Single-payer worth the struggle

June 19, 2013

Burlington Free Press

Thank you for Donald MacDonald’s May 15 letter on health care. He is right. Single-payer will be one of the best things to happen in Vermont and, with luck and determination, across the country.

That doesn’t mean there will be an easy, seamless transition. How could there be? Moving from domination of health care by giant insurance companies to an “everybody in, nobody out” system in which everyone is guaranteed access to good, affordable care will be a complicated process, no doubt frustrating at times. But the goal is worth the struggle, including the detour through the federally-mandated health care exchange.

We must remember that the exchange is not single-payer nor a predictor of the future success of single-payer. It is the unfortunate result of President Obama’s sell-out of health-care reform to the insurance industry.

At present it appears that current participants in Vermont’s VHAP and Catamount programs will suffer unfairly because of the higher costs of the exchanges. The Legislature betrayed lower-income Vermonters by refusing to subsidize the increases the exchange will inflict on them. But after the exchange should come the waiver allowing true single-payer. We need to stay tuned-in and keep working, remembering that there were also dire warnings about Medicare when it was introduced.

Most importantly, we must not be stampeded back into the clutches of the insurance companies by the scare tactics of John McClaughry and his fellow fear-mongers of the so-called “Vermonters for Healthcare Freedom.”