Candidate Survey Reveals Bipartisan Opposition to Shumlin’s Plans for Single Payer
On Monday, October 22, VHCF emailed a one-question survey to nearly all of the 270 candidates for the Vermont House and Senate whose names will appear on ballots a week from Tuesday. The survey asked the following:
Green Mountain Care single payer has been enacted into law, is being implemented and is scheduled to begin on January 1, 2017. The Shumlin Administration has asked the Legislature to defer consideration of a budget and funding plan until 2015. My view(s) on this issue is as follows:
GMC single payer should be repealed with or without a budget and funding plan.
Implementation of GMC single payer should be suspended until a budget and funding plan are approved.
Delaying consideration of GMC single payer financing until 2015 is reasonable.
Comments or “other”:
Fifty three of 240 candidates who received the survey responded and the results indicate bipartisan support for suspending implementation of GMC single payer until “a budget and funding plan are approved” and even outright repeal.
Fourteen candidates for the Senate responded. One Independent, one Tea Party and one Republican support repeal of GMC single payer; two Republicans and one Democrat support suspending implementation until a budget and funding plan are approved, and one Democrat stated that waiting until 2015 to address financing is reasonable. Comments range from explanations for not responding to the survey to general statements about the need for reform.
Thirty-nine House candidates responded. Fourteen support repeal of single payer, 12 support suspending implementation and 8 said that waiting until 2015 for the funding plan is reasonable. Of the 23 supporting repeal or suspending implementation, 15 are Republicans, 3 are Democrats, 4 are Independents, and 1 is a Tea Party candidate. Five Democrats, 2 Progressives and 1 Independent support continuing implementation and delaying consideration of financing until 2015. Twelve candidates offered comments without selecting one of the three statements. Four of these comments were supportive of GMC single payer, 2 were opposed and 6 did not indicate a clear position.
Overall, 31 candidates for the House and Senate responded in a manner critical of the administration’s plans and the total included Republicans, Democrats, Independents and a Tea Party candidate. Thirteen expressed support including Democrats, Independents, Progressives, and Liberty Union.
Thirty candidates either lacked an email address or the survey was returned as undeliverable.
Complete individual candidate responses are available here, and a few of the comments might be politely described as ‘colorful’: http://vthealthcarefreedom.org/sites/default/files/2012 VHCF Candidate Survey.pdf
Larson Defends Shifting Employee’s Children from Employer Insurance to Dr. Dynasaur
Last week, Newsletter broke the story about the state encouraging employees with children to drop their employer funded health coverage and enroll their kids in the Dr. Dynasaur program. VPR picked the story up and asked Department of Vermont Health Access Commissioner Mark Larson about it.
Larson defended the move as “an opportunity for coverage to be more affordable for a family and it does provide some opportunity for the state to provide health coverage for the family at less expense to the state.” In response, VHCF’s Jeff Wennberg offered the following:
“I think a lot of Vermonters ought to take a close look at this and try to decide whether they really feel comfortable that shifting some or ultimately all of the coverage that right now is provided privately, onto taxpayers,” said Wennberg. “Is that a direction that we really do support?”
But Larson says the plan is consistent with the initial policies of the Dr. Dinosaur program.
“There has been no change to the eligibility of Dr. Dinosaur to be able to provide this opportunity to state employees,” He said. “This is not an expansion this is just an option that has historically been available and we’re simply providing information about it.”
As was mentioned here last week, Dr. Dynasaur was created to provide coverage for children of working families that earned too much to qualify for Medicaid, but did not have access to employer based insurance through their work. If Vermont’s private employers were to follow the state’s example, the cost to the state for Dr. Dynasaur would increase by something like $20 million. And the savings the state realizes by shifting their own employees’ kids onto Dr. Dynasaur come from the fact that the federal government pays 70% of those costs, not because the coverage is less expensive. In other words, when federal and state taxpayers are considered together there is no savings.
