Reply to Lawrence Harrington

August 02, 2014

Bennington Banner

Lawrence Harrington’s July 25 baseball bat story is pleasant and folksy. (Probably he prefers old-fashioned wooden bats to these newfangled aluminum ones; so do I.) But as an analogy to single-payer health care, his tale strikes out.

Mr. Harrington’s more expensive baseball-bat finish was a better product than the cheaper ones that replaced it; but that is not the case with our present "system" of health care, whether "Obamacare" or its immediate predecessor. Both leave thousands of Vermonters and millions of other Americans with little or no health care access. Even those fortunate enough to have employer-provided insurance or the money to purchase their own policies often face restrictions on physician and hospital choice and high deductibles or copays.

Single-payer will be cheaper not because it is an inferior product, like Mr. Harrington’s competitors’ wood finish, but, largely, because it will eliminate the enormous profits of the private insurance companies which guzzle subscriber dollars and provide as little as possible in exchange.

The most important aspect of single-payer is its universality. It will cover everyone because it is based on the principle that health care is a human right regardless of age, employment or income. The "young Turks" touting single-payer know that it works well for citizens of other modern democracies and allows them to live without fear that a serious illness will bankrupt them or a missed premium payment leave them without access to care.

Act 48, establishing a unified, universal health care system for Vermont, was passed with strong public support. The financing is complicated, but our governor and legislators can work it out. We should "dig in our cleats," as Mr. Harrington says, stop heckling and root for the success of single-payer, which will be a home run for all of us on our state "team."