What are the hospitals afraid of?

March 01, 2018


Editor’s note: This commentary is by Ellen Oxfeld, a member of the boards of the advocacy group Vermont Health Care for All. She lives in Middlebury.

Over the last two weeks the Senate Health and Welfare Committee has been taking testimony on a bill that would make primary care a public good for all Vermonters, with no out-of-pocket costs. It is not expensive. Unlike hospital care, primary care comprises under 6 percent of total health care spending. But investing in primary care actually saves lives and money. Currently, many people delay going to the doctor until they are seriously ill – more expensive to treat and suffering needlessly – because lack of insurance or deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs deter them from seeking timely care. S.53 would solve this problem and it sets up the groundwork for creating an operations plan, legal analysis and other preliminary steps.

The Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, however, have insisted through their public testimony that universal primary care is unnecessary and that even one dollar put toward planning for such a system would be wasted.

Why would the hospitals be against a bill that would improve public health in Vermont, widen access to primary care, and save money to the system by getting people into treatment earlier?  continue reading