(from left to right) Phil Scott, Governor of the State of Vermont; Chris Veal, Larner College of Medicine '20; Al Gobeille, Vermont Secretary of Human Services.
When Chris Veal ‘20, was 13 years old, he was diagnosed with cancer. At the time, his family was unable to afford health insurance and was overburdened with the enormous cost of care, which led to incredible financial hardship and eventually, the loss of their home.
As times of tribulation do, the series of events shaped the path Veal finds himself on today.
In 2010, Veal entered the University of Vermont (UVM) as a first-year college student and, keen to gain an understanding of the system that plunged his family into financial disarray, enrolled in a class titled “Health Care in America
.” The class, he says, made him question what role he could play “in helping our country in terms of health care.” That same year, Veal was able to get health insurance for the first time in his life, when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in March 2010.
Now, as Veal journeys deeper into the health care system as a medical student, the question spurred by his undergraduate class still motivates him.
It was the impetus for an internship Veal embarked upon this summer with the Vermont chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) and ultimately, what led to his current project - videotaping interviews for a documentary that will delve into the current and future states of American health care and health policy through the eyes of a medical student. Specifically, Veal plans to use the documentary as a way to explore the ways in which the current healthcare system operates and how proposed changes may affect the future careers of medical students such as himself.
With the guidance of Marvin Malek, M.D., M.P.H., president of the Vermont chapter of PNHP and proponent of a single-payer model, and Betty Keller, M.D., Veal has spent the past two months not only working on his internship project, a web-based cartoon series designed to explain the intricacies of healthy policy to the general public, but also producing his personal documentary project.
His list of interviewees is comprehensive - spanning a wide spectrum of political viewpoints and professions in an effort to get a balanced commentary on an unarguably divisive topic. Among the 15 individuals he’s spoken with so far are Jason Kelly, M.D., medical director of the VA Medical Center in White River Junction, Vt.; Elliot S. Fisher, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and one of the inventors of the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) concept; and Phil Scott, Governor of the State of Vermont. A full list of interviews completed or scheduled can be seen, below.
Although all of the interviews have yet to be completed, Veal feels confident that three points of view will act as the main threads of thought throughout the documentary -- pro-universal health care, pro-ACO or HMO, and anti-government involvement in healthcare and health policy.
With his second year of medical school starting in less than a week, Veal plans on having complete footage by August 14 and releasing the documentary in Fall 2018. In the meantime, keep your eyes out for his cartoon series, which will be highlighted on the @uvmmedicine Instagram account.
Documentary Interviews (incomplete list):
- Phil Scott: Governor of the State of Vermont
- Ethan Parke: Single payer activist with Vermont Health Care for All
- Paul Bengtson, M.D.: CEO of Northeast Regional Medical Center
- Todd Moore: CEO of One Care Vermont
- Norman Ward, M.D.: CMO of One Care Vermont
- Stephan Leffler, M.D.: Chief Population Health and Quality Officer, UVM Medical Center, and former Chief Medical Officer of UVMMC
- Jason Kelly, M.D.: Medical Director of the VA Medical Center, White River Junction, Vt.
- Cornelius "Con" Hogan: Member of the Green Mountain Care Board
- Robin Lunge: Member of the Green Mountain Care Board
- Deb Richter, M.D.: Leader of Vermont Health Care for All- Advocate for Single Payer Primary Care in Vermont
- Robert Emmons, M.D.: Anti-Single Payer activist
- Tim Ford: CEO of Springfield Hospital
- Bernard Norman, Ph.D.: Chief of Clinical Operations and CRT Director of Northeast Kingdom Human Services/ Health policy expert on New Zealand
- David Zuckerman: Lt. Governor of Vermont
- Jessa Barnard, Esq.: General Counsel & Vice President for Policy, Vermont Medical Society
- Cory Gustafson: Commissioner, Department of Vermont Health Access (Medicaid-Vermont)
- Elliott S. Fisher, M.D., M.P.H.: Director of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice (Founder of the ACO concept)
- Al Gobeille: Secretary, Vermont Agency of Human Services
- Mark Levine, M.D.: Commissioner, Vermont Department of Health