Lee Russ: How many inactions does it take to cause a catastrophe?

This commentary is from Lee Russ of Bennington, a retired legal writer who was the editor/author of the third edition of “Couch on Insurance” and the attorneys’ medical advisor.

Imagine a group of people watching a house burn. They are grouped around a fire hydrant and a hose is rolled up at their feet. As the house burns, people discuss how they could make it rain to put out the fire. Maybe prayer would work? Maybe a rain dance? Maybe sow the clouds? The house continues to burn.

Absurd, right? But a pretty good analogy to today’s health care nightmare and our reaction to it.

In the political debates leading up to the November elections in Vermont, the topic of health care was most often absent. This is quite odd, given the prominence of this topic in the state media, the chronicle of doctor shortages, the long wait times to see a doctor and, of course, the ever-increasing cost of Health care.

Think of silence as the equivalent of praying for rain to put out the fire.

It’s easy to see why so many ordinary people talk about it so often. How do you explain that so few politicians even want to talk about it?

Health care is a huge economic pie. The public provides the ingredients: money in the form of insurance premiums, co-payments, deductibles, taxes and the cost of services not covered by insurance. The healthcare industry feasts on the cake: Profits of companies in the healthcare sector have increased significantly each year over the past three years, while the revenues of these companies have declined each of the past three years.

The fact that lower incomes can consistently lead to higher profits tells you that health care is a necessity, not a consumer product that people can do without if they don’t like the price. The industry can charge just about any price it wants.

The huge amount of money spent on health care has sparked a feeding frenzy. Essentially, the vultures surround our health care. Private equity, notorious for siphoning off huge profits from their efforts at the expense of everyone else, is sinking its claws deeper and deeper into health care: “Private equity firms are financial termites devouring the woodwork and foundations of America’s healthcare system.”

Commercial interests are even metastasizing Medicare into private Medicare “Advantage.”

It’s a different story for ordinary people. The cost of health insurance is rising significantly faster than incomes, prompting the chairman of the regulator to call the fares “unaffordable”.

The Vermont State Auditor reported that bonuses were rising more than three times as fast as the state’s median salary. The inevitable consequence is that people sink into medical debt. There are said to be “approximately 30,000 Vermonters with medical debts in collection and tens of thousands more paying medical bills that have not reached collection.”

And who is there to defend us?

Not the Federal Legislature, which is indebted to the vultures themselves feeding on the carcass of the public.

And, to this day, not Vermont’s executive and legislative bodies, which have inflicted on another vulture, the “responsible care organization” OneCare, eating out of taxpayer dollars without providing or improving care in any way. whether it be.

At the recent Green Mountain Care Board hearing on OneCare’s budget, a board member remarked that he was looking for evidence that OneCare was delivering results “that matter to patients,” but “I can’t find it.” . Think of OneCare as the equivalent of seeding the clouds or doing a rain dance to make it rain to put out the fire.

Also eating on the cake of health: administrators, who proliferate much faster than doctors in the field of health. Even in the small state of Vermont, high salaries for healthcare administrators — hundreds of thousands of dollars a year — are everywhere, from our hospitals to OneCare to insurance companies.

If those charged with protecting the public interest don’t do their job, the size of the health pie continues to grow like a cancer. It metastasizes in all the organs of our society. And the public is getting sicker and sicker, physically and economically.

The recent election produced significant turnover in the Vermont Legislative Assembly. Are we dare to hope that this infusion of new lawmakers will finally provide the courage to truly tackle our state’s dying health care? Maybe even discuss solutions like a publicly funded universal care plan?

Will anyone finally notice the fire hydrant?

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Key words: fire hydrant, Health care, house fire, Lee Russ, medical debt, OneCare, rising costs


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