Gubernatorial Debate Highlights Health Care Differences
VPR hosted the first debate between Governor Peter Shumlin and challenger Senator Randy Brock and Health Care reform took center stage. The Rutland Herald and Times Argus coverage highlighted Brock’s charge that Shumlin’s self-description of his governing style – “bold” – is in reality, reckless.
““. . . there’s a point at which being bold can be reckless. … There may be a reason the other 49 states aren’t doing what Vermont is doing.”
Brock said Shumlin is leading the state headlong into a publicly financed health plan without offering any foreknowledge of how much the universal system will cost, or what kind of tax he’ll use to pay for it.”
Near the end of the debate a caller asked about the apparent flight of primary care physicians in anticipation of the imposition of single payer. Governor Shumlin responded by stating that once people figure out what Vermont is doing this will not be a problem. Senator Brock read several emails from Vermont doctors planning to leave or seek early retirement, affirming the caller’s concern.
The Rutland Herald report is here for subscribers: http://www.rutlandherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120913/NEWS03/709139860/0/SEARCH
If you missed it, you can see and hear the whole 90 minute VPR debate here: http://www.vpr.net/episode/54365/gov-candidates-meet-in-first-debate/
And if your interest is only in the health care arena, here is the that portion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wmold0v_ySs&t=10m57s
Is ‘Single Payer’ Polling Poorly?
It is curious that Governor Shumlin appears to be avoiding the use of the term ‘single payer’ in his reelection communications. In the VPR debate, he avoided saying ‘single payer’ throughout his defense of the policy in answer to Bob Kinzel’s direct question about how it will be financed (which, not surprisingly, the Governor never answered). A scan of his reelection web site also could not turn up a single reference within the campaign generated content. Other recent official communications speak of ‘universal access’ but not ‘single payer’. Newsletter wonders whether the Governor’s polling of Vermonter’s impressions of this term has suggested the need for a change in terminology.
Newsletter reminds readers that at the beginning of the quest for Canadian style single payer health care, Canada was frequently mentioned as the model Vermont should follow. But once we, news outlets and average Vermonters started paying attention to the health care mess north of the border, the mention of Canada was suddenly dropped by advocates. “We will not be like Canada – we will have a unique Vermont approach to single payer,” they insisted, despite the fact that Act 48 is clearly modeled after the Canadian system. Is the term ‘single payer’ the next etymological casualty of increased public awareness?
GMC Board Rejects Two Hospital Budgets
The Green Mountain Care Board has allowed Vermont hospital revenues to increase 5.84 percent in 2013, or roughly $142 million. All hospital revenue budgets were approved except Middlebury’s Porter Medical Center and Morrisville’s Copley Hospital. VTDigger reports:
“Even when the board made every requested exemption asked for by the two hospitals, the two budgets still came in above the 3.75 percent cap in exemption-included revenue increases.
Copley came in at $384,572 above the threshold and Porter was $465,931 above the mark. The board told those two hospitals to cut that amount from patient revenues and resubmit their budgets by early October.”
The authority to control payment systems and limit revenues and spending of all health care providers was granted to the Green Mountain Care Board by Act 48. At this point, only hospital revenues and large capital expenditures are being regulated, but these represent about 40 percent of all Vermont health care spending.
The VTDigger story is here: http://vtdigger.org/2012/09/13/vermont-hospital-revenue-budgets-increase-5-8-percent/
There He Goes Again
In the VPR debate, Governor Shumlin once again repeated the claim that by 2020 Vermont’s health care costs will reach $10 billion – twice what we spend today. The problem is, this is simply not true. As explained in Newsletter’s July 27 edition:
“Using more recent medical cost inflation rates and using 2012 dollars, the cost of health services to Vermonters will grow from $5 billion today to something between $5.4 and $6 billion in 2020. This result may deserve a response but it hardly constitutes a crisis justifying a government takeover of the industry.”
Reporters and the Brock Campaign may want to challenge the governor the next time he repeats the $10 billion figure to frighten Vermonters into supporting him.
The full July 27 explanation of this analysis is here: http://vthealthcarefreedom.org/news/2012-07-27/newsletter-july-27-2012
Study: Fewer Politicians = Better Health Care
Good news from Europe. The Dutch health care system has been rated as the best out of 34 European countries and Canada, and the Canadian Fraser Institute has examined the reasons for superior performance.
“There are several factors that enable the Dutch healthcare system to score highly each year in the [Euro-Canada Health Consumer Index]. Perhaps most importantly, the Netherlands is characterized by competition between many different healthcare insurers, which are organizationally independent from healthcare providers. This enables competition and consumer choice that helps create a consumer-oriented healthcare system.”
“The Health Consumer Powerhouse also notes that the structure of the Netherlands healthcare system removes politicians and bureaucrats from the decision making processes in a number of important areas, leaving medical professionals (with patient cooperation) to make operative healthcare decisions. The Health Consumer Powerhouse states that politicians and bureaucrats seem to be further removed from operative healthcare decisions in the Netherlands than any other country in the index, and argues that this is an important reason for the Netherlands’ outstanding performance.”
Canada was rated 25th out of the 34 nations studied (the U.S. was not included). Vermont is implementing a Canadian-style single payer government monopoly health care system under Green Mountain Care and pursuing policies that essentially grant politicians and government bureaucrats total control over our health care system.
The Euro-Canada Health Consumer Index study can be found here: http://www.fcpp.org/files/1/ECHCI2010%20Final.pdf
VHCF Submits Extended Comments to GMC Board
Vermonters for Health Care Freedom has submitted additional comments to the Green Mountain Care Board on the Essential Health Benefits Plan Design recommendations for the Health Benefits Exchange from the Shumlin Administration. The comments include:
- Encourage innovative ‘Choice’ plan designs and place no limit on the number of ‘Choice’ plans an insurer may offer;
- Expand the number of ‘real world’ scenario analyses to include more typical examples;
- Before approving any proposed plan, conduct and release an analysis comparing the out of pocket costs for the proposed plans with the plans enrollees currently have, including VHAP Catamount and the most popular private insurance plans;
- Reject the Administration’s request to ‘adjust’ plan designs in response to forthcoming federal guidance, and instead suspend approval until federal guidance is final; and,
- Seek a clear understanding as to why the expected number of Exchange enrollees has jumped from 80,000 to 118,000 in the administration’s assumptions.
A copy of VHCF’s extended comments is available here: http://vthealthcarefreedom.org/sites/default/files/09-11-12%20VHCF%20extended%20comments%20on%20EHB.pdf
CALENDAR NOTE: The Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA) is hosting a series of public forums this fall to educate Vermonters about the new Health Benefit Exchange, scheduled to launch in late 2013. On Tuesday, September 18, DVHA will present the information at the St. Johnsbury School, at 257 Western Ave., between 6:00 pm and 8:30 pm. Details and more information about upcoming events on health care reform can be found on the VHCF Calendar, available here: http://vthealthcarefreedom.org/calendar