The VPR story is here: http://www.vpr.net/news_detail/96350/state-employees-kids-encouraged-to-use-dr-dynosaur/
And interestingly, the San Antonio Express also found this story of note: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/article/Vt-urges-employees-to-give-kids-public-health-care-3981668.php
And the San Francisco Chronicle’s online SFGate found it of interest as well: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Vt-urges-employees-to-give-kids-public-health-care-3981668.php
We are still waiting for coverage in Vermont newspapers.
Vermont Single Payer Plan’s Big Questions Getting More Attention
Heartlander ran a story by Loren Heal detailing the difficulties Governor Shumlin is having with his single payer health care reform experiment. Heal interviewed Bruce Shields and John McClaughry of the Ethan Allen Institute, among others, and focused on predictions of doctor shortages, rationing of services, the refusal to present a cost analysis and funding mechanism for the system until long after the system is put in place, and the dubious expectation of advocates that the government can operate the system with vastly improved efficiency.
Heal’s Heartlander article is available here: http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2012/10/26/vermonts-single-payer-program-raises-big-questions
Documentary’s Focus on Medical Ethics Expands Health Reform Debate
A new documentary was screened at the Grange Hall in Essex by Green Mountain Patriots, the same group that has sponsored a series of meetings to raise awareness of the challenges presented by single payer health care. Titled “The Determinators,” the 58 minute film is based on a book entitled “The Battle for America’s Soul” by Dr. C. L. Gray, M.D.
Rather than focus on the arguments about universal access and cost, which largely drive the current debate concerning reform, Gray provides a historical primer and thoughtful context for the competing world views and moral frameworks of those who promote government monopoly control over health care and those who oppose it.
Newsletter has seen the documentary and strongly recommends it. Many Vermonters remain unconvinced that single payer government monopoly control is the right path. A good number of us can’t fully articulate the reason for our misgiving but know in our gut (and from historical observation) that it is ‘not right.’ The Determinators explains the source of that misgiving, and at its root is the conflict between the belief that each individual human life has intrinsic dignity and value, versus the belief that individuals – and heath care providers – have a moral obligation to elevate what is best for the state above the needs or desires of the individual.
Rob Maynard of True North Reports wrote an excellent review of the event and the documentary, available here: http://truenorthreports.com/health-care-reform-accountability-to-patients-or-government-bureaucrats
The Determinators can be viewed free of charge here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5ju8IgaiGk&utm_source=AAPS+Alert+Sign-Up&utm_campaign=6cf9c0cfc2-Ralph_Webinar_9_9_2012&utm_medium=email
VT Health CO-OP Opens, but for How Long?
Governor Shumlin and Vermont’s Congressional delegation celebrated the official opening of the Vermont Health CO-OP, announced last June and funded by $33.8 million in federal loans and grants under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Newsletter and others have observed the curious logic of creating a heavily subsidized new health insurer to begin operation when the Exchange goes online in 2014, only to be put out of business when the state assumes final control of the market in 2017 under Green Mountain Care single payer. Newsletter suspects there is more to this effort than can be found in the official press releases.
Newsletter readers are also referred to the May 30, 2012 article in Forbes by Avik Roy on the White House’s expectation that 91% of the federal CO-OP loans will fail, totaling $3 billion and described as “six Solyndras.”
The VTDigger story about the Vermont Health CO-OP is here: http://vtdigger.org/2012/10/23/vermont-health-co-op-takes-shape-in-the-shadow-of-the-aca-exchange/
And the context from Forbes is here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/aroy/2012/05/30/six-solyndras-obamacare-blows-3-billion-on-faulty-co-op-insurance-loans/
Time for Shumlin to “Take his Marbles and Go Home?”
VTDigger published an opinion piece by VHCF’s Jeff Wennberg detailing the continuing refusal of the Shumlin Administration to address critical financing questions surrounding Green Mountain Care single payer. The commentary was prompted by the announcement that the administration would not present a recommended plan for funding until 2015.
The commentary can be read here: http://vtdigger.org/2012/10/21/wennberg-time-for-shumlin-to-take-his-marbles-and-go-home/