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WCAX News - Vt. Gubernatorial Candidates on Health Care

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WCAX News - Vt. Gubernatorial Candidates on Health Care

Health care is a $4 billion expense in Vermont each year. Here's a look at how the three candidates who want to be governor of Vermont plan to rein in those ever-rising health care costs.

Jim Douglas
Party: Republican
Age: 57
Lives: Middlebury
Family: Wife Dorothy, 2 children
Notable: Elected 13 times statewide

Gaye Symington
Party: Democrat
Age: 54
Lives: Jericho
Family: Husband Chuck Lacy, 3 children
Notable: 4 years as Vt. House Speaker

Anthony Pollina
Party: Independent
Age: 56
Lives: Middlesex
Family: Wife Deborah, two children
Notable: Won 25% of vote in 2002 Lt. Gov. race

The health care system is complex... just ask Democrat Gaye Symington. Her family had several health care needs that led to health insurance complications.

"I with an MBA can't follow what the bill says and what it's for so there needs to be more transparency and simplification so people can understand if they are going to be an active partner in the system," Symington said.

Symington says preventive care is key to keeping health care costs down.

Republican Jim Douglas agrees. As Governor he's worked on several programs designed to help people be active and deal with chronic illnesses like diabetes.

"We have to make people healthier. The goal of health care reform is not to improve the intervention in our hospitals and doctors' offices, it's to keep people healthy in the first place and I believe our blueprint strategy over time will accomplish that goal," Douglas said.

During the last session both the Democrat and Republican helped start Catamount Health, the state insurance program. 10,000 Vermonters have joined-- far short its original goal. Even so, both candidates say it's off to a good start. But they disagree on what should happen next. Symington wants everyone insured through one program.

"Until we get to the day when everybody is sharing in that responsibility of paying for health care we will always have a system of cost shifts that only exacerbates the cost increases for those are paying the bill," Symington said.

"I don't know that it needs to be linked to employment, but to retreat from that recent tradition where most people get their insurance through an employer I think would be very difficult at this point, so I'm not interested in throwing the baby out with the bath water with proposing a total upheaval of the health care insurance system," Douglas said.

Symington said, "Jim Douglas is someone who believes we can sit back and health insurance companies will take care of our health care system and I just don't believe that to be the case and that's a fundamental difference."

Douglas said, "It's the wrong way to go because it's the wrong part of the question to address: it doesn't matter if it's run by the state or private insurance companies or anyone else unless there is cost control."

"What we are doing for health care right now - is not working," Anthony Pollina said.

The Independent says Catamount Health does not do enough and a full revamp of the health care system is needed.

He wants a single-payer plan with everyone in one insurance pool and is upfront that it will take money to start.

"We would have to raise that money; and frankly whether you call it a premium, tax, or a fee; I don't think as important as the goal which is to make sure it is smaller. A lot of folks are paying $10,000-$12,000 a year for health insurance premiums," Pollina said.

Prescriptions to fix the health care system these candidates hope earn your vote.
Kristin Carlson - WCAX News


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