Benefits Testimony to the Green Mountain Care Board

As Secretary-Treasurer, I’m advocating for the position of the Vermont State Labor Council with our 9800 members.

Most of our members still have fairly good healthcare coverage. We’ve given up wages, other benefits, and working conditions to keep our coverage. This is also true for the unionized teachers and state employees. Especially for the last 15 years we have been forced to take concessions or go on strike to try to maintain healthcare standards. This system is not working and its going downhill fast!

That is why we support comprehensive, universal, quality healthcare reform – one that would guarantee healthcare at levels that meet our needs. We would NOT support a “reform” that would lead to our getting less quality care. We oppose a two-tier system that would only provide basic care for most of us, while allowing for Cadillac care for the wealthy.

The discussion of “benefits” should proceed from a commitment to meeting people’s health needs - our ability to get “comprehensive”, “medically necessary health services” as stated in Act 48. Obviously, “medically necessary” care includes dental, vision and long-term care.

The reality is that out-of-pocket fees would make many people go without or delay care, which makes us sicker and actually increases healthcare costs. This clearly harms those who have less money, and who often have the greatest healthcare needs

Lastly the issue of what healthcare costs and how it is paid for should start with our first committing to meeting peoples healthcare needs – and then proceeding to finance the costs by fair, broad based taxes determined by people’s ability to pay.

We should treat healthcare as a public good – to decommodify healthcare so that it is treated as the social right that it is.