Questions to ask you’re legislators about single payer health care

by Rob Roper

Rob Roper

In an interview on Common Sense Radio last week, House Minority Leader Don Turner expressed frustration that many of the questions Republicans have been asking about a potential single payer health care system are going unanswered by the plan’s supporters.

Chief among them is Governor Peter Shumlin’s abject (and absurdly irresponsible) refusal to discus how we’re going to pay for a program that will comprise twenty percent of our state economy.

It is critical that Vermonters pose these questions directly to your representatives and senators over town meeting week and beyond. Demand answers. Too much is at stake – billions of dollars, the health or our economy and the health of our bodies – for us to move forward without some realistic idea of what we’re getting into.

These are the questions Rep. Turner suggests need answering:

1) What will the benefit package look like?

2) How will this reform be financed? Who will pay and how much?

3) Why is the financing proposal being delayed two years?

4) We all agree that cost containment is critical and that we need to get health care costs under control. But how does this bill do that? How, exactly, will costs be contained? Will it be health care rationing?

5) What is the economic/cost impact on the average non-union working Vermonter? What is the economic/cost impact on the average union employee?

6) What jobs will be eliminated within the current system? How many new government employees will be required to administer the new system?

7) The net effect is to destroy the current system and begin to replace it before we know what it will cost or even how it will work. This will result in a de facto single payer system. By its very nature, the proposal eliminates the “safety net” of a private insurance market. So, will there be a Plan B in case things do not turn out as expected?

8) How can administrative savings be achieved when providers deal with hundreds more payers beyond the “big three” insurers in Vermont?

9) How do Vermonters feel about a 5-member Health Reform Board, appointed by the Governor, controlling 20 percent of the state’s economy and making healthcare decisions for every Vermont Family making health care decisions for every Vermont family?

10) How will two-income families feel about paying potentially double or triple their out-of-pocket costs – through a payroll tax – for coverage that is much-less robust than their current plans?

11) Ninety-three percent of Vermonters already have health insurance and half of the remaining 7 percent are eligible for Medicaid. Do we really want to blow up our current system, in the midst of the worst budget deficit we’ve faced in decades, to insure 23,000 people? Is this the only option for insuring the uninsured? Why aren’t we waiting to see if federal health care reform works first?

Vermont’s 43,000 senior citizens who are on Medicare, for example, will not participate in Vermont’s single payer system. Vermont’s 107,000 citizens covered by ERISA policies want no part of it. Rumblings around the State House indicate that 11,500 members of the Vermont NEA are quietly maneuvering behind the scenes to exempt themselves as well. Can the 8000 strong state employees’ union be far behind?

These folks are asking questions, and they are coming up with answers. Don’t let them be the only ones.