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 us feel that “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” and that we should stick with what is familiar. However, at this time there are many who cannot afford health insurance of any kind, and those who pay extremely high premiums for coverage. My understanding is that for retired people, Medicare would remain as it is. The “single payer health plan” is for those who do not have, or cannot afford, secondary backup insurance for what Medicare does not cover. It is also for the many Vermonters who cannot afford medical insurance of any kind.

To make the proposal clear, I give you the following:

(1) Health care is provided in a unified, universal system and covers everyone uniformly, regardless of employment or previous illnesses;

(2) The basic services cover medical, mental health, and may cover dental and vision care. Note: dental and vision care are not at present included in the bill being worked on. In the long run, it would be up to us as voters and lobbyists to get them included by the Health Board which will be set up;

(3) There are no deductibles, no cost-sharing unless targeted toward higher-income persons;

(4) There is a choice of health care provider;

(5) All health care providers, according to their specialty, receive comparable and adequate reimbursement;

(6) There is opportunity for negotiation of volume discounts for medication and medical equipment, and;

(7) Of particular importance is the fact that the only role the for-profit health insurance companies in the State of Vermont will be to provide supplemental coverage which will be regulated as to cost of coverage and equal reimbursement across the board for everyone.

Additionally, Green Mt. Care will also help the “underinsured” — those with high deductibles and co-pays.

The bottom line is that the proposed single-payer health plan will be a big plus for all Vermonters who are on limited income, unemployed, or otherwise unable to afford health insurance including supplementary insurance as backup to Medicare. No longer will big business insurance companies in Vermont be able to prevent many from having affordable health insurance. It will be available to everyone, not just the wealthy.

This has been my education. I share the information with all Vermont residents who may have been as confused or lacking in knowledge as I was regarding the proposed single-payer health plan currently before our Legislature.

LORRAINE ZIGMAN

Perkinsville