Thursday, November 20, 2014

Vermonters for Health Care Freedom

Vermonters for Health Care Freedom
Vermonters for Health Care Freedom
Health Care Reform Newsletter #41
 
Vermonters  for Health  Care Freedom  continues our newsletter series on Vermont’s health care reform efforts.  We dig deep through national and local media coverage, to bring honest reporting to our client businesses and newsletter recipients regarding Vermont’s push for a “single payer” health care system, and the problems inherent in such a system.  We also report on the federal ObamaCare law and Vermont’s health benefit exchange.  No other Vermont organization is dedicated solely to this work.
 
Grubergate:  Shocking Revelations From VT. Single Payer Financing Guru
 
Jonathan Gruber, the Shumlin administration’s consultant hired  to deliver a Vermont single payer financing plan in January 2015, has said this about American voters:
 
 
 
In this issue:
 
·         Jonathan Gruber:  Now Ready to Mislead the Vermont Legislature
·         Why Does it Matter To Vermont?
·         Gruber Fallout Is National
·         The Gruber Report Will Not Meet the “Mullin Triggers”
 
Quotes of the Week: 
 
I was dumbstruck when I heard the comments that are surfacing from an economist named Jonathan Gruber, who was paid $400,000 to help shape the President’s health plan.  First, he allowed as how the plan passed only because of a “lack of transparency” and – this is a direct quote – “the stupidity of the American people”.
Bob Schieffer, CBS News
 
“The problem is not that he said it. The problem is that he thinks it.  I’m serious. The core problem under this damn law is that it was put together by a bunch of elitists who don’t really fundamentally understand the American people”.
Howard Dean, Former VT. Governor
 
“I would hope we would never spend one Vermont taxpayer dollar on someone that believes that we should mislead the voter.  His belief that the ends justify the means is enough for me if I were governor to terminate his contract immediately. Transparency and open government are key to a well functioning democracy.”
Senator Kevin Millin,  R-Rutland
 
Jonathan Gruber:  Now Ready to Mislead  the Vermont Legislature
 
Americans just found out in recent weeks  that they were deliberately deceived and misled by  MIT economics professor  Jonathan Gruber, the architect of ObamaCare.  Videos of his speeches reveal  a man with an elitist disdain for American voters, whom he calls “stupid”.   Gruber played a central role in the preparation of analyses and the selling of ObamaCare.  He now proudly admits that he was party to a series of deceptions and lies necessary to hoodwink both Washington lawmakers and the Congressional Budget Office into passing ObacaCare under false pretenses.  (see video at end of newsletter).
 
The same fate may be in store for Vermonters.  Turns out that Jonathan Griber is the man Governor Shumlin contracted with to the tune of $450,000 to advise the Vermont legislature on how to finance Shumlin’s single-payer health care plan.  Take a look at Gruber’s philosophy as seen in videotaped speeches on ObamaCare:
 
·         “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.  And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass.  Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not”. 
 
·         “Politically you just literally cannot do….transparent financing, transparent spending.  I mean, this bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO (Congressional Budget Office) did not score the mandate (for people to have insurance) as taxes.  If the CBO scores the bill as taxes, the bill dies.  So it was written to do that”.
 
·         “It turns out politically it's really hard to get rid of (the exemption of health care from being taxed)," Gruber said. "And the only way we could get rid of it was first by mislabeling it, calling it a tax on insurance plans rather than a tax on people when we all know it’s a tax on people who hold those policies”.
 
·         “It’s very clever, you know, basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter”.
 
·         “We experimented with choice in public insurance – Medicare Part D.  Typical senior has 50 PDPs (prescription drug plans to choose from).  Seniors do a terrible job at choosing”.
 
·         Gruber ‘s response in the Vermont State House to a Vermonter concerned about the ramifications of single payer:  “Was this written by my adolescent children by any chance?”.
 
Overall,  Jonathan Gruber’s remarkable arrogance and disdain for the intellect of American voters and Vermont’s citizens is breathtaking.  His remarks are delivered in a gloating fashion, with much laughter, as he admits his deception of the Congressional  Budget Office and Washington lawmakers. 
 
In Vermont, calls to fire Gruber are coming in from every direction, including several Vermont Republican senators and representatives.   However, the Shumlin administration thinks it has somehow solved Gruber’s credibility problem by capping his contract payments.  Instead of $450,000, Gruber was asked to complete the work for only the $160,000 already paid.  The state will continue to pay Gruber’s assistants at the rate of $100/hr.  Lawrence Miller, Shumlin’s single payer point person, estimates that Gruber will probably be paid at least $280,000.  Not much of a penalty there.
 
