Can Vermont Fix Health Care?

February 04, 2012

Stowe Reporter

I 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 our businesses go bankrupt due to health-care costs.

• Our maternal-child health-care death rate is increasing.

• Babies born today have a lower life expectancy than the previous generation.

• We rank 37th among nations in terms of quality of our health-care system.

• In terms of fairness to our citizens, our health-care delivery system ranks behind Bangladesh and the Maldives.

At a recent Vermont Public Interest Research Group meeting, with several legislators who are involved in reforming Vermont’s health-care system (Act 48) present, I was reassured to learn that they are focusing on cost containment, eliminating duplication and overlap within the current system, and simplifying administrative costs. Our legislators want a system that is affordable, transparent and fair.

If the legislators can standardize administrative forms and procedures, they may be able to reduce administrative costs, which currently add 30 percent to all health-care delivery. If Vermont can pull together its various and disparate health-care delivery programs into one cohesive system, and if the U.S. government’s program is not overruled by the Roberts Supreme Court, Vermont may be a model for the nation.

Stay tuned and let’s hope Vermont succeeds, for the betterment of all.

Helene G. Martin