Health care

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(HOST) Commentator Edith Hunter would like to see all Vermonters take an active role in the current health care debate. And recently, she decided to do just that.

(HUNTER) I attended one of the Governor’s forums on health care this fall. Later, I attended one of the Legislative Committee health care forums. Both were held in Springfield.

It was perfectly clear, at both forums, to anyone really listening, that a single payer, publicly financed health care system was overwhelmingly favored by those in attendance.

I spoke at the Governor’s Forum and made four points. First, that the people of Vermont are ready for a single payer, publicly fi-
nanced health care system. One problem in achieving this is that some people already have generous health care benefits and they are not going to want to see those reduced.

Secondly, the new system should be paid for with taxes. Through town property taxes, and state, and federal taxes we are already paying for a proportion of the health care of teachers, town employees, state employees (including the Governor), veterans, and Medicare and Medicaid recipients. I am not sure of the percentage, but it may be that as much as sixty percent of the health care of Vermonters is already being paid for by taxes. A unified publicly financed health care system should result in the reduction of property taxes, and a part of what we already pay in other taxes that go toward health care.

Taxes should not be seen as a burden, but as an opportunity to work together to meet our common needs – good schools, good roads, a healthy environment, and good health care. It is not fair
to ask businesses to pay for health care if not all businesses
have to. Business should welcome a shift to a publicly financed system.

Thirdly, I said that we should use restraint in our use of health care. People my age should accept the fact that they have had their share of years and should be ready to move on. They should not overburden the health care system with huge end-of-life expenses. Death is natural and inevitable.

Fourth, I said that the Governor should not have been so quick to go off on his own, looking for solutions, but should have worked from the beginning with the legislative committee that has been assigned this task. He has begun to do just that.

Everyone agrees that people should follow healthy life styles, but that is not going to be achieved by legislation. What legislation can achieve is an efficient administration of a single payer publicly financed system. It can work on the difficult problem of what comprehensive health needs should be covered. We have the advantage of being able to look at other systems to see how difficult problems have been solved, and what solutions to avoid.

This is Edith Hunter on the Center Road.

Writer and historian Edith Hunter lives in Weathersfield Center. She spoke from our studio in Norwich.

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