real leadership needed” (The Times Argus, Aug. 6), does not define what he means by “real leadership.” Instead, he hides behind suggesting that what Vermont needs is “balance in Montpelier.” Mr. Parent says this will bring “real, and honest, leadership,” conveniently ignoring how this “balance” he advocates often brings gridlock rather than “real and honest” leadership. Our present gover...

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Supporting the path toward single-payer
August 14, 2014

The Essex ReporterResponding to Dr. Todd Gregory’s thoughtful questions about single-payer health care (“Understanding health care reform” Aug. 7):
Many details, especially regarding financing, do remain to be resolved in the coming legislative session. But the essential question is what Vermonters think our health care system should be and do.Single-payer will assure good, affordable care for everyone, regardless of age, income or employment, like what citizens of many o...

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Reply to Lawrence Harrington
August 02, 2014

Bennington BannerLawrence Harrington’s July 25 baseball bat story is pleasant and folksy. (Probably he prefers old-fashioned wooden bats to these newfangled aluminum ones; so do I.) But as an analogy to single-payer health care, his tale strikes out. Mr. Harrington’s more expensive baseball-bat finish was a better product than the cheaper ones that replaced it; but that is not the case with our present "system" of health care, whether "Obamacare" or its immediate ...

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Overcoming Obstacles
August 01, 2014

Rutland HeraldRob Roper’s recent commentary “Put small business first” in The Times Argus may have inadvertently given a boost to Act 48’s universal/single payer health care plan. I say inadvertently because the folks at the Ethan Allen Institute are ideologically opposed to any such publicly funded system.For example, one of greatest obstacles facing small businesses in general and start-ups in particular when trying to compete with large corporations in recruiting and k...

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Health care not a competition
July 31, 2014

Rutland HeraldFrank Mazur (“Rules limit patient options,” July 25) uses the standard wing-nut welfare resources (in this case, the Koch Brothers-funded Mercatus Center) to offer the standard “savage capitalism” defense of the present system of health care provision: Don’t interfere with “competition” by insisting that health care providers meet the standards set by a certificate of need.“Competition” is about dollars, not quality of service. ...

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Single-payer critic's math is off
July 31, 2014

Burlington Free PressThe letter "Red Flag Raised over Health Costs" (Letter to the editor, June 17) by Mr. William French left some red flags in its wake concerning the author's understanding of single-payer.For example, Mr. French states that "according to the 2013 United States Census Bureau estimate, there are 626,630 people living in our fine state — which means about 40,731 of our residents did not have health insurance coverage in 2012." True enough. In single-pay...

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Single payer good for all
July 28, 2014

Rutland HeraldResponding to Dr. Todd Gregory’s thoughtful questions about single-payer health care:Many details, especially regarding financing, do remain to be resolved in the coming legislative session.But the essential question is what Vermonters think our health care system should be and do.Single-payer will assure good, affordable care for everyone, regardless of age, income or employment, such as citizens of many other countries enjoy. All else derives from that principle. Overall, V...

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Why single payer
July 18, 2014

Times ArgusAlthough not his intention, George Malek’s commentary (“Reallocating health care costs,” July 14) was an excellent case on why we need publicly funded universal care.Mr. Malek, the executive director of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce, stated, “Some employers offer platinum health care plans, others no plan at all.” This has been a persistent problem with market-based health insurance. The so-called free market does not treat businesses equally, e...

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Ideology trumps reality
July 05, 2014

Rutland HeraldRegarding John McClaughry’s recent negative commentary in the Rutland Herald on Vermont’s Act 48, readers should keep the following in mind:As the ideological guru and founder of the Ethan Allen Institute (EAI) Mr. McClaughry, along other members of EAI, will almost always favor any so-called “free market” business enterprise over a government-run program, including health care, regardless of the results. The results are that after decades, private sector he...

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Pay up or die is our system
July 03, 2014

Rutland HeraldTwenty thousand dollars. This was the hospital’s “going rate” for the operation I needed to stay alive. I knew the operation. I had already logged three of them for the liver disease (from natural causes) which had nearly killed me that year. I had health insurance through an employer. I lost this during a company “restructuring.” Now, without insurance, ineligible for Vermont’s public programs (this was in 2007, just before Catamount), the disea...

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McClaughry Offers No Solutions
July 03, 2014

The Herald of RandolphJohn McClaughry’s “VA Hospital Scandal Is a Warning Sign for Single-Payer” (6/26) draws a very sketchy conclusion. It’s one thing to criticize VA healthcare behavior that is, indeed, indefensible; it’s another thing altogether to try to tie that behavior to a “single payer” theme, then to Canadian healthcare in general, and finally, in the longest stretch of all, to Vermont’s planned Green Mountain Care.What exactly is Mr. McC...

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Let's get real
June 27, 2014

Times ArgusThis is about the article regarding the state providing data on health care costs in Thursday’s Times Argus.While it is applaudable to have that data, it will prove unusable until we get to a single-payer system. At the moment people are controlled by their insurance company to stay within the network. So even if costs/charges are lower at another facility — if it is outside my network — I cannot go to use their services unless I pay more. Let’s get realistic a...

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Dancing, dodging and praying for health care is not the answer
June 27, 2014

The Caledonian RecordTo the Editor:John McLaughry's "Three Single Payer Health Care Systems" (6/24) laments the state of VA healthcare, laments the state of Canadian healthcare and laments what he considers the inevitable failure of Vermont's planned universal care system, Green Mountain Care. John McLaughry laments a lot. But John McLaughry doesn't ever address what the alternatives are to these programs he so obviously despises.Having decided to send hundreds of thousands of our mili...

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Vermont BCBS vs. National VA system
June 24, 2014

Caledonian RecordTo the Editor:Your editorial, "When Government Runs Health Care" (June 18) should give readers cause to reflect on one of the virtues of changing to a universal health care system for Vermonters by comparing Blue Cross Blue Shield to the Veterans Administration.Vermont BCBS is by Vermont law, a not-for-profit insurer; that is, it takes money from people and gives it to health care providers without rewarding shareholders. However, for this service its corporate officer...

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Settle for nothing less than single-payer
June 22, 2014

Burlington Free PressAs we get closer to actually implementing Act 48, Vermont's universal "single-payer" health care system in 2017, the pressure to dilute the act through compromise has proportionally increased.The extremely well-financed opponents of single-payer universal health care for whatever reason — be it self interest, ideology or party affiliation — have only begun to assert their political muscle on this issue. This is similar to opposition to the Affordable Ca...

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Problem is at the top
June 09, 2014

The Times ArgusBy: Jerry Kilcourse, MontpelierThe recent article in The Times Argus by Peter Hirschfeld “Increases fuel single-payer debate” should call attention to our overly complicated and administratively heavy health care system. Until it is simplified with a universal/single-payer plan for all, health care costs will never be reduced or even contained. It is a systemic problem that incremental reforms such as the Affordable Care Act (Vermont Health Connect) will never fix...

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We need improved Medicare for all
June 03, 2014

Bennington BannerBy: G. RICHARD DUNDAS, BenningtonWe read in the Banner that as many as 40 Veterans may have died in Phoenix because they could not get needed care at the VA hospital. This is truly outrageous (surely an overused adjective but probably better than disgraceful). We must do better for our Veterans.Here is another statistic that you may or may not want to know depending on your political mindset. It is estimated that in 2013 there were over 40,000 Americans (not a misprint) who died...

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Ross cooks up bad recipe for healthcare
May 13, 2014

Bennington BannerBy: Lee Russ, BenningtonI read Weiland Ross's April 29 column ("Not a nothing burger") attacking Green Mountain Care (GMC) and could only shake my head. He says Vermont is currently providing "good care to most of our people."If so, how does he explain the fact that the physicians most aware of what healthcare is really like for Vermonters -- the general practitioners -- favor a system like our planned GMC?A 2011 survey of Vermont doctors conducted by Vermont...

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‘No' to cost sharing
April 29, 2014

Bennington BannerBy: John Ransom, ReadsboroPerhaps the most important phrase in the Vermont Health Reform Law is "universal access and coverage." It means that all Vermonters have the right to an umbrella of health protection without barriers. This is a vital principle. As the legislature now considers the financing of this reform, it must not violate this core idea.Yet some legislators are proposing "cost-sharing" schemes which require patients to pay money upfront for their...

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More than numbers
April 22, 2014

 Times ArgusBy: Walter Carpenter, MontpelierI would like to thank The Times Argus for the editorial “Practical and moral,” in its April 12 edition. In it the Argus cites figures by the economist Paul Krugman that “7,000 to 17,000 people are likely to die each year as a result of the decision by about half the states not to join in the expansion of Medicaid authorized by the Affordable Care Act.”This is something to ponder with awe. How can a nation supposedly pledged...

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Spreading Fear About Single-Payer
April 22, 2014

 Valley NewsBy: Chuck Gregory, SpringfieldMegan McArdle’s piece (“Vermont Single-Payer: Show Me the Money,” April 17) about the unaffordability of universal health care is way off the mark. If Vermont were its own country, it would rank 20th in per-capita GDP — $38,198, according to data from the Central Intelligence Agency (2005). Adjusted for parity of purchasing power (which equalizes currencies’ worth), that puts Vermont right ahead of Belgium and 171 other...

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Health care bill will be historic
April 21, 2014

 Rutland HeraldBy: CHARLES GREGORY, SpringfieldAbout “Time Crunch” (April 20): Who would have guessed when the Legislature asked consultant Thorpe for a “Plan B” that he would serve them something other than leftovers? Well, at least his ideas were better than the well-known Republican plan of, “Don’t get sick, but if you do, die fast.”As you said, it is “an enormously complicated undertaking” that requires careful planning and scrutiny ...

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Happy with Medicare single-payer plan?
April 16, 2014

 Bennington BannerBy: DICK BOWER, BenningtonI have only one question for Mr. Harrington. Is he happy with his Medicare single payer plan? If his answer is yes, why not share these qualities with the general public through a single payer system for all? His assertion to "Forget whether or not the single payer plan is equitable or affordable or workable" cannot be ignored because Medicare has these qualities.Look, we will never have the perfect healthcare plan. Granted, the Affordab...

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Hang in there on health care
April 11, 2014

Rutland HeraldBy: JERRY KILCOURSE, MontpelierAs we get closer to actually implementing Act 48, Vermont's universal "single payer" in 2017, the pressure to dilute the act through compromise has proportionally increased. The extremely well-financed opponents of single-payer universal health care for whatever reason, be it self-interest, ideological, or party affiliation, have only begun to assert their political muscle on this issue. This is similar to opposition to the Affordable Care A...

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Wondering
April 10, 2014

 The Caledonia RecordBy: Walter Carpenter, MontpelierMr. Tom Licata's letter "Subversive goals" (Caledonian Record 3/26/2014) made this reader curious to his intentions. In this letter Mr. Licata suggests that socialism as a political movement is committing treason against our "Constitutional Republic."I was curious for several reasons. One is when he quoted Senator Bernie Sanders when asked about his being a democratic socialist by Bill O'Reilly in a March 14 interview....

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Campbell No Longer A Supporter Of Single-Payer Health Care?
April 03, 2014

The Vermont StandardBy: Ann Raynolds, PomfretHas Senator John Campbell given up his commitment to a universal, everyone-in, no one left out, publicly financed health care system, one which our governor and a majority of Vermonters are moving toward? His salvo on March 25 to a VPR reporter stating that “single payer may not be something that would be politically viable in this legislative body” leaves this supporter of Act 48 and the administration's yet unveiled financing plan w...

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Health Care Farce
April 02, 2014

 Seven DaysBy: Chuck Gregory, Springfield Paul Heintz's financial update of Vermont's advance toward a humane and rational health care system in Vermont [Fair Game, February 26] had the focus of a drunkard on his next bottle. Had he viewed the scene more broadly, he would have seen it as farce.• Spokeswoman Darcie Johnston of Vermonters for Morbidity and Mortality Freedom darkly inveighs against "big, out-of-state" union funding while she sits on her own l...

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Don’t cop out on health care
March 29, 2014

Rutland HeraldBy: JUDY and MICHAEL OLINICK, MiddleburyWe urge Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell to resume his essential leadership role in bringing guaranteed, publicly funded health care to all Vermonters through implementation of Act 48.Senator Campbell was a hero in the marriage equality struggle, with which Vermont will always be proudly associated as the first state whose legislature freely recognized this basic human right.Health care for all is another fundamental human right, a...

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Don’t quit before you start
March 27, 2014

Rutland HeraldBy: Ellen Oxfeld, MiddleburyThis week in a VPR interview, Senate President Pro Tem 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 is disappointing. He demurred that he was not sure that a single-payer financing plan would be “politically viable” in the Legislature because of the “cost...

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Ready for Single-Payer Health Care
March 17, 2014

 Valley NewsBy: Anna Carey, M.D., Burlington, Vt.I never read “with amusement” issues of heath care in Vermont, as Gerald Mittica stated in his March 6 letter, “What Do Politicians Know?” Instead, I follow carefully the Legislature as it focuses on changes that are needed to make health care in Vermont available to every baby born and to every elderly person at the end of his or her life. The facts are that you’d have a better chance of surviving your firs...

