Letter: Family leave 'opt-in' not a viable option


Editor of the Reformer,

A family and medical leave bill will be introduced in the Vermont Legislature again this year, just as it was last year, only to have been vetoed by Governor Scott. Very few people dispute the need for some type of structure to provide family and medical leave for working Vermonters. This bill will propose a universal access structure with a very modest employee contribution, while Governor Scott wants a voluntary rather than universal structure, in which working people would have to "opt in" if they want it.

Come on, Governor Scott. Will people without an immediate need really "opt in" before they actually need it? Unlikely. Voluntary, opt-in, social insurance programs are financially unsustainable. On the surface Governor Scott's structure may appear to be more fiscally conservative. But it isn't.

Why? Because those individuals without an immediate need will fail to opt-in, leaving the expenses to be spread among a small group of people, all of whom will need and use the program. This drives up premiums for the people who choose to opt in.

Additionally, the Governor's plan ensures a profit for private insurance companies. And where will that profit come from? Out of the funds that working people and employers contribute.

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I hate to imagine what would have happened to programs like Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment insurance if those programs had been voluntary and insurance companies needed to make a profit. Think what the premiums would be!

Our current health care system is a lesson in what not to do with a social program. Thirty percent of every dollar goes to profit and administrative costs. Do we really want to repeat this debacle?

It's a proven fact that these kinds of programs are most successful when participation is universal. We should not set up a structure that perpetuates the profit to insurance companies at the expense of the people who pay for it.

We need to create a program that helps people. Let's solve a problem, not create one.

Lori Claffee

Springfield, Feb. 1


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