The results are in

Congratulations to Democrats Mike Mrowicki and Nader Hashim on winning the Windham-4 primary for the House of Representatives.  We will be well-served by Mike continuing his legislative focus on human needs and Nader’s fresh perspective and passion for racial justice.

I thank them both for joining me in a positive and respectful campaign.

There is much work to do.  We need a Democratic governor and/or a veto-proof majority in the House.  Then we must enact a living wage, universal health care, and paid family leave, and make real progress on gun safety that addresses suicide, and on climate change and a green economy.

Mike and Nader can’t do it alone.  I encourage all citizens to stay engaged and be clear with both the legislative and executive branches what we want our government to accomplish.  Our future depends on it.

Where To Vote on Tuesday, Aug. 14th

Dummerston, Putney and Westminster, Here's Where You Vote:

Dummerston: The Church in the Center, in the basement, 8:00 am - 7:00 pm

Putney:  The Fire Station, 10:00 am - 7:00 pm

Westminster:  The Westminster Institute, on Route 5, 8:00 am - 7:00 pm

Not registered?  You can register at the polls.  Just bring your driver's license.  If you don't have one, they'll ask for some other identifying information.

Single Payer Health Care

So many of you are concerned about health care and wonder if single payer is possible.  I wrote a commentary about it.  Not sure if the paper will print it anytime soon, so I'll share it here:

As a Democrat with a progressive bent, universal access to quality health care and the single payer model always made sense to me.  That turned to fervor when my son was hit by a truck.

He was 23 and teaching English in Thailand.  Thanks to Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, he was still on my health insurance. 

My son suffered broken bones, destroyed joints, a skull fracture and a traumatic brain injury.  But he received the best of care during that critical window when the brain can recover.  Now he’s 26, and has just earned a master’s degree.  We were lucky.

There it is.  Luck.  My son has a bright future as a teacher and tax payer because we were lucky enough to have great health insurance.  Hmmm.  So, the kid who doesn’t have great health insurance is less likely to recover?  More likely to be condemned to the margins?  Maybe need publicly funded support for the rest of their life? 

I believe that quality health care is a human right.  Like public education and police departments and decent highways, I believe it’s government’s role to ensure there’s a health care system that helps us get and stay healthy, and heals us when we’re not. 

A radical idea?  Too expensive?  You may be surprised to know that every wealthy country on earth has universal healthcare, except for the United States.  Providing health care to every resident is not some utopian dream.  It’s normal in much of the world.

Let’s look at the data from a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association:

  • We spend twice as much per person on medical care as the ten other high-income countries (the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Australia, Japan, Sweden, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Denmark)

  • This is despite having similar care utilization rates and lower rates of smoking

  • But our health is worse!  We have the lowest life expectancy, highest infant mortality, and highest birthing mother mortality of all those countries

  • Administrative costs in the U.S. account for 8% of health care costs; in the other countries it’s between 1% and 3% 

  • Per capita annual pharmaceutical costs in the U.S. were $1,443 compared to a range of $466 - $939 in the other high-income countries.  We’re not taking more medications; we’re paying more for each pill.

  • 90% of people in the U.S. have health insurance compared to 99% - 100% of those in the other countries

We’re paying more money but getting worse outcomes.  What are those other countries doing differently? 

Single payer healthcare.  A public agency handles all health care financing.  How does that save money?  Money isn’t spent on advertising and billing different insurance companies.  And the agency bargains for better pharmaceutical prices.

But didn’t Vermont already try this?  Didn’t we give up because we thought it would actually cost more?

The New York Times gives an analogy.  Our towns maintain our local roads.  Much of our municipal property tax bills go toward that.  Let’s say the State made us an offer.  They can maintain local roads for only 70% of what we’re paying now.  They have all the equipment anyway, and it’s a more efficient use of resources.  It would make our state taxes go up, but our municipal taxes would go down by even more.

If the government took over the cost of all health care, our taxes would go way up.  But compare that to our savings. 

  • A single payer system would save as much as 20% in marketing, administration and billing costs

  • Employers would no longer provide health insurance, and could pass those considerable savings onto customers, hire more employees, pay them more, and invest in their business

  • Individuals and families would no longer be paying part of those insurance premiums out of their pay checks

  • Single payer means no deductibles and can also eliminate co-pays and co-insurance costs

The savings would be much greater than the costs. 