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Misperceptions on Health Care Reform
March 14, 2014

Manchester JournalBy: Chuck Gregory, SpringfieldRepresentative Cynthia Browning ("Reliable Investments in Health Care Reform," 3/16/14) writes, "I am not sure we can afford the risk and uncertainty, the massive tax increases, and the system disruption of the state run "single payer" GMC." Ah, yes, the old "affordability," the main reason why the US, with the world's No. 1 GDP has to be No. 37 in health care adequacy. I searched through the GDP and hea...

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In support of single-payer health care reform
March 06, 2014

Essex ReporterBy: Trevor Madore, ColchesterWhile details regarding the transition to a single-payer health care system remain, we cannot forget the benefits of these changes. The Vermont Republican State Committee resolved that Vermont’s health care exchange should be optional and provide more insurance options. While the traditional arguments of market-based health care are present, the abuse of Vermont citizens by insurance companies remains unquestioned.Not only are current health ...

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The Home Stretch: Ending The Biennium
March 06, 2014

The Vermont StandardBy: Kurt StaudterOnce again our legislative leaders will set an arbitrary date to end the session that has little to no connection as to whether the work of the people is finished. They do this every year claiming that it costs so much for each week that they are in Montpelier; that it’s the “responsible” thing to do. The problem is that when the biennium ends it’s like a giant reset button has been pressed – In November there will be an election...

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Single payer criticism omits key points
February 28, 2014

Stowe TodayBy: Jerry Kilcourse, MontpelierIn her recent commentary in the Stowe Reporter, “Single-payer system: an unhealthy choice” (Feb. 20), Heidi Scheuermann makes several comparisons and conclusions that at best mix up apples and oranges and at worst distort facts by glaring omissions.Dr. BaumanSome examples are:1. The $2 billion cost of single payer will suffocate small business and the middle class. She omits the fact that, according to the UMass study, we are already spending...

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Editorial Missed the Real Story
February 26, 2014

The Caledonian-Record - St. Johnsbury, VTBy: Chuck GregoryCanadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau once remarked of a Time magazine article critical of his government, "People who don't have anything to do with their hands pick their nose. People who don't have anything to do with their mind read Time." The Caledonian-Record editorial board ("Bumbling Worthy Of National Mention") missed the real story behind the Newsweek story.The real story was not the state of progress o...

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Why We Support Green Mountain Care
February 26, 2014

The Caledonian-Record - St. Johnsbury, VTBy: Martha Allen, of Canaan, is a K-12 school librarian who is president of Vermont-NEAMany 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 to become the fir...

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What's missing in letter against single-payer
February 19, 2014

By: Walter Carpenter, MontpelierThe letter "Single payer promises" by Mr. Rob Roper in the Bennington Banner (Feb. 13, 2014) is interesting for what it is missing, what it implies, and a falsehood which needs to be addressed. This is Mr. Roper's little slam at single-payer advocates who yearn for "unfettered and unlimited access to any and all medical care," whatever this means.We "true believers," as Mr. Roper snidely phrased it, have never said this.What we &...

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Facts better than spaghetti
February 17, 2014

 By: Chuck Gregory, Springfield   Apparently Marty Post (“Disaster looms in health care,” Feb. 13) thinks he can win a debate if he walks in, hurls a plate of spaghetti carbonara against the wall and shouts, “There.”  He would have done better to substitute facts for pasta. 1) We are already started with Obamacare; it’s not a particularly good system, but we have to, it’s the law. He doesn’t know this. 2) Our legislators are look...

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We cannot forget the benefits of health care changes
February 17, 2014

Deerfield Valley NewsBy: Trevor Madore, ColchesterWhile details regarding the transition to a single-payer health care system remain, we cannot forget the benefits of these changes.The Vermont Republican State Committee resolved that Vermont’s health care exchange should be optional and provide more insurance options. While the traditional arguments of market-based health care are present, the abuse of Vermont citizens by insurance companies remains unquestioned. Not only are current healt...

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Single-payer is matter of justice
February 13, 2014

By: Trevor Madore, Colchester   While details regarding the transition to a single-payer health care system remain, we cannot forget the benefits of these changes. The Vermont Republican State Committee resolved that Vermont’s health care exchange should be optional and provide more insurance options. While the traditional arguments of market-based health care are present, the abuse of Vermont citizens by insurance companies remains unquestioned. Not only are current health ins...

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Column exaggerates single-payer costs
February 13, 2014

By: Walter Carpenter, MontpelierRob Roper’s commentary “The single-payer cost nobody talks about” (Jan. 30) suggests that the universal, publicly-funded health care system Vermont is moving toward will need scores of supplements to work, adding millions more in costs from the need for wrap-around policies. This is not true. Mr. Roper cites Medicare as an example of these required “wrap-around” policies for single payer. What he leaves out, however, is that...

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Stay the Course on Single-Payer
February 08, 2014

By: Ann Raynolds, Psy.D., PomfretGov. Peter Shumlin has been steadfast in his commitment to designing a universal health care system in our state, and he has huge support from Vermont providers and consumers. Michael Costa is the financial guru hired who, with a top flight team of experts in Montpelier, is designing several scenarios for how this will work. It is highly complex, as he says, and they must do impact studies as well as crunch the numbers, and I hear them to be committed not to have...

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Single-payer system is the best roadmap
February 07, 2014

By: Ellen Oxfeld, MiddleburyIn his guest editorial, “Single-payer questions” (Jan. 23), Emerson Lynn questions the feasibility of a single-payer system in Vermont. Several of his concerns must be addressed.Dr. BaumanLynn points out that studies have estimated Vermont would have to raise between $1.6 billion and $2 billion in taxes to fund a single-payer system. However, both of these numbers are less than Vermonters now pay in premiums and out of pocket (over $3 billion per year...

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The right reasons for sound defeat
February 05, 2014

By: Chuck Gregory, Springfield Clearly editorials cannot report the news upon which they are based in full, so your board (“GOP takes stand against single-payer plan,” Feb. 2) had to exclude all the whereases that preceded the resolution the party passed.However, I was given what is purported to be a copy of the full document, so I am happy to pass it along in full: “Whereas a universal, affordable, participatory, equitable and transparent single-payer health-care plan wil...

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Private Insurance No Solution
January 30, 2014

By: Walter Carpenter, MontpelierI would like to respond to the letter “Many questions on single payer” by Ms. Kerry O’Hara in the Jan. 24 edition of the Rutland Herald. There are some things in her letter which are not exactly as benign or rosy as Ms. O’Hara depicts. I wanted to clarify at least one of these. This is the employee benefit programs which Ms. O’Hara managed as a former human resources director. Ms. O’Hara wrote that “if the insur...

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Republicans Better Not Relax Too Much
January 29, 2014

By: Walter Carpenter, MontpelierMr. Gary Murdock in his My Turn piece, “Republican, sit back and gloat,” (Jan. 8) says the Republicans, who have done absolutely nothing for health care reform, should sit back and gloat over their failure to do anything. He called the Affordable Care Act (ACA) the “greatest wealth transfer schemes the left has ever devised.”He is wrong that the left devised this scheme. It is actually a conservative idea, first employed by Repub...

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A little balance, please
January 29, 2014

By: David Schoales, BrattleboroIs a software screw-up in the health exchanges really so important we have to hear about it over and over for weeks? Is it just because it’s a government screw-up?How come we never hear about it when the visiting nurses are late or miss an appointment to care for Grampa, so Gramma misses her ride to her doctor’s appointment or can’t get groceries until the weekend? How come we don’t see coverage when the insurance company screws ...

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How single payer will work
January 27, 2014

By: Ann Raynolds, PomfretIn response to Kelly O’Hara’s letter (Jan. 24), my experience and that of many others is that the ACA (Affordable Care Act) is already not working for the many people who choose the high-deductible plans. Perhaps they couldn’t afford the non-high-deductible Silver plan or the Gold or Platinum plans. And there are the people, many of them young and healthy, who simply will not buy any plan and the ACA will fall of its own weight. However, there are...

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Profits guide insurance firms
January 27, 2014

By: Jason Kelley, West HartfordIn response to Kelly O’Hara’s letter (Jan. 24) commenting on the Herald editorial about recent developments in Vermont’s health care reform (“Getting Ready,” Jan. 21), it’s hard to know how she gained her unbridled admiration for health insurance companies. Health care costs in Vermont exceed the national average; we have the 13th highest per capita health care costs of any state. Insurance companies have shown little ...

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Study confirms single-payer benefits
January 24, 2014

From Essex ReporterBy: Ellen OxfeldThere has been much talk about a new study commissioned by the Vermont Medical Society, the Vermont Chamber of Commerce and a number of other groups. It estimates the costs for a Vermont single-payer plan as being more than that estimated by another study commissioned by the state and conducted by the University of Massachusetts in 2012. But, ultimately, this study ends up confirming what all the other studies commissioned in the last decade (Lewin,...

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Mr. Lynn's doubts answered
January 15, 2014

St. Albans MessengerTo the Editor:In his editorial, “Looming questions for Vt. Legislators” (1/7/2014), Emerson Lynn raises questions about the feasibility of Vermont implementing a single payer system in 2017. Several of his concerns need to be addressed.First Lynn raises the issue of cost. He points out that some studies have estimated that Vermont would have to raise $1.6 billion in taxes to fund a single payer system while others assert it would be closer to $2 billion, and he ...

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Critique sows doubt, fear
January 14, 2014

Times Argus Sen. Joe Benning takes a page from the national party playbook on opposing Obamacare when he criticizes Vermont’s present work on universal, affordable and accessible health care. First, he sows seeds of doubt about the finances involved. Next, he spreads fear about the lack of infrastructure development. Then he calls for definite dollar amounts. He goes on to throw in a distraction — an alternative financing bill to be introduced. He proceeds to question the pace of...

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Let’s lower the Medicare age and avoid the ACA chaos
January 08, 2014

The CommonsI am a fortunate 20-year beneficiary of America’s single-payer federal health insurance, Medicare. While it needs major improvement, it has excellent coverage and acceptance.Medicare provides:1) Free, fast, easy enrollment. Applicants must prove citizenship and payment into the system.2) Insurance for seniors, disabled people, and those with two specific disorders.3) Insurance independent of employment.4) Insurance for all incomes, a one-class system.5) Policies that cover indiv...

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Another reason for single-payer
January 07, 2014

Times ArgusA friend who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, recently left her high-pressure job for one with less stress and two months off per year. Deb and her partner, Mike, who are both in their mid- to late 50s, wanted more time to travel and enjoy a more relaxed life. Fortunately, because of Canada’s single-payer system, one problem Deb never had to consider was whether her new employer offered health care benefits.During our visit last fall, Deb and Mike also said they were comple...

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Dick Tracy's column filled with errors
January 02, 2014

Vermont StandardTo The Editor,Former senatorial candidate Dick Tracy’s column (“ACA: A Lump of Coal,” 12/27) is 634 words long, and it presents an error of fact or reasoning on an average of every two sentences.To address each within the Vermont Standard’s suggested editorial guidelines would require a letter at least four time longer than his, so I will limit myself to pointing out the misstatements and poor research: 1. He does not know the effects of a bad insurance po...

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Medicare is single payer
December 26, 2013

Brattleboro Reformer Editor of the Reformer: I am a fortunate 20-year beneficiary of America’s single-payer federal health insurance, Medicare. While it needs improvement, it has excellent coverage and acceptance. Medicare provides: Free, fast, easy enrollment. Applicants must prove citizenship, paying into the system; insurance for seniors 65 and older, disabled and two specific disorders; insurance independent of employment; insurance for all incomes, a one-class system; policie...

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Medicare for All is Best Plan
December 18, 2013

Rutland HeraldThe best method of providing excellent health insurance for all Americans is to have a single-payer plan, and that plan should be Medicare. Statistical polls show that people on Medicare are most satisfied with their plan. So when is the government going to provide Medicare for all Americans? Obamacare is a good start, but a single-payer health plan would do several fine things. First, it would eliminate the “shopping around” aspect of finding an appropriate health-care...

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Confident in single-payer future
December 17, 2013

Burlington Free Press The recent study funded by the Vermont Medical Society, the Vermont Chamber of Commerce and other organizations opposed to a unified payment system (“single-payer financing”) for health care (“Outside report raises concerns about Vermont’s universal health care plan,” Nov. 14) beggars belief. This new study by a Washington consulting firm concluded that health care savings for Vermonters under a unified payment system would be less than ...

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Don't lose sight of single-payer goal
December 06, 2013

Burlington Free PressThe recently released report by Washington, D.C., consultants Avalere calls into question promised savings from a single-payer health care system. Skeptics and opponents of Green Mountain Care want to see the money: where are the savings promised by Dr. Hsaio when he urged Vermont to go for single payer?Are the savings in all Vermonters having access to health care for the same amount of money being spent now?Are the savings in a healthier and more productive Vermont?Are the...

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Need better results
December 03, 2013

Times ArgusThe recent Avalere report, commissioned mainly by affiliated business groups, predictably disputes some savings that will be realized by Vermont’s Act 48 single payer health care plan. However, before opponents of single payer start victory laps, some questionable aspects of the report should addressed.The report overlooks that today hospitals and doctors in private practice write off over a $100 million a year in care when patients can’t pay their medical bills which mean...

