WATCH: VWC leaders testify on Senate healthcare bills

VWC leaders testify to Senate Health & Welfare

On April 15th, VWC leaders Jessica Morrison, Grace Beninson, and Ellen Schwartz offered powerful testimony to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee as it discussed healthcare affordability and the future of the All-Payer model and OneCare contract.

Grace Beninson opened the testimony by recounting how unaffordable deductibles and co-pays directly contributed to her suffering a massive stroke that completely upended her life.

Ellen Schwartz endorsed S.120, a bill that would create a Healthcare Affordability Study Committee, while warning that a band-aid approach to expanding healthcare -- adding certain services like dental or hearing aids, or new “age brackets” to Medicaid -- pits people against one another and is guaranteed to leave people behind.

Instead, she counseled, “we need a unified and universal public system that addresses all healthcare needs,” citing the state's 2014 financing proposal for Act 48, which calculated that 93 percent of Vermont families would have seen an increase in income and had access to healthcare.

Jessica Morrison, a nurse practitioner, raised “fundamental concerns” that the All-Payer ACO Model that created OneCare Vermont “doesn’t help people with the major barriers we face to access or afford healthcare.”

“If you’re uninsured, it doesn’t do anything for you,” she shared. “If you have a high deductible plan, it doesn’t address that either. If your insurance doesn’t cover something you need, it doesn’t solve that either. It’s not just that it doesn’t solve these problems, it’s that it can’t, because it’s not designed to.”

Beninson, Schwartz, and Morrison all called on the Senate Health & Welfare committee to cut the OneCare contract and assert public control over Vermont's hospitals, while immediately expanding Medicaid to all Vermont residents, regardless of income or immigration status.