Profits over health care isn't working

April 21, 2012

The Colchester Sun

I am writing to thank Mr. Lawrence Keyes for his letter “Willing to take the risk of health reform” in the April 5 edition of The Colchester Sun. A wrong turn on a web link led me to Mr. Keyes’ excellent letter. I hope that the editors of The Colchester Sun will forgive that I am not local.

Mr. Keyes’ letter was refuting an editorial by Mr. Bruce Lisman (“Vermont fails at transparency” March 29) of a group called “Campaign for Vermont.” Lisman feels that Vermont’s health care reform lacks “accountability, transparency and fairness.”

Mr. Keyes was right on when he suggested Mr. Lisman and the Campaign for Vermont do not seem to hold themselves to the same standard, nor does the broken mess of a malfunctioning system that they hope to preserve. Vermont Blue Cross Blue Shield, supposedly a non-profit, retired a CEO with a $7.25 million golden parachute; my co-pays jumped from $50 for an operation to $250. While sympathetic, they intimated that it was my problem.
No transparency there.

When desperately ill several years ago and descending into what one physician called “the prayer phase,” my health insurance company then seemed to completely forget the doctrine of “accountability, fairness and transparency.” This company was UnitedHealthCare, out of Minnesota and New York, operating nationally, and was my employer’s health insurer of choice. Their CEO, Steven Hemsley, reaped a paltry $13 million that year as I fought his company to stay alive against their non-transparent reluctance to pay claims or authorize procedures I needed.

Mr. Keyes wrote that Vermonters elected Gov. Peter Shumlin to “reform the unworkable system in which consumers and doctors now find themselves.” Profit over care does not work. Together with Gov. Shumlin and the Legislature we can re-model it into a system where health care is a public good enjoyed by all Vermonters for Vermonters.

Walter Carpenter