Letter Box


Skatepark committee looks toward future

Editor of the Reformer:

The board members of Brattleboro Area Skatepark is Coming would like to offer our sincere appreciation to all the members of the community who continue to support the efforts to build a skatepark in the town of Brattleboro.

The new site selection committee that will be appointed by the Selectboard will be convening over the next few months to weigh a well thought out list of criteria pertaining to a variety of sites before choosing the best location by May 1. We will then move forward with fundraising, design alterations and installation of the park.

Special thank-yous go out to the editorial board of the Reformer for their words of support and to all those who have contributed to the project thus far with their own stories, good work and donations, both large and small. Recent contributions from Merchants Bank and the Vermont Entergy Charity Golf Tournament have energized us as a committee and we are stoked about our mission of helping to create a recreational destination where people of all ages can appreciate the skill, determination, athleticism and joy that grows through skateboarding.

Jeff Clark and Linda Whelihan,

chairman and vice-chairman
of BASIC, Nov. 11

Health costs on the rise

Editor of the Reformer:

ShumlinCare makes healthcare affordable for Vermonters? It does not. It does reduce the cost of MVP and Blue Cross premiums compared to last year, but out-of-pocket costs double for everyone unless they are paying for ultra-expensive gold or platinum plans (Roughly $6,000 extra per year for a family plan). Those who least can afford health care will most likely opt for the low premium bronze plans where the co-pays are 50 percent and maximum out of pocket costs top $5,250 per person, $11,500 for a family, or silver plans that have a maximum out of pocket cost of $12,500 for a family. There are no subsidies for out-of-pocket costs. Every Vermonter will be on the hook, regardless of income. To put that in perspective, simple outpatient procedures can cost upwards of $10,000 these days. Low-income Vermonter couples or families with Silver Plans (the middle of the road choice) will be on the hook for $4,480 of that cost. Their annual maximum out of pocket costs for all medical care can be as high as $12,500.

For Vermonters with average incomes, the premium for a silver plan will be $13,328. Adding the $12,500 max plus the $2,500 prescription drug max the total annual cost for a silver plan can be $28,328. There is nothing affordable about that.

The Federal Government is responsible for the ACA and therefore higher out of pocket costs? It is not. The Green Mountain Care board, recommended by the governor, approved the plans and premiums that small businesses and individuals are required to choose from.

ShumlinCare reduces health care premiums? Not when compared to other states. ObamaCare is designed to increase competition and thereby reduce premiums, which it does. In states where many insurance companies are allowed to compete, premiums are lower. Vermont premiums are among the highest in the country. The Shumlin administration and the Green Mountain Care Board have driven all but two insurance companies out of Vermont -- MVP and Blue Cross. Neither company has an incentive to lower costs as they know what their competition is charging and can simply charge roughly the same thing

Single payer will lower costs? It will not. Both of the remaining insurance companies in Vermont are already non-profits. Without competition to drive health care costs down and change from a fee per service to fee per outcome model, health care costs will continue to rise. A single payer system will simply pay the bills, it will do nothing to reduce cost. In fact, costs will likely go up as out of pocket costs already have under ShumlinCare.

The Shumlin administration is competent to run a single payer healthcare system? It is not. It has had three years and $86 million to design a website that acts as a broker between the two remaining insurance companies in Vermont. The site doesn’t work. There is simply no way the state has the competency to act as a single payer. The task is far too complicated. There are thousands of procedures to be monitored daily and billions of dollars spent annually. It is a nut that is too big for the state of Vermont to chew.

Douglas S. Friant,

South Londonderry, Nov. 11

Take the challenge

Editor of the Reformer:

Time is slipping away to participate in Efficiency Vermont’s "Vermont Home Energy Challenge," which ends Feb. 15, 2014. Whether you make that deadline or not, however, the economic and environmental benefits of getting an energy audit of your home and acting to weatherize it are both immediate and gratifying. Tax credits and rebates only sweeten what should, for owners of drafty old Vermont homes, be a no-brainer.

Last year, my two-family rental in Brattleboro was audited and, subsequently, insulated with blown-in cellulose by Farnum Insulation, in partnership with Energy Vermont. Nearly half the cost of the project was covered by incentives and credits, and the work was neatly completed within a few days.

The results were immediate and impressive: In the subsequent heating season, the building used one-third less heating oil than it had the previous year. This makes me happy as a "heat included" landlord, of course, but even more gratifying is the decreased carbon footprint of the building. Given the increasingly clear evidence of global warming resulting from the burning of fossil fuels (witness the recent wildfires in Australia, Typhoon Haiyan’s devastation in the Phillipines, and other "natural" disasters), we must all do what we can to minimize, if not eliminate, the release of carbon into the atmosphere. Weatherization is one small but important step in that direction.

Given the prevalence of old housing stock in our region, it’s clear that there are many candidates for similar updating and retrofitting still out there. For me, getting in touch with Efficiency Vermont has clearly been a "win-win" experience. I encourage fellow Vermonters to contact them today at 1-888-921-5990 or www.efficiencyvermont.com to find out how you too can save money, shrink your Sorel-sized carbon footprints, and enjoy a cozier home this winter.

For more information on energy audits, contact Paul Cameron at 802-251-8135 or pcameron@brattleboro.org, or visit www.brattleboroenergychallenge.org.

Steve Carmichael,

Brattleboro, Nov. 12


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