Vermont Poised to Pass Single-Payer

Vermont is poised to abolish most forms of private health insurance, Lauren Else reports for In These Times. The state’s newly inaugurated Democratic governor, Peter Shumlin, unveiled his health insurance plan in early February. If the state legislature passes the bill, Vermont will become the first state to ban most forms of private health insurance.

The bill is getting support from some unlikely quarters:

On February 24, the Republican Mayor Christopher Louras, of Rutland, urged the state to adopt the single-payer legislation, noting that more than a third of the city’s $7 million annual payroll is consumed by healthcare costs. “The only way to fix the problem is to blow it up and start over,” Louras said.

A very bad doctor

In the Texas Observer, Saul Elbein tells the bizarre story of small-town huckster Dr. Rolando Arafiles and the nurses who exposed him as a quack and paid with their jobs.

Arafiles came to work at Winkler County Memorial Hospital in 2008. Nurses Anne Mitchell and Vickilyn Galle noticed that patients were walking out of his office with mysterious liquids. Arafiles was selling untested dietary supplements.

Sometimes, he even took patients off their real medicine and directed them to buy his cure-alls, which he sold online, and promoted in seminars at the local Pizza Hut. He prescribed powerful thyroid-stimulating drugs to patients with normal thyroid levels, a potentially lethal practice. He was also performing “unconventional” surgeries, even though he wasn’t a surgeon.

The hospital ignored the nurses’ complaints, so they reported Arafiles to the Texas Medical Board. After the board informed Arafiles that he was under investigation, Arafiles got his golf buddy, the local sheriff, to issue a warrant to search the nurses’ computers. The hospital fired the nurses. The local prosecutor indicted them for “misuse of official information” but these charges fizzled out. In 2010, the two women were awarded $750,000 in compensation from the county, but they still haven’t found new nursing jobs.

What are they doing out there?

Lon Newman is the executive director of Family Planning Health Services, a Wisconsin health clinic that offers birth control and other reproductive health care, but doesn’t provide abortions, or even abortion referrals. Anti-choice protesters picket the clinic anyway, Newman reports at RH Reality Check. They carry signs with misleading slogans like “The Pill Kills” and “Stop Chemical Abortion.”

Newman wonders why, given all the pressing problems in Wisconsin, the nation, and the world, some people make it a priority to hang out at Family Planning Health Services and badmouth birth control:

There are so many struggles for freedom, social justice, and disaster relief right now, that I do not think it is justifiable to be blocking access to health care for our uninsured neighbors who want to delay childbearing so they can finish school or take a new job or even wait to have children until they can afford them.

South Dakota institutes 72-hour abortion waiting period

The governor of South Dakota signed legislation this week that will force women seeking abortions in the state to observe a 72-hour waiting period. As Scott Lemieux argues in TAPPED, mandatory waiting period legislation is based on inherently sexist assumptions. By instituting a waiting period, the state is institutionalizing the stereotype that women seeking abortions are acting irrationally and must be coerced into waiting.

Body positive

Body hatred hasn’t been this popular since the days of the hair shirt. Hundreds of millions of women, and no shortage of men, spend billions of hours and billions of dollars despising their bodies. A new movement is afoot to find the political in this very personal issue, Sarah Seltzer reports in AlterNet. This year, the Women’s Therapy Center Institute will hold a series of summits in New York, London, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, and Melbourne. In keeping with the theme of “Loved Bodies, Big Ideas” participants are discussing a range of ideas for helping to improve body image, including a so-called “reality stamp,” a seal of approval that would indicate that a photograph hasn’t been digitally altered beyond the bounds of reason. Come to think of it, a “reality stamp” could be useful for all kinds of politics.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. 

Related Stories:

Facebook Use Leads to Negative Body Image and Eating Disorders

Health Care Reform One Year Later: The Haves and Have-Nots — So Far

South Dakota Bill Would Mandate Religious Counseling Prior To Abortion


photo courtesy of wajakemek rashandothman via flickr

By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger


Glenn M.
Glenn Meyer6 years ago

Vermont is the guidepost.

Paul B.
Paul B6 years ago

I welcome the idea that Vermont tries it before the rest of us and will serve as a guidepost for what to expect. If it turns out like Massachusetts that gets federal funding to cover half of the losses they are experiencing with their form of Government Health Insurance. It isn't working there, in many ways. Emergency room visits have increased, the costs per person and the overall costs for care are higher, among other things that are supposed to be less aren't.

Good luck Vermont, can't wait for the results. If it works, we can talk about it on a national level.

Sue T.
Susan T6 years ago

why is it good to not allow people to buy their own health insurance? Why should the state mandate and control health ?

I would rather they pay my car insurance! OMG how many bad drivers are there

Why oh why won't gov't get out of my life!!!???

Gina P.
Regina P6 years ago

Vermont is right. They get it that our system is broken so bad it can't just get bandaids put on it. We need a whole new system.

Rob and Jay B.
Jay S6 years ago

Vermont is a light to the rest of the US. It is so progressive. It should join the European Union where it would have much more in common with other 'states' on human rights, gay rights, health care etc. Viva Vermont!!! May the rest of the US someday (hopefully this century) catch up with you.

Mary B.
Mary B6 years ago

Hey James D, I loved your post with the suggested 72 hour waiting period for the senators. Excellent Idea! How can we get that passed in all states immediately, especially for the 'newly elected' people. Maybe we should have a screening like this before people can even run for office.

April Thompson
April Thompson6 years ago

Awesome for Vermont!

Greg M.
Greg M6 years ago

After living in Washington, DC for many years, I moved to Vermont in 2006. It's a beautiful state. The first thing you notice is that there are no highway billboards--they're illegal here. The second thing you notice is trees; lots and lots of trees. :) I'm proud that we're the only state the George Bush *didn't* visit over course of his 8 years in office. The state isn't perfect, but we're trying to get it right. The thing about Vermont that strikes me perhaps the most is that, while the people here own a LOT of guns, we have one of the lowest violent crime rates in the country. There's a civility here between Democrats and Republicans that reminds me more of the "old days" before the lunatic right came to power. There are lots of old fashioned, government off our back types here, but they tend to be pretty reasonable folks.

For a taste of what that's like, check out -- southern Vermont's online space for interaction.There you can look into the lively debate going on about Vermont Yankee, the nuclear power plant that we're trying to close down. Cheers from Vermont!

Bernadette P.
berny p6 years ago


Lynn C.
Lynn C6 years ago

The people of Vermont seem to always have the best answers to the political insanity the rest of us live with. They've led the way in more down-to-earth, common-sensical ideas that the rest of us in this country can only dream of. Sigh.