Willing to take the risk of health reform

April 05, 2012

Colchester Sun

Bruce Lisman’s March 29 perspective in The Colchester Sun (“Vermont fails at transparency”) raises questions of risks and uncertainties as Vermonters grapple with health care. While acknowledging that significant change carries with it significant risk, I would point out that Vermonters elected Peter Shumlin as governor on his willingness to attempt to tackle rising health care costs, and to reform the unworkable system in which consumers and doctors now find themselves.

For me, the tipping point was the $7 million payout to a departing CEO of the supposedly non-profit Vermont Blue Cross and Blue Shield. (Wasn’t that the same year that the Fletcher Allen CEO awaited his sentence for corruption on his yacht?)

After years of paying up to $12,000 in annual premiums in a high-deductible insurance plan that never paid out much above the multi-thousand dollar deductible — after piecing together co-pays, prescription drugs, dental, vision and physical therapy, reams of paperwork, phone calls, and negotiation — I am willing to take the risk on a different arrangement. Forgive me if I think commercial insurance companies, answering to stockholders and plutocrats instead of patients, are not part of the solution and that a community of Vermonters working deliberately and carefully, in the best interests of our citizens, can’t come up with something better than the status quo.

For patients and doctors, the so-called health-care “system” of today is dissolving before our very eyes. Absent significant financial and procedural reform, it will collapse.

Its too bad that Mr. Lisman’s Campaign for Vermont doesn’t apply the same standards of “accountability,” “certainty,” “transparency,” and “fairness” to the current players who extract the life savings of sick people. Instead, he seems content on throwing rocks at those who are actually trying to figure out how to fix this mess.

Lawrence Keyes