Vermonters respond to Supreme Court ruling on ACA

By the editor, June 28, 2012

The following is an excerpt of a roundup of reactions by prominent individuals and organization in Vermont to the Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act. For the full article, click on the link at the end.

Vermont Physicians for a National Health Program

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the bulk of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including the individual mandate. They affirmed that health care may be financed through taxation. The worst insurance abuses are being curtailed. Americans will benefit from reforms Vermont has enjoyed for years. Many people without insurance, especially young adults and people with low incomes, will gain health care coverage.

Unfortunately, the PPACA institutionalizes “unaffordable underinsurance” at taxpayer expense. Millions will have to buy overpriced policies with limited coverage and high deductibles and copayments. Ignoring the root of the problem—private health insurance—this legislation hands them an estimated $557 billion in taxpayer money through 2020, strengthening their ability to block future reform. And over 26 million people will remain uninsured.

Insurance companies currently add cost to the health care system: more than ten percent in direct costs and additional millions due to administrative burdens on Vermont patients and providers. Green Mountain Care will replace them with a single, non-profit payer. Health planning, resource allocation, care coordination, new payment methodologies, and drug price negotiation may all help to control costs. Vermonters will get the care they need without risking bankruptcy. Business, town, school, and state budgets will find relief.

In contrast to the PPACA, there was never any debate over the constitutionality of Medicare. In its 47 years, this publicly funded system has allowed millions of seniors and people with disabilities to access health care that would otherwise have been unaffordable. What we need is a Medicare expansion, not the Medicaid expansion of the PPACA. We urge Congress to extend Medicare coverage to every American, regardless of age. And Congress should support state innovation like Vermont’s.

The Affordable Care Act provides some funding for Vermont’s health reform effort. Like other single-payer systems, Green Mountain Care will provide universal coverage, improve access, and control costs. Patients will choose which clinicians will care for them; medical decisions will be in the hands of patients and clinicians. On the downside, without the PPACA, Vermont could have done a single-payer system at its own pace; now we must delay up to six years.

The members of Vermont PNHP know that a system dominated by private insurers and Big Pharma—as envisioned by the PPACA—cannot be universal and affordable. Polls have repeatedly shown that a solid majority of Vermonters and Americans favors single-payer. Our federal representatives should continue their efforts to gain appropriate waivers so that Vermont’s vision of Green Mountain Care can be realized as soon as possible. And Congress should extend improved Medicare coverage to every American.