Miller explains that Gruber “pushed back some” , but that the state was looking to address questions about Gruber’s credibility.  “Doing the work without compensation helps to address that, helps to mitigate that” (the credibility gap), says Miller.  No, Mr. Miller, it doesn’t.   Making money has nothing to do with it;  Gruber has made multiple millions already.  That’s not what motivates him; his arrogance does.  
 
Why Does It Matter to Vermonters? 
 
Even if Gruber worked for free, he can’t change who he is and how he operates.  By his own admission, Gruber purposely distorted  information about ObamaCare to make it palatable to the Congressional Budget Office.  Additionally, he  purposely misabeled another important tax provision necessary to fund ObamaCare. 
 
This is the very same work Gruber is being asked to do for the Shumlin administration and the Vermont legislature.  The clear language of his contract refutes the recent backtracking by both Governor Shumlin and pro-single payer legislator Sen. Claire Ayer that  “Hey, Gruber’s  only doing numbers; he’s not going to advise us on policy”.      
 
Gruber’s Vermont contract clearly states, “The Contractor shall assist the administration and other consultants in the development of the final policy recommendations that form the basis of a comprehensive report to the state legislature ”.  
 
Even the most ardent  legislative single payer  advocate will have a tough time explaining to his or her constituency why  a guy who would lie and mislead the federal Congressional Budget Office will now tell the truth to the Vermont legislature,  and why they should accept any of his recommendations.  Reread his philosophy above. 
 
Gruber Fallout is National
 
Others for whom Gruber has done similar work are now questioning their decisions.  The November 19, 2014 Baltimore Sun reports that Maryland Representative Andy Harris, a Johns Hopkins-trained physician, is a member of the House subcommittee with oversight of health spending.  Harris is questioning a $3.5 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant awarded to Gruber.  Gruber has already received $1.5m to study how seniors choose Medicare Part D plans (“Seniors do a terrible job of choosing”).   Harris said Gruber is on track to receive more than $2m.  (Apparently Vermont’s pay freeze won’t hurt Mr. Gruber financially, although he did “push back” on it).
 
In a letter to the NIH, Dr. Harris wrote, “Recent developments related to Dr. Gruber raise questions about his objectivity and judgment, and thus the utility of his research.  If NIH were to continue funding Dr. Gruber’s grant, would you recommend that Congress and others utilize Dr. Gruber’s study given his deporable views on the intelligence of Americans?  If you do recommend using it, how would you justify that decision,, especially to seniors why rely on Medicare Part D?”.   
 
Governor Shumlin and Vermont legislators will have to answer similar questions come January 2015.
 
The Wall Street Journal reports on November 20, 2014 that in Michigan, Republican state senator  Tom McMillin sent a letter on November 19th to the State Department of Community health , seeking information on Mr. Gruber’s work, including how he was selected and paid.  Michigan opted to go with the federal exchange rather than building a state-run exchange.  (Mr. Gruber apparently works both sides of the street.)  “He seems to have a proclivity for deception or fraud, so I’d like to dig into this”, said Mr. McMillin.
 
Perhaps the Vermont legislature should ask Reps. Harris and McMillin to visit in January and find out what they learned.  Athough Gruber’s active participation in the obfuscation of facts that led to the passage of ObamaCare is not enough to dampen the ardor of Governor Shumlin and the Vermont legislature,  this issue will not go away any time soon.  The fallout will continue, more of Gruber’s contracts will be cancelled and more revelations will come to light.
 
Gruber’s Vermont Report Will Not Meet the “Mullin Triggers”
 
Remember the “Mullin Triggers” written into Act 48 to give Vermonters some comfort that a single payer system would not harm them?  Many Vermonters were reassured that they were in safe hands beause no single payer system could be implemented without meeting these triggers.  Not anymore.  The triggers  are not included in the scope of work outlined in Jonathan Gruber’s contract. 
 
Mullin Triggers
 
·         All Vermonters must have insurance coverage that pays at least 80 percent of their medical costs.
·         Green Mountain Care, the single payer structure, will not have a “negative” aggregate impact on Vermont’s economy (Robin Lunge now says there will be “winners and losers”).
·         The financing for Green Mountain is sustainable.
·         Administrative costs will be reduced.
·         Cost containment will result in a reduction in the rate of growth of per-capita health care spending.
·         Health care professionals will be reimbursed at levels sufficient to allow Vermont to recruit and retain high-quality health care professionals.
 
