Montpelier, VT – On behalf of Vermonters, we renew our call for action: Vermont Health Connect (VHC) is not functioning as projected and Vermonters do not have affordable insurance and access to their prescription drugs. This is the same concern we expressed to the Shumlin Administration and legislative leadership in our October 23, 2013, news release. Unfortunately that concern fell on deaf ears and has come to fruition as we stand here before you today. Legislative leaders must step up to resolve this uncertainty and ensure that Vermonters get the health care coverage they were promised.
We are calling on Governor Shumlin, his team at Vermont Health Connect and legislative leadership to:
1. Delay implementation of all mandates and allow Vermont businesses to continue buying insurance outside of the exchange until the system is proven to be fully functional.
2. Appoint a bipartisan working group headed by an IT Auditor for oversight of Vermont Health Connect.
3. Require the Governor’s Administration to provide details on a contingency plan for all Vermonters facing a loss of coverage on March 31 and beyond.
4. Require the Governor’s Administration to conduct a Vermont Household Insurance Survey to be completed by September 15, which will tell us how many Vermonters have health insurance.
“We share the goal of providing more health insurance access and affordable coverage for all Vermonters, but the Governor’s plan has resulted in higher costs or lack of coverage for many. We believe that, as a result, Vermont will have more uninsured in 2014 than in 2012. This is why we think it is critically important to have a household insurance survey completed this year. Ninety-six percent of Vermonters had some form of health insurance prior to implementation of these changes. We need to know if the reforms being made to health care are helping or making this problem worse,” said Minority Leader Don Turner.
Last week, Vermont’s insurance providers, the Vermont League of Cities and Towns and the Lake Champlain Chamber testified in the House Health Care Committee about the continued struggles Vermonters and Vermont business are having in signing up for Vermont Health Connect.
“The reality is VHC has dismally failed Vermonters. If VHC was an insurance company like BCBS, MVP or any other insurance company they would have faced hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and been barred from conducting business in Vermont. VHC is accountable to no one and Vermonters are forced into a system that has a website that is not fully functional, a payment processor that doesn’t work, and invoicing that doesn’t work. VHC has failed in a major way and has caused Vermonters anger, loss of time, money and in some cases security breaches. Without new leadership and a full, bipartisan review of what went wrong and what is needed to fix it, Vermonters and Vermont business will continue to bear the burden and suffer the consequences,” said Rep. Doug Gage.
“Governor Shumlin and Commissioner Larson overpromised and under-delivered. As the Governor stated last week, CGI underperformed and has missed most deadlines, but the Governor refuses to cut ties with CGI. We think it is time to fire CGI and get preferably a Vermont company with IT expertise on board that can fix VHC and get it operating as quickly as possible. Until then, we believe Vermonters and Vermont businesses need certainty. Today we once again request a 1-year delay in the individual and small business mandate and allow VHC to be a voluntary option for both individuals and businesses,” said Rep. Mary Morrissey.
The well-being of Vermonters is at risk here. It’s our job to represent their interests as we promised; Vermonters deserve it. Therefore, today we are announcing the launch of VThealthreport.com. If you have an issue with VHC let us know and we will get your message to VHC, legislative leadership, the administration and the press. Please tell us if you have an issue with signing up for coverage, invoicing, payment, getting your prescriptions or health care. We want to hear from you.
Please go to vthealthreport.com.