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Thoughts on the Vermont health care system

In the Senate, the majority Democrats won the vote of Sen. Kevin Mullin (R-Rutland ) by agreeing to require the Board at some unspecified point to announce to the world that it believes that Green Mountain Care would reduce administrative costs (whose?), contain the growth in health care costs, improve the quality of care, attract providers, and not damage the state's economy. There is no appeal process or enforcement mechanism for these declarations.

Gov. Shumlin has made it clear that he wants the new ObamaCare-mandated Exchange to be the only place anyone can obtain health insurance. In addition, liberals have long ago taken to viewing Health Savings Account plans as a conservative plot to thwart their collectivist ambitions. Sen. Vince Illuzzi (R-Essex-Orleans) offered a carefully crafted amendment that would have prevented the Exchange from exterminating the popular HSA plans. The Democrats voted it down 11-19.

The Democrats also voted down an amendment from Sen. Randy Brock (R-Franklin) to advance the date for the administration's health care tax request from January 2013 to September 2012. That would allow the voters to learn what's in store for them if the governor is reelected. Only eight senators were willing to support that eminently sensible provision.

It was patently apparent during the legislative debate that the backers of single payer, now relabeled "universal and unified health system", have little grasp of the complexities involved in completely disassembling and repackaging Vermont's $5 billion health care sector to satisfy the Sanderistas shouting that health care is a human right.

The Democratic legislators are marching to orders from the Shumlin health care high command. They are almost mystically convinced that the native genius of Vermonters can somehow make Green Mountain Care work. This is so even though forty years of the almost identical Canadian single payer model have produced rationing, waiting lines, maddening bureaucracies, demoralized doctors and nurses, shabby facilities, obsolete technology, declining quality of care, and of course much higher taxation.

Typical of this widely held attitude is the remark of Sen. Anthony Pollina (I-Washington): "We're from Vermont. We're one of the smartest states in the country, and we can figure this [single payer thing] out." This is the same Sanderista activist whose venture to pay farmers premium prices for milk and sell it at competitive prices predictably collapsed into insolvency.

As the saying goes, politics ain't beanbag. Neither is health care reform, but the beanbaggers are in the driver's seat.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute (www.ethanallen.org).

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