Don't listen to scare tactics

To the Editor:

Cal Thomas' recent editorial confuses "Obamacare" (the Affordable Care Act) with the National Health Service in Great Britain. They are not the same thing since the Affordable Care Act requires Americans to purchase private insurance, while the NHS is national health care, health care as a public good.

Thomas may be trying to scare us away from the idea of health care as a public good because while it is NOT what the Affordable Care Act is about, we do hope to have a publicly funded system in Vermont when we establish Green Mountain Care. However, even here, there are differences with the NHS. Under the NHS in Great Britain, physicians are actually public employees. But, under Green Mountain Care, while health care will be publicly financed, the delivery of health care will remain private - physicians will be reimbursed by the "single payer," but they will remain in private practice.

In any case, Thomas is spreading scare tactics about the NHS. Here are a few facts:

1.The NHS spends 8 percent of Great Britain's GDP on health Care. Vermont spends nearly 20 percent.

2.The UK is ranked by the World Health Organization as having the 18th best health care system in the world. The U.S. is ranked 37th.

3.The NHS is immensely popular in the UK even among Conservatives, so much so it is considered politically sacrosanct.

Let's face the real facts. We have had fifty years of the free-market approach. It has not brought us more competition and lower costs. It has brought increasing market consolidation, fewer people covered, more high-deductible plans, huge corporate profits, exorbitant executive salaries, overwhelming administrative burdens, and thousands of tragic denials of necessary care which result in sickness and deaths. Health manpower shortages are made worse because clinicians must spend so much time fighting for payment.

Every other industrialized nation in the world has some form of publicly financed health care for all. In the coming years as we move toward single payer in Vermont, we will hear many scare tactics about all these systems such as those put forth in Thomas' column. These scare tactics are meant to stop us from moving forward.

The truth is that no system is perfect, but the systems in all other industrialized countries that are based on some form of public financing get equal or better health outcomes than we do in this country, and they do so at significantly less cost. In Vermont we can pave the way to a more cost-effective system with access for all if we continue down the road to single payer.

Ellen Oxfeld

Middlebury, Vt.

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