Why We Need Health Care Reform

December 12, 2011

Burlington Free Press

I would like to thank Pat McDonald, chairwoman of the Vermont Republican Party, for her "My Turn" piece in the Dec. 1 edition of the Burlington Free Press ("Health Care report ignores big questions"). McDonald illustrates so perfectly why we need the complete and systematic health care reform that Vermont embarked on when Gov. Shumlin signed H.202 last May.

"The government," she wrote, "needs to make smart and rational decisions, and be cognizant of the impacts those decisions will have on health care consumers..." True enough. The problem here is that we are not "health care consumers." The word consumer implies a choice of a product for consumption or personal use. You can buy it if you can afford it. Health care is not a choice. It is a human need for all of us -- employer, employee or provider. It should be a public good, not a commodity bought and sold like a stock option.

Other points McDonald raises are funding and better using the disparate programs that Vermont already has in place. McDonald says that there is no "discussion of how this system will affect Vermonters, Vermont businesses and Vermont's network of health care providers." Conspicuously absent, however, is that the nature of our state's (and our nation's) health care programs and their financing is now so fragmented that it already has an excessively adverse affect on our state's businesses and providers.

What is needed is a single pipeline to re-channel this vast expense (and cut out its immense waste) into a concrete system serving all Vermonters.

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