Huxley and healthcare

To the Editor:

Cynthia Browning's insistence ("Security and choice in health reform,"" 5/17) on objecting to a simple, universal and cost-effective Green Mountain Care reminds me of the woman who attended a presentation on the evolution of the earth by evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley. The woman, as committed to her idiosyncratic viewpoint as is Browning to hers, approached Huxley afterward to remonstrate him about the Earth floating in space.

"Atlas bears the world on his shoulders," she insisted. Asked Huxley, "And what supports Atlas?" The woman responded, "He stands on a huge turtle." "And what supports the turtle?" Huxley pursued. The woman narrowed her eyes. "You're a very clever young man, very clever," she snapped, "but it's turtles all the way down."

And so it is with Cynthia Browning. She insists on a plan which she admits will cost $30 to $43 million a year, when Green Mountain Care will save Vermonters up to $500 million. She wants to see insurance companies still interfere with practitioners' judgment and squeeze the insured for every last cent. She wants government to pay the prices insurance companies set, but to deny payment support to the working poor. She wants to further complicate tax matters for businesses and hire government workers to "encourage" the three or four percent who will otherwise be at risk for unforeseen medical catastrophe. She wants to keep Blueprint for Health a separate entity, having people get health care after a crisis hits rather than benefit from regular checkups and preventive treatment from their general practitioners.

While her intellectual prowess in constructing this "Plan B" for health care is consummate, it is still more costly as well as overly complex. However, like Huxley's critic, she evidently is a firm believer that her plan is turtles all the way down.

Chuck Gregory



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