Be Afraid of Incorrect Information

November 13, 2014

The Valley Reporter

By concerned Medicare recipients.

Be afraid very afraid! But be sure you don't do any research to learn the facts.

Vermont seniors are being told that if Vermont's single-payer health care (Green Mountain Care) becomes law in 2017, we're all in jeopardy of losing or seeing drastically reduced Medicare and Medicare supplementary insurance benefits.
'Tain't so, folks! We're being fed old news and partial truths by those who want to see the "free market" rule. But, health care doesn't belong in the for-profit realm. Health care is a human right and a public good. And, in the public realm, government plays a crucial role.

On May 26, 2011, the Vermont Legislature passed Act 48, "An act relating to a universal and unified health system." Its intent, according to Section 1, is "to create Green Mountain Care to contain costs and to provide, as a public good, comprehensive, affordable, high-quality, publicly financed health care coverage for all Vermont residents in a seamless manner regardless of income, assets, health status, or availability of other health coverage."

A great deal of work went into the final product – on the part of a five-person board, our legislators and their staff members, untold numbers of consultants from the medical and legal communities, research into what other states and countries have done, and hours of testimony on the floor of the Legislature by people like you and me – interested, concerned citizens who did their homework and spoke out.

The original 2011 version of the law included a "Strategic Plan" which foresaw the 2017 absorption of Medicare into Green Mountain Care, by way of a portion of the waiver from the federal government that the state will need to move into a unified, single-payer program.

In the years since 2011, portions of Act 48 have been found to be unworkable, so on May 27, 2014, Governor Shumlin signed Act 144 into law. Its title: "An act relating to miscellaneous amendments to health care laws."

The passages that filled so many Medicare recipients with dread have been repealed. (See Act 48 Sec. 6. 33 V.S.A. § 1827) Vermont will no longer seek authority to administer Medicare. The amendment reads: (f) Green Mountain Care shall be the payer of last resort with respect to any health service that may be covered in whole or in part by any other health benefit plan, including Medicare, private health insurance, retiree health benefits, or federal health benefit plans offered by the military, or to federal employees."

Vermont is forbidden by federal law – as are all states – from changing Medicare benefits or covered services. Even though the original idea was to fold Medicare into Green Mountain Care, Act 48 states, "Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to reduce, diminish, or otherwise infringe upon the benefits provided to eligible individuals under Medicare."

At the end of September this year, Governor Shumlin and his health care team traveled to Washington to discuss the federal waiver needed to implement Vermont's single-payer health care by 2017. To move ahead with single-payer, Vermont will need a waiver from several provisions of the Affordable Care Act. There was nothing on the agenda about taking over Medicare, which had already been axed from Act 48 under July 2014's Act 144.

So much for scare tactics.

Submitted by the following Medicare recipients in your community:
Susan Bauchner, Eric Brattstrom, Carolyn Heft, Dotty Kyle, Pam Lerner, Jim Leyton,
Jim McCaffrey, Arthur Trezise, Alan Uris and Stephen Willis