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Porter sends Congress health care plea

BURLINGTON / MIDDLEBURY — After the collapse of the latest effort in the U.S. Senate to repeal and replace existing federal health care policy, leaders of the University of Vermont Health Network, including Porter Medical Center, are calling on Congress to maintain critical funding that provides access to affordable insurance coverage for tens of thousands of vulnerable residents in Vermont and Northern New York. 
“Lawmakers in Washington have a new chance to create a bipartisan proposal that genuinely improves the health care system for everyone,” said Dr. John Brumsted, president and CEO of the UVM Health Network.  “We urge them to recognize that deep cuts to Medicaid — which have been a central component of recent proposals — would move us in the wrong direction and hurt children, seniors and those with disabilities.”   
In an unprecedented joint letter sent to U.S. Senate leaders Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., hospital presidents across the UVMHN and the president of the UVM Health Network Medical Group called for rejection of the Republican health care bill known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act, or BCRA. While the BCRA is no longer an active proposal, UVMHN leaders have outlined key principles against which any new legislation should be measured:
•  Preserve and enhance gains Vermont and New York have made through state policies to guarantee access to affordable insurance coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions.
•  Support current reforms to develop an affordable, collaborative system that rewards the quality of care provided instead of paying for each test and procedure.
•  Maintain investments in key initiatives such as drug addiction treatment and mental health services.
Porter Medical Center President Dr. Fred Kniffin urged Congressional leaders to put their proposed reforms into perspective.
“This issue is not personal and not about politics. This is about patient care,” he said in a press release. “We are focused on improving access to necessary health care services here in Addison County and the bill being proposed will clearly limit access to care.”
UVMHN leaders also point out in the letter that reduced Medicaid funding would shift costs to policy holders and taxpayers, who would have to help pay for care for the uninsured and for funding gaps in state budgets, increasing costs for everyone. 
“We are grateful to those state and congressional leaders who actively opposed the BCRA, and we will continue to work with all legislators, health system leaders and providers to advocate for federal policies that make it easier for us to work together to improve the lives of the one million people we serve in our region,” said Brumsted.  “We hope everyone in our communities will join us in calling for health care legislation based on these principles.”

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