Given the passage of the American Health Care Act on May 4, Rights & Democracy wanted to re-connect with Gov. Phil Scott and ask him to make a more forceful stand against the GOP-led plan to strip healthcare from millions of Americans and thousands of Vermonters. In the days following the House passage of this disastrous law, hundreds of new voices rose up in Vermont, and many signed our ongoing petition calling on Gov. Scott to stand up for Vermonters.
Below is the letter we sent to Gov. Scott's office on May 17. It was acknowledged and received by a senior staff person.
Dear Governor Phil Scott,
Since the House’s passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) on May 4, hundreds more Vermonters have added their names to the thousands who have already asked you to stand up for Vermonters’ healthcare.
These Vermonters are sharing their stories about how the GOP House bill, including the repeal of key Affordable Care Act (ACA) provisions and the dismantling of Medicaid as we know it, impacts their own lives or those of their loved ones. Today, we are asking you to read their stories.
These voices are calling on you to join other Republican governors who are opposing the AHCA and take a leadership role in protecting the health and wellbeing of everyday Vermonters. With Vermont’s experience developing innovative healthcare reforms and promoting access, our state has an opportunity to be a role model for other states, including those governed by your Republican colleagues who know this bill will cause irrevocable harm.
In fact, your own administration has already acknowledged this repeal will hurt Vermonters. According to a recent news article, your Secretary of Human Services, Al Gobeille commented that, “the state’s analysis is that this could be really, really tough for the state of Vermont."
Roughly 21,000 people in Vermont have healthcare coverage thanks to the ACA. Not only will the Republican repeal bill wipe out those gains in coverage, but the GOP proposals increase costs even for those who will keep insurance.
Out of pocket costs like premiums, deductibles, and co-pays for individual Vermonters on our state’s health exchange will increase by an average of $3,239.
The GOP bill, including ending the Medicaid expansion, would be devastating for our state’s Medicaid system which covers 206,000 residents including 49% of Vermont children.
Vermont would need to raise an additional $2 billion over the next 10 years to maintain our current levels of Medicaid coverage, which provides life-sustaining and live-saving medical services for low-income families and adults, seniors, and people living with disabilities who have no other source of health care.
In sum, under the current GOP proposal, our state and its people will face a healthcare and economic crisis just so Republicans in Washington can handout $600 billion dollars in tax breaks to private health insurance companies, prescription drug and medical device manufacturers, and the wealthiest Americans.
We again ask that you meet with the public—your constituents—and openly discuss your administration’s plans to respond to the AHCA and to move forward on our historic commitment to provide universal healthcare to all.
The Rights & Democracy VT Team
PS: On Friday, MAY 26 there will be a public rally from 6:30-8PM at the Station House parking lot in Bennington. People will gather for aBennington Healthcare Rally - Band Aids Won’t Fix This Mess! This will be held in honor of the 2011 signing of Act 48 into law. Feel free to let us know if you’d like to attend, or have staff representation.
The Voices of Vermonters
Below are just a sampling of the comments from the more than 3,325 Vermonters who have signed our petition. We invite you to read through more of them online at http://www.radvt.org/dearphillscott
From Suzanne Young, Bomoseen VT: I consider myself a progressive, yet voted for you this election. I am very glad I did, as I think you are an example of how a Republican should govern. Please use your Republican clout with our federal legislators and tell them WE NEED HEALTH CARE FOR ALL.
From Kathryn McCurdy of Burlington, VT: I have had autoimmune conditions since I was 13 years old, and have gone through surgery and expensive treatments. I am now 39. I remember the possibility of being denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition; this haunted me. If there were lifetime limits on coverage, I might be left without options at an early age and either die or become so ill I could no longer function in society. Everyone’s health will fail at one point or another. We have an obligation to take care of each other, in sickness and in health.
From Shelley Rinaldi, Bakersfield, VT: About 16 years ago, I was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). It slowly damaged my liver until eventually I needed a liver transplant. Today, I am coming up on my 1 year anniversary of receiving a liver transplant. I am very blessed that I am married to a man who works in corporate America and has fabulous medical benefits which covered my medical care to date. The bottom line is, I have no idea at what point my liver would have failed and I would have succumb to my liver disease had we NOT had insurance or had my “pre-existing condition” prevented me from getting adequate coverage of the treatments that saved my life. Without insurance to cover my transplant I would be dead, or permanently ill and hospitalized until my eventual demise.
