Carpenter: Must Tackle Health Care Head On

October 08, 2012

I would like to endorse the Burlington Free Press’s endorsement of single-payer in Aki Soga’s editorial, “Give single-payer a try” (Sept. 28). As Mr. Soga suggested, Vermont has to move forward rather than backward and to finally come to grips with how health care is for us, the people, and not to benefit the profit margins of health insurance corporations, as it is now and which Sen. Brock’s plan would almost certainly enhance.

Opponents of single-payer like to bandy about all the choices that will supposedly be available under the umbrella of competition between health insurance companies. As the editorial correctly pointed out, though, if we continue to tie health insurance to employment, “individuals have no real choices about where to get their coverage regardless of how many insurance companies and plans might be available.” All but ignored by these opponents is how our choices are already restricted by so many elements that are largely beyond our control — employment, employment status, income levels or eligibility, insurance networks, price, and many more — that it cannot be recognizable as choice. The idea that competition will alleviate these current restrictions on choice (much of which it is institutes itself) is facetious. It never has before; it never will.

As Gov. Shumlin is doing with the Green Mountain Care Board, we need to take our health crisis head on and solve it before so many more have to get shut out of access or go without insurance.

Walter Carpenter, Montpelier