Then there are the benefits to society.  No more staying with a job for the sake of health insurance.  That would encourage the start of new small businesses – a real boon to a state like Vermont where most of us are employed by small businesses.  And everyone would be covered, regardless of employment status, including the adventurous 23-year-old.

Our Natural Resources

Black Mountain.jpg

This tree is one of my favorites on Black Mountain.  Despite the extreme twists in its trunk, it continues to grown straight and true. 

On a walk up this weekend, I was reminded of Black Mountain's unique ecosystem.  Thank you, Nature Conservancy, for preserving it for us all.  I will work in the Legislature to ensure continued funding to public and private efforts to safeguard our natural resources for generations to come.

Leadership

As I write this, I’m listening to Barack Obama’s speech at the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth.  Talk about leaders!  Both men rose above their circumstances and led their nation to a better future.  I have to admit to some hero worship with Barack.  The way he wore his power lightly, the way his values infuse everything he does – he is a leader to admire, a person to emulate.

It is the part about values that inspires me when I am in a leadership role.  As the director of residential care homes for elders, my second highest value was paying staff a livable wage and great benefits.  My highest value was providing excellent care to those we serve. 

These are the values I want to bring to the Legislature.  I want all Vermonters to earn a livable wage.  I believe health care is a human right.  Government should serve the people, all of us, and serve us well. 

I am a progressive Democrat.  If I win, I know that not all my constituents will agree with my values or the fervor with which I hold them.  But I can promise you, that is who I am and why I run.

"Primary Election Candidate Recommendation: Cindy Jerome"

From Greg Brown, long-time local resident, Commissioner of Housing and Community Affairs in the Howard Dean administration, former Director of the Chittendon Regional Planning Commission, and former Dummerston Selectboard member:

Voters in Dummerston, Putney and Westminster have three excellent candidates to choose from in the August 14 primary election seeking to serve them in the Vermont House of Representatives, but one clearly stands out.

Cindy Jerome is a highly qualified, experienced leader who will bring the strength, the values and the commitment essential to success in Vermont`s legislature.

During my 20 year career in leadership roles in Vermont state and local government, I learned what personal attributes are necessary to get things done in our Statehouse. Cindy lives them all; the ability to listen carefully to her constituents, the creativity to address the complex challenges facing our state, and a deep commitment to the values that set Vermont apart from other states.

As Dummerston`s Town Meeting Moderator, as the Executive Director of Holton Home, and as a member of the Dummerston Selectboard, Cindy has successfully managed people and institutions through difficult times of change. Now, more than ever, we need the kind of leadership that Cindy Jerome has to offer.

Greg Brown, Dummerston

Time to Vote

Ballots are ready!  The campaign season has been flying by and Town Clerks have primary ballots ready for you.  Stop by anytime and vote.  The election is August 14th.  All ballots must be completed and returned by that day.

The race for the two seats representing Windham-4 in the House is contested.  Incumbent Mike Mrowicki, Nader Hashim and I are running.  You have a choice.  Make your voice heard by voting!

Dummerston:

The Town Office is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 am to 3 pm and on Wednesday from 11 am to 5 pm.  Primary Day voting will be at the Church in the Center, from 8 am to 7 pm.

Putney:

The Town Clerk's Office is open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 9 am to 4 pm, Wednesday from 9 am to 7 pm, and Friday from 10 am to 3 pm.  Primary Day voting will be at the Putney Fire Station from 10 am to 7 pm.

Westminster:

The Town Office is open from 8:30 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday.  Primary Day voting will be at the Westminster Center School from 8 am to 7 pm.

Alice

The United Way has released a remarkable study about ALICE - our neighbors who are Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed. https://www.unitedwayalice.org/home
"ALICE is your child care worker, your parent on Social Security, the cashier at your supermarket, a home health aide, an office clerk. ALICE cannot always pay the bills, has little or nothing in savings, and is forced to make tough choices such as deciding between quality child care or paying the rent. One unexpected car repair or medical bill can push these financially strapped families over the edge."
40% of Vermonters are ALICE, unable to afford a bare-bones household budget of housing, childcare, food, transportation and health care. 43% of Windham County residents fit this description. The study tells the stories of impossible choices our neighbors make.
We must do better.