Lower costs, cover everyone, protect choice

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By Bea Grause

Vermont’s not-for-profit hospitals congratulate all of the candidates who have been elected to serve our state over the next two years.

Like all Vermonters, our hospitals believe in providing more affordable access to everyone, preserving quality and protecting the right patients have to choose their doctor and hospital and make their own healthcare decisions. These principles must be at the heart of our work in the coming months.

For many Vermonters, the cost of living is a daily challenge – which includes the cost of health insurance and health care. Lowering health care costs for Vermonters by slowing hospital cost growth has been our top priority. For two consecutive years, we’ve delivered hospital budgets with historically low increases of 2-3 percent, while expanding access – and we intend to continue this important work.

Together, hospitals provide and support more than 27,000 direct and indirect jobs in Vermont, about five times the state’s largest private employer and one out of every 12 workers. As we work together to improve our healthcare system, changes that undermine the economic value and job creation potential of the system itself would be a step in the wrong direction.

At the same time, Vermont’s not-for-profit hospitals have become deeply immersed in one of the most meaningful ways to reduce health care costs: improving the way hospitals and doctors are paid. We must convert the system from one that rewards health care providers for quantity – billing for every test, office visit or hospital stay – to one that aligns all providers to keep individuals and communities as healthy as possible.

As our elected officials tackle the challenges of health care reform, Vermont’s network of doctors and nurses will continue to provide the highest quality care around the clock, every day. We look forward to working with the Legislature, administration and Green Mountain Care Board to accomplish what’s most important to Vermonters – lower costs, universal coverage and protecting patient rights.

Bea Grause is the President and CEO of Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems.