Teachout: Hospital budgets | Commentary

Thank you for writing about the rising cost of health care in Vermont. We read your editorial about Green Mountain Care Board hospital budget decisions with interest and noted that, while you considered the perspective of the hospital, and you considered the perspective of the GMCB chair, it seems a reflection on the impact to the average Vermont ratepayer, who is being asked to shoulder an annual hospital budget that will ring in at $366 million in 2023 alone, is absent. For a state whose population is the size of a small city, these increases are simply too much to bear.

As a system, we must challenge the mindset of growth at all costs. We must stop encouraging the expansion in our largest hospitals and barring more nimble facilities from providing excellent care at a lower cost. And we must question the underlying expenses at Vermont hospitals — not only looking at shaving the total budget number in proportion to how much the state is able to come up with as alternative payments, but taking a deep dive into examining the expenses driving those requests. These questions were starkly absent from these budget deliberations. Not only were the expenses at hospitals not examined, Vermonters’ ability to afford these rising costs were struck from consideration as the GMCB contended affordability is not in their jurisdiction when considering hospital budgets. We would argue affordability should be first on the list of considerations.

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