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Press Release

    The Vermont Report: Sept. 20

    09/20/2005

    Health Care Forum Update: Three Down, Three to Go

    The Governor’s second Health Care forum took place in Lyndonville on Wednesday, September 8th, the third in Rutland on the 15th. The events have attracted such pro-government-run heavyweights, Dr. Deb Richter, Democrat gubernatorial candidate, Scudder Parker, and a cadre of well organized liberal activists. It continues to be critical for members of our side to show up and be vocal as well.

    If you cannot show up in person, the Governor asks that Vermonters register their ideas and suggestions at www.vermont.gov/governor. There is a health care reform link on the right side of his home page. Something as simple as “I oppose taxpayer-funded, government-run health care” would be effective and appreciated.

    “We need a system!”

    Here are some of the themes being proffered by the left…. “We need a ‘System!’” “Someone has to go first!” “Get rid of the insurance companies!” “We can make a single payer system work because we’re Vermonters!” This hollow rhetoric is accompanied by some emotional, personal stories of individuals who have had unpleasant experiences. Apart from a few folks who stand up and say they are personally willing to pay more taxes to fund the system (none of whom look like they have $3.5 billion to spare), no concrete ideas are offered as to how to structure the system in terms of how to deliver care or pay for it.

    Without getting into details that don’t exist, the “system” promises to create efficiencies and cost savings by providing doctors and hospitals with a “single payment mechanism” -- only one entity to deal with in order to be reimbursed for services, eliminating the current “patchwork” of private, public, state, federal, etc. insurance plans. Sounds nice, but this is impossible, because…

    The Left Hates Single-Payer

    Not for everybody else, of course. Just for themselves.

    For a single payment mechanism to truly exist, the left leaning Vermont Teachers’ Unions would have to give up the gold-plated benefits packages they’ve spent years negotiating. The teacher’s unions encompass 10,800 Vermont voters, plus family and friends, and a formidable war-chest of political action money. Wielding considerable political clout, the VTNEA has stated categorically that they will have none of this scheme. The same goes for the municipal employees unions. Ask them yourself…

    Contact: Joel Cook, Executive Director VTNEA, (802) 223-6375, jcook@vtnea.org.

    For a single payment mechanism to truly exist, the “system” demands that, “Public funds now used for government programs (Medicare, Medicaid, etc.) would be folded into the unified system.” That money is controlled by the federal government. Does Vermont have permission to fold it into a single payer system? No. Will we ever get permission? No. But beyond that, will the liberal leaning AARP and its 100,000 Vermont members ever sit still and allow Medicare to be de-funded and eliminated to pay for a single-payer system? Ask them. (I tried and they really, really don’t want to answer the question because the politically incorrect answer they will have to give is, “No. Never in a million years.”)

    Contact: David P. Reville, Associate State DirectorAARP Vermont 802-224-1103 DReville@aarp.org,

    “Get rid of the insurance companies!”

    Unlike a private insurance company, the state enjoys sovereign immunity from lawsuits. If we did, in fact, get rid of the insurance companies and create a system where the government collects and distributes the funds for health care, how could citizens seek redress, get compensation, or even question the care they receive? If care under a global budget were denied entirely for lack of funds, untimely due to waiting lines, or if a patient’s care was simply managed in a negligent way, leading to harm or death, how would an injured Vermonter receive compensation? Or even a second opinion? Is the state, which takes on the role of the insurance company collecting and distributing money in a single-payer system, completely unaccountable? What does the liberal leaning American Trial Lawyers’ Association think about this?

    Playing Politics

    Many on the left are charging that those opposed to their taxpayer-funded, government-controlled system -- and those who are offering common sense solutions to fix the problems -- are “playing politics” with the issue.

    The opposite is the case.

    Given that Vermont is not its own country, a single mechanism is impossible. Period. End of story. Medicare (in the real world) is not going away. VA benefits are not going away. ERISA funded benefits are not going away. Politically powerful interest groups are not giving up their top-tier benefits packages. In addition, unless the Vermont Legislature is going to outlaw people’s ability to buy supplemental insurance to cover what is not covered by the government-run plan (an idea that is legally questionable and morally indefensible), Vermont doctors and hospitals will still have to deal with all the complicated insurance paperwork that they do now -- PLUS whatever paperwork the new system creates.

