(Host) Hundreds turned out at the Statehouse on Tuesday to weigh in on what the state should do to expand access to health care.
House and Senate health committees held a joint hearing to hear the public’s views on the issue.
Many in the House chamber wore red shirts to show their support for the "Health Care Is A Human Right" campaign.
That campaign is lobbying the Legislature to adopt a single-payer system, similar to Canada’s, that would replace private insurance.
Nancy Welch of Burlington says she supports single payer because of her experience with private insurers.
(Welch) "When my husband was diagnosed with tumors in both kidneys and his brain, our insurance provider assigned us a caseworker not to coordinate his care, but to restrict his access to care. Each time he needed to see a specialist, each time a doctor ordered a test or a radiation treatment, we had to contact the caseworker, who would later inform us that our request had been denied. We then had to appeal and wait critical days and weeks for each denial to be overturned."
(Host) Although there was a lot of support for single payer, there also was strong opposition.
Bill Day said a single payer system would lead to health care rationing.
(Day) "In every country where there this government-run monopoly has been adopted, the resulting shortage of doctors, other health care professionals and equipment has caused serious rationing. Government-run rationing will give non-medical bureaucrats the power of life and death as to who will or will not be allowed to receive medical treatment. Those not allowed to be treated will have lost all their rights.
(Host) Senator Bernie Sanders also appeared at the hearing to endorse a single-payer system – and to update lawmakers on progress in Washington on a health care overhaul bill.
Sanders says he has reservations about that bill. But he says he hopes it includes flexibility for states like Vermont to adopt single payer as tests that could be replicated elsewhere.
(Sanders) "We have an historic opportunity, not only for the people of this state, but for the people of America, of leading this country forward in terms of a cost-effective, comprehensive, universal health care system. And if Vermont goes forward, other states will follow."
(Host) State legislators say they don’t know what, if any, legislation might be adopted this year. They say they’re trying to understand the options and then will decide how to move forward.