Vermont Press Releases

Vermonters for Healthcare Freedom: Senate ignores Vermonters, goes for the gold and thumbs its nose at federal law through passage of H.559

For immediate release
April 25, 2012

Vermonters for Health Care Freedom
[email protected]

The Vermont Senate is nothing if not consistent. Following yesterday’s three hours of debate on H.559, the Health Care Exchange bill, senators debated for an additional two hours on Tuesday before ultimately passing the bill on a 20-7 vote.

The debate over an amendment to allow small businesses and individuals to remain with their current (or any other) off-exchange insurance plan for one year following the start of the Exchange provided new insight into how the Shumlin Administration intends to use the Exchange to finance Green Mountain Care, the government monopoly single payer health care scheme approved last year. The success of their plan depends upon forcing as many people as possible into the Exchange on day one, and encouraging as many small businesses as possible to drop their health insurance employee benefits. The amendment was defeated in a close vote.

The question of whether the federal Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) even allows states to do this was also raised, but left unresolved.

A detailed summary and commentary on the senate action is available on our website at this link:

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  • Barbara Morrow

    Boy, I’m glad this is clearly marked “Press Release” with the source.

  • Kelly Cummings


    Well geez Mr. Wennberg that sounds just downright awful!! But it’s just not true!!!!

    When you say Vermonters….who exactly do you mean?

    Because surely you don’t mean all those Vermonters who showed up to testify in favor of healthcare for all do you? You know….the ones who shared their very own powerful stories about how their lives and their children’s lives have been negatively impacted from the lack of affordable healthcare? Or how about the thousands who have worked so tirelessly for years to show up to rallies, and forums, to sign postcards, to sign petitions, write their legislators and spend endless hours in committee meetings and more?

    Surely you don’t mean “those” Vermonters do you? Or do “those” Vermonters lives just not matter too terribly much to you and Vermonters for Health Care FREEDOM?

    I wonder what the going rate was for your integrity on the “free-market” Mr. Wennberg? You make things up pure and simple. You make things up and throw them out there like it’s nothing.

    But remember this….these are real people who are being impacted on a daily basis by the lack of affordable healthcare. People who are losing their homes, forgoing care and dying. Might not mean much to you Mr. Wennberg but it means a hell of a lot to those of us who support Vermont’s move towards universal healthcare!

    This is not a game. This is real life or death stuff.

    Perhaps you might want to seek a refund from your beloved free-for-all “free market” and get your integrity back. I would suggest…sooner than later.

  • Walter Carpenter

    “The Vermont Senate is nothing if not consistent”

    And I thank them for their consistency. They stood up for the Vermonters who are getting screwed by the system, who pay outrageous premiums with thousands in deductibles; they stood up for those who cannot get insurance because it costs too much, they are ineligible. They stood up for the Vermonters who, when the lose their jobs, lose their health insurance if they ever had it to begin with; they stood up for Vermonters who get their claims denied while CEO’s rake in huge salaries. They stood up for us, not the ones profiting nicely off the status quo, which is who this press release seems to speak for. I want to hug them for their consistency.

  • Al Walskey

    Some people refuse to be confused by the facts.

    Well folks it looks like the time has come to take a deep breath, slowly count to 10 or 20 if you’re really ticked off and start to begin to get ready to live up to the axiom which goes like this “The ultimate test of adulthood is the ability to live without anger in the midst of lying and unjust (wo)men.”

    Another axiom that comes to mind is:
    ‘There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know’.

    Here are a few relevant facts regarding how Democracy works in the U.S. It arguably began with the belief that there should be no taxation without representation. People who want to represent us go through a long electoral process to convince us who will represent us the best. The candidate who gets the most votes in a primary followed by a general election becomes our official representative. After the candidate takes office we, as constituents, have the right to lobby our representatives to enact legislation that we agree with or vote against legislation that we disagree with. In Vermont an opportunity to testify about proposed legislation is often made available to all as a bill bounces like a ping pong ball between the House and Senate. Legislation that both House and Senate majorities vote for is sent to the Governor who can sign it, veto it or let it become law without his signature. Constituents are free to contact their representatives at any time to weigh in about anything they are concerned about. In addition, petitions are presented, legislative breakfasts are held, constituents can sit in on committee meetings and rallies are held at the statehouse on a regular basis.

    When it comes to health care legislation I have witnessed that all of the above requirements were met during the last 10 years that I’ve been intimately involved. This being the case it’s fundamentally untrue AND unfair to claim that that “Senate ignores Vermonters, goes for the gold and thumbs its nose at federal law through passage of H.559”.


    • Kel Varnsen

      Nice try Al. First, we do not have a democracy in this country and never did. We have a constitutional republic. More to the point about your misleading missive however, is your contention that legislators listen to voters. This if a farce and a fable and you know it, at least in terms of the current democrat supermajority of our government. Legislators “listen” to everyone, but they only hear those who agree with them, in this case being largely that government is the solution to all problems and knows better than you how to live your life. So the pretend to listen and then pass legislation designed to make us their socialist nirvana.

