Forum, Jan. 14: OneCare Vermont just isn’t cutting it

Published: 1/13/2020 10:00:55 PM
Modified: 1/13/2020 10:00:09 PM
OneCare Vermont just isn’t cutting it

On Dec. 18, the Green Mountain Care Board, Vermont’s health care regulating body, approved a $1.43 billion OneCare budget, a 59% increase from the previous year. The latest budget increase reflects continued actions by public officials to turn the core functions of Vermont’s health care needs over to an expensive, experimental and for-profit ACO, or accountable care organization. OneCare refers to the merged desire of our region’s largest hospitals, UVM Medical Center and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, to prioritize costs from insurance providers over the health care needs of patients. We believe the ACO has failed to provide evidence that Vermont’s health care outcomes have improved with the added layers of bureaucratic cost required to maintain it.

OneCare’s budget is supported by millions of dollars of public money from Medicare and Medicaid, but the ACO refuses to publish the salaries of its top executives or make its accounting transparent for public review. In the last year, OneCare reduced spending on community health while Vermont’s state auditor found that the organization did not accurately report on its community health initiatives. In November, a whistleblower accused OneCare of defrauding the federal government with unreliable data. Another concern is that the former chair of the Green Mountain Care Board left his public service position for an executive role with OneCare affiliate UVM Health Network.

Public officials who have put their trust in OneCare have handed the health of Vermonters to an untested system unaccountable to the public. Public money raised through Medicaid should be used to provide health care to Medicaid recipients; it should not be diverted to prop up the ACO any longer.

Health care is a human right and must be a public good. By 2022, when the ACO contract is up for renewal, OneCare aims to be responsible for the care of two out of three people in Vermont. Instead of trusting our health to OneCare, public officials should work toward funding the universal health care system mandated by law in Act 48.








South Royalton


Bradford, Vt.

The writers are members of the Vermont Workers’ Center.

Learn more about Sunapee proposal

On March 10, the Sunapee community will vote on a $25.6 million warrant article to address significant long-term safety, infrastructure and education space issues with the existing 92-year-old elementary school, and less extensive renovations to the middle high school. The proposed plan includes building a new elementary school on district-owned land, renovating the existing middle high school and improving the athletic fields. While there are understandably a range of opinions and feelings about the project and its costs, as we proceed to the vote, it is critical that the facts remain the focus.

If passed, the tax impact is projected to be $2.07 per $1,000 on a 15-year bond. Longer-loan terms are projected at $1.78 per $1,000 for 20-year bond, $1.63 per $1,000 for 25-year bond and $1.54 per $1,000 for 30-year bond, with longer terms resulting in higher interest rates and higher total interest paid over the life of the bond. For example, if a 15-year option is selected, the tax impact on a $300,000 home will be $621 per year. The specific financing terms and duration will be determined by the board in discussions at public meetings, should the proposed warrant article pass.

Voters and taxpayers can learn more at three upcoming meetings: the Jan. 15 School Board meeting at 6 p.m., the Feb. 3 deliberative session at 7 p.m., and the fifth community forum about the project on March 5 at 6 p.m. All meetings are at Sunapee Middle High School. Informal and small-group options for those wanting to learn more include three question-and-answer sessions at the Abbott Library on Jan. 20, 27 and Feb. 10, from 5-6 p.m. The website contains all project information, videos of meetings, documents, timeline and history.

As we proceed to the March 10 vote, please learn more about the proposed project and the urgent need to address significant long-term safety, infrastructure and education space issues. Please engage others to learn more.



The writer is a member of the Sunapee School Board.

Not a normal business expansion in Claremont

I urge citizens of Claremont to come to the next Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting, on Feb. 3, at 7 p.m., in City Council chambers, to speak against the proposed expansion of “sex toys” at Magic Mushroom on Washington Street. The zoning ordinance states that the “the zoning administrator, or his/her designees, shall administer this chapter literally and shall not have the power to permit any use of land or buildings which is not in conformance with this chapter.” This means that the zoning administrator has the mandate and the authority to say no to an expansion of business that is determined to be in violation of the city’s zoning ordinance.

I have had several conversations with people in Claremont and some seem to be of the opinion that this is a normal business and this type of sexually oriented material is everywhere. This is not a normal business expansion. The city’s master plan states that its purpose is to promote the health, safety and welfare of Claremont’s residents and visitors. The plan also says it gives Claremont a sense of identity and it explains the necessity of a zoning board to protect us. The plan also speaks to positive growth and the expectation of high-quality community services, amenities, cultural opportunities and schools.

The proposed expansion of this type of business is not what the taxpayers who developed the master plan were expecting. Come out and voice your opinion. A variance should not be authorized according to the master plan and the zoning ordinances and we should be protected in accordance with Claremont city ordinances.



The writer is a city councilor representing Ward II.

Enforce the codes that are already in place

If the city of Lebanon, and other communities, would simply enforce the code requirements that were part of the building permits issued when these plazas were built — fire lanes with no parking allowed, for example — there would be no need for designated police parking spaces (“Store gives preferred parking to police,” Jan. 5). This would allow these spaces to be set aside for the handicapped, there would be plenty of parking for emergency vehicles near the front of the building, and safety would be improved by not having parked vehicles blocking view of customers exiting buildings.

And cities and towns should not bear the cost of enforcement, as it’s the plaza’s or building owner’s responsibility, the same as the cost of maintaining the building’s fire alarm or other safety systems. If it’s seen that the owner is not keeping up with enforcing the no-parking requirement, then the owner should be issued a notice of non-compliance.

That’s not to say that police shouldn’t be called for such things as shoplifting, as that’s a law enforcement issue.



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