I have many friends who have health issues and they are "waiting" to get medical procedures they need because they are not "lucky" like me. My story has so far had a happy ending whereas these friends are still both pre-surgery with very little or no medical coverage. I worry so much about them. I also worry that under the AHCA I will be one of those people with a chronic medical condition who will be subject to higher premiums or lifetime caps; for me this possibility is a matter of life and death.
Governor Scott, I ask you to stand with me and thousands of Vermonters, of all ages and insurance statuses, who like me have a preexisting condition and whose healthcare is now under attack. No one—whether sick or healthy—should have to worry about whether they or their loved ones will be able to get the care they need, when and how they need it.
From Dorothy MacDonald, Brattleboro, VT:
Healthcare for all is the only moral alternative especially after Pres. Trump has made it clear that the health of fellow citizens does not matter to him. We already have the law, so let’s act on it and pass single payer healthcare as the only moral and doable alternative. Our health and lack of fear and anxiety over our state of health should not be a profit driven commodity. I know from 60 years experience that there will be no justice, compassion or morality in that. Think radically. Vermont can be a leader of the nation! Be on the right and historic side of this issue. Make Vermont proud not a further victim of the greedy right. Show us the Republican party still has men of integrity and justice in it.
From Leslie Walz, Barre, VT: You’ve done us proud by resisting the Trump administration’s immigration policies. Please do the same with standing against the repeal of the ACA and eventual repeal of the Medicaid expansion. When/if these programs are eliminated, you know how many people will be hurt. Please stand up for Vermonters by publicly resisting. Encourage and lead your Republican governors to do the same. I’m an Indivisible group facilitator and have many active members who agree that you should stand strong for us.
From Nancy Juergens, Andover, VT: Please support affordable healthcare for all Vermonters. Not having healthcare is a source of anxiety and is demoralizing to even the most independent person.
From John Young, Bethel VT: I am 63 , an RN and an end of life care specialist. I had a kidney removed secondary to renal cell carcinoma. My costs right now to ensure that it does not return are already about as high as I can afford. I am really hoping that you will stand up for us, as Vermonters, to ensure affordable health care for the middle and lower class as well as those of us with pre existing conditions.
From Laura Ziegler, Plainfield, VT: The attacks on health coverage by Trump administration and most Republicans in Congress threaten the general welfare — the safety and the lives — of the American people. As Vermont Governor, failure to speak out in opposition and actively resist would make you complicit. Please support Vermonters by confronting these destructive policies.
From William Gee, Rutland, VT: Thanks to the ACA, 98% of Vermonters have health insurance and hospitals like Rutland Regional are able to offer more services and lower its prices to that even those without insurance can be cared for. This bill will not only reverse this trend so that fewer Vermonters are covered, hospitals like RRMC will eventually have to scale back its services, meaning that healthcare workers will lose their jobs while Vermonters get sicker! This MUST NOT happen!
From Maryanne Roberts, Lincoln, VT: Governor Scott, Please stand up for health care as a human right. Prove that Trump is not what Republicans look like.
From Alison Johnson, Burlington, VT: My family depends on the consumer protections required by the Affordable Care Act. Healthcare is a human right, not an opportunity to demonstrate partisanship for the 2018 elections. Please tell Washington that our state values accessible, affordable, quality healthcare.
From Ron Horton, Jay, VT: Think of all the people in your circle and try and figure out which one of them doesn’t have a pre-existing condition. We are a state filled with elderly, disabled, and those with pre-existing conditions. trumpUNcare will only serve to kill these groups off in a hurry. Vermont can’t afford this atrocity.
From Adam Lodestone, Burlington, VT: Health care is a human right, not a privilege to be had only by those who can afford to pay for it out of pocket. This action by the Federal government seeks to “punish” those who are most vulnerable, a merely slightly-veiled act of class warfare, ablesim, Calvinist rationalism, and racial prejudice. Vermont has become a very humane and forward-thinking State, where citizens enjoy some of the most advanced and progressive health care in the nation. We must NOT go backwards! Defend Vermonters and all other Americans against this cruel, punitive, and inhumane action!