    • Gary vincent

      Al,were you in korea in 1965

  • Craig Powers

    Health care for all will eventually bankrupt VT businesses and its citizens (See the current state of Medicare & Medicaid). Until the proponents of single payer come clean with how this will be financed, (and who specifically will be paying and how much) they should continue to understand that many people are skeptical.

  • David Schoales

    So the Senate decided it would be better to have lots of people in the insurance system so the costs could be spread more broadly, and that is wrong? And the availability of federal subsidies through the exchange to help employers offer better coverage is not important enough to include in the press release?
    I don’t understand.

  • Jason Kelley

    How ironic! A Republican organization that supports the Affordability Care Act!

  • Walter Carpenter

    “Health care for all will eventually bankrupt VT businesses and its citizens (See the current state of Medicare & Medicaid).”

    The current state of Medicare and medicaid is largely hype from people —the republican party and their corporate allies — who desire to destroy them so that they can take advantage of all those medicaid and Medicare dollars, Neither, of course, has been helped by the great recession, or that every attempt to do something to bring us out of it has been blocked or thwarted by the GOP controlled house.

    We currently spend $5 billion a year on health care. Costs rise by a million a day. Soon enough it will be 6 billion and beyond, this will bankrupt the state and destroy vt small businesses faster than any health reform will ever do.

    • Craig Powers

      Please provide concrete proof of your statement that small business will not be adversely impacted by higher taxes and enlighten us all on how VT single payer will be financed now. Not in two years, or after the election. Did the pea soup fog miraculously lift?

      • walter carpenter

        The proof is all around you if you choose to see it. Are small business’s adversely affected by Medicare, Medicaid, other than that they are paying for it and cannot use it unless they are old enough or their income falls below a certain threshold? What are the administrative costs of medicare (excluding the privatized medicare plans) versus private insurance? Admin expenses for private health plans in Vt are about 30% now. Here is what the differences were several years ago for some of the big insurers versus medicare nationally.

        Higher taxes. First of all, we are already paying Let’s say, for example, that if an income tax, which is the most equitable tax to fund a system, is implemented, would it rise as fast the 10%, 20%, 30%, or even 50% (such as happened out in California recently) as private insurance health care plans do to satisfy their shareholders? And let’s not forget we will no longer be stuck paying these premiums when single-payer health care is in place.

        “Single payer cannot be implemented for at least five years. Therefore, there is no real urgency to the question of financing. When the numbers are presented, there will be plenty of time (several years) to discuss the options and have a robust public debate.”

        Doug said it best here so I will defer to him. Also, do you outline the costs for something first before you design that something to fit into the costs if you can or do you design it first and then work the costs with the designs laid out on the table?

        The real pea soup fog will be if we stay with the current non-system which is killing us.

  • Lee Russ

    A solid 20-7 majority of duly elected state senators votes, in public, to pass a law that has long been available for public view, and this is portrayed as “thumbing their nose” at the people of the state?

    I have to join Kelly Cummings in asking for which “people” Vermonters for Health Care Freedom claims to speak? And exactly which “freedom” does it claim to represent? The freedom to pay ever-higher health insurance preiums for ever-smaller coverage?

    Makes you wonder exactly who would support that kind of “freedom” enough to fund Vermonters for Health Care Freedom.

  • Ellen Oxfeld

    The fact of the matter is we are all paying for our health care now…The question is how to we want to fund this? Publicly funding a health care system for all Vermonters, or do we want to stick with our patchwork and therefore expensive system of multiple private insurance plans?

    Exchange is not single payer, and it is a temporary stage that we have to enact according to federal law. It is just a way to purchase insurance that will minimally allow some people to get subsidies for the private insurance they purchase. That’s all. Those subsidies will be good for individuals and will also continue to come to the state when we seek a waiver for a single payer system.

    HOwever, with or without the subsidies single payer will NOT bankrupt Vermont. We WILL be definitely suffer economically if we don’t do single payer though.

  • Paula Schramm

    Craig Powers writes:
    “Please provide concrete proof of your statement that small business will not be adversely impacted by higher taxes”.

    I looked in vain among all the comments for anyone that made this statement. Just couldn’t find it anywhere !
    I would ask in return: “Please provide concrete proof that you are interested in a rational discussion” I can’t seem to find that anywhere either.

    • Craig Powers

      Ms. Schramm your reply was rude and condescending. I am trying to have a rational discussion and asked two simple questions. I guess you do not like the questions and therefore have to attack me? Is that a rational discussion in your book?

      I simply asked Mr. Carpenter to provide proof of his statement that businesses would not as adversely impacted by health care reform (which he stated). I also asked for financing details. If Mr. Carpenter is so sold on this idea, and is such a staunch defender, he should be able to answer my questions now…not in two years time.

      Sure seems like perfectly rational questions that need answers. If you have concrete answers, I would (and others) would love to hear them now.


      • Doug Hoffer

        Mr. Powers

        Single payer cannot be implemented for at least five years. Therefore, there is no real urgency to the question of financing. When the numbers are presented, there will be plenty of time (several years) to discuss the options and have a robust public debate.