    So, the principal funding source for the “system” that the Vermont Democrat leadership insists we “need” is not available. The principal mechanism required to achieve savings cannot exist. And they know this, because, apart from the insurmountable legal obstacles, the politically powerful opposition to the “system” is coming from the left’s own base. Sorry, but the people playing politics with health care are the politicians, editorialists and liberal activists who are building up vulnerable people’s hopes for a system they know cannot work with promises they know they can never keep.

    Please Contact: Your Legislators at www.leg.state.vt.us.
    Please Contact: Your local paper with a letter to the editor at www.freedomworks.org/vermont/media.php

    Japan Goes Postal

    Liberals in Vermont are fond of pointing to big government socialism around the world as examples for us to follow. However, more and more, the examples are teaching us that those models are failing, in retreat, and desperate for market-based solutions. The latest example comes from Japan, where Prime Minister Koizumi just won a stunning election victory for his reform policies. At the crux of Koizumi’s agenda: privatization of Japan’s postal system, with an eye toward privatizing Japan’s heath care system.

    Writes Hisane Masaki in the Asia Times, “Postal reform is the key component of an overall reform. Koizumi wants to privatize the savings and insurance programs of Japan Post, which has US$3 trillion in deposits.… Japan has the second largest economy but it has stagnated for years. Koizumi's successful election strategy tapped into public concern that fat government bureaucracies were sapping the country's economic growth as an aging population worried about how citizens would be taken care of when they retire.” Sound familiar?

    A month ago, Koizumi’s plan was considered political suicide for the Prime Minister and his party. However, the normally reserved Japanese voters responded by rewarding Koizumi’s bold leadership with an overwhelming mandate – the largest majority for his party in nearly 20 years -- for his privatization reforms.

    This, following Canada’s recent Supreme Court decision questioning the effectiveness of the Canadian health care system (“Access to a waiting line is not access to health care.”), should be another lesson to Vermonters considering eliminating the private market from health care: the countries that have ‘been there and done that’ are discovering that socialism is the problem, and private markets are the solution.

    AP Does It Again…. First Sugarmakers, Now Grandmas.

    In the last edition of the Vermont Report we pointed out and article about a wacky environmental lawsuit, and how the Associated Press decided to refer to the single largest giver of political donations in Vermont (over $100,000, all to democrats) and, among a long list of other things having nothing to do with farming, a board member of Greenpeace, NA, as a simple “Maple Sugar producer.”

    In a response to criticism from a concerned citizen, VT AP Bureau Chief, Chris Graff, offered this defense: “Just to be clear, my byline was not on the story. It was David Gram, who was not aware that the Berndts are big Democratic donors. I certainly wasn't - and have not heard of them.” Okay. Without getting into why a reporter wouldn’t be at all curious about why a humble farmer would get into bed with radical left wing fringe groups, we could take Graff at his word about this just being an instance of lazy or disinterested reporting.

    Or, we could take a look at another story from AP that ran on September 9th.

    It begins, “BRATTLEBORO, Vt. --The Vermont Supreme Court is considering an appeal by a Bennington grandmother who blocked traffic while protesting the Iraq war.”

    A “grandmother.” Again, just like ‘sugarmaker,” “grandmother” is an apolitical image calculated to evoke a specific emotional response. Reading this, we are given the impression that this apron-clad, elderly lady left the security of her heavenly smelling kitchen, probably still carrying a plate of warm, homemade chocolate chip cookies, out into the streets to do what, under normal circumstances, she never would have been motivated to do. Protest.

    Now, while I have no doubt that the woman in question, Rosemarie Jackowski, does have grandchildren somewhere in the world, a fair reporter might have pointed out that she is also an “advocacy journalist” – a professional activist. And the reporters at AP know who Rosemarie Jackowski is, because they have been reporting on her court case since 2004.

