Newsletter – July 13, 2012

Vermonters for Health Care Freedom

Report: Over 46,000 Fled Canada for Health Care in 2011

The Daily Caller brought to our attention a new Fraser Institute report about Canadian health care. The report found that 46,159 Canadians sought medical treatment outside of Canada in 2011. Vermonters are well aware of the frequent visits Canadians seeking access to health care make to our medical centers, but this is the only estimate of the province-by-province totals available.

“In some cases, these patients needed to leave Canada due to a lack of available resources or a lack of appropriate procedure/technology,” according to the Institute. “In others, their departure will have been driven by a desire to return more quickly to their lives, to seek out superior quality care, or perhaps to save their own lives or avoid the risk of disability.”

Vermont’s Green Mountain Care single payer plan is modeled after the Canadian system.

The Daily Caller article is here: http://dailycaller.com/2012/07/11/report-thousands-fled-canada-for-health-care-in-2011/

The Fraser Institute report is here: http://www.fraserinstitute.org/uploadedFiles/fraser-ca/Content/research-news/research/articles/leaving-canada-for-medical-care-2011-ff0712.pdf

***

Actual Number of Vermonters without Access to Insurance Much Smaller than Reported

Affordable Care Act supporters have begun a full court press to convince Americans that the ACA is good for them. This week stories were run in each state explaining how the Medicaid expansion will provide coverage to a great many more people. This is not the case in Vermont because Vermont already covers these income groups, but VPR ran a story explaining how the individual mandate will be a benefit. The individual mandate is expected to encourage more of our Medicaid-eligible Vermonters to enroll. Vermont has the second lowest percentage of uninsured in the nation, often stated as 7% or 47,000 people, but when you consider that 22,000 of these are eligible for Medicaid right now but choose not to enroll, the actual number ‘without access’ is about 25,000 or 4%. How many of these also have access to some form of private or government coverage but choose not to enroll is not known. While ensuring that everyone has access to coverage is a goal we share, the situation in Vermont is hardly a crisis and certainly cannot justify Green Mountain Care’s government seizure of a $5.3 billion industry.

The VPR report is here: http://www.vpr.net/news_detail/95124/vermont-set-to-increase-medicaid-eligibility-feder/

***

Individual Mandate in Massachusetts Missing Financial Mark

The Christian Science Monitor reported that the individual mandate has not functioned as expected in the only state that has one – Massachusetts. While the mandate has succeeded in getting nearly every Bay Stater enrolled in a health plan, the economics of the mandate and how people are using the online exchange have resulted in much higher premiums than expected. This has led to forcing subsidized low-income enrollees into the two lowest-cost plans, which restrict access to certain hospitals and physicians.

The CSM story is here: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2012/0710/Health-care-reform-How-has-the-individual-mandate-worked-in-Massachusetts

***

Vermont Single Payer Touted as Model for New Mexico

As reported by Newsletter on numerous occasions, Vermont’s experiment in government monopoly health care is being used to move the single payer agenda nationally. After Vermont, Minnesota and New Mexico are being targeted for single payer. The commentary linked below from Counterpunch.org sells the virtues of Vermont’s single payer reforms as a model for New Mexico, using ‘facts’ that are flatly not true –

“Green Mountain Care will be able to provide more care through efficiency. With the state as the only insurer, paperwork will be reduced compared to a system with hundreds of insurers, each with their own rules. By reducing overhead and administration to the Medicare range of 3 to 4 percent, compared to the private sector’s overhead rate of 30-40 percent, savings will immediately be available to pay for care of the newly insured.”

First, Vermont has three active insurers in the market, outside government, and if there are ‘hundreds’ with which providers must deal it is from out-of-staters coming here for treatment, a situation that single payer will not resolve unless everyone stays away. And private sector overhead of 30-40%? Maybe in New Mexico, but nowhere near that in Vermont.

Here is the Counterpunch.org commentary seeking to mislead New Mexicans to believe the same falsehoods our Governor and legislative leaders subscribe to: http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/07/10/will-new-mexico-embrace-single-payer/

***

Controversy over UK “Death Pathway” for Elderly Continues

The UK’s Daily Telegraph published a letter signed by six physicians warning that hospitals may be using a controversial “death pathway” on elderly patients to reduce the strain on hospital resources. The controversy arose after Professor Patrick Pullicino revealed National Health Service doctors are using the controversial ‘death pathway’ as a form of euthanasia for the elderly (reported in the June 22, 2012 Newsletter: http://vthealthcarefreedom.org/news/2012-06-22/newsletter-june-22-2012).

Concern for elder care arises when governments limit resources in single-payer systems. In Canada elderly patients are reportedly referred to as “bed blockers” and viewed as depriving younger patients who have better prospects for recovery access to scarce resources.

The letter to the Daily Telegraph is here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/letters/9385681/Deadly-one-way-street.html

***

Green Mountain Care Board too Powerful and Unaccountable?

The Burlington Free Press ran a story examining the powers and duties of the Green Mountain Care Board. While concerns for the authority granted the board were raised in the article, much was left out. For example, the board has most of the authority previously granted to the Commissioner of BISHCA. Commissioners serve at the pleasure of the Governor, so if the Commissioner finds him or herself at odds with public sentiment the Governor can make a change, and the voters can force a change every two years by electing a new Governor. But the board members are appointed for 6 year terms (7 for the chair), which is 3 times the length of terms for the Governor and every member of the General Assembly. Where is the accountability to the people?

Second, vast additional authority has been granted the board, so much so that the board has near total control over the entire health care industry. This leads to a situation where the folks who control the system and its finances are the same folks who regulate it. The powers granted the GMC Board lack accountability to the ‘customers’ of health care and the taxpayers who will foot the bill, and they lack the basic checks and balances that our government relies upon to ensure power is not abused.

The Burlington Free Press article is here: http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20120708/NEWS03/307080019/vermont-health-reform?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE&nclick_check=1

***

Sun News: Canadian Health Care Overdue for Reform

Sun News offers a 12 minute video segment examining the state of Canada’s health care system 50 years since their first experiment with universal access. The main message: universal access does not depend upon single payer government dominated care, but rather, is best served by a combination of government and private insurance.

Right now [the Canadian health care system] is a bureaucratic monstrosity.”

The Sun News video is here: http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/video/featured/news/868018287001/will-medicare-last-another-50-years/1717440812001/page/6