Montpelier Policies Are Driving Up Healthcare Costs

by Wendy Wilton

It seems every town or region in VT is desperately trying to improve their economic circumstances because the economic message from the state has been weak for so long. These are generally “feel good” citizen initiatives that cannot realistically counter the demographic trends of the state. Those trends, toward population loss and aging demographic for the state (outside Chittenden County) are partly a response to low wages, high property taxes and high health care costs (which have accelerated through flawed health care reform efforts).

Health care reform is especially important in this discussion as it is about 20% of our economy.  Rapid expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare has made VT an outlier creating extremely high costs and rapid increases in those costs.  To make matters worse, Vermont’s health care exchange is still not operating properly, maintenance costs are in the millions per year and the state owes Blue Cross Blue Shield about $10 million in exchange premiums according to the company.

Both of these ‘reforms’–Medicaid expansion and the exchange–have significantly increased health care premiums each year for everyone covered by insurance and increased taxes for everyone who owns property. The City of Rutland now spends about $2.5 million annually on healthcare premiums by the city and its employees.  A 10% increase in premium costs the taxpayers an additional $200,000 or more in the budget.  The increases in recent years are unsustainable. This year it was 11.8%.

The VT legislature will return to the statehouse in 2018 to consider yet another healthcare reform effort called All Payer Waiver, agreed to by Governor Shumlin and continued by Governor Scott. The waiver was an agreement made with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, a federal agency.

This will involve staffing up a new bureaucracy to manage health care under the accountable care organization (ACO) called OneCare, created by UVM Medical Center and DMHC, thus creating a pseudo monopoly. The cost of creating this organization may be as high as $10 million. This will further add to the cost of healthcare in our state.

OneCare will determine how Medicare and Medicaid funds will be spent.  ACOs are part of Obamacare to create a bureaucracy intended to control government-funded health care expenditures.

Many of our representatives are taking leading or supporting local economic efforts which is laudable, yet some of those same leaders do not appear to understand or acknowledge the decisions by the majority in Montpelier are the source of the economic malaise they hope to cure. Continual “reforms” that continually result in higher health care costs have been detrimental to our economy. These policies affect every citizen, impact employer decisions, and increase tax rates.

Wendy Wilton is the Treasurer of Rutland City, and serves on the EAI board of directors. 

 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark Donka September 7, 2017 at 5:02 am

This is spot on but the Liberal (Bernie followers) will not listen it is not fair they will chant. We are on a collision course with disaster if we don’t stop the madness. People are leaving VT due to the cost of living. But at least we will give the un-documenter persons(illegal aliens) free health care and driving permits.

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Jim Bulmer September 9, 2017 at 12:33 am

Mark, people aren’t leaving, they’ve left. Sadly, too many of the departed were Vermont’s youngest and brightest.

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