by Rob Roper
About fifty people settled into the Essex Grange hall to learnsomething about Green Mountain Care – hungry for answers lawmakers aren’t eager to supply. John McClaughry of the Ethan Allen Institute, Robert Maynard, web editor for True North Reports, Dr. Rober Letovsky of St. Michael’s College, and Rutland City Treasurer Wendy Wilton each made presentation touching on different facets of a single payer system.
The speakers questioned the premise of whether or not health care is a human right, offered insights into the Canadian system’s failures, and the nature and direction that reform should ultimately take. The clean up hitter for the event was Wilton, who has spent hundreds of hours of her personal time crunching numbers, trying to figure out exactly what this thing is going to cost.
Citizens demand answers at Essex healthcare forum
The forum, sponsored by the Green Mountain Patriots, lit the fuse. Coverage in the on-line publication VTDigger ignited the powder .
Based on reader comments by single payer supporters, the most egregious offense VTDigger committed was covering the Essex forum in the first place.
Doug Hoffer, last year’s failed Democratic candidate for Auditor, chimed in, “Can people just say anything and have their utterances reported as news?” Hoffer criticized the reporter for not callenging Wilton’s numbers (which have been scored by the Joint Fiscal Office). “If not, the article is nothing more than a press release.”
Dan Barlow, BLAH for Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility complained, “I’m disappointed that VtDigger ran what essentially is a press release disguised as a news story for groups opposed to health care reform.”
This is ironic criticism considering that the traditional media in Vermont has not challenged anything regarding this healthcare scheme. The governor and the democrats in the legislature had been granted a clean getaway, cleared of having to answer the basic questions of how much the plan will cost, how will it be paid for, who will pay for it, and what the government provided benefits package will look like – and, brazenly refusing to answer any such questions until after the 2012 election.
Barlow took a hypocritical shot at the organization Vermonters for Healthcare Freedom. “[Have they] revealed who their donors are yet?… Why is this group being so secretive about their membership?” But, Barlow and his organization have no problem coordinating support for single payer with VIPRG, another 501c4 organization that is not required by law to disclose its donors, and doesn’t.
These folks are stunned when the expected media double standard doesn’t apply. (It’s worth noting that Barlow is a former reporter for the Vermont Press Bureau.)
Anne Galloway, editor of VTDigger, defended her publication, “We strive to present multiple points of view in our reporting. This is not a press release. This is coverage of a forum. No different than coverage of other forums or meetings. We reported what people said.”
It has been a strategy of single payer supporters to suppress debate. That is precisely why Shumlin and the democrats in Montpelier pushed the release of any important information about their plan back until after the 2012 election. They don’t want to give anyone anything to discuss. However, there is a pent-up demand to know what we’re dealing with from the public that won’t be held back.
VTDigger’s article generated 77 responses as of this writing (Galloway mentioned that the previous record was 34), including business people, sitting legislators, activists from both sides of the issue, and a number of past candidates for office.
The Shumlin administration may not want to answer questions about their plans to control every aspect of our healthcare system (or even have them asked), but it doesn’t appear the public wants to cooperate. Vermonters want details, and they want answers — and they want them now.
Watch Channel 17’s full coverage of the Green Mountain Patriot’s healthcare forum online HERE.