by Rob Roper
Rep. George Till (D-Jericho), who serves on the House Health Care Committee, is also a practicing physician. He thought it would be a good idea for the legislature to try to find out what doctors in Vermont actually think of the proposed single payer health care legislation before they go ahead and totally overhaul the health care system.
Since this doesn’t seem to be the kind of information his colleagues seem interested in obtaining, Till ponied up $1000 of his own money to help fund and put together a twenty-five question online survey, which he distributed to every licensed physician in the state (more than 1600 doctors). This was not a scientific poll, and was never billed as such. The hope was that doctors would act on the honor system and fill out the survey only once.
According to Rep. Anne Donohue (R-Northfield), “The only persons other than MDs who were aware of the access code to respond, however, were members of the House Health Care Committee.”
Two members of that committee (not physicians) admitted to filling out the survey, Rep. Willem Jewett (D-Ripton), the Assistant Minority Leader, and Rep. Mike Fisher (D-Lincoln).
Rep. Jim Eckhardt (R-Chittenden) posted online, “There would be no reason for anyone to go onto the survey and take it if they were not a doctor. So I ask you, why would some of the leadership for the Democratic Party go and purposely taint a harmless survey meant to give us information so that we could make common sense and informed decisions about the future of health care in Vermont? The amount of distrust this has created is immeasurable. If this does not show you the great lengths that some are going through up here to get this thing passed nothing will. Since the people taking the survey (illegally) are tainting it with negative numbers it would indeed lead me to believe that the number of doctors that would look to leave the state is much higher.”
Donohue added, “at least one proponent of single payer has apparently acknowledged entering a response about 20 times.”
In a press released issued by the Vermont Republican Party, Chairwoman Pat McDonald said, “It seems that like everything else around this effort, Democrats are trying to keep Vermonters in the dark “How much will it cost? How will it impact our economy? Will Vermonters be able to access adequate care in Vermont? Before rushing off this cliff, it would be wise to get some facts. The efforts by some Democrats to undermine this survey goes to show they are not interested in hearing what Vermonters really think. Vermonters deserve to be put first in this process. We need to pause and listen because the cost of health care is unstable. Let’s work together and find the right solution that is best for Vermont.”