We are urging the Senate to reject the nomination of Tom Pelham to a vacancy on the Green Mountain Care Board. We urge the Senate to not only reject Mr. Pelham's nomination but to hold open the vacancy left by Con Hogan to be filled by someone who will be a voice for the interests of everyday Vermonters in need of health care. There is currently no member of the Board who has an everyday patient’s perspective on the panel, and can be their advocate for a system that is responsive to their needs. The need for such an inclusive and empathetic voice on this Board is all the more important as the Senate and House consider legislation to enact Universal Primary Care in Vermont as a first step toward realizing the full promise of Act 48.
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The Honorable Claire Ayer, Chairwoman
Senate Health and Welfare Committee
113 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05601
Dear Senator Ayer:
We have serious concerns about the nomination of Tom Pelham to a vacancy on the Green Mountain Care Board, and urge the Senate to reject Mr. Pelham's nomination and hold open the vacancy left by Con Hogan to be filled by someone who will be a voice for the interests of everyday Vermonters in need of health care.
There is currently no member of the Board who has an everyday patient’s perspective on the panel, and can be their advocate for a system that is responsive to their needs. This is a crucial perspective necessary to carry out the Board’s mission as a regulatory and policy reviewing body.
According to the Board’s own hiring guidelines, “It is expected that the expertise, knowledge and characteristics of individual members will complement each other and that members contribute to public confidence in the Board’s decisions and process.”
While Mr. Pelham might believe he has always advocated in the best interests of Vermont and Vermonters, his background and opinions do not match the required principles that a Board member is expected to support while serving. Those principles include:
The State of Vermont must ensure universal access to and coverage for high-quality, medically necessary health services for all Vermonters.
Overall health care costs must be contained and growth in health care spending must balance the health needs of the population with the ability to pay for such care.
The health care system must be transparent in design, efficient in operation, and accountable to the people it serves.
Primary care must be preserved and enhanced so that Vermonters have care available to them, preferably within their own communities.
Every Vermonter should be able to choose his or her health care provider.
Vermonters should be aware of the costs of health services. Costs should be transparent and easy to understand.
Individuals have a personal responsibility to maintain their own health and to use health resources wisely.
The health care system must recognize the primacy of the relationship between patients and their health care practitioners.
Vermont's health delivery system must seek continuous improvement of health care quality and safety and promote and incent healthy lifestyles.
Vermont's health care system must include mechanisms for containing all system costs and eliminating unnecessary expenditures.
The financing of health care must be sufficient, fair, predictable, transparent, sustainable, and shared equitably.
The system must consider the effects of payment reform on individuals and on health care professionals and suppliers.
Vermont's health care system must operate as a partnership between consumers, employers, health care professionals, hospitals and government.
In many instances, as you’ll see below, Pelham has been a voice for more health care austerity — not a universal system where everyone is covered regardless of their ability to pay. The need for such an inclusive and empathetic voice on this Board is all the more important as the Senate and House consider legislation to enact Universal Primary Care in Vermont as a first step toward realizing the full promise of Act 48.
Vermont faces a tremendous challenge—ensuring that our historical habit of Vermonters helping Vermonters continues in the matter of access to affordable, equitably funded, and universal health care. The voices of Vermonters in need of health care equity have been noticeably absent or ignored during regulatory reviews and systems evaluations. Too often, those voices are relegated to a few minutes of testimony. Rather than a temporary seat in front of a microphone, they need a permanent seat on the board.
The overhaul of our health care system means that we must think beyond the traditional austerity mindset of patching or constraining existing systems, which has been Mr. Pelham’s worldview as evident in these published articles:
While Mr. Pelham's governmental perspective may prove valuable to carrying out Gov. Phil Scott’s austerity agenda, Vermonters would be better served for this vacancy to be filled by someone who has real-life experiences with the shortcomings of the present payment and delivery systems and supports the vision of Act 48 to ensure that we create a system that provides equitable health care for all Vermonters—from newborns to seniors.
Thank you very much for your attention to this extremely important matter for the present and the future of all Vermonters.
Rights & Democracy