Failure to act on health care
May 20, 2015
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 average Vermonter’s salary. And don’t forget that BCBS is a “nonprofit,” which means it avoided more than $15 million in state taxes). We had hopes of changing that early on, when Governor Shumlin won election and re-election on his promise to bring single payer to Vermont. That is a fading memory, and even his plan to put $90 million toward health care turned into a laughable (cry-able?) $3 million, which, according to Dr. Deb Richter, is “what we spend as a state on health care in four hours.” Thank you, Governor Shumlin, for your unwavering support for your signature plan. And thanks must go, too, to the Ways and Means Committee, which whittled down an already anemic $20 million to that virtually useless $3 million. And that sugary beverage tax that would help finance health care? Oh, we got the sugary beverage tax — and the revenue has been diverted to help close the budget gap. So here in Vermont, we had the hope, briefly, of a health care payment system driven by concern for people’s health, and an equitable solution to provide health care for all. It was not going to be easy, but nothing worthwhile is. Now we continue to limp along, at the mercy of big players like Blue Cross, and the average Vermonter must continue to hope for no major medical emergencies, or that a catastrophic illness can be paid for with bake sales and fundraisers. Good job, Montpelier, have a great summer. Everyone else: Just be careful.