The townsfolk are all horns and rattles, I never seen such a fuss. Must be that cold-blooded sidewinder Doug Hoffer’s back in town and up to no good.
This time, the ol’ gunslinger has taken aim at OneCare Vermont. Hoffer’released an audit on Monday finding that OneCare, which was supposed to glean savings from the healthcare system, has cost millions more than it’s saved.
The normal official response to a Hoffer audit is along the lines of “Well, he found some interesting information, but nothing we didn’t already know and weren’t already doing something about.” But the reaction to this audit is more direct, if not downright hostile. Mind you, they didn’t contest Hoffer’s findings, not at all. But they didn’t like his conclusions, not one little bit.
One might even detect a faint whiff of panic. Considering that free-lance health care expert Hamilton Davis just called OneCare “a dumpster fire,” I can see why Our Leaders would be unreceptive to a critical audit right now.
OneCare CEO Vicki Loner, Green Mountain Care Board chair Kevin Mullin, and Human Services Secretary Mike Smith sung variations on the same tune: OneCare can’t be evaluated on a purely dollars-and-cents basis. You also have to consider OneCare’s impact on quality of care — which, conveniently enough, can’t be quantified.
It’s kind of a surprising argument coming from people who normally keep a hard eye on the bottom line. Sounds like something a damn liberal would say: “Hey, it might cost more, but it improves people’s lives in nonspecific ways!” I mean, Smith slammed Hoffer for taking a “narrow approach to understanding the impact of the all-payer model.”
Damn right. A financial approach. After all, OneCare is supposed to save a lot of money on health care.
These reactions make plain what we already knew: Vermont has gone too far to change course. Or at least our leaders believe so.
Hoffer suggests a number of ways to make OneCare more accountable. Which, yeah, it is an Accountable Care Organization, after all. But I can’t see Mullin or Smith or Gov. Scott cracking the whip. In the language of poker, the administration is pot committed. And poker is an appropriate source of analogy, because this is a big-time gamble.
If these people were serious, this would be the time to show it. OneCare’s five-year contract with the state expires later this year, so a new deal must be struck. It seems that the Scott administration is in no mood to be confrontational in contract talks.
And the farther we go along this course, the more committed we become.