Rx for Health Care Freedom
Thanks for publishing Kathryn Flagg's excellent article on the disparate payments that Vermont's private health insurers pay for services provided by independent physicians as compared to hospital-employed physicians ["Independent Docs Struggle to Compete With Hospitals," October 1]. Vermonters need to know this is happening, and to understand that insurance-payment practices that threaten the survival of independent medical offices will undercut their freedom to choose from a range of different providers.
But one thing Vermonters should not think is that this is a conflict between independent doctors and large hospitals such as Fletcher Allen Health Care. Like independent providers, Fletcher Allen has a vital role to play and should be reasonably paid for its services. But Vermonters will be better off with a system where all providers, large and small, are reimbursed enough by insurance companies that we can continue providing high-quality, cost-effective care to our patients. Policy makers in Montpelier should keep this in mind as they work to improve Vermont's health care system.
Boyman is the founding physician and president of Vermont Gynecology.
Although I am the parent of children who never attended school, I share the uneasy feeling several readers expressed regarding Kathryn Flagg's piece, "School's Out Completely" [August 27]. Perhaps my concerns arise from the palpable hollowness of the claims made by the parents, who have essentially become appendages to the latest technique. Or maybe it is seeing two young, privileged white males being raised with "freedoms" to do as they please, and their parents trying to convince us that this is a meaningful alternative. Or could it be that at a time when our myopic, entitled culture is destroying the entire biosphere, this just makes no sense. What is sorely missing from this method is a healthy respect for and responsibility toward others, both human and nonhuman, that comes from the heart. If this were present, it is unlikely that the Hewitts would feel the compulsion to commodify and market their own children.
Pro Planning on Pine Street
I am writing in response to recent letters concerning planBTV South End [Feedback: "Protect Pine Street," October 1, and Feedback: "Planning for What?" September 17]. As a member of the Burlington Planning Commission and a resident of the South End, I look forward to a focused planning effort that seeks to retain the wonderful qualities of this distinctive locality while addressing the many issues that this area is contending with.
The effort was conceived because if no planning is done, the Pine Street corridor will surely fall prey to rising rents, which will inevitably drive out affordable art and business spaces. So much new development has happened already on Pine Street that if we do not get out ahead of these changes with a thorough planning effort, then we will likely not end up with the South End that we desire. Current zoning in the area is based on an old economy that has little to do with where we are now and what we may want the district to look like in the future.
The planning effort has received funding from a variety of sources to address multiple issues, including economic development that is sensitive to an artist economy, stormwater and flooding problems, parking, and transportation issues. The steering committee that chose the consultant was made up of a large group of local South End stakeholders, including SEABA, Ward 5 NPA, the Burlington Business Association and Burlington city agencies, including CEDO, Planning and Zoning, Burlington City Arts, DPW, and Parks and Rec.
I have not talked to the mayor personally about his goals for the plan, but I am glad he is on board.I hope that the largest group possible works to create the vision of what Burlington's South End should be.
Like Milne, Like Jefferson?
I found it amusing that a political candidate like Scott Milne, while out and about in Montpelier, did not once "attempt to shake anyone's hand, or engage him or her in a conversation" ["On the Campaign Trail With Reluctant Candidate Scott Milne," October 8]. Milne's style of campaigning is the original one that our forefathers happily pursued. Washington, Jefferson, Adams — even that famous jerk, Aaron Burr Jr. — would have considered it bad form to actively pursue an office that is, after all, a public service, not a platform for personal gain.
Kurt Van Hook
Guns Without Borders
Letter writer Kevin Lawrence overlooks how Vermont enables gun crimes in nearby states with our robust guns-for-drugs exchange, documented by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives [Feedback: "Who is Unfit?" September 24]. This exchange feeds our heroin habit, which, according to Gov. Peter Shumlin, is up more than 700 percent over the past decade.
Likewise, Mr. Lawrence fails to recognize how Chicago and Trenton gang bangers get their guns from states with weaker laws, like Vermont. For example, it's easier to buy a gun in Indiana — the source for many Chicago crime guns — than it is to vote.
Tony Bouza, the former police chief of Minneapolis, put it well: "If you have a mosquito problem, pretty soon you have to deal with the swamp."
Williamson is a volunteer for Gun Sense Vermont