Newsletter – July 20, 2012

by Vermonters for Health Care Freedom

Vermont Single Payer in 2015?

After two years of stalling and misdirection the Shumlin Administration has finally asked the $3 billion question: How will Vermont pay for Governor Shumlin’s government monopoly single payer health care plan?

According to the Rutland Herald, Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding stated that while the Administration will meet next January’s statutory deadline to deliver a financing plan to the legislature, no action on the proposal will be sought in 2013. He cited the federal requirement that single payer wait until 2017 as the reason for the delay.

Secretary Spaulding, however, signed a contract with the University of Massachusetts Medical School that will pay UMass $300,000 to “assist the State with completing two financing plans to be submitted to the legislature no later than January 15, 2013.” But the plans are to include “A model in which the state introduces public financing for all coverage that is not federally-financed, beginning in 2015.” The contract contains no mention of a model that starts in 2017.

The day after the Rutland Herald story ran, Governor Shumlin was interviewed on Vermont Public Radio where he stated he wanted to see single payer enacted by 2016, and sooner if possible. When asked if a federal waiver would be required to start before 2017 he said, “We’ll see . . . there’s gotta be a Vermont way to find a way around those obstacles. We can outsmart the feds.”

This curious combination of statements, coupled with the furious pace of single payer implementation leads Newsletter to conclude that the governor’s strategy is to implement single payer without telling Vermonters about the massive tax increases needed to pay for it so that by the time we finally see the bill no other options will be available.

Read Jeff Wennberg’s full analysis here: http://vthealthcarefreedom.org/news/2012-07-19/analysis-vt-single-payer-2015

See the Vermont-UMass contract here: http://vthealthcarefreedom.org/sites/default/files/VT_UMass%20Financing%20Contract.pdf

Listen to the Governor’s VPR comments here: http://www.vpr.net/news_detail/95157/shumlin-says-health-care-plan-will-reduce-business

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March Toward Single Payer Making Doctor Shortage Worse

The Christian Science Monitor ran an article explaining Vermont’s single payer reforms, and connecting the resulting uncertainty and radical nature of the program with increasing difficulty of attracting doctors to the Green Mountain State.

“Many critics insist single-payer systems end up rationing care, letting government officials make medical decisions rather than doctors. They argue that Vermont’s existing shortage of physicians will be only worsened as payments to doctors are capped, and as the state’s aging population gets even older and needs even more care. 

“We’ve married ourselves to the single-payer model without looking at other models that might be doing the same thing,” says Rutland dermatologist Dan McCauliffe, an outspoken critic. “There’s better ways of getting universal access. Universal access does not have to follow from single-payer.””

Read the full CSM story here: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2012/0719/Obamacare-is-radical-Vermont-thinks-even-bigger-with-single-payer-plan

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Single Payer Payroll Tax “Off the Table”; What’s On? Everything

In the same Rutland Herald story in which Secretary Spaulding deferred legislative action on single payer financing for a year and a half, Spaulding indicated that a significant payroll tax was not under consideration. “If there’s a payroll tax involved, it better be pretty small so we don’t put our businesses at a competitive disadvantage.” So what is on the table? Going back to May there have been a series of messages from House Speaker Shap Smith and others that comprehensive tax reform and single payer financing should be considered together. These signals have reached their most ominous form in the instructions to the University of Massachusetts contractors who are charged with developing the financing plan, including an

“analysis of the interaction of new provisions with Vermont’s current revenue structure, including income, property and sales tax, and recommend possible complementary reforms to the overall tax code.””

Smith and others have often referenced the Blue Ribbon Tax Structure Commission report delivered to the legislature in January 2011. The commission examined ways to make Vermont’s overall taxing system “more simple, sustainable, equitable, and economically competitive.” They were not charged with finding additional revenues, but rather shifting our tax burdens to accomplish their goals. Now it appears the administration is mining the commission’s report for billions in new revenues to support Green Mountain Care.

