Ignorance is amiss on health care

April 01, 2012

Rutland Herald

I 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 which Mr.Wennberg seems to want to perpetuate. First, a healthy percentage of Vermonters already are on single-payer programs — Medicare, Medicaid, and the Veterans Administration — each a single-payer type program such as is known in the rest of the industrialized/technological world. While not perfect, these systems have proven themselves by covering everyone at much lower cost per capita with better results than our market system has been able to do.

Mr. Wennberg then writes that “Any reform that relies upon rationing threatens our health care freedom.” True enough, although our health care freedom is already rationed. Except for those on the above systems (who are hardly clamoring to get rid of them) we are rationed by age, by cost, by employment status, by high-deductible plans, by income eligibility, by medical history, and by the various other machinations employed by the market to deny access to care and preserve profit margins.

Finally, Mr.Wennberg says that “Single-payer zealots seem most offended by the use of the word “freedom” in the organization’s name.” The word “freedom,” is not what us single-payer “zealots” object to. It is the misnomer of this word in the organization’s name. There is no freedom in having to incur medical debt and or haggle over the price of an operation to save your life, both of which I have been forced to do, because you are rationed out of insurance and access to health care.