Tracy and Malek differ on health care reform issues

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(Host) Two candidates seeking the office of Lieutenant Governor are making health care reform the centerpiece of their campaigns.

But Democrat John Tracy and Progressive Marvin Malek take different views on the issue.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) For the past two years, Burlington Democrat John Tracy has played a key role in the debate over health care reform at the Statehouse. Tracy chaired a special House health care committee and helped draft the final compromise known as Catamount Health.

The proposal will provide coverage to uninsured Vermonters beginning in the fall of 2007 based on their ability to pay, and it also expands the state’s chronic care initiative.

Tracy says he’s proud of the bill:

(Tracy) “We tackled an issue that the nation is incapable of dealing with. The federal government won’t. They can’t. A lot of states, most states are stymied. And what we have passed now is the most progressive piece of health care legislation in the entire country.”

(Kinzel) Barre physician Marvin Malek is the Progressive candidate for lieutenant governor. Malek urged lawmakers to support a taxpayer-financed health care system that would provide benefits to everyone. He’s disappointed with the results of Catamount Health:

(Malek) “To me the bill that they passed is so grossly inadequate. And I was so frustrated that its timelines extend out for 3 or 4 years. We just can’t wait that long. It’s not ok to delay meaningful health reform for that period.”

(Kinzel) Malek questions why lawmakers like Tracy weren’t willing to support a more comprehensive solution:

(Malek) “The question I have is, when are we going to learn from the models that work in every other country where everybody’s in the system right from when they are born until they die?’ And it’s not linked to employment or some other little category. It’s just a right of citizenship. And all those countries have lower costs than we do and they all have better outcomes.”

(Kinzel) Tracy says it was clear that Governor Jim Douglas would veto a taxpayer-financed system and he argues that Catamount Health isn’t the end of health care reform but just the beginning:

(Tracy) “Now we could have walked away and said you know it’s not good enough and you 25 thousand Vermonters who will health care starting in October 07 next year, too bad. You lose because it’s not perfect.’ I live in the real world that’s not good enough for me. We made real progress.”

(Kinzel) Tracy faces Windsor senator Matt Dune in the Democratic primary on September 12. The winner will run against Malek and incumbent Republican Brian Dubie in the general election.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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