Further analysis is forthcoming from VHCF but for now Herald subscribers can read the Rutland Herald story here: http://www.rutlandherald.com/article/20120715/NEWS03/707159897/0/SEARCH

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Out of State Union Bankrolls Single Payer Media Blitz and Shumlin Reelection

Candidates filed finance reports and not surprisingly, SEIU, the union that is bankrolling the pro-single payer media blitz in Vermont – and that also lacks any Vermont union members – has donated $12,000 to the Shumlin campaign through 2 political action committees. According to the Rutland Herald:

“The money includes $12,000 from two political-action committees run by the Service Employees International Union, which recently announced plans to run pro-single-payer ads this summer and fall. The group will also be seeking Shumlin’s support for legislation next year that would enable the unionization of about 5,000 home-care workers. “

Having come to the attention of Vermonters through their largess, SEIU has also attracted attention at the Washington, D.C. Examiner with an editorial report of alleged illegal actions against a Connecticut nursing home company, and more to the point, nursing home residents. The Examiner noted

“This is not the first time an SEIU nursing home strike in Connecticut has coincided with spontaneous acts of sabotage. As Labor Union Report noted, a similar incident occurred during a 2001 strike, sparking then-Gov. John Rowland, a Republican, to launch an investigation. The report issued by Chief State’s Attorney John M. Bailey found workers seriously jeopardized the patients’ safety by giving chocolate to diabetics, removing “Do Not Resuscitate” stickers, and tampering with medical equipment and patient ID bracelets. According to the Hartford Courant, some drugs went missing and “a door to a medical supply room containing oxygen had been glued shut.””

And according to the Washington Free Beacon, the Milwaukee, Wisconsin County District Attorney’s office recently subpoenaed the SEIU headquarters for the employment documents of a senior organizer under investigation for voter fraud in Wisconsin, according to records obtained by a conservative watchdog group.

The Rutland Herald story is here for subscribers: http://www.rutlandherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=%2F20120717%2FNEWS03%2F707179882

The Examiner editorial is here: http://washingtonexaminer.com/examiner-editorial-if-a-nursing-home-bears-the-union-label-look-elsewhere/article/2502493

And the Beacon story is here: http://freebeacon.com/seius-mobile-voters/

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Canadian Lawyer Pushes for Health Care Freedom in Alberta

As Vermont moves to the single payer Canadian style health care system, Canadians are looking to move to a multipayer system as in European countries. The debate is presented by Sun News in video and text, and brought forward by John Carpay, president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, who filed an application in the Court of Queens Bench seeking to allow the purchase of private health insurance for medically necessary services in Alberta.

“Currently, the [Canadian] government monopoly is inflicting massive suffering on tens of thousands of Albertans who are now, as we speak, waiting for surgery. When you have thousands of people living in a state of pain or unable to work, it’s costing the Canadian economy billions every year because of people who can’t work because they’re waiting for surgery.” 

“A parallel system wouldn’t dismantle universal health care, but would take the stress off it, said Carpay, pointing to working two-tier systems in European nations like France, Germany and Switzerland.”

The Sun News account is available here: http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/sunnews/politics/archives/2012/07/20120712-224243.html

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Six Year Effort to Computerize VT Medical Records Draws Fire 

VPR and VTDigger report that the Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA) which is responsible for setting up Vermont’s online health care ‘exchange’, has failed to get a computerized medical records system working after 6 years of effort. VT and the federal government are spending $79 million on the medical records piece and at least $120 million on the exchange. DVHA Commissioner Mark Larson said in response to criticism,

“In the past we had no systems and therefore they didn’t talk to each other. Now we actually have systems and we find they’re not sharing the information as effectively as we want them to,” he says. “That is a sign of progress from where we started. It’s an unfortunate step along the way that we get to this point and we have to figure out now that we have these things why the hell aren’t they working the way we want.”

On October 1, 2013 the exchange must be working, so that starting January 1, 2014, when 100,000 Vermonters are forced to drop their health insurance and purchase a product from the exchange they have somewhere to go. What do you suppose are the odds that everything will be working smoothly only 15 1/2 MONTHS from now?

VPR coverage is here: http://www.vpr.net/news_detail/95192/problems-plague-vt-effort-to-computerize-health-re/

VTDigger coverage is here: http://vtdigger.org/2012/07/18/despite-70-million-investment-health-it-systems-a-long-way-from-prime-time/

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One Word in the Affordable Care Act Stirs New Controversy

Is access to health care exchange subsidies and tax credits for individuals limited to state-run exchanges? The implications are huge for the ACA’s promise to expand coverage nationally. The issue is not directly relevant in Vermont, which is setting up a state exchange, but may affect the future of the ACA, and as a result the availability of hundreds of millions in ‘free’ federal money to prop up Green Mountain Care single payer.

A blog at the Washington Post explains: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/07/16/could-a-missing-word-take-down-obamacare/