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Lt. Governor's Newsletter, February 10th 2023 | Universal Primary Care

Submitted by Lisa.Gerlach@v… on Fri, 02/10/2023 - 12:41

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When someone falls sick or gets injured, the only thing they should have to focus on is getting better. However, for many Vermonters, the prohibitively high cost of healthcare and health insurance gets in the way of recovery. We also know that preventative care is far less expensive than treating illness that was preventable. 


Here are a few facts about the state of healthcare in Vermont: 

  • Vermonters pay more for healthcare than other Americans. The cost of Vermont’s healthcare services grew at a rate 1.5x the U.S. average from 2000-2018 [1

  • 38% of Vermonters who have insurance are underinsured, meaning their insurance policy does not sufficiently cover the cost of their medical care [2

  • In 2019, state hospitals reported more than $85 million in medical debt, not including bills paid off with credit cards or put on long-term payment plans [3

  • High costs of healthcare lead some Vermonters to delay or cancel doctor’s appointments. This can lead to manageable chronic health concerns developing into severe acute health impacts, such as a case of diabetes becoming a foot amputation. [4


Additionally, the high cost of healthcare and barriers to access have a disproportionate impact on women, working class and low-income individuals, and the BIPOC community. 


Our current health insurance system is not working for a majority Vermonters. They do not get the care they deserve, and it costs everyone both financially and with health consequences. 


A bill (H.156) introduced last week by Rep. Brian Cina with nearly 60 tri-partisan co-sponsors aims to address these problems by providing publicly financed universal primary healthcare. As written, this bill will eliminate all copays, deductibles, and other cost sharing requirements for primary care, outpatient mental health services, substance use disorder treatment, testing for communicable diseases, and CDC recommended vaccines. Additionally, it will expand coverage to dental, hearing, and other forms of care over the next several years. 


If implemented, this bill would create greater access to primary care, reducing the costs for both the overall system as well as individuals. We know that delaying preventative care leads to worse outcomes and higher costs. 


All Vermonters should be able to get the health care that they need without the added stress of high costs or debt. 


We encourage you to contact your legislators and the Governor’s office on this issue and other issues that are important to you. It’s important to use your voice to let those in power know where you stand on the issues and what matters to you and your wellbeing. 


Lt. Governor David Zuckerman 


Additional Resources 

Medical Debt Stories- Vermont Legal Aid