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Savings will be there
December 03, 2013

Times ArgusThe recently released report by Washington, D.C., consultants Avalere calls into question promised savings from a single-payer health care system. Skeptics and opponents of Green Mountain Care want to see the money: Where are the savings promised by Dr. Hsaio when he urged Vermont to go for single-payer?Are the savings in all Vermonters having access to health care for the same amount of money being spent now?Are the savings in a healthier and more productive Vermont?Are the savings i...

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Report has skewed view
November 20, 2013

Rutland HeraldThe recent Avalere report, commissioned mainly by affiliated business groups, predictably disputes some savings that will be realized by Vermont’s Act 48 single-payer health care plan. However, before opponents of single-payer start victory laps, some questionable aspects of the report should addressed.The report overlooks that today hospitals and doctors in private practice write off over a hundred million dollars a year in care when patients can’t pay their medical bi...

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Study confirms: Single-payer works
November 18, 2013

Rutland HeraldThere has been much talk about a new study commissioned by the Vermont Medical Society, the Vermont Chamber of Commerce and a number of other groups. It estimates the costs for a Vermont single-payer plan as being more than that estimated by another study commissioned by the state and conducted by the University of Massachusetts last year.But, ultimately, this study ends up confirming what all the other studies commissioned in the last decade (Lewin, Thorpe, Hsiao, BISHCA, UMASS) h...

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Health Care for All
November 14, 2013

Times ArgusI’m a veteran of the U.S. Marines, and I’ve struggled with health care and poverty for almost all of my life. I’ve been without health care (including dental) for many years. There have been times when I have gone on a health care plan through my work, only to lose it because my work was seasonal, or because I couldn’t afford the premium. Last year, I applied for VHAP (the Vermont state health care assistance program). At the time, I was on unemployment and an ...

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On Veterans, Healthcare and Single Payer
November 14, 2013

Brattleboro ReformerHow very wonderful and appropriate for newspapers, TV and radio to share Veterans Day stories and photographs of veterans who have risked their health and lives for their country.What troubles me is our government’s uneven response to veterans’ post-war health care needs. Many vets may be unaware that they are not automatically covered by Veterans Administration health care. They must apply, and "qualify" in numerous ways, over and above serving their co...

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Health care a necessity
November 09, 2013

Times Argus In 2004, at the age of 57, I gave up my health insurance because I could no longer afford the premium. I lived without medical care of any kind, hoping that I would survive until 65.When I finally qualified for Medicare, I found a doctor. He sent me for all the screening tests that recently had been added as part of preventive care for Medicare patients. During the last test, cancer was detected.Even though I had Medicare, I did not have gap insurance, and so there were many asp...

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Logical way to health care
November 07, 2013

Rutland HeraldI would like to respond to the letter “Illogical path for health care “ in the Oct. 29 edition of the Rutland Herald. The author’s main points here are that single-payer health care is illogical and that universal care advocates are “like children clamoring for lollipop treats and not giving a thought to how to pay for the lollipops.”The answer to paying for the “lollipops,” as the author contemptuously put it, is that we are already paying...

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Single payer will be better
November 02, 2013

Rutland Herald With the confusion surrounding the national health care system it is important to clarify what is actually happening in Vermont. Americans will soon be required to have health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This will probably be better for people across the country, but in Vermont it is not for many. I run a small farm in the Northeast Kingdom. Because of my low income, I currently receive coverage under VHAP, Vermont’s Medicaid, like many friends and their...

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Free market health failed
October 29, 2013

Burlington Free PressTom Licata’s letter to the editor “Say no to more government ,” (Burlington Free Press, Oct. 15) states that “Government controlled single-payer health care violates both your sovereign and natural rights.”This statement completely ignores that we the people are the government.While this is often difficult to grasp in how our government, especially our seemingly federal corporatocracy, functions (with a certain party consciously trying to destro...

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Single payer is a better system
October 25, 2013

Rutland HeraldThe problems with the ACA (Obamacare) website illustrate our convoluted, fragmented, overly expensive, and unequal health insurance system. The ACA has some long overdue reforms — the elimination of pre-existing conditions and very large deductibles and setting an annual cap of out-of-pocket costs. However, this is still an inefficient and cumbersome private insurance-based system that will still leave millions without coverage.The simplest and most efficient way to cover all...

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People confused about health care reform
October 18, 2013

Burlington Free Press Many people commenting on Vermont's health care reform have confused the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) and our state's universal health care plan that has yet to be implemented. It is important that Vermonters understand that these are two different programs, based on two very different approaches to health care and health care financing. The ACA takes effect in 2014. The recently opened "exchange" is a requirement of the ACA, which employs insurance as ...

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An elephant isn\'t a suitcase
October 17, 2013

Manchester Journal To the Editor: Ron Roper's column ("A Premium is not a Tax," Nov. 10), makes a case against publicly funded universal health care by emphasizing the differences between a health insurance premium and a tax. He says that universal care will be "Creating a government monopoly funded by a payroll tax on job creators - criminalizing them if they can't keep up." That sure sounds scary, but if you think about it: (1) that's exactly what Social Security...

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Single payer plan still under consideration
October 08, 2013

Bennington BannerWhile Vermont and the rest of the nation struggle to phase in Obamacare, we should keep in mind that even when fully implemented Obamacare will not insure everyone. According to recent Census Bureau estimates, in 2012 there were 48 million uninsured Americans. It is estimated that 48,000 Americans died needlessly last year because they couldn’t get access to timely and appropriate care. If and when Obamacare is fully implemented, there will still be about 30 million uninsu...

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Creating a single-payer plan
October 07, 2013

The Colchester SunIn Emerson Lynn’s editorial about payroll taxes for a proposed single-payer health insurance plan in Vermont (“A payroll tax? How far down the road are we?” Sept. 26), he correctly points out that we need a detailed plan to see how such taxes would impact different businesses large and small. This is a complex undertaking and the Governor has stated that his administration is now working on a detailed plan to present to the Legislature in 2015.Given that such ...

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I'd rather have public health
September 23, 2013

Times ArgusIn his letter “No thank you” (Times Argus, Sept. 6) Mr. Keith Zandy asks several questions of proponents of single-payer health care. One of these is: “When your health care decisions fall into the hands of a cold-hearted bureaucrat, and you are denied treatment that your doctor recommends due to bureaucratic red tape, will you regret your foolishness in putting your life and liberties in the hands of the government?”My answer is no. I have much experience with...

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Half the story
September 17, 2013

Times ArgusThe recent Times Argus headline “Shumlin eyes payroll tax hike” on the front page unfortunately tells only half the story of funding for single payer. It isn’t until the last paragraph on Page 3 of the Peter Hirschfeld article that we read about the “biggest health care premium reduction in American history” that should more than offset the payroll tax in dollars for all Vermonters.To emphasize in a headline only one aspect of the plan without the other i...

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Taxes instead of premiums
September 16, 2013

Times-Argus The headline of your Sept. 5 article states, “Shumlin to rely on payroll tax hikes” to fund single payer. However, this headline would be equally accurate if it stated, “Gov. Shumlin to implement the largest single premium decrease in U.S. history.” Indeed, as the article itself makes clear, taxes to fund a health care system for all Vermonters (single payer) will replace and not add to premiums, and thus they will not constitute a hike in payments for heal...

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We'll pay less for more
September 16, 2013

Times-ArgusGov. Shumlin is correct to state that taxes will have to rise significantly in order to fund the new single-payer health care system. He is also correct when he states that they will replace — and not be added to — the increasingly expensive, unaffordable, confusing and unreliable private insurance premiums, copays and deductibles that most of us are currently paying.In the end, we will pay significantly less for better and more consistent health care than we are now payin...

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High deductibles are a bad deal
September 05, 2013

Randolph HeraldI would like to respond to the letter “High Deductibles Bring Savings” in the August 15 edition of The Herald. As someone who has suffered these plans before, I am curious for whom the savings are brought to.It is certainly not the insured. They get to pay both the premiums and the deductibles, usually amounting to thousands of dollars per year, even with these HSA’S (Health Savings Accounts) added to mitigate the cost in some cases.The author wrote that “s...

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Free market does not work for health care
August 29, 2013

Rutland HeraldIn her commentary “An Unhealthy Public Policy” (Rutland Herald, Aug. 21), Ms. Darcie Johnston, founder of Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, an anti single-payer group, writes that “Vermonters and Vermont’s health care system will suffer if this ‘experiment’ [Vermont’s Act 48 and Vermont’s version of Obamacare] is continued and opponents alternatives are ignored.”How so? How could Vermont’s health care suffer more that it...

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Single Payer is the Answer
August 28, 2013

Rutland HeraldI would like to respond to the letter “Let it die a quick death” (Aug. 15) where the author suggests that the Affordable Care Act will inflict “confusion and economic hardship.” Confusion, yes. Any new program will cause initial confusion until the kinks are worked out of it. Economic hardship is another matter.For one, it is difficult to find a system which inflicts more economic hardship than our current health care chaos. Our reliance on private health in...

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Colossal Wastefulness
August 28, 2013

Rutland HeraldLast week I received several pages from Medicare which purported to explain benefits they were or were not covering for visits I and my wife had made to our doctor last April.Finding them difficult to understand (references to charges not covered because they were hospital, not doctor’s office procedures, when we had only seen our doctor in his office, plus the difficulty of remembering details of events four months ago), I asked the doctor’s office to help me understan...

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Need single payer now
August 20, 2013

Caledonian Record To the Editor: I chuckled at the editorial "Getting it Good and Hard" in the Aug. 3 edition of the Caledonian Record. The heading is beautiful, though imprecisely timed. It should have been written before the era of Green Mountain Care Board, Vermont Health Connect, and Obamacare, such as it is. Then the heading would have been appropriate. We Americans have been "getting it good and hard" for decades now with all the evils of which we are all now so acute...

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McClaughry misses the point
August 20, 2013

Rutland HeraldMr. McClaughry missed the point of my letter concerning his latest commentary. Constitutional questions and semantics (tax or fine, etc.) aside, his proposal for the uninsured was similar to ACA (Obamacare) in spite of his political ideology. Both favor using of the taxing power of the IRS, in their own way, to encourage the purchase of health insurance as per his National Review article. At the risk of giving added attention to his right wing agenda, just google John McClauhgry, &...

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Health Care Reform Hardly Ambitious
July 28, 2013

Burlington Free PressThanks much to Aki Soga for his editorial “A Worthy Experiment” (July 20) where he discusses “Vermont's ambitious efforts to reform the health insurance system.”The word “ambitious” is interesting here. The rest of the democratic/technological world has for decades had such health systems in place which Vermont is now striving so ambitiously to achieve. They have all proved many times beyond a reasonable doubt that single-payer systems can...

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Controlling rising costs
July 03, 2013

Rutland HeraldRegarding your recent editorial on the alarmingly high cost of childbirth in the United States as compared to other industrialized countries, a few more observations can be added about the continuing high cost of health care in the United States that these childbirth costs exemplify.First, most other countries put their hospitals on a “global budget,” which means that hospitals are paid monthly or quarterly for their operating costs from a pool of all the money collecte...

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Why Health Care Costs So Much
July 01, 2013

Valley NewsTo the Editor:Regarding your editorial on end-of-life care and the findings of the Dartmouth Atlas, (“End-of-Life Care and Costs,” June 18) a few observations are in order about the continuing high cost of health care.Some people blame overutilization, and by extension blame fee-for-service by saying that it encourages physicians to order more procedures. This is a straw man that needs to be put to rest. In Europe, with much lower costs per capita (and longer life expectan...

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Single-payer worth the struggle
June 19, 2013

Burlington Free PressThank you for Donald MacDonald’s May 15 letter on health care. He is right. Single-payer will be one of the best things to happen in Vermont and, with luck and determination, across the country.That doesn’t mean there will be an easy, seamless transition. How could there be? Moving from domination of health care by giant insurance companies to an “everybody in, nobody out” system in which everyone is guaranteed access to good, affordable care will be ...

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Exchange is not single payer
May 31, 2013

Rutland Herald  The May 27 Times Argus article on page one unfortunately adds to the confusion concerning the changes in health care for small businesses, various individuals, and families starting in 2014. The article mixes up “Green Mountain Care” with “Vermont Health Connect”. Green Mountain Care is Vermont’s single-payer health care plan. Vermont Health Connect is the state’s health benefit exchange plan of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and incl...

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How to monitor single payer
May 31, 2013

Rutland Herald The Green Mountain Care Board is considering how best to ensure oversight of Vermont’s new health care system.In 2005, the League of Women Voters of Vermont adopted a strong advocacy position in support of a single-payer health care system for Vermont. The league considered several oversight models, including legislative oversight as specified in S.147, a single-payer system vetoed by then Gov. Douglas; independent review by an assessment service such as used by the Vet...

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Let's move toward freedom from want
May 15, 2013

Burlington Free Press Single-payer health care is one of the best things to happen in Vermont and the nation. It ranks with legislation such as Social Security, Rural Electrification, Land Grant Colleges, Homestead Act, GI Bill, to name a few. Where would we be without the Interstate Highway System? You can take the old road, I’ll take the interstate. Bring extra sandwiches.John McClaughry in his “My Turn” (“Single-payer health care squeezes out freedom,” April...