Gruber Contract :  “The Contractor and his subcontractor shall assist the state in analyzing the triggers set forth in Act 48 for future consideration by the Green Mountain Care Board:
 
·         When implemented, Green Mountain Care will not have a negative aggregate impact on Vermont’s economy.
·         The financing for Green Mountain Care is sustainable.
 
That’s it.  What happened to the evaluation of the “80% medical costs” level plan?  Or any medical plan?  Any single payer analysis of the overall cost and whether it will be affordable and not have a negative impact on the economy,  must, by definition,  include an analysis of the underlying medical plan that will be the basis of single payer.  
 
What happened to Act 48’s assurances about reduced admin costs?  About cost containment resulting in reduced health care spending?  And perhaps most importantly, about single payer’s ability to attract and retain high quality providers so our health care won’t suffer?  Any response,  Mr. Gruber?   Governor Shumlin?  Senator Ayer?  Anyone? 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

SELECT BOARD NOVEMBER 11, 2014

SELECT BOARD
NOVEMBER 11, 2014
The meeting was called to order at 7:30pm by Jim Heald. Raymond Tarbell and Tim Martin were
present. All stood and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Jim welcomed everyone and requested that
speakers raise their hand to be recognized, state their name and keep remarks civil and short.
1. Additions/Deletions to the Agenda: There were two additions to the agenda:
 Minutes: Correction: minutes are for October 21, not September 21
 Other: Star Lake Dam update
 Other: ATV Issue
2. Minutes: The minutes of the regular meeting of October 14 and the special meeting of October
21were sent out before the meeting for review. There were no corrections or additions. Upon
motions made and seconded it was
VOTED: To approve the October 14 minutes. (3-0)
VOTED: To approve the October 21 minutes. (3-0)
3. Highways
 Fuel Suppliers: Jim Heald reviewed the issues and discussion of the special meeting held
October 21. The diesel tank will be moved up to the new garage area and a new pump installed.
The Fire Dept. and School (for the buses) have agreed to contribute to the cost. Marcells Oil will
be the new supplier of diesel; also fuel oil for the town office. Jim has contacted their
recommended providers of oil burner service.
 New Garage: Almost everything from the old garage has been moved in.
 Old Garage. Jim suggested selling the old building, maybe on EBay or the Newsflash. He would
like to unload it before winter, after the furnace is shut down and the water shut off. During
discussion, several points were made. 1) The sale of the building would require that the building
be removed. 2) Whoever buys it, must have proper liability insurance for the removal. 3) The
concrete pad would remain, but could be covered by stone or ground. Removal would be very
expensive, as all concrete is considered hazardous waste. Upon motion made and seconded, it
was
VOTED: To move forward with the sale of the old garage building. (3-0)
 Radio communications: In order for the town office to be able to contact the road crew, we
would need to install a base unit here ($800-900) or provide a VTel line for remote
communications ($24/month). After discussion, the Board agreed to have a handheld radio,
which we currently have, to be here at the office for now.
 Propane: The new garage has a propane boiler as backup to the wood boiler. Cota and Cota are
providing the propane. The Board had discussed moving all town propane to Cota and Cota
(including for the generators at the two Fire Stations), and not continue with Irving. Upon
motions made and seconded, it was
VOTED: To write a letter to Irving discontinuing all fuel delivery and services to the
Town Office and Garage. (3-0)
VOTED: To contract with Cota and Cota for Town Office propane delivery and service.
(3-0)
The Fire Dept. will contact Cota and Cota separately for their account.
4. Report of Treasurer
 David Johnson presented an income and expense statement dated October 31, 2014 showing cash
balances of $3,393,745. The Fowler Brook Rd culvert funds will go back to the General Fund (expenses were paid from there). The remaining Bond Proceeds and some General Fund monies
will be used to pay the final Josselyn Bros. bill for the additional work outside the contract (pole
barn). Outstanding property taxes are about $182,000, down slightly from last year at this time
($187,000). No check yet for the metal pull from the transfer station. A few other expenses were
noted, but nothing out of line with the budget.
 New Truck status: The new truck is at Fairfield, should be delivered in mid-December.
 External Audit: David reported that Jeff Bradley had visited and pickup copies of what he needed
to get the audit started. He reviewed the HRA and garage and bond accounting and agreed with
it. He will be back to get the fire dept. and rescue information.
5. Transfer Station
 The Board asked Jeff to contact RCSWD regarding the unit-based pricing which is required
starting July 1, 2015. There is a meeting on this in Rutland and Ludlow on Wednesday, Nov. 12.
6. Insurance
 Health Reimbursement Account (HRA): Last year the Town set up an HRA to provide support
for medical related deductibles and co-insurance. The Board was asked to consider allowing the
funds to be used for prescription co-pays starting January 1. This will require a change to the
plan, which must be renewed at this time. Upon motion made and seconded, it was
VOTED: To amend the HRA plan to allow prescription co-pays to be covered. (3-0)
 The Board discussed the health insurance last month, but had not formally voted on it. Upon
motions made and seconded, it was
VOTED: To support 2015 Health Insurance premiums equal to the BCBS Standard
Platinum Plan amounts for single, two-person and family coverages. Employees may
choose any plan they wish within the Exchange plans. (3-0)
VOTED: To support the HRA at the level of $600 for one-person, $1200 for two-person
and family coverages. (3-0)
7. Planning Commission
 Two terms end in November 2014. Two people (the incumbents) have expressed an interest in
the terms. Upon motions made and seconded, it was
VOTED: To appoint Michael Valente and William McGrath to new three year terms,
expiring November 2017. (3-0)
8. Other Business
 VLCT notified the town that the Unemployment Insurance Trust and the Health Trust would be
merging into one, the Employment Resource and Benefits Trust (VERB) as of January 1, 2015.
The new trust will cover the same services as the prior two, and will be adding human resource
management and employee welfare benefit programs and services.
 Star Lake Dam Update: Ron Unterman presented information on the new overtopping dam
design, which is expected to be presented to the State Dec 1. At this time it is expected that
construction will be done next summer. There is an issue of the dredging spoils (3-4000 yards).
The Army Corp of Engineers must approve where they are going. Several options may not work,
as they are considered phantom wetlands. An agricultural exemption may be possible. FOSL
may ask via the Newsflash for anyone who can take 500-1000 yards, which the Board did not
object to.
 ATV Issue: Ron Unterman presented some thoughts on the ATV Ordinance issue. A group of
residents put together a revised ordinance proposal which they felt would close some gaps in the
draft presented a couple of months ago. These areas include: clarify the process to open roads,
clarify the process to register ATV’s, enforcement of the ordinance, and education of the public
about the ordinance. A copy of the revision was given to each of the Selectmen (a copy is also
available at the Town Office).  Snowdrifters asked if they could buy fuel for the groomers from the town. The town is not
allowed to sell fuel (not a licensed dealer). The request was denied.
9. The Board reviewed and signed the October orders for payment.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned by motion made, seconded and approved, at
8:21 pm.
Respectfully submitted,
Rhonda Rivers
Minutes are DRAFT until approved at a Select Board meeting. Approved on: __________________

