Editorials and Op-Eds

Make Primary Care Free For All
April 03, 2016

For the past 25 years, Vermont has searched for ways to better manage health care costs. In all that time a solution — one that has worked everywhere it has been tried — has been overlooked: Make primary care free to all.Primary care is the care received from family doctors and pediatricians and, in Vermont, includes mental health care and substance abuse treatment. Where it is freely accessible it improves the health of a population and the quality of health care while lowering over...

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Make Primary Care Free For All
March 20, 2016

 Vermont DiggerEditor’s note: This commentary is by Deborah Richter, M.D., a practicing physician who lives in Montpelier.For the past 25 years, Vermont has searched for ways to better manage health care costs. In all that time a solution – one that has worked everywhere it has been tried – has been overlooked: Make primary care free to all.Primary care is the care received from family doctors and pediatricians and, in Vermont, includes mental health care and substance abu...

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Opinion: Primary Care For All
February 02, 2016

Burlington Free Press A publicly financed universal health care system (single payer) removes health insurers as the “middleman,” reduces administrative complexity and paperwork costs, and by removing barriers to health care, gets us to the doctor earlier, when our conditions are less serious.Although Gov. Shumlin pressed the pause button on single payer in 2014, it is worth asking if we can still make progress toward the goal of health care as a public good originally enacted i...

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Primary Care for All
January 10, 2016

Rutland HeraldA publicly financed universal health care system (single-payer) removes health insurers as the middleman, reduces administrative complexity and paperwork costs and by removing barriers to health care gets us to the doctor earlier, when our conditions are less serious.Although Gov. Peter Shumlin pressed the pause button on single payer in 2014, it is worth asking if we can still make progress toward the goal of health care as a public good, originally enacted in Act 48 (passed by th...

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Health insurers prey upon those in need
August 05, 2015

Rutland HeraldThis is a letter that I wrote to the Green Mountain Care Board as a follow-up to testimony that I gave at the public hearing on July 29 in Montpelier concerning a request by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont for yet another rate increase.Green Mountain Care Board:As I said at the hearing, I implore you to deny BC/BS Vermont a rate increase of any amount.First of all, they received a 7.7 percent increase last year, and are requesting a rate increase for this year of 7.2 percent;...

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Our Opinion: Health care should be a birthright
July 30, 2015

Bennington BannerBy Bennington BannerAs the nation marks the 50th anniversary of Medicare the discussion of expanding the program and offering universal health care is resurfacing.It's not a new debate. Fifty years before Medicare's enactment, progressives had fought unsuccessfully for universal, government-provided health insurance, wrote Nancy Altman, founding co-director of Social Security Works, for the Huffington Post.In 1912, President Theodore Roosevelt's Progressive Party platform advoca...

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Opinion: Need more than Obamacare ruling
July 01, 2015

Burlington Free PressLast week the U.S. Supreme Court upheld subsidies for buying private health insurance in states with federally-run marketplaces or exchanges.The court's decision has been an enormous relief for the millions of people who stood to lose access to coverage had the subsidies been revoked, and is seen as a vindication of Obamacare. However, many people with health care issues are asking whether it's time to move beyond Obamacare's market-based insurance system — in which su...

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Affordable Care Act is not enough
June 29, 2015

Brattleboro ReformerLast week's Supreme Court decision upholding a provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allowing states using the federal exchanges for health insurance to continue receiving subsidies seems like a major victory on the surface. The real story is much more complicated.It is a good thing that about 16 million Americans will be able to continue to afford health insurance because of subsidies based on their income. Cutting them off just because a powerful group of Republicans d...

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Affordable Care Act is not enough
June 29, 2015

Brattleboro ReformerLast week's Supreme Court decision upholding a provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allowing states using the federal exchanges for health insurance to continue receiving subsidies seems like a major victory on the surface. The real story is much more complicated.It is a good thing that about 16 million Americans will be able to continue to afford health insurance because of subsidies based on their income. Cutting them off just because a powerful group of Republicans d...

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UVM medical center and concierge hospitality
June 10, 2015

VT Digger Editor’s note: This commentary is by Dr. Anna Carey, who lives in Burlington and works at a family practice in Cambridge. UVM’s presentation to the Green Mountain Care Board of its “Inpatient Bed Replacement Project” has four objectives. Quality: To meet the first objective, the University of Vermont Medical School intends to build “a new inpatient building that is highly patient-centered.” As a family doctor in Cambridge, I am familiar with this ...

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Why this American doctor has decided to move to Canada
May 01, 2015

Although this OpEd is not about Vermont, it is a good illustration of how a single payer system allows providers to focus on taking care of patients rather than doing battle with insurance companies:The Record:I'm a U.S. family physician who has decided to relocate to Canada. The hassles of working in the dysfunctional health-care system in the U.S. have simply become too intense.I'm not alone. According to a physician recruiter in Windsor, over the past decade more than 100 U.S. doctors have re...

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Health insurance system is all about profit
April 22, 2015

Health insurance system is all about profit : Times Argus Online$587,206. That’s what Blue Cross Blue Shield CEO Don George made last year — before his bonus.That makes Don George one of the highest paid executives in the state of Vermont and puts him at the top of the state’s 1 percent.BCBS’ six other executives made between $270,000 and $350,000 before bonuses last year, putting many of them in the 1 percent too.Seems like a lot of money to pay the top executives at Ve...

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Doctor Deb\'s new prescription
April 02, 2015

A Vermont Journal: Doctor Deb's New Prescription March 25, 2015 by Hamilton E. Davis One of the most important principles underpinning health care reform in Vermont is the proposition that health care financing should be separated from employment. If you lose your job, or if your employer doesn’t pay for health insurance, that shouldn’t leave you without access to health care. That principle was one of the victims of Governor Peter Shumlin’s decision last December to sc...

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Ron Krupp: Medicare for all
April 02, 2015

VT Digger:  Stephen Brill’s new book “Bitter Pill” further elaborates on his Time Magazine article in spring 2013 entitled, “America’s Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us.” Brill explains in detail why hospitals are a big part of the problem. The University of Vermont Medical Center, formerly called Fletcher Allen, offers services at prices that bear little relationship to costs. Heart bypass surgery costs $9,319 in Argentina and an average...

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Lack of primary care can be deadly
March 31, 2015

Rutland Herald: Although the governor put single payer on hold, this does not mean Vermont cannot move toward this goal in other ways. The misnamed Affordable Care Act cannot, and will not, do this job.Perhaps a more appropriate nomenclature for the ACA (or Obamacare, as it is known) would be the analogy given to it by Mr. Wendell Potter, former vice president of Cigna health insurance company. It is, as he said, “The Insurance Industry Profit Protection and Enhancement Act.” As...

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