Keep Vermonters distracted with a red rag

April 02, 2015

The Caledonian Record: How do you kill a bull with a red rag? Wendy Wilton ( "It's Time We Had The Facts On Vermont Health Connect," 3/13/2015) knows how: You wave it in the bull's face and while he rages at it, you stab him between the shoulder blades.
Wilton's recent piece on questions the State Auditor should ask about Vermont Health Connect is once again the red rag in our face. Her larger purpose is revealed in this: "Three years ago, I concluded a single payer health care system would make the state insolvent due to unforeseen cost escalation, lack of savings, and unsustainable taxes." Contrary to her assertions, Vermont Health Connect (the state's version of Obamacare) is very different from Green Mountain Care (the proposed single payer plan). But Wilton waves the rag to distract us from the blade which she wants to keep aimed between our shoulder blades: for-profit health coverage.
In 2013, former CIGNA top executive Wendell Potter pointed out that the more claims Vermont insurers denied, the higher their CEO compensation was: CIGNA denied one in five claims, for which the 3 top dogs of CIGNA got $26.8 million (initially they reported to Vermont regulators that they had only received $9.5 million). MVP denied one in six claims; its CEO received $3.3 million; BCBS denied one in 13 (one of those denied, Jeanette Langevin of Johnson, consequently died); its CEO got a piddling $575,000. Potter also points out how the money saved in denials is used not only to plump up the bottom line, but also to lobby Montpelier and Washington: $323,000 in Montpelier and a minimum of $1.65 million in the halls of Congress.
It would be interesting if Rutland City Treasurer Wilton would tell us about the treatment she and the other city employees get for their insurance premiums. Former Springfield town manager Bob Forguites said Springfield would save $500,000 under a single-payer plan.
Chuck Gregory
Springfield, Vt.