Meet your candidate: Michael Fisher, Addison-4
HEALTH CARE: We have a great network of community hospitals and providers here in Vermont. We should not fault them for engaging in business practices that are necessary to be sustainable in our current health care financing environment. Yet this environment is disastrous for providers, employers, families and for patients who struggle to pay the bills.
State government plays a very important role in assuring that our providers and insurers don’t consume every Vermont dollar within their reach. We also owe it to Vermonters to move toward a financing system that is more focused on quality care and financial sustainability.
SCHOOL FUNDING: Frustrations with high property taxes are one of the comments I hear most often on the campaign trail. Most families have experienced level or declining incomes combined with rising costs in fuel, heating, groceries and taxes. This is a real struggle.
My two kids have gone through first Lincoln and now Mt. Abe. While it has not been perfect, our schools have served them well.
We must make sure our tax dollars are focused on education and that our schools are not top heavy with too much administration. We must also have accountability in the supervisory union budget along with an assurance that taxpayer dollars are making a real and positive difference for our kids.
TRANSPARENCY: Three years ago, when I first became chair of the House Health Care Committee, I took the step of creating a committee web page so committee members, other legislators, lobbyists, and any Vermonter could look at bill drafts and supporting documents in real time as they were being handed out to the committee. This had never been done before.
I was told by one lobbyist that her client was getting the bill drafts before she could get them to him.
This past year, the action I took in the Health Care Committee was replicated in every Legislative committee.
I am proud to have led the way. It has never been easier for Vermonters to track the details of what is going on in the Statehouse.
OPIATE ADDICTION: The state has taken real action in providing more treatment options in many areas of the state. Here in Addison County, this has been slow in coming. In the past, I have been critical of our local physical and mental health provider organizations for not stepping up and aggressively addressing this pressing health care issue. Today, I see our local health care providers moving toward real action on this priority issue. There must be access to treatment options close to where people live. The reduction in criminal behavior when someone is in treatment is impressive. I am hopeful that in the coming months we will see more options for treatment here in our community.
HIGHER EDUCATION: College costs can be stunning. My son is in his first year of college. I know the realities of this struggle first hand. There are many grants and scholarships available to students and families.
Vermont has set a priority in funding VSAC so that Vermont families can carry those supports to a school of their choice rather than funding individual state schools. We have dedicated special funds in the past for this purpose.
I continue to support making real investments in higher education. I also know that there are many serious budget pressures in the coming years and am committed to balancing our budget.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Our community is teeming with smart and creative entrepreneurs who have great products and services to sell locally and on a larger scale. It is exciting to see these businesses go from small scale projects to medium or large scale employers.
These employers need good roads, broadband communication, and promotion. We must preserve the value of the Vermont brand and promote it regionally and internationally. Employers need what families need: a safe clean environment, good schools and access to necessary services such as quality health care.
We live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. We have great artisans and service providers who need customers. It should be a high priority to help steer people here to our community to enjoy both the natural environment and our local businesses.
CANDIDATE’S CHOICE: Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM) are amongst the most profitable businesses in our nation. They contract with our insurers and the state to play a middle man role in getting our prescription drugs to us. I cannot tell you how much money they are making in this line of business here in Vermont because they have engaged in contracts with our insurers that keep those details secret. In fact, our auditor was not able to track taxpayer dollars on behalf of state employees due to these contracts.
I am proud to have brought to the floor and passed legislation last year that will require much more transparency in these business transactions.
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