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Press Release

    The Vermont Report

    05/17/2005

    Senate Health Care Bill Comes to the Floor.

    Senate Health and Welfare and Finance Committees have amended H.524 to be considered by the full Senate Tuesday, May 17th. The legislature has voted to extend their session to debate this bill, at a cost of $800,000 to the Vermont Taxpayer, which forces one to consider an interesting irony: These folks can’t even debate about health care without going over budget! And they expect us to believe they can control costs if we give them 3.5 billion dollars to run the entire system?

    The principle details of the Senate proposal include:
    • A payroll tax of 6% to fund a mandated primary and preventive care plan, operated by the state, for the uninsured. Uninsured employees and the employers who employ them will each pay a tax of 3% on wages. (Governor Douglas is opposed to the payroll tax solution, as are many business organizations including Vermont Retail Association, the Vermont Grocers Association, National Federation of Independent Businesses, and many of the state Chamber of Commerce organizations.)
    • The Senate Finance committee included a provision to exempt the first $25,000 of payroll form the tax, but without answering vital questions: How will this work in a small business with several employees? How is the exemption applied?
    • The tax-funded program would cover a minimal level of only primary and preventive care, but not catastrophic.

    The Senate Plan raises many concerns:
    • Primarily, is the Senate Plan financially sustainable?
    • What happens if employers who have been paying 10% of their payroll costs or more for healthcare benefits for years drop coverage to participate in the 3% government-run program? Would such pressure cause a need to raise taxes beyond the 3% /3% scenario?
    • The 3%/3% tax only covers primary and preventative care – what will the level of taxes be if the plan is eventually expanded to cover catastrophic and hospital care as well?
    • The payroll tax is a burden on very small businesses and their employees—the working poor--who can least, afford it. Will this policy lead to some small businesses folding and jobs being lost?
    • Will this plan encouraged employers in boarder areas to hire NY or NH residents to avoid the payroll tax? Or any employer to contract to out-of-state telecommuters?
    • The healthcare issue is already impacting job opportunities in Vermont: economic development officials at both the state and regional levels have lost recent business prospects.

    The most recent version of H.524, including Senate changes to date, can be found at: http://www.leg.state.vt.us/healthcare/

    To find your legislator's name and phone number, go to www.leg.state.vt.us.

    To leave a message for your legislator, call: 1-800-322-5616

    To find local media contact information, go to: http://www.freedomworks.org/vermont/media.php

    Don’t Breathe a Sigh of Relief Just Yet….

    Many have the impression that the Senate is backing away from the ambitious vision of the House’s Canadian-style, socialized health care system; that we can all breathe a sigh of relief in dodging that massive bullet. What they are really doing us is backing us into it. The following quotes by powerful Senate leaders should put clearly demonstrate the need to keep fighting against ANY step toward a government-run, taxpayer financed system….

    Sen. Peter Welch, president pro tempore of the Senate, said that the House bill provided a vision but the Senate bill provides concrete steps toward providing coverage for all. Specifically, the Senate provides a financing mechanism that is simple and understandable. The House bill envisioned a financing plan that would ultimately have replaced private insurance. The Senate bill does not preclude such an eventual result, but it takes action to provide universal coverage now without compromising the goals toward which the House is striving.
    -- Sen. Susan Bartlett, Chairperson, Appropriations Committee

    “This is not to overlook the fundamental need, and I believe obligation, to provide health insurance to every Vermonter, irrespective of age, income, where you work or whether you work. It is simply to say that the goal of universal health care can only be attained if we address these cost factors.”
    -- Sen. Jim Leddy, Chairperson, Health &Welfare Committee

    Keep up the letters and calls to your elected officials! Vote against ANY step in the direction of government-run taxpayer financed health care.

    Mind Numbed Robot Alert!

    It's mind-boggling that some people in this state say there's no health care crisis because "only" one out of 10 Vermonters have no health insurance at all,” began a letter that appeared last week in the Stowe Reporter… and Seven Days… And the Rutland Herald… and perhaps your home town paper as well -- all signed by different individuals.

    What’s truly mind-boggling is that all these folks had the same idea at the same time and expressed themselves in exactly the same words! What’s not so mind-boggling that “support” for the House’s government-run, taxpayer-financed needs to be so transparently ginned up.

    FYI’ here’s the rest of the letter(s)…

    What about the other 15 percent who have policies that don't actually cover needed services, or impose co-pays and deductibles so high people would go broke if they ever actually had to use them? What about those of us who still do have coverage but worry every year that this will be the year the annual price hike causes our employer to drop it?

    Thank heaven the Vermont House has put a real solution on the table. A state-funded universal health care system is the right way to go. It's not a radical notion; rather, it's the reason none of the other modern democracies have the financial and fairness problems we do with health care.

    I'm grateful that some legislators are willing to stick their neck out and propose bold solutions. Now if our other leaders would just get their heads out of the sand.

    Fortunately, the only people with their heads in the sand are the mind numbed robots who signed their names to this thing, and the anonymous folks who wrote it for in the first place. Vermonters will not give up $2 billion for new taxes and the right to control their own health care decisions because of cheap partisan political games. Support for this initiative is not what it seems.

    Keep an eye out for other mind numbed robots in the media, and let us know about them: rroper@freedomworks.org.