Vermont leading the way

A hearty thanks to Douglas Rooks for the great article on Vermont's efforts to enact a single-payer health care system (May 15).

While Vermont will lead the way to a more equitable system, recognizing that all their citizens deserve access to affordable, high-quality care, the Maine Legislature has opted to rearrange the deck chairs on the health insurance Titanic, clinging to the belief, in spite of decades of experience to the contrary, that health care is a commodity that can be handled by the free market — just like buying a pair of shoes.

Wrong.

Health care costs are going to continue to rise due to the aging of the population, technological advances and the rising incidence of chronic disease. Those are the facts.

Inviting more health insurance companies to the state, allowing Mainers to buy insurance over state lines and forcing people off Medicaid and into more expensive emergency departments does nothing to confront the fundamental problems.

Vermont's governor and legislators have committed to finding more effective, efficient ways to deliver and pay for care for all their citizens. They should be applauded for their courage and vision.

Vermont: the way life should be.

Mary Ann Larson, New Gloucester

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Comments

Mike True's picture

Vermont health care

As it stands now - we all still pay for everyone's health care. Nobody in the state of Maine is denied services and they often use more expensive alternatives such as the emergency room to treat non-emergency situations. Right now there is huge overhead costs in running the private insurance system. Indeed there is a whole industry of workers who do the billing and paper work - not doctors - not their staff - not insurance people - billing people who are experts in handling all the intracies of the system. A single payer system would be more efficient. It is about making a system which is fair to all and which is affordable for all. Canada has nationized health care and it works rather well. We can afford it - but we need to revisit the tax structure and spending on the military.

Mike True's picture

we do - but you don't want to

So let us get ths straight - you wish that a hospital would deny some one service if they cannot pay for it? Well that is the fundamental question isn't it? Me - I think that a society as great as in the US everyone should be able to get medical services. I had a daughter who was born with a serious birth defect and my greatest fear is that they would let her die. We need to work with those less fortunate than ourselves.

Mike True's picture

trickle down aka voodoo economics

The notion that lower taxes for the wealthy will somehow benefit the working person is bizarre at best. It is similar to stating that 'creationism' is science. The fundamental question here is -- Is health care a right or a privilege? If one has the view that medical services should only be administered to those of us who can afford it (by insurance coverage or economic circumstances) then the present system must be adjusted and health care denied to those who cannot pay for it. If on the other hand you think that health care is a right of citizenship - then we need to develop a system to adequately fund and to control the health care cost so that we, working people, do not have to pay more than our fair share. To my mind a single payer system like Gov. Shumlin in Vermont has passed would be in our best interests.

Terry Donald's picture

Same old story from the GOP

Yes, much like the time honored myth called "trickle down economics" the outright lie that market forces will force down the price of health insurance will go down as one of the silliest concepts in modern time. How long have republican's been telling about easing regulations and letting more competition and how that will allow companies to voluntarily lower prices. Show me in the US where this has really happened and I'll do cart wheels past the Blaine House on a rainy sunday afternoon. Really, does enyone believe that an insurance company is going to lower prices?? If so I think you've been watching too many little lizards on TV. I for one am tired of being the one "trickled down" on.

Ray St. Onge's picture

try other states

Terry,
Anthem sells 3 health insurance policies. One policy they can sell in 47 states, another in 2 states and the third only here in Maine. In the neighbouring state of New Hampshire, you can purchase insurance for much less. Why, competition! Anthem had to create a special policy for Maine because of the excessive regulation placed on insurers.

Increased competition leading to lower prices is Economics 101.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The only things Vermont's

The only things Vermont's leading the way in is same sex marriage and socialism.

Mike True's picture

marriage and socialism

Same sex marriage is here - It is not going away. Once a person has been liberated from persecution it is impossible to re-enslave them.
We have a mixed economy - some socialism and some free market enterprise. Ask folks whether social security, medicare, police protection, public education,(all socialistic in nature) ... are good things. Most of us think that they are. I am for a strong free enterprise system with meaningful regulation. So I do not believe in either extreme. Throwing terms around as some sort of invective will not move the discussion forward.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Haha..what caused you to

Haha..what caused you to think I was looking to move the discussion forward. Your biases are as firm as my "invective". We have a dead heat, my friend.

MICHAEL LEBLANC's picture

The decades of experience ...

... in Maine is with a free market shackled by government mandates and other clueless meddling, which killed competition and pushed premiums up beyond the reach of everyone except the very rich, who don't need health insurance, and the very poor, who get it free.

Maine: we used to have the way life should be, until Democrats began to dismantle it.

Mark Wrenn's picture

it's obvious

We should encourage the insurance companies to sell us whatever policies they want that doesn't cover anything. Hooray free markets!

Mike True's picture

decades of experience

w/o government regulation, corporations would not adequately look after the people or the enviroment - their interest is making money. It seems to me that health care costs have soared primarily because more procedures are being done, more expensive and extensive medical equipment and drugs, for profit hospitals and care for the uninsured. The last point speaks to your assertion that poor people get free care. Nobody gets free care - the hospitals and the doctors get their money. We have to pay for it by paying higher premiums for our insurance. The most logical answer would seen to be a single payer system with mandatory participation. (Like the Obama/Romney health care plans) I for one have paid health insurance premiums for over 50 years and have used very little medical care. I think that it is money well spent so that when and if I need medical care it will be there for me. BTW - it is the GOP who controls the Maine legislature these days.

MICHAEL LEBLANC's picture

Wow, almost 5 months.

And the Democrats controlled the legislature for the previous 35 years. There hasn't been time to undo all that negligence.

Thanks for pointing out the obvious - the middle class picks up the tab. Under single-payer, whatever alias it uses, where do you think the government gets the money to do all that paying? Taxes. So you trade higher premiums for higher taxes, with no systemic changes, except you put bureaucrats in charge. Yup, that's always worked out so well.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Government monopoly

The private sector has figured out a long time ago that the best way to control prices and profits is to establish a monopoly. That is why they are always looking to buy out the competition. For some reason though they cannot imagine that the government could establish a monopoly (single payer system) and achieve the same end.

MICHAEL LEBLANC's picture

Who gave them that monopoly?

The Maine legislature controlled by Democrats.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Monopolies

Actually when it comes to the private sector, I don't remember the last time the state or federal government enforced an anti-trust law. This seems to be a problem with both Democrats and Republicans. They all know who butters their bread.

Mike True's picture

agree with this commentary

I could not agree with Ms Larson any more. We could replicate the Vermont ideas here in the great state of Maine and then we could once more be the state where life is the way it should be.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Maine hasn't been the way

Maine hasn't been the way life should be since the democrats took control 35 years ago. We ought to be emulating New Hampshire, not Vermont.

Ellis McKeen's picture

response to GARY

Apparently you can find no valid comments to make about the original article or to Mary Ann Larson's letter about the article! I found her letter both interesting and informative.

GARY SAVARD's picture

When are you movingm Mary

When are you movingm Mary Ann?

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