Friday, October 10, 2014

0-9-14 – Seniors, Medicare & Single Payer

Important issue for seniors.

0-9-14 – Seniors, Medicare & Single Payer
posted by Rob Roper

An interesting kerfuffle popped up in the comment pages of Vermont Digger’s recent article,Feliciano Claims Shumlin Wants to Take Over Medicare. First, the way the headline is phrased is meant to cast doubt on the “claim.” However, Act 48 as passed – which Shumlin signed and his party and the Progressives wrote and voted for – spells out specifically that the Vermont does in fact want to take over Medicare. It states with emphasis added:
“The director, in collaboration with the agency of human services, SHALL obtain waivers, exemptions, agreements, legislation, or a combination thereof to ensure that, to the extent possible under federal law, ALL FEDERAL PAYMENTS PROVIDED WITHIN THE STATE FOR HEALTH SERVICES ARE PAID DIRECTLY TO GREEN MOUNTAIN CARE. GREEN MOUNTAIN CARE SHALL ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE BENEFITS AND SERVICES PREVIOUSLY PAID FOR BY the federal programs, including Medicaid, MEDICARE, and, after implementation, the Vermont health benefit exchange.” (Page 12)
And,
“The agency SHALL SEEK PERMISSION from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services TO BE THE ADMINISTRATOR FOR THE MEDICARE PROGRAM IN VERMONT.” (Page 85)
Digger reporter Morgan True pointed out that Act 48 has since been refined to read,
(e) The Agency SHALL SEEK PERMISSION from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services TO BE THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE MEDICARE PROGRAM IN VERMONT. If the Agency is unsuccessful in obtaining such permission, Green Mountain Care shall be the secondary payer with respect to any health service that may be covered in whole or in part by Title XVIII of the Social Security Act (Medicare).