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Making progress on health care
April 13, 2013

Rutland HeraldAs the Vermont Legislature works down to the wire on its budget, I want to congratulate our Democratic and Progressive House members who, working together, have put a positive budget out that should make all Vermonters proud. Yes, there is a push and pull nationally on economic issues during this prolonged downturn. I am so proud of Gov. Shumlin’s efforts to work towards a single-payer health care system for all those who are not covered by either Medicare and Veterans Admini...

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Disturbing changes to health care
April 13, 2013

Burlington Free PressIn the 1970s I lived and worked in England, and was on the National Health System. I had good care and never had to worry about whether I’d be able to afford it. I am thrilled that Vermont is moving in the direction of universal health care and wish it could happen sooner than 2017.Meanwhile, disturbing changes are afoot for participants in VHAP and Catamount, which will have to shut down at the end of 2013. This is driven by the federal Affordable Care Act, which is h...

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Time to protect health care
April 12, 2013

Rutland HeraldJohn McClaughry’s commentary (“11 questions about health care,” Times Argus, March 29) seems to answer more questions than it asks. Mr. McClaughry’s questionnaire is hardly an accurate guide to the inevitable inquiries which will come up as we near 2017 — the year when the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, stipulates that Vermont can start its own single-payer system.The health insurance exchanges are part of the ACA. While an improvement over the cu...

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Moving ahead to health reform
April 09, 2013

Rutland HeraldThanks to Mimi Morton for refuting John McClaughry’s attack on Vermont’s coming single-payer health care system.Of course there will not be an easy transition from a system run for insurance company profit to one run for the benefit and improved health of all the people. Uncertainties and obstacles on the path are inevitable. One, unfortunately, is the health care exchange, which we must endure before progressing to single-payer.The exchanges are entirely separate from ...

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Libertarian rant out of touch
April 06, 2013

Rutland HeraldJohn McClaughry’s libertarian rant against Vermont’s future single-payer health care system (Rutland Herald, April 3) is out of touch with contemporary economic realities.In McClaughry’s 1 percent fantasy, we don’t need universal, publicly funded health care because we can and should obtain private health care for ourselves. If we can’t afford it, too bad for us. In reality, most Vermonters, like most Americans, are in the other 99 percent. Vermont nee...

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Proposed cuts to VHAP, Catamount are unacceptable
March 20, 2013

The Commons OnlineIn the 1970s, I lived and worked in England, and was in the National Health Service. I had good care and never had to worry about whether I’d be able to afford it. I am thrilled that Vermont is moving in the direction of universal health care and wish it could happen sooner than 2017.Meanwhile, disturbing changes are afoot for participants in Vermont Health Access Program (VHAP) and Catamount Health, which will have to shut down at the end of 2013.This is driven by the fe...

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Health care claims are bogus
March 19, 2013

Rutland HeraldComments in the recent Times Argus article with the headline “Uninsured drop nearly a third,” there were two appalling findings from the Department of Finance survey that were omitted from the article:— In the 2012 survey, 15.6 percent of Vermonters, or 96,000-plus, had forgone health care due to cost. One reason many tend to put off primary care is due to high deductibles and copays. Minor medical conditions then lead to major ones resulting in huge hospital bill...

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Single payer plea
March 12, 2013

Rutland HeraldYour Feb. 25 article (“Self-funded insurance complicates single payer”) states that self-funded insurance plans (covered by the ERISA law) might complicate Vermont’s path to single payer. In fact, as Robin Lunge, director of health care reform for the Shumlin administration, correctly points out in that article, there is no legal barrier to participation of all Vermont employers in a single payer plan. She is not alone in this view. The top ERISA experts in the co...

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Shumlin right on health plan
February 27, 2013

Rutland Herald The Shumlin administration made the right call in not advancing a detailed single-payer financing plan at this time. If Jeff Wennberg and his Vermonters for Health Care Freedom would bother to actually read the UMass study, the last few pages give them the reason why — we don’t yet have the information necessary to prepare a menu of intelligent policy choices. Chief among that information is a clear and statistically reliable profile of the existing private health in...

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Single-payer's many benefits
February 16, 2013

Rutland HeraldOn Jan. 24, the Shumlin administration presented their report on the financing for a single-payer health care system in Vermont. This report demonstrates, as all previous reports on single-payer have done, that a single-payer type health care system will simultaneously save Vermont substantial amounts of money while providing better care as well as access to care for all Vermonters — something the mess we have now has consistently failed to do and never will accomplish no mat...

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Single payer remains the goal
February 15, 2013

Rutland HeraldInsurance offered through Vermont’s health benefit exchange is not part of Vermont’s future single payer. Required by the 2010 federal Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), the exchange sells private plans for those needing insurance. Also, Catamount and VHAP will cease, and Medicaid will be offered there, to cover those needing insurance in 2014, three years before single payer begins. The exchange will not save money. It perpetuates America’s profitable...

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Time to try health care that works
February 03, 2013

Burlington Free PressThe Shumlin administration presented a report on financing a single payer health care system to the Legislature on Jan. 24. It once again demonstrates that we can provide comprehensive health care to all Vermonters at less overall cost. This is the latest in a long line of official reports that has come to the same conclusion about single payer.The report shows that we will save $281 million over the first three years of a single payer system in Vermont. All Vermonters will ...

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How Much More is Needed?
February 02, 2013

Rutland HeraldPredictably, Jeff Wennberg of Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, in a recent Times Argusarticle, is trying to spread fear and mistrust, once again, of the Green Mountain Care “single payer” health care plan due to be implemented in 2017. For example, the latest report by the UMass medical group that Mr. Wennberg calls misleading estimates savings of approximately $280 million over the first three years.The Lewin Report in 2001, the Thorpe Report in 2006, the Hsaio Repo...

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Moving ahead on health care
February 01, 2013

Rutland HeraldDespite recent confusion around federally mandated health care exchanges, work continues around the state to assure that we will have a single-payer system in 2017 that will result in more people getting better coverage for less money. This process doesn’t get much media attention, which is too bad because it is good news.In an effort to reduce the growth of health care costs, the Green Mountain Care Board has pending proposals with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ...

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Make exchange more affordable
February 01, 2013

Brattleboro ReformerFor years, Vermont has led the way in making health care accessible and affordable by giving low- and middle-income Vermonters the chance to buy insurance through the state's VHAP and Catamount Health programs.However, Catamount Health and VHAP will be eliminated when Vermont's Health Care Exchange begins in 2014. Approximately 30,000 of our fellow Vermonters who are either enrolled in or eligible for these programs will have to buy insurance through the Exchange, which in mo...

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Single-payer is best option
January 31, 2013

Rutland HeraldPredictably, Jeff Wennberg of Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, in a recent Times Argus / Rutland Herald article, is trying to spread fear and mistrust, once again, of the Green Mountain Care single-payer health care plan due to be implemented in 2017.For example, the latest report by the UMass Medical group, that Mr. Wennberg calls misleading, estimates savings of approximately $280 million over the first three years. The Lewin report in 2001, the Thorpe report in 2006, the Hsai...

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Single payer will work
January 30, 2013

Rutland Herald Last week’s report to the Legislature on financing a single-payer health care system demonstrates once again that a single-payer system will provide comprehensive health care to all Vermonters at a lower cost. These are the two most important benefits of a single-payer system, universal coverage and manageable costs. According to the report, in the first three years alone, Vermont will save more than $280 million while providing every Vermonter with comprehensive, quality h...

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Health Care Update
January 30, 2013

Brattleboro ReformerEditor of the Reformer:Despite recent confusion around federally mandated health care exchanges, work continues around the state to assure that we will have a single-payer system in 2017 that will result in more people getting better coverage for less money. This process doesn’t get much media attention, which is too bad because it is good news.In an effort to reduce the growth of health care costs, the Green Mountain Care Board has pending proposals with Centers for Me...

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Report shows reforms work
January 29, 2013

Rutland HeraldThe Shumlin administration presented a report on financing a single-payer health care system to the Legislature on Jan. 24. It once again demonstrates that we can provide comprehensive health care to all Vermonters at less overall cost. This is the last in a long line of official reports that has come to the same conclusion about single-payer.The report shows that we will save $281 million dollars over the first three years of a single-payer system in Vermont. All Vermonters will b...

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Don’t expand health costs
January 19, 2013

Rutland HeraldVermont is ahead of most other states in helping its citizens gain access to relatively affordable health coverage through programs like VHAP and Catamount Health. As someone doing outreach to educate Vermonters about and help them enroll in public health care programs, I see their benefits every dayThat’s why I am disturbed to hear that Gov. Peter Shumlin believes low- and middle-income Vermonters on Catamount Health should pay more for their health care when the health bene...

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Put People First: Health Care for All
January 10, 2013

Montpelier BridgeTo the Editor:I am an uninsured resident of Vermont. I work on a fruit tree nursery in the Northeast Kingdom, doing work that I love and that contributes to the health of the land, the health of Vermonters and the local economy. I work hard and live simply, yet I cannot afford insurance or health care. I am afraid of having an accident at work or getting sick and losing my savings due to an emergency. I want to take care of myself, yet I cannot go in for preventative care. This ...

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Why health insurance is going up
January 04, 2013

Caledonian RecordTo the Editor:The announcement of large spikes in health care premiums for school and town employees is generating a lot of concern among taxpayers. Insurance companies are raising our premiums because they can't make money on their investments. Since Wall Street trashed the financial system, stocks and bonds and money markets pay practically nothing. Take a look at your savings account since 2008 and you'll see the problem.Insurance companies can do this because we the people d...

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You only asked half the health care question
December 27, 2012

Caledonian Record To the Editor: I really have to take issue with your recent editorial "A Funding Problem" (Dec. 12). You ask "What tax rates on personal and corporate income, capital gains, and net worth would be required to enable the Green Mountain Care Board to adequately cover the health care costs of up to 621,000 Vermont residents?" Since Green Mountain Care will replace the current health care system, not simply be appended to it, the real issue is how does curre...

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Don't go backwards on health care
December 19, 2012

Rutland HeraldVermont has accomplished more than most states to help working Vermonters gain access to affordable health coverage through programs like VHAP and Catamount Health. We are at the forefront of heath care reform and once again Vermont was named as the healthiest state in the nation.Why would Gov. Shumlin advocate for increasing costs to working Vermonters, when the health benefit exchange starts January 2014, and moving the state backwards?VHAP and Catamount Health will end January 1...

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Let's not go backward on coverage
December 16, 2012

Rutland Herald As director since 2000 of a program whose mission is to help the uninsured and underinsured stay healthy, I was concerned with Gov. Peter Shumlin’s comments in Sunday’s Rutland Herald and Times Argus 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 i...

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Proud of health care reform
December 09, 2012

Burlington Free Press The arrival of Human Right’s Day (Monday) is especially noteworthy this year; international public health groups such as the World Health Organization are seriously considering the possibility of achieving universal health care throughout the entire world in the not too distant future. Despite being the wealthiest nation in the world, the United States stands out as perhaps the only advanced nation not to have universal health care. Human care as a basic right i...

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Vermonters’ needs more important than ideal of free market system
December 06, 2012

Bennington BannerIn a Banner column on Nov. 27 ("A way forward for the Vermont GOP"), Rep. Heidi E. Scheuermann of Stowe proposes that the Republican Party needs to reinvent itself. She said, "We need thoughtful, intelligent debate on the proposals put forward by others, yet instead of intelligent opposition, we sound lifeless and uninspiring -- and sometimes idiotic, angry, and petty." She went on to say "It is time that we join together to reinvigorate, reinstitute, an...

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Arrogant Argument
November 30, 2012

Stowe ReporterThe recent Times Argus commentary concerning the future of the Vermont Republican Party by Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, of Stowe, is interesting but only partly accurate. Her candid observation that many Republicans often sound “angry,” “idiotic” and “petty” concerning legislation they disagree with is spot on. However, another problem still exists.Until many Republicans stop using clichés such as “non-invasive government,” “p...

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Canadians laughing at us not with us
November 16, 2012

Deerfield Valley NewsMy wife and I took a vacation in Maine in mid-September. In the lobby of the motel where guests flock for free coffee, I ran into two couples from Toronto. It didn’t take long for the Canadians to swing the conversation over to a subject that truly baffles them: how in the world can the United States cling to a health care system that is so obviously broken and unfair and expensive? Adding to their bewilderment is the fact that the entire rest of the Western world has ...

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U.S. health care is a joke
November 09, 2012

 My wife and I took a vacation in Maine in mid-September. In the lobby of the motel where guests flock for free coffee, I ran into two couples from Toronto. It didn’t take long for the Canadians to swing the conversation over to a subject that truly baffles them: How in the world can the United States cling to a health care system that is so obviously broken and unfair and expensive? Adding to their bewilderment is the fact that the entire rest of the Western world has abandoned this ...

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My own experience with Canadian health
November 09, 2012

Stowe Today To the Editor: I have been asked by many of my American friends and associates to provide information about the medical services available to Canadians who are both covered under the country-wide federal plan and under a company private plan. As a former Quebecer, now married to an American citizen and a permanent resident of the U.S., I am no longer covered by the benefits package, which, I, as a small-business owner, obtained for my own company. Details of this plan are includ...

