Symington says Medicaid problem tied to overall health care reform

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(Host) According to House Speaker Gaye Symington, it’s a mistake to try to solve the state’s Medicaid problems without addressing the larger issue of health care reform at the same time.

Speaking Thursday night on VPR’s Switchboard program, Symington said the two issues are tied together and need to be considered jointly:

(Symington) “I think you can’t look at the Medicaid problem in isolation from the problem of health care reform and health care delivery. And the question of health care reform needs to look at managing the costs side of the equation as well as delivering services in a way that focuses our dollars on health care delivery and not paperwork, allows for maintaining healthy behaviors, incenting healthy behaviors.”

(Host) Part of Governor Douglas’ plan to reduce a projected $70 million deficit in the Medicaid program is to raise $9 million in new premiums from participants of the Vermont Health Care Access Program and Dr. Dynasaur. Symington is concerned that asking low income families to pay more money for these services could have some negative consequences:

(Symington) “There’s a fair amount of concern that, with premiums increasing to the extent that they are in this proposal – especially for the prescription programs, that we’re really going to see people choosing not to participate and there will be more uninsured because of that change.”

(Host) Symington says House Democratic leaders are committed to developing a comprehensive health care reform package. But she says it will be difficult to draft this proposal in the first year of the session.

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