    If we are to believe what the reporters at AP would have us believe, the radical left in Vermont is made up of a bunch of farmers and grandmas. Or at least that the farmers and grandmas we all know and love side with the radical left. These are blatant cases of the press manipulating readers and creating false impressions in order to give radical agendas mainstream credibility that, in reality, they do not deserve.

    If you’d like to read some of this sweet, li’l ol’ Bennington grandmother’s advocacy journalism you can do so extensively at blog.fuckedcountry.com. Nice, huh.

    Blaming the Victim

    On September 15th, State Director Rob Roper debated Senators Don Collins, Jim Condos, and Rep. George Cross on the Charlie & Ernie Show (WVMT 620 AM). The topic was the taking of money out of the k-12 education fund to pay for preschool programs for three & four year olds. It is FreedomWorks’ position that the policies advocated by the above mentioned legislators amount to a taxpayer-funded hostile takeover of private preschool businesses by the public school districts.

    The “Three C’s” as they were dubbed by co-host Charlie Papillo, argued that their policies actually help private providers – which the tax money no doubt does for the 14 who receive it. The rest of the 130 licensed and registered private providers in Chittenden County, however, are operating at a severe disadvantage – competing with “free.”

    When Roper recounted the story of a Middletown Springs private childcare provider who was driven out of business by a taxpayer funded program that opened in the local public school, one of the fourteen Burlington providers who takes tax money called the show….

    This woman declared with extreme prejudice that the Middletown Springs provider “deserved” to go out of business.

    This kind of hostility will sadly be part of the tactics used to undermine the credibility of hundreds of small childcare businesses throughout the state. By waging a negative PR war against providers who don’t desire to participate in or qualify for the one-size-fits-all school district regulations, proponents of this policy can justify the demise of private providers at the hands of a politically powerful monopoly.

    Senator Don Collins has written that he knows of no private providers who have been put out of business as a result of the policies he has helped put into practice. Likely, he never will. Because as more and more private providers find they cannot compete with free, and end up closing their doors, it won’t be because of anything he’s done. It will be because they deserve it.

    Please Contact: Sen. Jim Condos (D-Chittenden): jcondos@leg.state.vt.us, 863-4654; George Cross (D-Winooski) – gcross@leg.state.vt.us, 655-4611.

    Speak of the Devil!

    Just as I was about to send this off to press, this email arrived in my mailbox from the Early Childhood Steering Committee….

    QUALIFICATIONS DIP AMONG PRESCHOOL TEACHERS
    For more than 20 years, the qualifications of the center-based early childhood workforce nationwide have fallen so much that now 30 percent of teachers and administrators have only a high school diploma or less, according to a comprehensive new report published today by the Economic Policy Institute, the Keystone Research Center, and the Foundation for Child Development. "Losing Ground in Early Childhood Education" explores how workers in the early childhood education (ECE) field have less education and fewer skills than their predecessors, leaving less qualified workers to prepare children for kindergarten.

    A warning to those private providers hoping to be left alone to do your business, don’t count on it. They will tear you to shreds. The negative PR has begun…

    Notes and Events

    Tuesday 9/20 –

    8:10 a.m. State Director, Rob Roper, on the Comment Show (1420am, St. Albans)

    6:30 p.m.Governor’s Health Care Forum, Springfield High School, Springfield

    7:00 p.m. State Director, Rob Roper, on Sound Off (Channel 15, St. Albans)

    Saturday 10/1

    8:15 a.m. State Director, Rob Roper speaks to Barre Republicans.

    Saturday 10/15
    FreedomFest 9 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at Vermont Technical College in Randolph Center. To register go to www.ethanallen.org or call 802-695-1448.

    Look for “THE SPHERE.” A new publication launched by the Young Conservative Network, a rising statewide college conservative organization in Vermont. If you would like a copy or to learn more, contact Jeff Bartley, YCN President and Sphere Editor, at jeffrey.bartley@verizon.net.

    Please Contact:
    Your likeminded friends and neighbors. Forward them this edition of the Vermont Report, and encourage them to join FredomWorks’ growing email list by signing up at www.freedomworks.org/processor/signup.php or by contacting State Director, Rob Roper directly at rroper@freedomworks.org or 802-999-8145.