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Single payer soon enough
October 13, 2012

Regarding the Vermont Public Radio news report on October 10 about how we will pay for single payer: It seems disingenuous for Randy Brock to complain about the administration bothering to make a recommendation in January 2013 that won’t be acted on immediately when he has been complaining all along about not getting the recommendation for a financing plan sooner, and when he expresses concern that people might not like it.You can’t try to change something you don’t yet know. R...

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Carpenter: Must Tackle Health Care Head On
October 08, 2012

I would like to endorse the Burlington Free Press’s endorsement of single-payer in Aki Soga’s editorial, “Give single-payer a try” (Sept. 28). As Mr. Soga suggested, Vermont has to move forward rather than backward and to finally come to grips with how health care is for us, the people, and not to benefit the profit margins of health insurance corporations, as it is now and which Sen. Brock’s plan would almost certainly enhance.Opponents of single-payer like to band...

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Malek: Will Doctors Really Flee Vermont?
October 01, 2012

by Marvin Malek, MD MPH, who is an internist who works at Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin.In 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 t...

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Brock’s health plan is a sham
September 29, 2012

Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock’s health care proposal (“Brock says he got good ideas from Maine, Indiana, and Florida,” Times Argus, Sept. 9) is an enigma wrapped in a mystery and put into a fallacy.It is an enigma why Sen. Brock believes that the free market can, and is more than willing to, solve the health care ills that it created. Can an industry which excludes so many, that spends so much of every health care dollar (up to 30 percent and more) on non-healt...

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Brock wrong on health care
September 13, 2012

Rutland HeraldMy Aunt Bessie often prefaced her remarks about a mutual acquaintance with “You couldn’t hope to meet a nicer guy.” Then she would trash him. I can only say about gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock’s health care plan (“Brock lays out plans for health care,” Sept. 9), “You couldn’t hope to meet a sweeter health care plan.”It is based on the premise that competition in the health care industry is about providing the best service....

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Market no solution for health care
September 13, 2012

Rutland HeraldIn the recent Times Argus/Rutland Herald article Randy Brock seems to think the “magic bullet” of the “free market” can be applied to health care and provide us with universal coverage. His thesis essentially says that all we have to do is deregulate the health insurance industry by relaxing community rating rules, make it more like Maine’s, and the markets will take care of our health care needs.Before the 1990s this deregulation is exactly what we ha...

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Same tired arguments
September 12, 2012

Caledonian Record To the Editor: Randy Brock has released an outline of his health care proposal. It is a repeat of the same tired arguments that we have been hearing for decades, with ideas that are the foundation of our current dysfunctional American health care "system." Mr. Brock repeats the free market myth about the need for "abundant competition." But the worn-out notion that more insurance companies will contain costs and provide universal coverage is completely d...

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Who is open and who is not?
August 04, 2012

Rutland HeraldI read Peter Hirschfeld’s article, on the recent informative TV ads supporting Green Mountain Care, with great interest. These ads are sponsored by Vermont Leads, which is led by Peter Sterling. I was very impressed by Sterling’s candid and open information about the objectives and financing of his Vermont Leads group. Clear, open, up-front. This is the Vermont way of doing things.I was surprised and disappointed that Jeff Wennberg was called up to critique Vermont Lead...

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The Main(e) Problem
August 02, 2012

Times Argus Imagine a world where the difference between paying $9,000 or $3,000 for a particular plan depends solely on age. Or a place where you purchase what seems like an affordable health plan only to be denied coverage until you have paid almost $24,000 in medical fees and $1,000 on medications out of your own pocket. Unfortunately, this is the reality faced by the people of Maine — this is the same system that Sen. Brock hopes to emulate in Vermont.Maine is in a race to the bottom t...

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Not a big surprise
August 01, 2012

Times ArgusJeff Wennberg’s perspective piece “Who’s Outsmarting Whom” in the July 22 edition of The Times Argus takes innuendo and tries to twist them into facts to promote fear.Mr. Wennberg, who is the executive director of the group opposed to single-payer, Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, wrote that the costs of the single-payer system (the key word here is system. We do not now have a system of health care) “should have been the first question asked and answe...

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Vermont heading in right direction
July 29, 2012

Rutland HeraldIn his recent opinion piece (July 22), Jeff Wennberg has criticized recent actions of the Shumlin administration with regard to the road forward to a single-payer health care system.Mr. Wennberg criticizes the administration for applying for federal grants for health care. It’s true that the Shumlin administration has applied for money from the federal government. Much of this will help to implement the exchange which is required by federal law in 2014. But some of these fund...

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McClaughry -- the real apostate
July 23, 2012

Rutland HeraldIn John McClaughry’s recent Rutland Herald commentary, he takes Justice Roberts to task for his vote on the Affordable Care Act. In addition to lecturing us on constitutional powers regarding the A.C.A., he also accuses Roberts of apostasy, an interesting metaphor considering his (McClaughry’s) previous position on the uninsured. More on that later.Although the A.C.A. has some needed reforms, it is still a long way from providing universal and affordable comprehensive h...

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Health care and general welfare
July 21, 2012

Rutland HeraldDr. John McGarry’s letter, “Insurance can’t cover everything” in the July 13 edition of the Rutland Herald, is difficult to decipher. Is the letter’s intention to prove that health care is not a human right? There is Dr. McGarry’s reference to the U.S. Constitution that “our only rights are the ones spelled out in the Constitution, and they’re all abstract entities.” Would it be possible to imagine that “to promote the gen...

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Roberts’ rescue of high court
July 18, 2012

Rutland Herald John McClaughry ascribes Justice Roberts’s tie-breaking vote in support of the Affordable Care Act to a quest for enhanced reputation. But Linda Greenhouse, in a perceptive New York Times op ed (http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/11/the-mystery-of-john-roberts/) says that although Roberts “is conservative to his bones,” he may have been horrified by “the breathtaking radicalism of the other four conservative justices,” who, in rejecting...

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Green Mountain Care born in Vermont
July 11, 2012

Burlington Free Press In his June 8 letter, Dan McCauliffe states “the Canadian health care system that was chosen as a model for Green Mountain Care is one of the worst systems to emulate.” Was Canada chosen as the model for Green Mountain Care? In fact, there is no mention of Canada in Act 48, Vermont’s road map to single payer. In terms of coverage, the types of plans being considered are pretty close to home as well. Act 48 states that Green Mountain Care (Vermont Singl...

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Many Children Lack Health Care
July 02, 2012

Rutland HeraldAs a high school teacher, I know many students who do not have health insurance. Although many people in Vermont think that children are covered in Vermont, this is actually a misconception.Doctor Dynasaur does cover many children, but it is not universal. Many families do not know about Doctor Dynasaur, do not meet income requirements, or are unwilling to pay premiums. Many children, through no fault of their own, are left without insurance, and they suffer the consequences.One su...

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Quality Health Care?
June 29, 2012

Times Argus I think we can all stop worrying about Mr. Prindiville’s predictions about loss of quality health care in Vermont. Anyone who is surprised to learn that U.S. Medicare and other health insurance is not accepted by health care providers in foreign countries can scarcely be regarded as knowledgeable. As for the young boy in the wheelchair, he could easily wait that long or longer in many an American E.R., and in any case, one patient can hardly be a fair measure of anything. Co...

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Rationing is already here
June 29, 2012

Times Argus If you are worried about “healthcare rationing,” I have some news. It isn’t rationing when a boy has to wait hours in a Canadian ER with a non life-threatening problem. This happens in any ER: if you aren’t going to die, you have to wait behind those who might. I’ve had the same experience in America. This, however, is rationing: I can’t get the drugs my doctor prescribed for me, because the insurance company won’t pay for them. This is rat...

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Canada good model for Green Mountain Care
June 29, 2012

Burlington Free PressI would like to respond to the letter “Canada Wrong Model,” by Mr. Dan McCauliffe, in the June 10 Free Press. Mr. McCauliffe wrote that “Canadian-style health care is a bad model for Green Mountain Care.” There are several points in this letter that need to be addressed or clarified.First, I was unaware that the Canadian Health Care system was the model that the Green Mountain Care was going to emulate in full. It has never been explicitly stated, eit...

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Comprehensive, universal, healthcare a must
June 22, 2012

Burlington Free PressRandy Brock’s primary strategy to become our next governor is to target Act 48 and Green Moutain Care and prevent the eventual transition to universal health care such as “single payer.” These attacks include blaming Act 48 for the closing of the Rutland Regional Rehab Center due to a duplication of services in the Rutland Area, although other key services at the center remain intact.Mr. Brock’s plan of unrestricted proliferation of out of state insur...

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Care for people, not profits for corporations
June 18, 2012

Bennington BannerI’m Jeffrey Haslett, a member of the Vermont Workers Center and the State Coordinator for the We the People Congress and Constitutional Lobby. Article 20 of our Vermont Constitution gives "we the people" a right to petition our government or to â¤instruct their Representatives.So, we the people are petitioning Green Mountain Care to invest public money into keeping our population healthy with no out-of-pocket personal costs for universal access to co...

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It is a human right
June 16, 2012

Bennington BannerI am a small business owner living and working in Burlington, and I am a member of the Healthcare is a Human Right Campaign. As an entrepreneur, I am proud to be able to create jobs in my community, but I want to be able to provide good, family supporting jobs. Providing health insurance to our employees is a huge concern for us -- in fact we are considering cutting back and not creating new jobs so we don’t have to deal with the health insurance headaches. Currently, we a...

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Brock's plan makes it worse
June 15, 2012

Rutland HeraldRandy Brock’s primary strategy to become our next governor is to target Act 48 and Green Mountain Care and prevent the eventual transition to universal health care such as “single payer.” These attacks include blaming Act 48 for the closing of the Rutland Regional Medical Center rehab center due to a duplication of services in the Rutland area, although other key services at the center remain intact.Contrary to his claim, a single payer would reduce costs by elimi...

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Smoke and Mirror Terminology
June 15, 2012

Brattleboro ReformerEditor of the Reformer:John McLaughry writes ("Decoding the language of Green Mountain Care," June 11) about Green Mountain Care, the health care system now being developed for Vermont. He faults the GMC board, headed by Anya Rader Wallack, for dodging the term "single payer" in describing the unified and universal health care system the board is charged with designing. He assumes they do that to avoid "a comparison with the 40-year-old government-run...

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Decoding McLaughry
June 14, 2012

Times ArgusJohn McClaughry’s June 11 letter “Decoding the language of Green Mountain Care” is vintage McClaughry. The Shumlin administration’s Green Mountain Care represents, for McClaughry, a perfect storm battering his libertarian ideals.McClaughry considers the GMC board’s use of language misleading and opaque, but McClaughry’s own writing could do with some decoding. He claims that the Shumlin administration has proceeded at “flank speed” (a na...

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Single Channel is Cheaper
June 13, 2012

Times ArgusMr. Brock’s idea of increasing the number of medical insurance companies for greater “competition” as a counter to the current health reform is a bad idea. One of the major problems in our current medical care delivery system is the insurance industry. Each insurance company negotiates a different payment/charge for every hospital. In fact the same insurance company can negotiate a different payment rate for all procedures/tests for every contract it writes for any g...

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Brock's plan makes no sense
May 30, 2012

Rutland HeraldRandy Brock, the Vermont Republican gubernatorial candidate advocates opening Vermont up to all kinds of private health insurance including, in his words, “high-deductible policies.” In your paper’s recent article on Brock’s health care plan (May 25), he states, “We can ensure that health insurance is available to everyone and no Vermonter is bankrupted by catastrophic illness.”No Vermonter bankrupted by catastrophic illness if we allow high-dedu...

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Private Insurance No Solution
May 29, 2012

Rutland HeraldThe Rutland Herald recently reported that Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock is preparing “a free market” alternative to Gov. Shumlin’s single-payer health care proposal. Brock offers the usual Republican prescription about the need for less government involvement and more free market forces. He reverts to the illogic that Vermont “needs to recruit lots of new insurance companies to come to Vermont so consumers have more plans to choose from.&rdq...

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This is what transparent looks like
May 22, 2012

Times Argus Another day and another misleading letter from Jeff Wennberg and Vermonters for Health Care Freedom (“Lack of Understanding,” May 15). Jeff continues to call VHCF a business group, but I can’t find any mention of a single Vermont business listed on the group’s website. In fact, I can’t find any information regarding the membership of VHCF anywhere. Whom do they represent? Where are they getting their money? Jeff refuses to tell Vermonters exactly who ...

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Health care fails to deliver
May 17, 2012

Rutland HeraldJohn McClaughry is at it again (Monday, May 7). He assumes that somehow “ObamaCare,” as he calls it will bankrupt the country, while conveniently forgetting that the present system of private “health” insurance companies is doing just that — and at the same time leaving Americans near the bottom of the heap in terms of longevity compared to other industrialized nations.Ten and 15 percent annual rate increases are not sustainable, John. He’s perfe...

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Must keep moving
May 15, 2012

Times Argus The numerous commentaries by Jeff Wennberg and Bruce Lisman along with their TV and radio ads, ad nauseam, are long on fear and loathing of Green Mountain Care, the Vermont Legislature, and the Shumlin Administration regarding real health care reform, and short on alternatives of any kind. This is especially true concerning the “single payer” issue, as the above duo turns a blind eye to the fact that every other advanced country has a universal health care plan with be...

