Let the Healthcare Rationing Begin!

by  Rob Roper

A recent article in the Burlington Free Press, Patients struggle with long waits at UVM Medical Center, details the growing problem of patient access to services, particularly those offered by specialists.

Although Peter Shumlin’s “Single Payer” system famously imploded on the launch pad, advocates of the concept in the State House have been using incremental, backdoor approaches to reach essentially the same outcome with UVM Medical Center becoming the single dispenser of healthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield becoming the single issuer of insurance.

These are the results: “Reiss cited wait times to see specialists at UVM Medical Center of one to seven months for neurology; four to six months for endocrinology; two to four months for rheumatology; two to four months for ear, nose and throat; and up to nine months for dermatology. ‘That’s a long time to wait for even routine appointments.’”

UVMMCs response to this, according to BFP, is that “Vermont has about the right capacity for health care, and argues more access to care would drive up costs through increased utilization by patients.” THIS IS RATIONING! Controlling costs by denying people access to care through long waiting periods. It’s also exactly what some of us predicted would happen as the state moves down this road.

However, there is a solution.  There are many doctors out there who are begging to be allowed to provide more access to services at less cost than UVMMC, but are being denied the ability to do so through our state government and its absurd Certificate of Needs Laws. “CON” laws require anyone wishing to compete with the existing hospital to get permission from the state proving first there is a “need” for whatever it is they want to provide. The politicians tend to listen to the politically powerful hospital.

But, if Vermont were to repeal our CON laws, of which we have more than any other state in the Union, entrepreneurial providers could start providing cheaper, more easily accessible healthcare services with no risk of taxpayer money. It’s an easy solution and a good one.

- Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. 


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Dick Jamieson January 19, 2017 at 6:40 pm

Thank you, Rob. Connie and I live in Park City, Utah for 7 months a year and in North Hero, Vt. for 5 months. The difference in healthcare delivery between the two states is like night and day! We have Utah Medicare Advantage plans, so we go to their “Passport” feature when we are in Vt.
We have a new hospital in Park City (4 or 5 years old) that just got a 91,000 sq. ft. addition, we have many great hospitals, doctors, and specialists in Salt Lake, 25 miles away. NO waiting….. Connie saw her Dermatologist in a week, my Cardiologist is available practically anytime. Most of our friends here are the same age as we are (70’s), and we all see our Dr’s and Specialists within very short periods of time.
You probably know that Utah is a very red state, but in spite of a small problem of lack of separation between Church and State, the place runs like a well oiled watch. After almost 60 years in Waitsfield, Vt., I cringe at what has happened to my original home.
Thank you to you and John for all you do to keep the perspective! Dick Jamieson


Jim Bulmer January 20, 2017 at 10:39 pm

If 6, 7, 8 months waiting time is acceptable to the Dems, it’s most likely because they have never had to wait in line. If one of these guys is put on a long waiting list, block your ears. The screaming will blow yuaway.


William Hays January 21, 2017 at 5:59 pm

I am eternally grateful that I have Medicare. As a retired soldier, I also have “Tri-Care”, something I never planned on, or ever thought about! While working for the Mount Mansfield Company, as a seasonal (snow maker and ski patrolman) they carried my Blue Cross coverage year-round. That was super-nice, and I did pay a stipend for the off-season coverage. Didn’t use it much, but it was there.
I am, also, eternally grateful that I don’t have to deal with the Veteran’s Administration. Sorry, but Obama totally screwed that outfit up, as if it wasn’t bad enough already. Condolences to those that have to deal with the VA. A true “Swamp Draining” in in order there! Hear that, Donald? I hope so!


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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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