Mountain Times

Dear Editor,

In response to Mr. Emerson Lynn’s guest editorial “The Peril of OneCare’s failure,” which ran in the Nov. 30-Dec. 6 editon of the Mountain Times, OneCare’s failure would hardly impact Vermont’s health care because it has always been a failure to begin with.

I commend Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB) members Owen Foster and Thom Walsh for their courage to grill OneCare’s executives (who bring home nice six-figure salaries) for evidence that OneCare has done any good for Vermonters. As Mr. Lynn’s editorial pointed out, Owen Foster, the board’s new chair, said to OneCare, “Vermonters, either through taxpayer-funded health care groups, out-of-pocket expenses, copays or insurance, have borne the bulk of those staggering numbers…And for that they deserve results.”

Foster is right. The numbers are breathtaking, both for the system itself (which is hardly a system, but I’ll stay with that word for now), and we “deserve results” for our money. Our state’s total health care tab is something like $7 billion, including the billions fed into OneCare. What have we received for this? Board member Thom Walsh asked that too: “What I’m struggling to find is an outcome that would be meaningful to Vermonters, and you may be able to say something like, ‘reduced (emergency department) visits’ … Those are outcome measures that matter to patients, and I can’t find them.”

Walsh can’t find them because they’re not there. The overall problem with OneCare is not that it’s this sparkling new thing trying to change our medical culture, but that it wasn’t about health care in the first place. It’s really about business and management care. Like HMOs and all the other schemes that have failed before it, OneCare is yet another try at avoiding the real reform we need to control our costs and cover all Vermonters. This is publicly funded, universal health care, starting with Universal Primary Care (UPC) in Vermont. OneCare merely twists the same status quo into another term and inserts more bureaucracy and highly paid executives into a system already top-heavy with these at the expense of front-line staff and patient care.

OneCare’s failure would be a vastly welcome benefit to Vermont’s health care. Then, perhaps, we could use the billions we would save on actual health care rather than more business and management care.

Walter Carpenter,