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Propaganda and Anonymity
May 12, 2012

Rutland HeraldPropaganda is the strong point of those who oppose changing our expensive health care mess into a single-payer system. An example is Wednesday’s letter from Jeff Wennberg, spokesman for Vermonters for Health Care Freedom. His anonymous “Freedom” group won’t say who gives it money. Wennberg defends nondisclosure as necessary “to protect the hundreds of Vermont small businesses and health care providers who support us from bullying and economic blackmail...

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Wennberg's shifting story
May 11, 2012

Times ArgusMr. Wennberg is telling a shifting story about health care.Mr. Wennberg, in a response to my earlier letter, now seems to be backing away from advocating insurance outside of H.559, Vermont’s implementation of the exchange. This is good. I am glad he now says, “For the exchange to serve its purpose, the state needs to set the standards and approve all plans offered there.” I heartily agree. I hope we hear no more from him about insurance “outside of the exchang...

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Health Care Plan Untested?
May 09, 2012

Manchester JournalTo the Editor: You may not have seen it, but the folks at Vermonters for Health Care Freedom (VHCF) have made a pretty slick 8-minute video that they apparently sent to all our Vermont legislators.The crux is that our health care reform is too untested, too complicated, just beyond our abilities to institute. That's a pretty bizarre claim.Too untested? Really?Did VHCF simply miss the fact that the entire rest of the developed world has health care systems much closer to our new...

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Health Care Plan a Plus
May 09, 2012

Manchester Journal To the Editor: In his Op-Ed column, "Legislative Session Blunts Hope for Shared Prosperity" (5/3/2012), Bruce Lisman levies two complaints against the legislature with regard to health care. First, Lisman claims that the Catamount Employer Assessment will continue to be levied on employers who do not cover their employees, even though the Catamount program has been canceled. In fact, the Employer Assessment was never intended to fund Catamount Health alone. It ...

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No "shenanigans" in health care reform
May 07, 2012

Burlington Free PressIn her recent opinion piece on health care (“On health matters: watch the shenanigans,” May 1), Rep. Heidi Scheuermann uses terms such as “shifty” and “shenanigans” to characterize the work of our Legislature regarding health care legislation this session. Her main complaint is that while the Catamount program has been eliminated, the Employer Assessment that paid for it (assessed on those employers who do not cover their own employees) co...

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Vermont health care in intensive care
May 07, 2012

Burlington Free PressI thought robust meant healthy, strong and sustainable. So why is Bruce Lisman and his Campaign for Vermont calling themselves a “robust” effort to secure Vermont’s future (“Vermont fails badly at transparency,” April 12). Has Mr. Lisman missed the last 10 years of studies showing that the current state of health care in Vermont is heading toward the intensive care unit? Our current situation is not robust and will not remain robust with Bruce L...

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Following money to insurers
May 05, 2012

Rutland HeraldMr. Wennberg complains that Vermont’s implementation of H.559 limits insurance to those who meet the criteria and are listed on the Vermont exchange. 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 consumer. Insurance companies com...

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Move beyond status quo
May 04, 2012

Rutland HeraldRecent commentaries have likened progress toward Vermont’s single-payer health care system to driving through a thick fog.If so, much of the fog is generated by single-payer foes such as Jeff Wennberg’s secretively-financed “Vermonters for Health Care Freedom,” which aims to push single-payer into the ditch by confusing and frightening us.Although the details of Green Mountain Care are still incomplete, the planners are not groping in the dark or pushing the...

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We need accessible health care in Vermont
May 04, 2012

Caledonian RecordTo the Editor:I recently moved to Vermont to participate in and learn from the farmers and fruit tree growers of this region. I'm passionate about growing good food and caring for the earth, and I want to build a life and make a living practicing community based agriculture.However, I have major fears about pursuing this line of work because I can't afford health care or health insurance. I know that it would only takes one disaster to wipe out my savings. This experience is com...

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Status Quo is Worse
May 03, 2012

Caledonian RecordTo the Editor:I would like to respond to the editorial "Tax in search of a program" in the April 12 edition of The Caledonian-Record. There were many misconceptions with this piece that need to be illuminated and, of course, too little space in which to do it.One is the ludicrous assertion that "Catamount Health is a socialist scheme that gouges money from business and showers it on Vermonters deemed worthy by Montpelier." Catamount is as much a socialized sy...

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Vermonters are already in a health care crisis
April 28, 2012

Bennington BannerVermonters are already in a health care crisis.I am writing today to address some of the negative advertising targeted at the Healthcare is a Human Right Campaign. A video produced by Vermonters for Health Care Freedom claims that the new universal healthcare law will create a health care crisis for 80,000 Vermonters. In my view most, if not all Vermonters are already in the midst of a health care crisis. Private insurers are more interested in profit margins than in your or my ...

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Scare tactics on health reform
April 28, 2012

Burlington Free Press I found Jeff Wennberg’s letter on April 3 “Single-payer is not the only option” interesting. Considering that he’s executive director of the Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, I expected to hear some solutions about how they would serve the health care need of all Vermonters, especially the uninsured and underinsured. None was forthcoming. Instead Wennberg tried to use scare tactics to support his stand. His points were weak and he left plenty...

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Lisman has no solution
April 23, 2012

Times-Argus In the recent op-ed, 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 report in 2011; and BISHCA report in 2011. The findings ...

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Profits over health care isn't working
April 21, 2012

The Colchester SunI am writing to thank Mr. Lawrence Keyes for his letter “Willing to take the risk of health reform” in the April 5 edition of The Colchester Sun. A wrong turn on a web link led me to Mr. Keyes’ excellent letter. I hope that the editors of The Colchester Sun will forgive that I am not local.Mr. Keyes’ letter was refuting an editorial by Mr. Bruce Lisman (“Vermont fails at transparency” March 29) of a group called “Campaign for Vermont.&r...

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Real affordable health care
April 19, 2012

Brattleboro ReformerMany Vermonters have expressed concerns about the transitional "health care exchange" process. It is important to keep in mind that this is not part of the single-payer system being developed by the Green Mountain Care Board. Under the benefits plan described by the GMC Board all Vermonters will have a simpler, more coordinated, incentive-driven healthcare system. Compensation for providers will be value-based -- they get paid to improve patient outcomes at the...

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Ways to control health care costs
April 17, 2012

Brattleboro ReformerI am proud to support Vermont’s health care reform movement. Even former Governor Douglas said he was in favor of universal access; and he also introduced Vermont’s Blue Print for Health and Medical Home model for chronic care. These models of care have already improved health care and reduced hospitalizations and costs. The Shumlin administration is determined that Vermont’s health care (an eventual single payer plan) will succeed. He asserted in a March 26...

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Health care critic offers no alternatives
April 13, 2012

Burlington Free PressI appreciated the contrast between your two contributors on health care issues, (Comment and Debate, April 3). Allan Ramsay is a physician who has practiced many years in Vermont, and who is now on the Green Mountain Care Board. He gave an insightful account of the difficulties he experienced with a fee-for-service system where reimbursements varied widely. He then discussed in some detail two attainable paths forward toward the goal of reducing costs while improving quality...

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Reform opponents offer no alternative
April 13, 2012

Brattleboro Reformer In response to Jeffrey Wennberg's column ("Debating the future of health care in Vermont," March 24): Wennberg wants it both ways. He seems to deny that his group.........offers no alternative health care reform plan, yet his lengthy editorial passes up the opportunity to tell us what that alternative might be. All he has to say is "such alternatives are readily available for consideration" and "if you want an example of reforms that can work...

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Old "Experiment"
April 11, 2012

Seven DaysThanks so much for the article “Spin Doctors” by Kathryn Flagg in the March 21 edition of Seven Days. It is refreshing to have the “spin doctors” shown for what they are and what they are trying to do. If anyone wants to understand what they are propagating, try going through the American, and Vermont’s, health care system like I once was obliged to do. I nearly succumbed to the experience. Like Mr. Potter going to Wise County, Va., to watch people being t...

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Health Care Reform is Not Untested
April 11, 2012

The Mountain TimesDear Editor,You may not have seen it, but the folks at Vermonters for Health Care Freedom (VHCF) have made a pretty slick 8-minute video that they apparently sent to all our Vermont legislators. The crux is that our health care reform is too untested, too complicated, just beyond our abilities to institute. That's a pretty bizarre claim.Too untested Really? Did VHCF simply miss the fact that the entire rest of the developed world has health care systems much closer to our new s...

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Exchange is not single payer
April 11, 2012

The Mountain TimesDear Editor,Many Vermonters have expressed concerns about the transitional "health care exchange" process. It is important to keep in mind that this is not part of the single-payer system being developed by the Green Mountain Care Board.Under the benefits plan described by the GMC Board all Vermonters will have a simpler, more coordinated, incentive-driven healthcare system. Compensation for providers will be value-based- they get paid to improve patient outcomes at t...

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Health care is unaffordable
April 07, 2012

Rutland HeraldI moved to Vermont 10 years ago, fully expecting to retire here as I had stream of income that would get me to the age of 63 and, I thought, enough savings to make it to Social Security and Medicare. Then, slowly, the reality of health insurance hit.My wife and I watched our annual premiums grow like kudzu, choking out everything around it until it was all we could see. Premiums of $9,000, $11,000, $14,000 and up.Switching to a high-deductible policy got us some premium relief, but...

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Willing to take the risk of health reform
April 05, 2012

Colchester SunBruce Lisman’s March 29 perspective in The Colchester Sun (“Vermont fails at transparency”) raises questions of risks and uncertainties as Vermonters grapple with health care. While acknowledging that significant change carries with it significant risk, I would point out that Vermonters elected Peter Shumlin as governor on his willingness to attempt to tackle rising health care costs, and to reform the unworkable system in which consumers and doctors now find them...

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Vermont can do health care, regardless
April 04, 2012

Bennington BannerGovernor Peter Shumlin recently stated that regardless of the U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding the Affordable Care Act, Vermont can and must continue down the road of creating a single payer health care system. He is right.No matter what happens at the federal level, we Vermonters are already paying the bill for a broken system, and single payer is a much better way to create access to health care for all Vermonters in a cost effective way.Right now, 200,000 Vermonters are ...

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Object to Scare Tactics Against Single Payer
April 01, 2012

Burlington Free PressI have to object to the coordinated campaign to convince Vermonters that our health care reform law is some crazy radical idea being foisted on an unsuspecting public. For an idea that opponents consistently mischaracterize as "radical" and destructive of freedom, it certainly has some strong support from mainstream folks.Start with passage of the law. Do you really think your Vermont state senators and representatives are wild-eyed radicals? How about the League o...

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Ignorance is amiss on health care
April 01, 2012

Rutland HeraldI would like to respond to Mr. Jeff Wennberg’s commentary “Health Care Freedom at Risk” in the March 18 edition of the Times-Argus. Mr. Wennberg, the new executive director of Vermonters For Health Care Freedom, suggests that a publicly-financed health care system will, in short, eliminate choices, and turn things over to a “single, state-selected provider” that will ration our health care.This conveniently ignores several factors about the system whic...

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Cost questions good for health care reform
March 31, 2012

Burlington Free PressA recent (Feb. 26) letter in the Free Press ("How will health care be financed") questioned how Vermonters will finance health care in the wake of the landmark bills passed by the Vermont Legislature in the past two years (Acts 48 and 559).The sudden emergence of citizens asking similarly thoughtful questions is a really exciting development and a sign of good things to come. The dominance of health insurance behemoths which have continued to increase rates faster ...

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Support Universal Health Care in Vermont
March 28, 2012

Burlington Free PressSkeptics and opponents of Green Mountain Care want to see the money: where are the savings promised by Dr. Hsaio when he urged Vermont to go for single payer? Are the savings in all Vermonters having access to health care for the same amount of money being spent now? Are the savings in a healthier and more productive Vermont? Are the savings in employers being able to invest in their businesses and employees instead of in insurance companies?After a two-year study, the Leagu...

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Doctor flight is no big risk
March 25, 2012

Times ArgusRe: “Health care freedom at risk” by Jeff Wennberg in Sunday’s paper:Mr. Wennberg makes every effort to scare Vermonters about a future in which universal health care will be implemented in Vermont.I won’t quibble with his opinions, but when he claims them to be truths, it’s time for a fact check.When he mentions that 12 physicians in Rutland recently threatened to leave our state when universal health care is implemented, it’s worth putting that in...

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Health Care Predictions False
March 24, 2012

Rutland HeraldOver the last several months Wendy Wilton has garnered a lot of attention with her “Model of Green Mountain Care.” She often shares the table with prominent Republican leaders including Randy Brock. I think it is time we look at her numbers closely and share her errors with the public.Reviewing Wendy Wilton’s projections shows that a number of her facts and assumptions are inappropriate, misleading and sometimes simply wrong. It seems she entered her project with ...

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Reform Puts Dollars Into Health Care
March 24, 2012

Burlington Free PressI am writing in response to a letter in the Burlington Free Press of Feb. 26 by Diane Ballou who asked how our new health care system is going to be financed before the election. “I have a suspicion that our new health care system is going to be impossible,” she wrote. To answer Ballou’s question we are already financing it to the tune of $5 billion a year, soon to be $6 billion, with costs rising by a $1 million a day.What is impossible is for the state of...

