Comments from the "People's Team"

Below are some direct comments from our People's Team members:

Peg Franzen:

"The meetings are dominated by Administration staff and paid lobbyists. There is little or no time reserved for real testimony from real people and people who can lead the way for systemic change.

That is why our campaign is so important. We must step up our efforts to connect with our legislators. The legislators will not get the political will or realize it is politically possible unless they hear from us!"

Cassandra Edson:

"Some of the reasons why Vermont law has not yet recognized health care as a human right became evident in the committee rooms in Montpelier this week. The lobbyists for vested interests were present in large numbers working hard for the status quo.

The House Health Committee Chairperson actually invited two lobbyists – one from Fletcher Allen hospital and another from the Chittenden County home health agency – to give a history of health care reform in Vermont and the U.S. Although the lobbyists claimed to be speaking only for themselves and not for their employers, their testimony was far from unbiased. They asserted, as fact, that Americans and Vermonters chose over and over again to preserve individual choice rather than move to a system that cares for everyone. The lobbyists claimed that this occurred because, they said, 'that's the American way...'"

Walter Carpenter:

"I missed a couple of the hearings, but, to me, the defining moment of the week was when Doug Racine, rather loudly said "we've got to think outside the box."

'Why can't we be like other countries,' he said, 'and think outside the box.'

As far as the political will goes I sense a tug happening. They are dabbling, exploring, listening, perhaps wanting to go there but afraid because of the potential backlash from voters in these dour economic times, and knowing that, whatever they do, Douglas will bounce it back at them and they might lack the numbers to go past this bouncing."

Denise Connelly:

"My sense of the proceedings lead me to believe that most folks think the health care system is broken and that doing something to improve it would be a good thing...I did not hear one single legislator advocate for single payer. What I did hear was a lot of dancing around the issue..."

James Tabbert:

"I attended the joint Leg./Senate Healthcare Committee meetings on Wed. 1/27; Thurs. 1/28; and Fri. 1/29.

I was in attendance for most of the testimony from Con Hogan and Dr. Deb Richter on 1/27. What I heard was constructive and informative, a presentation addressing obstacles, as well as very confident and constructive suggestions for Vermont health care reform. I am sure you are familiar with Dr. Deb and her extensive experience and familiarity with health care practice in Vermont, and her convictions towards a single-payer system.

Thursday, 1/28 ...Testimony and presentations from the CEO/Exec. types from various hospitals in Vermont. Most questions asked by persons of the joint Health Committees was simply met with lack of numerical recall, indifference, or reliance on a colleague in the audience for answers. Room 10 was certainly filled with a great deal of hot air that day...

Friday, 1/29: I am hoping that all members of the joint Healthcare Committee, as well as the public and employees of other state agencies, will reflect on David Kriendler's (member presenting Healthcare is a Human Right Campaign proposal that meets human rights standards) testimony as at least a starting point for which direction to move in when compiling a new health care draft bill, and that all will reflect on this testimony of a definite desire and purpose of intent by at least one huge group in the State."