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Last week, Thursday April 21st, the Vermont House voted 86-58, largely along party lines, to put the lives and well-being of all 620,000 Vermonters into the hands of a government-run, taxpayer funded health care system – a type of system that has failed everywhere it has ever been tried. That they did this at all – let alone without addressing even the most basic and obvious flaws regarding this plan -- is beyond irresponsible. It is negligent.
Here are just a few of the questions the House should have resolved -- and we hope the Senate will answer -- before voting to force Vermont onto an irreversible path toward socialized medicine.
1.The Governor’s office demonstrates how a government-run health care system would require $2 billion in new income and payroll taxes just to maintain current spending levels. What effect would raising $2 billion in new income and payroll taxes have on our economy?
2.Examples in Canada, Great Britain, Sweden, Germany, France and even Tennessee demonstrate that government-run health care leads to innumerable problems, including fatal waiting lines, broken economies, declining quality of care, and rationing. Why would Vermonters want -- and what makes Montpelier think it can make work -- a system that has never worked anywhere?
3.The government run-plan promises that Vermonters will receive “essential” care. What is “essential” care? What is not? Who determines this? Who budgets for this? Is a second opinion considered “essential?”
4.Proponents of government-run health care tell us that costs will be contained by having the government set and enforce “global budgets” -- pre-negotiated caps on spending -- but don’t say what will happen if a global budget runs out of money while people are still in need of “essential care.” Are sick individuals simply out of luck as they are in Canada? If so, how does this guarantee access to care? If not, how does this control costs?
5.Unlike private insurance companies, the government has sovereign immunity against lawsuits. With government-run care, would aggrieved patients lose the right to sue (See questions 3 & 4)? Or would Vermont taxpayers ultimately be liable for any damages determined by a court of law?
6.Many Vermonters, for convenience, comfort or quality, seek medical care in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York. Will these options be eliminated for Vermonters under the government-run plan? Can Vermont’s hospitals safely absorb the influx of patients now being treated at Dartmouth Hitchcock and Albany Medical should those institutions refuse to honor the Vermont cost structure?
7.What happens if a Vermonter needs care while traveling outside of the state? Will Vermonters need to purchase additional private insurance -- on top of the 2 billion in new taxes -- to cover such an event? If not, how will “global budgeting” apply to and guarantee “essential care” for Vermonter citizens outside our own borders?
8.Will the government-run plan take away the excellent insurance coverage enjoyed by teachers, state and municipal employees, and other organized workers? Or will this plan create a two-tiered system, with the taxpayers financing both the elite health care benefits for government workers, and a poorer system for themselves?
9.The proponents of government-run health care argue that we can save money by eliminating the complicated “patchwork” of the current system. If teachers and municipal employees are allowed to keep their top-tier health insurance, the wealthy are allowed to purchase private insurance in addition to the government run plan, provisions are made to accommodate the insurance plans of the 12 million tourists who visit Vermont each year (some of whom require medical service), the new system will still have to accommodate Medicare, VA, and ERISA-funded, and all other types of private insurance. How, therefore, do we eliminate the patchwork any achieve any real savings? Are we not just adding another patch to the patchwork?
10.The law is clear that Vermont cannot place any residency requirements on those seeking to become residents. How can we keep sick people from flocking to Vermont to become "residents" to take advantage of “free” health care? What would such an influx of sick individuals do the quality of care and waiting lines here in Vermont?
11.Even proponents of government-run healthcare (Vermont Health Care for All) cite polls showing that nearly half of all doctors in Vermont do not want this plan. Many are vehemently opposed to it. If even a fraction of that number decides to stop practicing in Vermont at the same time government plan is bringing more patients into the system, how will fewer doctors and more patients affect the timeliness and the quality of care Vermonters ultimately receive?
12.And lastly, the medical community in Vermont currently spends millions of dollars on print and broadcast advertising. Under a government-run, universal system, there would be no need or incentive to advertise. Beyond that, under a system of global budgeting it would be politically unpopular to spend tax payer dollars on ads while health care is being rationed. How will newspapers and broadcast stations who are so gung-ho for this plan compensate for losing all that revenue?
Vermonters deserve answers to these questions and many more like them before government-run health care is forced on all of us. There are reasons why socialized medicine doesn’t work. There are plenty of examples to see why and how it fails. You would think that knowing this would require clearer, more specific details about why they think they can pull this off. So, please pass these questions on to your friends and neighbors. Ask them of your Senators, and demand straight answers before they take a “bold first step” right off the edge of a cliff.
Have a great weekend.
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