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‘Health care rate increases are only proposals’

By Walter Carpenter

My name is Walter Carpenter. I live in Montpelier but also work at (and ski) Mad River Glen during the winter and love The Valley. I read The Valley Reporter whenever I can and saw the letter to the editor from Steve Allen.

I wanted to respond to the letter "The unaffordable care act" (Valley Reporter, June 5, 2014) by Mr. Steve Allen. I agree with Mr. Allen that the so-called Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unaffordable for many.

Yet, when Mr. Allen said that "putting health care in the hands of state and federal government is our nation's greatest mistake," he is seeing again what happens when we entrust our health care to free-market health insurance. The ACA is little more than private insurance with a few more exceptions and regulations behind it.

Mr. Allen mentioned the increases sought by Vermont's insurers for next year's premium rates on the exchanges. Blue Cross was 9.8 percent; MVP, 15.4 percent. Mr. Allen is correct. They are hefty. These are proposals, though, and not definite. They first must clear the rate review process with the Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB), where they might come out lower than when they went into it. The public is invited to participate in this process — either to attend meetings or comment on the board's website.

Mr. Allen incorrectly stated that "our governor refused to provide a plan for the funding of Vermont's 'single payer' health care plan, even though this was required by law?" Our governor has not refused to do this; he has delayed it until he feels it is fully ready. The mangled exchange rollout (on a date set by the ACA) provided acute lessons on what can go awry when something like this is rushed out before its time. Governor Shumlin has to create a sensible "system" out of a thoroughly nonsensical non-system; this will take some doing.

When it is done, all Vermonters will finally have equitable and guaranteed access to health care without fear of losing it.

Walter Carpenter of Montpelier is a single-payer health care advocate who is on the advisory committee of the Green Mountain Care Board.

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