McClaughry’s skewed view of health reform
Editor of the Reformer:
John McClaughry’s June 11 op-ed in the Reformer, "Decoding the language of Green Mountain Care," is vintage McClaughry. In his view, possessive individualism, privatization and a free market are good; publicly funded entitlement programs are bad. The Shumlin administration’s Green Mountain Care represents, for McClaughry, a perfect storm battering his libertarian ideals: a government-appointed board will provide health insurance for all Vermonters and it will fund it, in part, by raising taxes. Costs will be controlled by a budget applicable to all providers and hospitals. Actually, this is the way health care is financed in nearly every industrialized country. Except the U.S.
McClaughry considers the GMC Board’s use of language misleading and opaque but McClaughry’s own writing could do with some decoding. He claims that the Shumlin administration has proceeded at "flank speed" (a nautical war term) to create GMC. Yes, the Shumlin administration is the first administration to enact a law that may lead to single payer but the administration is hardly moving with lethal haste. Rather, Green Mountain Care is the culmination of more than 20 years of slow, hard work by citizen advocates and legislators statewide.
In McClaughry’s language, the new system’s funding will be "taken" from Vermont residents via
McClaughry claims the term "single payer" is often avoided by advocates because of its association with Quebec’s supposedly broken Medicare system. The GMC board has made clear that it has studied Quebec and intends to create a system unique to Vermont. Nonetheless, Vermont and Quebec both face a common problem: the shortage of family practitioners. The reason is not Quebec’s bureaucratic work force manipulation, as McClaughry would have us believe, but the exorbitant cost of medical school and inadequate remuneration of general practitioners compared to specialists.
McClaughry questions the GMC Board’s notion of ‘choice,’ suggesting that the Board will be controlling the medical choices of doctors and patients. Actually, the GMC Board determines how medical care will be paid for, not how it will be practiced.
Finally, McClaughry challenges the GMC board to come clean and explain the new system "candidly" and "in plain language." This is precisely what the board has been doing over the past year at its well-publicized and well-attended hearings and information sessions around the state.
Guilford, June 13
‘The trail serves our well-being’
Editor of the Reformer:
Many outdoor enthusiasts in our community have heard the good news that public access to the old railbed along the West River has been preserved after many years of volunteer effort so that all of us now and in future generations can recreate on the West River Trail.
A vital part of my wife’s and my decision to move into town 25 years ago was the convenient access to this rich natural resource within a few pedestrian minutes of home. Since then, we’ve enjoyed many hours recreating and exploring the wonders of nature along the trail. We’ve raised our children as outdoor kids, exercised with friends, and pondered life’s problems and possibilities while strolling solo and in tandem on the trail.
Recently, I tried to count up the activities that the trail on the banks of the river has provided us access to over the years. So far, my list is at 23 ranging from wildflower ID walks in the spring to triathlon training in summer, Harvest Moon hikes in fall, and snowshoe treks in winter. It truly is a refreshing path to adventure in all four seasons.
As word spreads about trail access and The Friends of the West River acquiring the property rights for posterity, we’re finding new friends on our near daily excursions this time of year along the river’s banks as more folks become acquainted with the trail.
As a railroad over a century ago, this native path was deemed "36 miles of trouble" since train service was so unreliable. Thanks to the efforts of a few civic-minded neighbors, we can once again travel the trail and depend on it to serve our community’s needs for natural space.
As my family has found, the trail serves our well-being, connecting us in myriad ways, to give us a grounded sense of place.
Next Monday, The Friends of the West River Trail is hosting a reception at the Marina Restaurant, 5:30-7:30 p.m. to share news about restoring the trail. The public is invited -- simply RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org to attend.
Brattleboro, June 13
Church’s sign deemed offensive
Editor of the Reformer:
In general, we are a polite and respectful society. Generally we respect those who are different from ourselves. In today’s society, no one would publicly ridicule Jews or African Americans, and gays and lesbians are finally getting recognized as equal citizens (at least in Vermont). As a society, we have mostly learned not to publicly denigrate those who are different from ourselves. Certainly no one would post a sign in a prominent public location critical of those others because of their different skin color or orientation or belief.
One would never expect respected public institution to post an illuminated sign on main street critical of those with who are "different." So why, then, does the Baptist Church feel it is proper to publicly refer to non-believers as "fools" on their public marquee: "The fool says there is no God." Yes, this week, their sign proclaims exactly that right on Main Street in downtown Brattleboro.
Please, Mr Pastor: I would not post a sign implying "only fools follow Jesus." I would ask that you show the same civility to those of us who do not share your beliefs. Please take down your offensive sign.
Dummersrton, June 13
Disappointed in obit charges
Editor of the Reformer:
To the owners of the Brattleboro Reformer,
Can you please explain the rationale behind charging people $50 for 15 lines of an obituary and then $3.50 per line after that (and, according to your website a line equals 30 characters). I’m not quite sure how this is in line with a "local" newspaper. People who are submitting obituaries are obviously grief-striken, they have been charged approximately $5,000 for a funeral and then to top it off, the "local" paper charges them for an obituary. Considering the fact that many of your articles, obituaries, classified ads, etc. have typos, I’m not quite sure where this money you are charging is being allocated to. Thank you for your anticipated response.
(By the way, I am now an out-of-state resident, but I grew up in Brattleboro so I hope you would place this letter in your paper.)
Greensboro, N.C., June 14
Editor’s note: We ran several stories prior to the new obituary policy, explaining the change and why it was made. In short, by charging people to run the obituary, families are allowed to put any information into an obituary, however they wish it to appear (as opposed to meeting previous standards and policies on placing obituaries, of which we also received many complaints). Now, a family can control how much they wish to spend on an obituary. And, for those unable or unwilling to pay, the Reformer still offers "free" death notices.