Vermont Senate, House committees hear health care concerns

January 24, 2018

NBC5 News

More than 100 people attended Tuesday night's public hearing on health care at the statehouse.

High school teacher Tev Kelman was among those who testified before the House Health Care and Senate Health and Welfare committees.

"It's crucial for everybody to have access to whatever health care they need, regardless of income," Kelman said. "We're asking for schools and teachers in them to do more with less, because health care costs are gobbling up a bigger and bigger share of the budget each year."

The high cost for health insurance was a main concern.

"I cannot retire, because while i would go on Medicare, my wife and daughter would not be so lucky," said Ethan Park, 67, during his testimony before the committees.

Another issue raised was not enough doctors in Vermont to serve a growing need.

"More people would want to practice here if we had a well-designed, efficient, non-hassle, primary care mental health, substance-abuse system," said Dr. Sue Deppe, M.D., with the Vermont Psychiatric Association.

Many at the hearing called on legislators to support House Bill 248 and Senate Bill 53 -- both calling for universal, publicly financed primary care for all Vermonters.

"Many of us here share a common goal," said Rep. William J. Lippert Jr. (D – Chittenden), chair of the House Health Care Committee. "And for many of us it's a question of how to get from here to there."

At this point, it's unclear what "there" is: publicly financed primary care, universal health care, or something else entirely.