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Don’t lose any sleep over supply of doctors
March 22, 2012

Stowe ReporterTo the Editor:I have to take issue with the assertions in Mr. Steve Chambers’ letter (Stowe Reporter, March 15) regarding the health-care legislation passed last year by the Vermont Legislature.He makes it clear that he doesn’t like the legislation, describing it as “reckless,” a “train wreck” and even “Marxist.”His comments were based on a recent symposium at the public safety building which brought to Stowe three staunch opponents o...

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Single-payer will benefit everyone
March 22, 2012

Stowe ReporterTo the Editor:Regarding Steve Chambers’ opinion column March 8, “The Green Mountain Scare,” is trumped up by Vermonters for Healthcare Freedom, whose funders — probably the insurance industry — are unidentified.Financing for Green Mountain Care is not yet spelled out because it cannot be implemented before 2017, when the necessary waivers may be obtained. By federal law, Vermont must first create a health-care exchange, which is entirely separate and r...

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We can turn around this ailing system
March 22, 2012

Stowe ReporterTo the Editor:In response to Steve Chambers’ letter March 15, “The Green Mountain Scare”:Dear Steve: If Green Mountain Care is scary, what word would you use to describe our current health-care system? The term “health care” in this country has sadly become an oxymoron. Our health care does not represent the values of decent Americans.If you look at the chart from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development published in the National Geogr...

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Single Payer Plan Not Radical
March 22, 2012

Manchester JournalTo the Editor: I have to object to the coordinated campaign to convince Vermonters that our health care reform law is some crazy radical idea being foisted on an unsuspecting public.For an idea that opponents consistently mischaracterize as "radical" and destructive of freedom, it certainly has some strong support from mainstream folks.Start with passage of the law. Do you really think your Vermont state senators and representatives are wild-eyed radicals? How about t...

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Working Out Health Reform Takes Time
March 21, 2012

Burlington Free PressIn her Feb. 26 letter (“How will health care reform be financed?”), Diane Ballou writes, “I have a suspicion that our new health care system is going to be impossible and so I would just like to know before the election how it is going to be financed.”Does she mean Vermont’s ultimate goal of a single-payer health care system or the temporary exchange which federal law requires us to implement first? Remember: the exchange currently under discuss...

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Not a grassroots organization
March 20, 2012

Caledonian RecordTo the Editor:After attending the health care forum in Lyndonville on Feb. 27 conducted by Darcie Johnston of Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, I found it disingenuous that it was advertised in The Caledonian-Record as Vermonters for Health Care Reform. I was also insulted by the way this group was portrayed in the paper as a grassroots organization.This portrayal may be partially true. Yet, after having attended a number of health care forums and testimonies, including many a...

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Freedom to be Bankrupted
March 20, 2012

Rutland HeraldTo the Editor:Joan Spaulding (“Keeping us dependent,” March 6) offers a powerful, patriotic incentive to the easily duped. She offers us all the “freedom” to stay sick, the “freedom” to have a fender-bender bankrupt us in the emergency room, the “freedom” to lose our job for lack of medical care, the “freedom” to lose our home because we lost our job, the “freedom” to join the 50 percent who are bankrupted beca...

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Health care is a public good
March 13, 2012

Rutland HeraldI would like to respond to the piece, “Keeping us Dependent,” in the March 6 edition of the Rutland Herald. In this letter, the author, Ms. Jean Spaulding, writes that “Single-payer health insurance does not sound American to me.” If single-payer is not American, does this disqualify the millions of elderly people on Medicare or our military veterans with the Veterans Affairs from being American? Both Medicare and the Veterans Affairs are pure single-payer s...

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Health Reform Distortions
March 13, 2012

Bennington BannerI have to object to the coordinated campaign to convince Vermonters that our health care reform law is some crazy radical idea being foisted on an unsuspecting public. For an idea that opponents consistently mischaracterize as "radical" and destructive of freedom, it certainly has some strong support from mainstream folks.Start with passage of the law. Do you really think your Vermont state senators and representatives are wild-eyed radicals? How about the League of Wo...

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League supports single-payer
March 10, 2012

Times ArgusSkeptics and opponents of Green Mountain Care want to see the money: Where are the savings promised by professor William Hsiao when he urged Vermont to go for single-payer?Are the savings in all Vermonters having access to health care for the same amount of money being spent now?Are the savings in a healthier and more productive Vermont?Are the savings in employers being able to invest in their businesses and employees instead of in insurance companies?After a two-year study, the Leag...

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Single Payer Secures Freedom
March 08, 2012

Rutland Herald The recent negative ads on TV and radio by the mysteriously funded group, Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, are an obvious attempt to derail any future universal health care plan. However, if they are truly interested in real health care freedom for Vermonters, as their name implies, they should actually support a single-payer system. Some of the freedoms inherent in such a plan that would benefit Vermonters are: Freedom from high premiums and large deductibles and copays, a...

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Health Care Reform Can Save Money
March 08, 2012

Burlington Free Press Diane Ballou ("How will health care reform be financed?" Feb. 26) asks to know how Vermont's new health care system will be paid for. This is like expecting an excavator to give you a bid on fixing your driveway without knowing what's wrong with it, how long it is, or what kind of surface it has. Until we know what the benefit package will cover and what subsidies will be available and who will be included, we can't even guess at what it will cost. That work h...

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True Health Care Freedom for all Vermonters
March 07, 2012

  Washington WorldEditor: 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 ...

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What is known about health care
March 04, 2012

Rutland HeraldA recent article in the Herald and Times Argus (Feb. 19) convinced me there is a lot of smoke blowing around in the conversations about the cost of changes in health care. Some is based on estimates and projections, and some is clearly purposeful misinformation. But it is all made up. The simple truth is nobody can say what it will cost because nobody knows yet what will be covered. But everyone knows costs will increase beyond our ability to pay if we continue with what we have.Th...

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Misleading ad on health care
February 28, 2012

Rutland HeraldVermonters for Health Care Freedom is an apparently well-funded group that is opposed to the effort in Vermont to establish a universal single-payer health care system. They have recently begun airing an ad on WCAX that is, in my opinion, misleading. It is misleading as to the cost of the new health care system. It is misleading in that the name of the group, Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, implies that the new health care system is a threat to the freedom of Vermonters.The ad ...

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Single Payer Will Cut Costs
February 24, 2012

Rutland HeraldOpponents of Vermont’s future single-payer health care system need to look ahead into the realities of health care financing in both Vermont and the nation. The Rutland Herald recently reported “universal opposition from residents” during a packed Feb. 18 forum in Wells that considered the pros and cons of a single-payer system in Vermont. The opponents might consider that Vermont chose single-payer as the best solution for its out-of-control insurance costs.A was...

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Cutting Out the Middleman
February 20, 2012

Rutland HeraldThe organization “Vermonters for Health Care Freedom” is running a web ad in which a woman complains that Gov. Shumlin wants to “uproot” our current health care “system” and spend $5 billion for a single-payer system. She implies that the governor is dishonest in refusing to reveal how he intends to raise the $5 billion until after the election. The ad ignores that we are already paying $5 billion for a system in which one-third of Vermonters hav...

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Vermont needs strength and will
February 16, 2012

Stowe ReporterI would like to respond to the letter “Can Vermont fix health care?” by Helene Martin in the Feb. 9 edition of the Stowe Reporter.“I worry,” Ms. Martin wrote, “that Vermont ... will not be able to afford to fix our broken health-care system, but believe we are trying.”We are trying. Like Ms. Martin, I also support a system where health care is treated as a public good, not as a market commodity. A nearly fatal journey through the nightmare of thi...

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Health Care Should be a Public Good
February 15, 2012

Times Argus Misleading information and other distortions have plagued efforts for real health care reform in the past and will no doubt again in the future. For example, John McClaughry states in his recent Times Argus article (Jan. 26) that Vermont has only two health insurance carriers “thanks to laws passed in 1991 and 1992 specifically to drive their competitors out.”These “community rating” laws he referred to were established so that all Vermonters could buy he...

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Can Vermont Fix Health Care?
February 04, 2012

Stowe ReporterI have long been a supporter of a single-payer system for health care. Currently, health-care costs nationally represent 18 percent of gross domestic product.I worry that Vermont, as a state with only 627,000 people, will not be able afford to fix our broken health-care system, but believe we are trying.Evidence that our health care is broken:• 50 million people are uninsured (statistics are from T.R. Reid’s book “The Healing of America”).• 30 percent of...

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Green Mountain Care Criticism Premature
January 27, 2012

Burlington Free Press Randy Brock, a contender for governor in 2012, and others of his political persuasion have targeted the Green Mountain Care Board as a campaign issue. Although the Green Mountain Care Board, mandated by Act 48, has barely begun its work for real health care reform, Brock and other reactionary pundits are already trying to trash its existence even before any plan has been formulated! Expect to see more of the same during this election cycle. All other industrialized nati...

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Why We Need Health Care Reform
December 12, 2011

Burlington Free Press I would like to thank Pat McDonald, chairwoman of the Vermont Republican Party, for her "My Turn" piece in the Dec. 1 edition of the Burlington Free Press ("Health Care report ignores big questions"). McDonald illustrates so perfectly why we need the complete and systematic health care reform that Vermont embarked on when Gov. Shumlin signed H.202 last May. "The government," she wrote, "needs to make smart and rational decisions, and be ...

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The Morality of Health Care
November 27, 2011

Rutland HeraldI would like to thank Dr. Ted Shattuck for his commentary “Vermont can lead the way” in the Nov. 13 edition of the Rutland Herald and Times Argus. Dr. Shattuck made some valid points that seem to have gone missing from our long and tortuous debate on health care reform.In one of these, for instance, Dr. Shattuck wrote that, “22,000 to 45,000 Americans die of preventable deaths each year due to a lack of basic health care.” These are staggering statistics of ...

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Community Health Care Forums Helpful
November 15, 2011

Burlington Free Press In the last few weeks, I have participated in several Vermont health care forums, including a forum sponsored by Richmond legislators Anne O'Brien and Jim McCullough, and VPIRG. Thanks to these groups, I am learning how different communities feel about health care reform. People of Vermont understand the need for universal health care coverage for everyone in our state. And no one questions that rising health care costs, close to 20 percent of our state's economy, cann...

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Vermont Can Lead the Way
November 13, 2011

Times-ArgusBy Dr. Ted ShattuckOpponents of Vermont’s attempt to provide universal health care access to all of its citizens are using the usual weapons — anecdotal stories, budgetary uncertainties — to derail this vital process. While there is much talk of economics (more later), we need to keep our eye on what is really at stake: our moral right to health care, both as individuals and as a nation.Our own Institute of Medicine estimates that 22,000 to 45,000 Americans die of pr...

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Commitment to Community
September 09, 2011

Rutland HeraldAll who treasure and respect life are fortunate to live in Vermont, where sense of community continues to be a key characteristic. Our experience with and continuing responses to the aftermath of Irene illustrate how caring and sharing benefit us all. When I travel, people express great appreciation for the standards and leadership of our small state.Vermont’s ground-breaking commitment to provide equitable health care to all its citizens recognizes health care as a human rig...

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Single Payer Plan RIght for Vermont
July 27, 2011

Burlington Free PressI want to support the governor's health care single-payer law, signed in May, to introduce the Green Mountain Care Plan.This is the right thing for the citizens of Vermont. There needs to be a groundswell to get this type of legislature as a federal priority. I noted that the US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio ruled on June 29 that The US Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 is constitutional, including the fact that from 2014 most citizens sho...

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The Six Neophytes Have Found A Solution
June 07, 2011

Caledonian RecordTo the Editor:I would like to respond to the editorial "Six Neophytes In Search of A Solution" in the May 20th edition of The Caledonian-Record. This is The Caledonian-Record's endorsement of an earlier editorial it printed by Mr. Rob Roper, where he labeled six members of the house and senate health committees who played key roles in the passing of H.202, "neophytes," as though they had little experience and less qualifications to take on the job of reformin...

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Health Care Competence
June 04, 2011

Health care competenceCaledonian RecordTo the Editor:In his recent column questioning the competence of the members of the House and Senate health care committees to undertake meaningful health care reform, Rob Roper concluded with the question: 'Honestly, if you were the head of a probable $5 billion health care corporation, would you hire any of these people to run it?Our answer is, of course, not on your life.'That would not be my answer. Given a choice between the citizen legislators on thos...

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Single Payer is the Answer
May 27, 2011

Rutland Herald Single-payer is not about health care — it is about paying for it. Because of a historical fluke, insurance companies got into it. When employers competed for scarce labor during World War II, offering higher wages was not permitted to prevent inflation. So they offered “free” health insurance to be more competitive. Second, insurance is based on statistics and probability, which actuaries use to calculate premiums. But since everybody needs health care soone...

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Treat health care as public good
May 01, 2011

As one of thousands of self-employed Vermonters who cannot afford health insurance, the health care legislation currently in the Statehouse is very exciting. Many would have us believe that a universal health care system would take away from our freedom and choice but I can tell you by personal experience that the current system does nothing but deny me those things.If we really want to support Vermont's independent spirit we should separate access to health care from employment, so that small b...

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Background on health bill
April 28, 2011

While in a meeting recently the subject of the legislation regarding the single-payer health plan currently being worked on in the Vermont Legislature came up for discussion. I admitted to the group that I did not understand it or how it would work. Then my education began. I am sure I am not the only Vermont resident who feels in the dark about this critical piece of legislation. Therefore, I want to share with everyone what it means and how it will work for the betterment of all of us.Most of ...

