Opinion: Vermonters could benefit from more nuanced debate

Responding to Greg Dennis’ Aug. 28 column: It’s unfortunate that so little opportunity for genuine debate exists anywhere, including in Congress, state legislatures and the Supreme Court. When ordinary people address very controversial subjects in government hearings, town meetings or even letters to the editor, time and space are usually so tightly limited we can barely make our own points, let alone grant concessions to the opposition.
Mr. Dennis demonstrates that constraint by reducing all the issues he names to the barest of bones: GMOs, good or bad; abortions, right to life or reproductive freedom, etc. He laments that reduction, but it’s the only chance most of us get. You must make the strongest possible case for your cause as succinctly as possible — too succinctly, sometimes, but often it’s that or nothing. Naturally, allies echo each other’s talking points.
? It’s also important to refute the other side’s misrepresentations, particularly regarding single-payer health care. Opponents of single-payer imply that criticism of Vermont Health Connect/Obamacare/ACA applies equally to single-payer, which is simply false. Problems with the ACA are inherent in its complexity of premiums, levels of coverage, high-deductible/copay policies, restrictions on providers and required changes in subscriber information, all of which stem from its being a continuation of private, for-profit insurance.?
Single-payer/Green Mountain Care differs fundamentally from Vermont Health Connect. It will cover all Vermonters and is comparable to Medicare, which most subscribers value highly and would not trade for private insurance. Medicare and Social Security are proof that government programs can work very well and very smoothly.
Yes, at the beginning, the devil is in the details of financing. That is why Vermont must elect a governor, lieutenant governor and legislators who are absolutely committed in principle to single-payer (Act 48): universal access to good, affordable health care as a basic right. With that commitment they can design and adopt a workable “plan A” — not because they are lemmings but because they are smart human beings united in a vitally important effort.
If, as he claims, Mr. Dennis supports single-payer, why doesn’t he use his abundant column space to describe its advantages instead of belittling the efforts of the people working to provide them for all Vermonters?
Judy and Michael Olinick

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