Vermont Public Radio Commentary
INTRO: Commentator Rick Hubbard thinks our gubernatorial candidates should begin answering a health care question that Vermont voters are asking.
A few weeks ago, Vermont Public Television and the Times Argus hosted a Barre Opera House debate among three of our gubernatorial candidates; Jim Douglas, Doug Racine and Con Hogan.
A South Burlington woman was selected from the audience to ask her question. She first made this statement.
“The recently issued Lewin report on health care delivery in Vermont stated that if all monies now spent on health care were collected and disbursed by a single entity, all Vermonters could receive comprehensive health care privately provided by doctors at an annual savings of over $100 million dollars. Our current approach does not insure all Vermonters and has resulted in huge administrative cost increases.”
Then she asked each candidate: “Would you encourage a debate about which is the better delivery approach?”
None of the three gubernatorial candidates answered her question!
Each simply explained their views on health care.
If they did actually debate alternatives, here are some questions they ought to answer.
INTRO: Commentator Rick Hubbard is concerned about whether our possible invasion of Iraq, and its consequences, will in the long run strengthen or weaken our national security.
I believe our country is strongest when using its power and prestige working collaboratively with other nations to safeguard citizens, spread democracy and freedom, protect basic human rights, provide political and economic choice, and expand and strengthen the rule of law throughout the world.
Today, the United States enjoys a position of unparalleled military and economic power. We have much to lose. With only four point six percent of the world’s population, we bring home twenty four percent of the world’s entire economic production. Whether we use our power to invade Iraq, and under what circumstances, and with what consequences, poses a truly watershed moment for our country.
There are those amongst us today who advocate for an imperial United States, pre-emptive invasions and military domination of space. In the name of fighting terrorism and preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction they are dismissive of the United Nations and the rule of international law.
This is a false choice which will affect our political influence and reputation, our economic strength and our national security itself over the next ten, twenty, even fifty years. Continue reading
INTRO: A good manager routinely sets a goal and then analyzes which alternative best meets that goal. Commentator Rick Hubbard thinks our Vermont political leaders should use this approach to improve delivery of our health care.
Most of us would agree that the overall goal of health policy in Vermont should be to deliver quality health care to all Vermonters at the least cost.
Although little discussed to date, there are now at least two ways to reach that goal.
Currently, Vermont spends two point two billion dollars a year on health care. Our present competitive health insurance approach leaves over fifty thousand Vermonters without any insurance, ninety thousand more without adequate insurance, and leaves our government paying when low income Vermonters cannot afford insurance. Moreover, current administrative costs are astronomical. Over the last 30 years, the number of health administrators have increased nationally by almost 2,500 percent, the bulk of this over just the last decade of managed care. By comparison, the number of doctors and nurses increased by only 160 percent.
Recently, our legislature commissioned a major study of health care in Vermont by the Lewin Group, a nationally respected consulting company. It concluded that channeling the same two point two billion dollars through a single money collecting and bill paying system is much more efficient. With this approach, every one of us would receive quality health care, privately provided by doctors, while still saving over $100 million dollars. In addition to dramatically increasing health care, these annual savings are the equivalent of almost five hundred dollars for every family in Vermont, a benefit for everyone, whether moderate, liberal or conservative.
This study provides us with a wonderful opportunity to debate whether our present competitive insurance approach or the more efficient alternative recommended by the Lewin Group, or still some other alternative, best meets the goal of delivering quality health care to all Vermonters at the least cost. Continue reading
Vermont Public Radio Commentary
INTRO: Commentator Rick Hubbard thinks Vermont voters lose something important when candidates refuse public financing.
In the 2000 election cycle, gubernatorial candidate Anthony Pollina qualified for public financing by raising funds from what was at the time, the largest number of individual contributors to a single political candidate in the entire history of the state of Vermont! That totaled about thirty-eight thousand dollars in amounts of less than fifty dollars each from more than sixteen hundred Vermonters.
Governor Dean raised the bar further by qualifying for public financing with small contributions that totaled about sixty-two-thousand dollars from more than twenty-two-hundred Vermonters. But Dean decided to forego public financing and went on to run a million dollar campaign, more than six-hundred-thousand dollars of which were contributed by just one-hundred and thirteen out of state contributors. Dean’s Vermont contributors outnumbered out-of-staters twenty to one, yet out-of-staters provided four and a half times more money.
Money from a wealthy few influences the election process. With more money, candidates can buy bigger megaphones to amplify their voices and drown out those of less-well-funded candidates. This discourages many good candidates who lack either the money or wealthy contacts. That gives us fewer choices. Continue reading