        • Kel Varnsen

          Yes, let’s not worry about where the money will come from for government-run health care until the day the bill is due. Good plan. By the way, the term “robust public debate” is getting tedious. I think what you mean is hearing from all the folk who have been convinced they have a “right” to have someone else pay for their health care. In the mean time it would be interesting to hear you list all the programs government runs more efficiently and cost-effectively than the private sector.

          • walter carpenter

            “list all the programs government runs more efficiently and cost-effectively than the private sector.”

            Medicare. 6% admin costs versus 30% for private insurance; medicaid, with the same. Social Security. The military-industrial establishment, completely run and paid for by the federal guv for the benefit of private enterprise…the list could go on and on. The private sector has done nothing but crash the economy and plunge the world into a great recession.

  • Bill Gardyne

    We’ll just see what the political landscape looks like when the full financial details come out about Green Mtn.Care. The ultimate price tag will make our current system look like a bargain. Utilization is what drives the increasing cost of healthcare and single payor will open the floodgates. When the gatekeepers see that happening, rationing will become a reality that many of you single payor cheerleaders won’t much like. It boggles my mind that there at least a few clear thinkers left in Montpelier who can’t see where this is inevitably headed. What happens when the Supreme Court strikes down the Individual Mandate and Obamacare goes pfft. Will the expected federal tax credits that this whole house of cards is built on come tumbling down?? Yes, I have a dog in this fight and a 26 year career selling individual and group health insurance to Vermonters. However, I’d give it up without reservation if I really thought publically financed healthcare was a workable option that wouldn’t cause our collective financial ruin. We can argue our opionions here and elsewhere but only time will tell who is right.

    • Doug Hoffer

      All of the previous studies on single payer (Lewin, Thorpe & Hsiao) too account of the expected increase in utilization. It is a short-term phenomenon.

      BTW – I hardly think anyone will say that “the ultimate price tag [of single payer] will make our current system look like a bargain.” Indeed, the cost of the current system has doubled in less than a decade and is now almost 20% of the state’s entire gross state product.

  • Exchange planning is underway in several states. What kinds of real-world questions are states considering?

  • Paula Schramm

    Mr. Powers – I’m sorry my reply seemed rude and condescending. I did not mean to make a personal attack, but to attack what you were doing. You illustrated my point in your response when you gave an accurate version of the statement in question, rather than the one you created earlier to put your own slant on it.

    I’m actually the one being condescended to. I’m one of those Vermonters who wants to see the affordable, universal health care in this state that “Vermonters for Health Care Freedom” is trying so hard to thwart, and I don’t appreciate their dissembling tactics.

    • Craig Powers

      I appreciate your response and understand your position.

  • walter carpenter

    “When the gatekeepers see that happening, rationing will become a reality that many of you single payor cheerleaders won’t much like.”

    Try not having insurance and see what rationing is like. Try getting onto programs like catamount only to be told the income is too high, as a small biz woman told me today. That is rationing at its best.

  • Al Walskey

    This just in from PBS (April 27) regarding health care trends. High deductible plans have increased to the point where up to 30% of employees have opted for high deductible plans of $1,000 or more just to get a premium they can afford. More are expected to opt for even higher deductible plans as health care INSURANCE premiums continue to grow at an unsustainable rate.

    From my personal experience as an IBMer with vested rights they’re way behind the times on increasing employees health care costs. Back in 1994 IBM surreptitiously converted the health insurance that came as a benefit of the job (at no expense to the employee) to a bewildering selection of HMOs that employees would now have to pay for. Under the old plan an employee paid 20% of the cost of a procedure with some lifetime maximums. Those who did not select one of the new HMO employee paid plans were automatically enrolled in a high deductible plan of over $3,000. This amounts to “catastrophic” health insurance that most can’t afford to take advantage of. Every Nov employees must engage in this gamble of selecting insurance for the coming year that I call “Health Care Roulette.”

    Benefit packages, that include health insurance, came about as an unintended consequence of WWII. Because there was a war time wage freeze employers asked for and were given the OK to offer benefits like health insurance to attract and retain employees. This is how health insurance coupled to employment began. After the war when wage freezes ended factories were converted to the production of consumer peace time goods. Even so insurance coupled to employment continued. The problem with this practice is that too many people in need of insurance are left to fend for themselves. They pay the highest premiums because they have no economic clout in negotiating a better deal. Employers not only have economic clout but enjoy tax breaks for offering insurance and other perks to sweeten the pot. Our current system makes people who do not earn a paycheck for their work, and are unemployed or self-employed three time losers: 1) they pay higher premiums, 2) they pay higher taxes to make up for employer tax write offs and 3) when they buy goods/services produced by an employer who offers health insurance they are in effect subsidizing the health insurance offered by that employer.

    In the worst case scenario 1)you lose your health, 2)you lose your job and as a consequence your insurance, 3) you lose your property and finally 4) you lose your life. Ain’t it a shame, 45,000 Americans die each year because they can’t afford health care. The unfair, inequitable nature of our health care delivery system is why it must be decoupled from employment. The only thing sick people should be worried about is getting well.