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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: South Bay | Health, Housing, and Public Services
Vermont Enacts Conditional Universal Healthcare Coverage
Vermont Enacts Conditional Universal Healthcare Coverage - by Stephen Lendman
Numerous previous articles discussed Obamacare, described accurately as a rationing scheme to enrich insurers, drug companies and large hospital chains in lieu of universal single payer coverage.
Obama hailed its March 2010 passage as answering "the call of history." In fact, Ralph Nader was right calling it a "pay-or-die system that is the disgrace of the Western world," costing double what other Western countries spend and delivering less, rationing care to enrich corporate providers while making a dysfunctional system worse.
Under it, junk insurance policies leave millions underinsured. Costs remain out-of-control. Insurers can still deny care by delaying, contesting, preventing or over-charging people from accessing it. Yet everyone must be covered or penalized if opt out, a provision many states are contesting as a lawless unconstitutional infringement.
Moreover, company-provided policies will be taxed as ordinary income, harming working households most of all.
After passage, Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) denounced it, saying the new law "enrich(es) and further entrench(es private insurers, forcing) millions of Americans to buy" defective coverage leaving most worse off than before at a cost of hundreds of billions of tax dollars given predators to game the system for profit, the public losing out. Moreover, 23 million Americans will remain uninsured, "translate(d) into an estimated 23,000 unnecessary deaths annually and an incalculable toll of suffering."
In fact, Obama's centerpiece domestic policy scammed the public with a package of expensive mandates, new taxes, and sweetheart deals, creating a fragmented, dysfunctional, unsustainable system, denying Americans what they urgently need - universal coverage, an expanded, improved Medicare for all. Everyone in, no one out, what neither party or Obama delivered.
Vermont Perhaps Heading for Affordable Universal Coverage
After Vermont lawmakers passed the Universal and Unified Health System Act (H. 202), Governor Peter Shumlim, on May 26, signed America's first universal system, a measure heading state residents for full coverage with lots of hurdles to overcome to make it fair, equitable and affordable.
Nonetheless, Shumlin relished the moment, saying we're:
"here today to launch the first single payer system in America, to do in Vermont what has taken too long - to have health care that is the best in the world that treats (it) as a right and not a privilege, where health care follows the individual not the employer."
"This law recognizes an economic and fiscal imperative. We must control the growth in health care costs that are putting families at economic risk and making it harder for small employers to do business."
On May 26, Physicians for a National Health Program's (PNHP) National Coordinator, Dr. Quentin D. Young said:
"We salute the single-payer activists in Vermont and applaud their efforts. Although this is not a (true) single-payer bill, we will continue to support the struggle to achieve health care justice in Vermont and across the nation."
A PNHP press release said H. 202 "is much more modest in its actual reach than a (true) single-payer plan," providing universal affordable coverage as a human right, no strings attached.
"As of now, the federal Affordable Care Act prohibits states like Vermont from adopting their own models of reform until 2017." Shumlin and other Vermonters want it earlier in 2014. Other states, including California, are considering variations of single-payer.
Vermont's bill, in fact, falls short of universal, high-quality, affordable coverage by permitting multiple private insurers, able to game the system through "multi-tiered care, rising costs and needless waste."
Moreover, enormous administrative costs remain instead of eliminating them altogether under a single-payer system, removing the middleman so state officials can negotiate reduced prices for drugs and other health services.
Among other limitations, Vermont's bill establishes a state healthcare exchange called Green Mountain Care, managed by a five-member board. It interfaces with providers on reimbursement rates under a system leaving them largely in control, a serious flaw needing correcting. Otherwise they'll game the system to their advantage.
According to PNHP co-founder Dr. David Himmelstein:
Vermont's law "leave(s) the door open for burdensome co-pays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses that deter people from seeking timely care. (Moreover), to the extent the law permits, large for-profit institutional providers (may) allocate their profits as they see fit, (denying) the system (of) the ability to do effective health planning."
As a result, much more work needs to be done to make universal coverage a reality.
On Democracy Now, Dr. Deb Richter, president of Vermont Health Care for All and past PNHP president, explained the bill's shortcomings and need to change federal law. The goal, she stressed, is true universal coverage. Everyone in, no one out in a system excluding private insurers except for those choosing that option.
In fact, Vermont for Single Payer: Everybody In, Nobody Out's Statement of Principles is as follows:
"We support a universal health care system for the State of Vermont, one that includes all Vermonters, offers free choice of providers, is progressively financed, decoupled from employment, affordable for all, and pays for all necessary care out of public funds; a system which retains the private delivery of health care and has a publicly accountable budget process to ensure adequate capacity to meet the health care needs of all Vermonters."
Access VSP's site through the following link:
On May 26, Vermont took an important first step toward universal coverage. It's for Vermonters and other state residents to follow through for true affordable universality, establishing affordable health care as an inalienable human right no corporate predators or politicians can deny.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen [at] sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.