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Community forum: Publicly funded primary care would save money

This week’s Community Forum is by Catherine Rader of the Vermont League of Women Voters.
On January 23 I attended the public hearing of the joint House Health Care Committee and Senate Health and Welfare Committee at the State House. I heard stories from people with and without insurance, for those with inadequate insurance and people trapped in jobs in order to afford insurance for their families. Dr. Allan Ramsay, head of the People’s Health and Wellness Clinic in Barre, spoke of ever-greater demand on their services for the uninsured and underinsured. We learned that delaying a visit to a primary care physician for lack of a co-pay can lead to more serious illness and even death.
This hearing was in consideration of H.248 and S.53, companion bills proposing publicly funded primary care for all Vermonters. The League of Women Voters (LWV) strongly supports these bills.
Most health care is primary care. Accessible, publicly funded health care will save money. When patients do not delay a doctor visit because of cost, more complex and expensive care is avoided. Include mental health care and substance abuse counseling with primary care, and even more problems are prevented. Publicly funded primary care is an investment in public health.
H.248 and S.53 do not request funds at this time. Rather, the legislation asks that the Joint Fiscal Office present funding options for consideration. Contact your legislators and ask them to support Universal Primary Care. Let the Joint Fiscal Office provide a way to make this basic human need a reality for Vermonters in these uncertain times.

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