Time to protect health care

April 12, 2013

Rutland Herald

John McClaughry’s commentary (“11 questions about health care,” Times Argus, March 29) seems to answer more questions than it asks. Mr. McClaughry’s questionnaire is hardly an accurate guide to the inevitable inquiries which will come up as we near 2017 — the year when the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, stipulates that Vermont can start its own single-payer system.

The health insurance exchanges are part of the ACA. While an improvement over the current private insurance system, they will do little to solve our health care dilemma of too much cost for too little results — results that are generally worse than those of nations with single-payer. The Shumlin administration should be commended for all its immense work in struggling to make sense out of these nonsensical exchanges which are commencing in 2014.

But the exchanges are private insurance. They will still leave people vulnerable to higher costs, especially out-of-pocket costs, despite the tax credits going toward premiums and the deductibles for some income levels. The people coming out of the Catamount/VHAP programs (which are terminating this year), for example, could feel the sting of higher costs on their deductibles. From a moral perspective, Vermont should not just let these people, including me, suffer these costs, but should help them as well.

While Mr. McClaughry’s loathing of the “upcoming single-payer revolution,” as he phrased it, is well-known, it should be noted that single-payer health care is not revolutionary. It has been around for decades; it is alive and well in every democratic nation except this one. Even here we have three examples of pure single-payer: Medicare, Medicaid and the Veterans Administration.

Long ago, these nations decided to protect all their citizens with equal health care. It is time we did too.

Walter Carpenter