Itís not so looney

October 07, 2014

St. Alban's Messenger

Emerson Lynn’s editorial “Vermont’s not so funny rendition of Looney Tunes, (St Albans Messenger 09/26/14), missed several key points about why Vermont’s progress toward single-payer is not so looney after all.

Mr. Lynn said Vermonters must reach into their pockets “over $2 billion each year to pay for this untried system.” As Mr. Lynn knows, Green Mountain Care (single-payer) is not an untried system. It is working all over the democratic world with much greater success at reducing costs, attaining better outcomes, and insuring all citizens than we have ever achieved with our free-market health insurance. Our three single-payer systems — Medicaid, Medicare, and the Veterans Administration — have also proven this. They have had remarkable success, despite repeated attempts by a certain party to deliberately show that they do not work, and to do their utmost to privatize them so greedy Wall Street can get a piece of the action.

Also, Green Mountain Care is not adding “over $2 billion.” It is shifting how we pay for it into a more equitable manner than the unequal way we finance health care now. Vermonters already dole over $2 billion, (actually about $2.6 billion), to private health insurance. This is without all the added co-pays and deductibles, which now are making it difficult for many to even get access to health care .

I doubt that any IT system alive could find its way through the vast complexity of the exchanges. The exchanges are working, though. Just not the website. This will be corrected. And Vermont did run two successful statewide single-payer type programs on its own -- Catamount and VHAP. The IT systems needed for the exchanges, with their great complexity, will not be the same as thzose for single-payer. It is much easier to enroll people as citizens than to contend with hundreds of different factors of “metal level” plans, income eligibilities, subsidy levels, and so on just to enroll someone. A software company owner I know pointed out that a major IT level of difficulty has to do with designing multiple secure systems for many people paying multiple organizations on the exchange. This will not be a concern with our own single-payer system.

Take heart, all ye of little faith: if tiny Iceland, with roughly half the population of Vermont, and a per capita GDP of $41,000, (Vermont’s in 2013 was $42,000) can provide universal health care for its citizens and rank 15th in the world for health care quality, and 14th for cost .....we can do it too!

The U.S.A. ranks number 1 for most expensive health care in the world, and we are way down the list for overall outcomes because so many Americans haven’t been able to actually have access to care.

Single-payer has proved itself time and again. The real looney tune is that as a nation we have refused to acknowledge it.

Paula Schramm Enosburg Falls