Statement of VTGOP Chairman David Sunderland
“According to a federal audit, thousands of Vermonters could face hefty tax penalties due to more errors in the Vermont Health Connect healthcare exchange system.
“These potential fines are the result of more system ‘glitches’ that ‘failed to properly check applicants’ eligibility for coverage and subsidies.’ (Source: Some Vermonters in Health Care Exchange Could Get Dinged at Tax Time, vtdigger.com, July 2, 2014)
“This is completely unacceptable and another indication of the incompetent administration of a program that is intended to lower health care costs for Vermonters, not increase them.
“The response from the administration encouraging Vermonters to ‘save extra money’ from their paychecks so they can pay the penalties shows no compassion or basic understanding of the hurdles this botched exchange, the stagnant economy and costly policies have created for working Vermonters, their families and their employers.
New Leadership Required
“Vermont Republicans call on Governor Shumlin to take decisive action to bring long overdue and desperately needed leadership to the agency and department responsible for this boondoggle. Secretary Racine and Commissioner Larson should be replaced with competent, expert managers.
“The Shumlin administration has already spent about $75 million of taxpayer dollars on a system which was delivered late, poorly launched, weakly designed, and continues to reveal previously unnoticed faults — months after its initial launch.
“Vermonters deserve complete transparency and accountability from their state leaders. In the case of Vermont Health Connect, they are not getting either.
“It’s time for Governor Shumlin — as the leader of his administration — to take decisive action to correct the failures of the past and assure that Vermonters do not experience more of this mis-management in the future.
“Not another single taxpayer dollar should be spent on this troubled healthcare exchange without complete accountability for these past and present leadership failures.
“Additionally, the leaders of the Democrat supermajority in our legislature should pledge to send Governor Shumlin a bill protecting every member of the exchange from any potential state tax penalty. That’s the least they could do after sitting back and watching this fiscal train wreck happen.”
Congressional Delegation Must Act
“Vermont Republicans also call on U.S. Senators Leahy and Sanders, as well as Congressman Welch to immediately propose and pass federal legislation that protects Vermonters from IRS penalties resulting from errors, omissions, or other mistakes associated with Vermont’s bungled health care exchange.
“Vermonters have complied with the many onerous government mandates and deadlines — and paid for the mismanaged website with their own tax dollars — and should not be penalized in any way for the incompetence with which it was delivered
“What is most concerning is that without change, this same administration and the same legislative majority — with this same leadership — will be given authority over the entire healthcare system meant to serve all Vermonters.
“Vermonters deserve much better than this. They deserve an administration and Legislature that is balanced and committed to effective stewardship of the trust and resources that Vermonters have placed in them.
“It’s time for a change.”