I again thank Bill Schubart for another of his incisive commentaries about our health care mess (“Health care is a self-driving truck with no GPS).

Yet, this self-driving truck definitely has a GPS. It is guiding us backward instead of forward, while trying to make it look like we’re moving ahead.

It seems to be steering us back to February 1971 and into the Nixon White House. In a transcript from that time, President Nixon’s counsel and assistant to the president for domestic affairs, John Ehrlichman (later to be convicted in the Watergate scandal), was explaining to his boss a new concept in health care called HMOs.

Ehrlichman tells Nixon, “Edgar Kaiser is running his Permanente deal for profit. And the reason he can do it. … All the incentives are toward less medical care, because … the less care they give them, the more money they make.” Nixon replies, “Not bad.”

The health care GPS in Vermont and nationally is still following this route. Schubart points out that UVM Medical Center has 26 administrators with a combined salary of $16.9 million, for “an annual average salary of $650,000 each.”

This is just a drop in the proverbial bucket throughout our hospital and insurance system. Think of how much care that $16.9 million — which comes from us in fees, premiums and taxes — could provide for us if that GPS were leading toward the actual health of the population and not “business expansion and asset-accretion.”

Walter Carpenter