The new language reflects the reality that Shumlin et al may not get what they want from the feds, but it’s not a “claim” by Feliciano that the governor and the legislature WANT to take over Medicare. It’s a fact codified in law. And, they are legally obligated to try.

Whether successful or not, seniors will be impacted by the transition to single payer should it occur. If Vermont gets its waivers, Medicare will be folded into Green Mountain Care. If not, then GMC will become the secondary or “wrap around” payer. This means that seniors who have private wrap around or Medigap policies could potentially no longer be able to obtain them. GMC will fill that role; how well, who knows? All we know for sure is that the program will be administered by the same people who brought us the Vermont Health Connect debacle. Not comforting.

Many commenters on the Digger article accused Feliciano of trying to scare seniors. But, these are facts. If the facts are scary, we have a problem.

- Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute www.ethanallen.org

Thursday, October 9, 2014

SELECT BOARD MEETING 10-14-14

SELECT BOARD MEETING
October 14, 2014
7:30pm
Mount Holly School Gym
AGENDA
1. Pledge of Allegiance
2. Additions or Changes to Agenda
3. Approval of Meeting Minutes of September 09, 2014
4. Highways
a. Tarbellville Road culvert
b. State Project Completion and Certification Report (FEMA)
c. New Garage project report
5. Report of Treasurer
a. Monthly income and expense report
6. Transfer Station
a. Review charges for window A/C and water coolers
b. Electronics Recycling contract - signatures
7. Insurance
a. PACIF Renewal Application
b. Health Insurance update
8. Planning Commission
a. Continue posting and publication of two terms for November 2014?
9. Other
a. Liquor License – Brooklyn Pub
10. Review and sign September orders for payment
11. Executive Session (if needed)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

2015 Mount Holly Calendar on sale Cider Days weekend!

2015 Mount Holly Calendar
on sale Cider Days weekend!


Belmont Green

Community Center - lower level
Belmont General Store



Can't get to Belmont to buy your calendar?  
Go to this link to view the calendar photos
and download the order form:

http://www.mounthollyvt.org/photos/calendar-2009/


For more information, contact Janet Warren at 802-259-2007

2014 Mount Holly Photo Contest

2014 Mount Holly Photo Contest

Vote for your favorite photos for the 
2016 Mount Holly Calendar


NOW OPEN
 during Library Hours 

and
Cider Days Weekend
Saturday, October 11:  10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sunday, October 12:  noon to 4 p.m.

Lo
wer Level
Community Center/Library

Awards Ceremony 

1 p.m.
Sunday, October 12
Lower Level of Community Center/Library

Windsor County Candidates Forum in Ludlow Oct. 23

Note:  Photos of three of the forum participants attached:  files indicate names, they are
Dennis Devereux, RW2 Republican candidate
Dick McCormack, Democratic candidate for Windsor County Senate
John Campbell, Democratic candidate for Windsor County Senate
 
Windsor County Candidates Forum in Ludlow Oct. 23
 
FOLA (Friends of Ludlow Auditorium) has announced that it will sponsor a Candidates Forum on Thursday, October 23 at 7 PM at the Ludlow Town Hall Auditorium.  The forum will feature candidates for the Windsor County Senate seats in Montpelier as well as the newly-created Rutland-Windsor (RW-2) seat in the House.  The RW-2 seat will represent Ludlow, Mt Holly, and Shrewsbury.
 
The forum will consist of questions addressed to the candidates by the moderator regarding state and regional issues.  Questions from the audience will follow.
 
All three candidates seeking the Windsor County Senate seats have agreed to participate in the forum.  They are:  John Campbell, Dick McCormack, and Alice Nitka, all Democrats. 
 
Dennis Devereux, Republican, seeking reelection to the RW2 House seat has agreed to participate in the forum.  RW2 covers Ludlow, Mt Holly, and Shrewsbury.
 
Two candidates seeking the Cavendish-Weatherfield House seat will appear as well.  Mark Huntley, Democrat and incumbent, will participate along with Stu Lindberg, and Independent.
 
The forum will be moderated by Ralph Pace. 
 
For further information, 802-228-7239 or www.fola.us.