(Host) Governor Douglas’ budget would cut across a range of human services programs. But critics at the Statehouse said the burden would fall on those who can least afford it.
The governor has targeted the Catamount Health program for cost-savings. He’s proposed higher premiums and deductibles for the state-subsidized health plan. Peter Sterling of the Vermont Campaign for Health Care Security said the cuts will mean fewer people will have health insurance.
(Sterling) "The governor’s cut-only mentality will predominately impact mainly lower-income Vermonters. The state has looked at all the information and the answer is clear: when you don’t make insurance affordable to low income people, they still get sick, and they end up showing up at the emergency room and needing uncompensated care that increases costs for everybody else. This is a penny-wise and pound foolish approach to solving the health care crisis by raising premiums and deductibles."
(Host) Chittenden Senator Doug Racine chairs the Senate Health Care Committee and is a candidate for governor. He says the state needs to look at tapping its budget reserves – called rainy day funds – to avoid deep cuts in programs.
(Racine) "The cuts the governor proposed are heavily weighted against those folks who don’t have a voice very often in this building, and that’s those who are most vulnerable. There are mental health cuts, there are unemployment cuts, there are unemployment benefit cuts, Reach-up, Catamount, a lot of health care, home health. And I’m really concerned about the long term impacts on Vermonters and the future of our state when you have such an impact on people’s lives and people’s health."
(Host) Other Democratic leaders said they were eager to learn more budget details. Legislative committees will begin examining the governor’s budget this week.