Don’t go backward on health care
We are living in a health care crisis, where many people in our communities are not able to access even the most basic medical care. At the same time, there is an insurance industry that profits off this broken system. In 2011, because of grassroots organizing, Vermont became the first state in the nation to pass universal health care legislation (Act 48). Through Act 48, Vermont established by law that our health care system must be based on the human-rights principles of universality, equity, participation, transparency and accountability and that health care must be treated as a public good.
Vermont will be transitioning to this universal health care system, after meeting the requirements set up by the Affordable Care Act. I am extremely concerned that during this federally mandated exchange period, many poor and working members of my community will see their access to care actually decrease instead of increase. The Legislature is looking at adopting new policies that will mean those currently on VHAP and Catamount will have significantly increased out-of-pocket costs. So people may be “covered,” but their deductibles will be so high that they actually will not be able to afford going to the doctor or emergency care visits.
Many of those in the Legislature say this is because there simply is not enough money to continue the current rates of deductibles under VHAP and Catamount. However, I do not believe this is true. The reality is that we live in a time of abundance in the face of great inequality. The real issue is that many of our elected officials, including our governor, refuse to consider raising money in a way that’s equitable by asking the richest people in Vermont to pay more in taxes. Our budget and our state government policies are moral questions. They are questions of what kind of society and world we want to live in: one where low-income and working families cannot access health care because a millionaire needs another luxury car? Or one where everyone had their needs met and we ask people to contribute in an equitable way.
I call on the Legislature to ensure that no one in Vermont gets worse health care, and that we continue making strides toward a universal health care system that is financed equitably.
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