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Doctor Survey Flawed, Irrelevant
April 20, 2011

I am truly perplexed as to why so much attention is being misdirected to Rep. George Till’s recent survey of Vermont doctors concerning single-payer health care reform. At best, it is much ado about nothing.The methodology is blatantly flawed. Barely a third of the 1,686 postcards Dr. Till sent out to doctors were completed — a very small sample — and by whom where they actually completed? I personally know of several non-doctors who responded to the survey, and others have rel...

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Health care should follow the person, not the job
April 20, 2011

I am a 34-year-old Vermonter, and I believe that Vermont should move forward courageously to enact a public health care system that includes each and every one of us, without exception.In my adult life thus far, I have had a number of jobs that do not offer benefits, including seasonal and temporary jobs. I am blessed to currently hold a job with good insurance. However, many of us are not as fortunate. It is common practice for employers to offer per-diem, part-time or temporary positions to av...

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Democracy to prevail in health reform
April 20, 2011

The recent news report on the meeting between IBM and other business executives and Gov. Peter Shumlin provided a chilling reminder of how government usually functions in the United States. The executives are shown entering the governor's office smiling and bristling with confidence, and perhaps even a little arrogance, that they are the ones who call the shots and that they expect government officials to do what they want.In this instance, they appear both in the television and print media to b...

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Father of single payer honored in Canada
April 20, 2011

A lot of static is being generated to blind Vermonters to the truth of the universal health care program being developed in our Legislature. One of the biggest boogie men is the Canadian system, where people supposedly wait weeks for care and months for surgery. If any of this were accurate, how does one explain why Tommy Douglas, the "father of single-payer in Canada" was voted "The Greatest Canadian" of all time in a nationally televised contest organized by the Canadian Br...

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Single Payer plan a big plus for Vermonters
April 19, 2011

While in a meeting recently, the subject of the legislation regarding the single-payer health plan currently being worked on in the Vermont Legislature came up for discussion.I admitted to the group that I did not understand it or how it would work. Then my education began. I am sure I am not the only Vermont resident who feels in the dark about this critical piece of legislation. Therefore, I want to share with everyone what it means and how it will work for the betterment of all of us.Most of ...

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Health care reform helps self-employed
April 19, 2011

As one of thousands of self-employed Vermonters who cannot afford health insurance, the health care legislation currently in the Statehouse is very exciting. Many would have us believe that a universal health care system would take away from our freedom and choice, but I can tell you by personal experience that the current system does nothing but deny me those things. If we really want to support Vermont's independent spirit we should separate access to health care from employment, so that small...

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Act on opportunity for health care for all
April 19, 2011

Now that insurance companies and "nay-sayers" are stepping in to derail our long, long battle to have health care recognized as a right of citizenship rather than something paid for by private insurers, it is urgent that we, the majority of Vermonters, let our opinions be known to our legislators. Insurance is wonderful for life, property protection and other quality items. However, our very health needs to be guarded by our society as a right of our existence, rather then how much we ...

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Past time to go slow on health reform
April 19, 2011

As we look at health care reform in Vermont, people are talking a lot about having to wait to get the care we need and that there will be long lines and rationing. I don't know what health care system they are living in, but what they are describing sure sounds a lot like the system that we have now. Anybody who is uninsured or underinsured is already waiting and already rationed.The other thing that I keep hearing is that we need to go slow. We've been at it for over twenty years, so how much s...

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Health care should be a public good
April 19, 2011

As someone who struggled with access to health care during college, I firmly believe that health care should be treated as a public good. The last thing that college students should have to think about is whether they will be able to stay in school or pay for doctor visits and high priced medications. This is exactly the issues I faced as an undergraduate. I have good insurance these days, but it breaks my heart to think that countless Vermont students face the same problems I faced in college.S...

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Take a look at health care
April 18, 2011

(I am writing in response to Val Loureiro's letter of April 13.)Take a look at health care.The writer cites "longer waiting times, cuts in services, doctors leaving, and the possibility of smaller hospitals closing" as the potential pitfalls of health system reform. I'm curious: Has Ms. Loureiro tried to access health care in the Bennington area recently?AdvertisementIt is almost impossible to find a primary care doctor, and, if one is able to do so, appointments for new patients are n...

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Single-payer would value what\'s important
April 13, 2011

  My fellow physician, Dr. C.W. Cobb, asserts in his recent letter that under a single-payer system physicians would be taken for granted ("Single-payer takes doctors for granted," March 30). Yes, single-payer systems take doctors for granted. They take for granted our education, training and experience. They take for granted our dedication to our patients. They take for granted that we and our patients can decide between ourselves what care is most appropriate for each patient w...

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Does Business Call the Shots?
April 12, 2011

  The recent WCAX news report on the meeting between IBM and other business executives and Gov. Peter Shumlin provided a chilling reminder of how government usually functions in the United States. The executives are shown entering the governor's office smiling and bristling with confidence, and perhaps even a little arrogance, that they are the ones who call the shots and that they expect government officials to do what they want. In this instance, they appear both in the television and pr...

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Single-payer Promises Solutions
April 07, 2011

Burlington Free PressOur current health care system is severely broken. We all know that. It is flagrantly wasteful of money. It is painfully unjust. The H.202 single-payer bill holds out the promise of being cost effective, and of fair solutions, e.g. equal access to health care regardless of diagnosis or social class. I urge us all to support H.202.STUART GRAVES, MDSouth Burlington ...

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Bill is major step forward
April 07, 2011

Rutland Herald Bill is major step forward Since 1993 the League of Women Voters of the U.S. has had an advocacy position calling for a national health insurance plan financed through general taxes. Until that happens, the LWV of Vermont believes a state program can and should provide such health care to the residents of Vermont. Based on a two-year study, the LWVVT supports a publicly funded, single-payer comprehensive, universal, equitable health care system. There should be increased access...

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Health care is a public good
April 06, 2011

Rutland HeraldI am writing this letter after reading John McClaughry’s column, “Single-payer: promise and reality.” John has got it wrong. As usual when people of his political belief try to justify their position, many times fear of the unknown is used to defend their argument.In H.202, as it passed out of the House to the Senate, it was not a single-payer bill; it was a universal health care bill. A single-payer system is one way to achieve universal health care, but there ar...

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What Canadians have to say
April 05, 2011

Rutland Herald   A lot of static is being generated to blind Vermonters to the truth of the universal health care program being developed in our Legislature. One of the biggest boogie men is the Canadian system, where people supposedly wait weeks for care and months for surgery. If any of this were accurate, how does one explain why Tommy Douglas, the “father of single-payer in Canada” was voted “The Greatest Canadian” of all time in a nationally televised conte...

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Fomenting Fear on Health Care
April 04, 2011

(Rutland Herald) When all else fails, make people afraid of change. That apparently is the strategy of many opponents of any “universal” health care plan. For example, at a recent meeting at the Statehouse that I attended, an anesthesiologist compared universal coverage for Vermonters as leading the way to dictatorships similar to Hitler, Mao and Pol Pot. (I guess Stalin didn’t make the cut.) Another opponent at the same meeting relayed secondhand anecdotal evidence of a hospi...

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My Turn: Businesses for Health Care Reform
March 31, 2011

Burlington Free PressThe Vermont House took bold and necessary action on March 24 by passing the universal health care bill, H.202. There are many businesses in this state that support reform because they believe the current health care system is unsustainable, inefficient and unfair. Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility is one statewide business association that believes inaction is not an option and that businesses large and small, all across the state, will benefit from an improved sy...

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End Corporate Gamesmanship
March 25, 2011

End corporate gamesmanship (RH) Your calm and insightful editorial on the hysterical nature of opposition to the single-payer debate was much appreciated. It’s interesting to note that as the debate unfolds, the supposed ills of single-payer, as put forward by the insurance industry — long delays in treatment, cost, lack of consumer choice — are actually the very reasons that the current system needs to be either replaced or overhauled. Years ago I worked for a time at The ...

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Insurers block hospital care
March 23, 2011

Rutland HeraldI appreciate the paper’s good report on the hearings held on March 14 across the state of Vermont. Each person who testified was limited to two minutes. Most of us spoke from our hearts and our own experience and therefore the timing was not precise. I was not able to finish my testimony for this reason so the quote from me which you used in the article, though accurate, needs a bit of clarification.My point was that it is the insurance companies who make the decision to deny...

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Let Vermont lead on health care
March 14, 2011

Rutland HeraldThe time is long over due 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 health cove...

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Support Vermont's Health Care Reform
March 13, 2011

Burlington Free PressSince 1993 the League of Women Voters of the US has had an advocacy position calling for a national health insurance plan financed through general taxes. Until that happens, the LWV of Vermont believes a state program can and should provide such health care to the residents of Vermont.Based on a two-year study, the LWVVT supports a publicly-funded, single-payer comprehensive, universal, equitable health care system. There should be increased access to primary care facilities...

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Illness doesn't abide by free market system
March 03, 2011

Burlington Free PressIn his Feb. 1 My Turn, Joseph P Blanchette's "Fatal conceit" is that health and its unfortunate partner, illness, don't abide by free market principles in a just society. Under free market principles, profit and fortune amass and the nonprofitable "goods" disappear as competition thrives. In the healthcare field, the "goods", however, are people and people's lives.In our current profit-driven system, 44,000 lives annually in our country are felt...

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Letter: Time to Recognize Health Care as Right
February 27, 2011

Burlington Free PressI am excited about Gov. Shumlin's proposed health care bill, H.202. For too long, our country has embraced a corrupt system that benefits insurance and pharmaceutical companies while leaving people to face insurmountable costs to accessing health care. It is a crime for large corporations to profit off of even a single person's health. Access to adequate and affordable health care is a human right that must no longer be administered along the lines of wealth, especially in a...

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HIstoric Opportunity is Now
February 01, 2011

Burlington Free Press: Comment & Debate Deborah Richter, President, Vermont Health Care for All Praise has been heaped on the 120-some page report issued by the Harvard health economist, William Hsiao, and his working group. Words like historic, ground-breaking, and masterful are used, and since I entirely agree I will put them to use as well. The report is called "Act 128 Health System Reform Design: Achieving Affordable Universal Health Care in Vermont" but will ...

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Vermont Applauded for Its Medicare-like Move
January 09, 2011

Boston Globe I APPLAUD The Globe for showcasing Vermont’s single-payer “laboratory’’ in its Jan. 2 editorial “Vermont: Creating a singular health system.’’ As a third-year medical student at Cambridge Health Alliance, I’ve found that it doesn’t take long to see that the current system is insufficient. The shortcomings leave patients whom I follow longitudinally with less access to community health centers, substance abuse treatment, and s...

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Push for Universal Health Care in Vermont
December 22, 2010

Burlington Free PressOn Dec. 10, I heard Sen. Sanders, during a filibuster in opposition to the Obama-Republican tax bill, read letters he had received from Americans. Each one told a story of hardship and struggle to make ends meet. One person was a part time worker in Stowe who related that his hours had been decreased. The reduction in monthly income has forced him to choose walking eight miles to/from to work or heating his home this winter. God help him and his family if he were to become i...

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Improving Access, Reduces Cost
December 22, 2010

Burlington Free PressEven though the United States is a signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose anniversary we observed this Dec. 10, it still treats health care as a commodity instead of a human right. Everyone needs health care, regardless of their "lifestyle." In particular, everyone needs primary and preventive care, which can both improve health and reduce the need for expensive chronic care. The idea that we can control the cost of health care by denying car...

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Universal Health Care Worth the Price
December 22, 2010

Burlington Free Press  I am writing to you on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Here in Vermont we still do not yet have the right to health care even though every other industrialized country recognizes healthcare as a human right. Everyone should be entitled to receive the health care they need when they need it and no one should have to pay more than they can afford. Our health care system functions as a source of income for powerful pharmaceutical, ...

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Not happy with distortions of health care reform
December 22, 2010

Bennington BannerI have to object to the coordinated campaign to convince Vermonters that our health care reform law is some crazy radical idea being foisted on an unsuspecting public. For an idea that opponents consistently mischaracterize as "radical" and destructive of freedom, it certainly has some strong support from mainstream folks.Start with passage of the law. Do you really think your Vermont state senators and representatives are wild-eyed radicals? How about the League of Wo...

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Moving toward comprehensive care
December 22, 2010

Rutland HeraldIn his recent letter on health care reform, Shawn Shouldice neglects to specify that his concerns refer to the transitional “exchange” process, not the single-payer system being developed by the Green Mountain Care Board.As described by the GMC board at their open meeting on March 29, this simpler, more coordinated, incentive-driven approach expands the understanding of benefits beyond clinical care to look at a systemwide approach. This includes prevention and public e...

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New Healthcare Untested?
December 22, 2010

The Manchester JournalTo the Editor: You may not have seen it, but the folks at Vermonters for Health Care Freedom (VHCF) have made a pretty slick 8-minute video that they apparently sent to all our Vermont legislators.The crux is that our health care reform is too untested, too complicated, just beyond our abilities to institute. That's a pretty bizarre claim.Too untested? Really?Did VHCF simply miss the fact that the entire rest of the developed world has health care systems much closer to our...

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