[From our Single Payer friends with the Vermont Workers Center. Here is an op-ed by VWC organizer Kate Kanelstein. Kate visited us in Oregon with a statewide tour several years ago.]
This OpEd by VWC lead organizer Kate Kanelstein was published in the Burlington Free Press.
July 1, 2015
Last week the US Supreme Court upheld subsidies for buying private health insurance in states with federally-run marketplaces or exchanges.
The court’s decision has been an enormous relief for the millions of people who stood to lose access to coverage had the subsidies been revoked, and is seen as a vindication of Obamacare. However, many people with healthcare issues are asking whether it’s time to move beyond Obamacare’s market-based insurance system -- in which subsidies ultimately flow to the big private insurance companies -- and instead ensure that our public dollars go towards meeting the needs of our families and communities.
As in many other states, here in Vermont the rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s healthcare exchange has only increased -- rather than resolved -- our continuing healthcare crisis, with the failure of private contractors to make the Vermont Health Connect website work resulting in a series of mishaps -- most recently in the form of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont claiming back payments from 6,000 people for care they thought was covered. Thousands of us have experienced healthcare uncertainty and unaffordable costs, with grave implications for our health and ability to make ends meet for our families.
Our frustrations should be directed at CGI and Optum, the private, for-profit contractors hired by the state to roll out the VHC website, as well as the Shumlin administration for failing to hold these contractors accountable.
But we risk missing the forest for the trees if we don’t acknowledge that the roots of the flawed VHC rollout lie in fact in the market-based approach of the Affordable Care Act, with its insurance industry-guided design, complete with tiers of coverage and eligibility restrictions. Rather than ushering in a new era of treating healthcare as a right and a public good for all, the ACA has enshrined a fundamentally unjust market-based system with different and unequal insurance products, different and unequal prices for health services, and different and unequal access to care.