Supporting the path toward single-payer

August 14, 2014

The Essex Reporter

Responding to Dr. Todd Gregory’s thoughtful questions about single-payer health care (“Understanding health care reform” Aug. 7):
Many details, especially regarding financing, do remain to be resolved in the coming legislative session. But the essential question is what Vermonters think our health care system should be and do.

Single-payer will assure good, affordable care for everyone, regardless of age, income or employment, like what citizens of many other countries enjoy. All else derives from that principle.

Overall, Vermonters will not pay more under single-payer than they already do through insurance premiums, and will get more for their money, since it will not fund insurance company profits, advertising and salaries — including staggering payments to CEOs.

Our present “system” works reasonably well for people whose employers provide generous health insurance or who can afford to buy insurance privately. But because insurance company profits dictate this system, thousands of Vermonters (and millions of other Americans) have little or no access to medical care; even the insured can face provider restrictions and financial ruin following serious illness.

The Affordable Care Act/Obamacare/Vermont Health Connect promises better care for many people but was never designed to include everyone. Still predicated on insurance profits, it is so complicated it may never fully take effect. Many conservatives are determined to make it fail.

Single-payer differs fundamentally from Obamacare because it is not another sellout to private insurance. The finished product should resemble Medicare — imperfect, of course, but reliable, straightforward and universal. Figuring out the financing is challenging but doable.

Our governor and Legislature made the commitment to single-payer with strong public endorsement. Let’s support them as they complete the work. We cannot be frightened out of our goal of health care as a human right and a system that provides it for all Vermonters.

Judy and Michael Olinick