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

June 27, 2014

The Caledonian Record

To 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 military into harm's way, where many thousands have inevitably met with severe harm, what exactly is Mr. McLaughry's solution if he finds VA healthcare inadequate? Is he somehow under the impression that these injured veterans could be treated better by civilian doctors for the same amount of money we now spend on VA healthcare? Is he advocating that we spend more to provide civilian medical care, or that we spend more to provide better VA healthcare? That's hard to imagine from such a dedicated foe of taxes of all kinds. Is he advocating that we just stop caring? What is his solution?

Is Mr. McLaughry's description of the horrors of Canadian healthcare even close to reality? No, not from any objective evidence that I've been able to find. The vast majority of Canadians are quite happy with their system and amazed that we continue with our broken system, though they obviously would like their system to work even better. Canadian doctors are, if anything, less unhappy with their system than American doctors are with ours.

Since Mr. McLaughry's predictions of doom for Vermont's planned Green Mountain Care seem to rest in large part on his very questionable assessments of the VA healthcare system and the Canadian system (not to mention his severe aversion to taxes of all kinds), how believable, then, are his predictions?

I suspect that Mr. McLaughry is simply a genuine fan of the current system, in which people with great resources, like Mr. McLaughry, have access to pretty great medical care, while an ever-growing portion of Americans without those resources dance and dodge and pray that they can find minimal care someplace, somewhere, somehow. Even Medicare these days requires that recipients be able to afford either supplementary insurance or pretty hefty co-pays and deductibles in order to obtain most medical care.

That vast, unjustifiable unfairness in access to something that absolutely everybody needs-health care--is what underlies the idea (derided by Mr. McLaughry) that healthcare is a human right.

Lee Russ
Bennington, Vt.