Letters to the Editor (12/10/09)

Dec. 10, 2009

Cut and run

Our commander-in-chief, Barack Hussein Obama, has defined the mission in Afghanistan not as victory but as “ending the war.” Orwell said the fastest way to end a war is to lose it. We are on that trajectory, scheduled to “end” in 18 months just ahead of the 2012 elections.

I can’t envision Washington declaring that our entanglement with Britain was going to be over in a year and a half or Lincoln sternly planning an 18-month campaign against those pesky southerners.

After eight years of bloodshed, the senator who said the surge in Iraq was doomed to failure is trying the same maneuver with far fewer troops than his handpicked commander said were necessary to avoid defeat. Iran announced it is increasing its uranium enrichment capability fivefold and will be placing those facilities in bombproof bunkers. Increased bomb making ability coupled with the complete lack of dialogue or diplomacy of any kind and a complete failure to impose a single sanction leaves me with only one conclusion. We are on the run.

Shelley Palmer, Williston

 

Learning from Catamount Health

I believe when government decides to do something it should do it well. Because the Catamount Health program has been left solely to the private insurance companies, taxpayers are throwing away millions each year. It’s time to stop this waste.

Three years ago, the Legislature rejected a public Catamount option to compete against Blue Cross Blue Shield and MVP Health Care. Consider our experience since then.

In 2006, the Legislature’s health care consultant projected the unsubsidized premium for Catamount would be $279 per month. He projected annual premium growth rates of 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent.

However, since Catamount began in 2007, we’ve had a very different experience. The premium awarded to BCBS and MVP for 2008-09 was $393 per month, a whopping 35 percent more than worst-case projections. And just three months ago, MVP requested a shocking 31 percent increase for 2009-10.

I expect you’ll agree that a competing public Catamount option would not have the gall to seek a 31 percent upcharge over worst-case projections in these times.

Worse yet, the privatized Catamount experience is totally inconsistent with health care spending trends:

A January 2009 BISHCA survey pegged Vermont’s 2007 growth in health care spending at just 4.5 percent.

In 2008, the per person cost of Massachusetts’ Commonwealth Care was $352.43 a month, compared to the $393.11 allowed for Catamount, despite the fact that Massachusetts’ per capita health costs are above the national average, while Vermont’s are 90 percent of national.

Finally, a Lewin Group study of President Obama’s original health care proposal put the 2009 cost of an unsubsidized single premium for a policy comparable to Catamount at $298 per month.

I hope Congress learns from Vermont’s experience and includes a public option in its reform plan. If not, here in Vermont we’ll need to revisit a public Catamount option to save millions for taxpayers and businesses. We cannot afford not to.

 

Sen. Tim Ashe, D/P-Burlington