Despite an emotional and articulated display of solidarity by dozens of Vermonters, the Green Mountain Care Board approved a health insurance rate hike of 10.1 and 12.4-percent.
Mary Alice Bisbee said, “We all need our fundamental needs met and one of them is health care. There’s a long laundry list, but they all are the same basic human rights.”
Mothers, grandparents, individuals, and small business owners — people of all different backgrounds — gathered in Montpelier City Hall on Tuesday, July 23 through a shared belief that quality health care should be affordable, simple, and universal.
But their plea was not enough to convince the regulators to prevent the hikes requested by Blue Cross and Blue Shield Vermont and MVP of Vermont.
The Vermont Workers’ Center, Vermont Legal Aid, and Rights & Democracy had encouraged people to attend the hearing and to comment to the Board online. Close to 50 people attended the hearing in person and more than 500 people provided comments to the Board.
Dozens of people shared their stories to the Green Mountain Care Board about the struggle to afford health care and said that an increase to their monthly insurance premiums will cripple their ability to live happy and healthy.
Before the board arrived, many of the same community members picketed outside city hall to express their discontent to the proposed rates and called upon appointed officials to represent the people’s need for affordable health care. The picketers sang together in call and response. “Health care is a human right,” the crowd projected, “And we won’t give up the fight. There are mean things happening in this land.”
The energy continued through the meeting with the same narrative head throughout every story: Vermont’s private insurance market is inadequate in terms of coverage and too expensive for both individuals and small businesses.
The proposed rate hikes will only make things worse. Kelly Cummings told the board to “decline these rates, we don’t have any more to give.”
With America being the only developed nation without universal health care, the question with Vermont health coverage remains: at what point is enough truly enough?
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