FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: David Sunderland, VT Republican Chair
Date: December 1, 2014
VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT STILL FAILING VERMONTERS
Incompetence Continues to Impact Services to Vermonters
Montpelier, VT – Even after taking the beleaguered Vermont Health Connect healthcare exchange offline for two months to make massive and much needed changes, Vermonters are still not able to access the +$100-million system consistently, efficiently and without aggravation and frustration.
In a report released last week by Morgan True of VTDigger.com (Morgan True, Access to VHC Difficult for Navigators and Patients Alike, vtdigger.com, November 25, 2014) examples were given of lost accounts, access problems, delays in regaining previous access to the system, and patients being denied urgently needed care due to personal data losses in the VHC system.
All of these accounts were related to the website’s performance AFTER the two month “improvement” period — and after repeated assurances from Governor Shumlin and his administration that the website was “working.”
Upon the website’s re-launch on November 15, 2014, Governor Shumlin’s Director of Health Care Reform Lawrence Miller told the Associated Press, “”The system is operating as expected, we’re promptly dealing with minor issues that pop up, and we look forward to continuing to help Vermonters access health coverage,” (Associated Press, Vermont Health Care Website Working, The Burlington Free Press, November 15, 2014).
Vermonters who frustratingly waited for hours online to enroll or who were denied healthcare at their local hospital due to lost enrollment data surely did not feel that their issues were minor, the system was operating well, or that the website’s problems had been dealt with promptly — or with competence and professionalism.
After over $100 million has been spent and the website was taken down for two full months for “repairs,” Vermonters still cannot make “change of circumstance” modifications to their policies through the website. That’s right, despite the time and taxpayer dollars spent by Governor Shumlin and the Democrat majorities in the Legislature, Vermonters still cannot amend their policies online in the event of the birth of a child, marriage, divorce or other normal life event.
And, the website is still not able to accept online applications from Vermont’s small businesses — who have been forced by Vermont law to purchase insurance policies for their employees through the exchange.
In an additional example of their managerial incompetence, hundreds of Vermonters received past due notices from their insurer this month — some of which totalled several thousand dollars — for policies originated through the Vermont health exchange. The exact cause of all these delinquent notices is a total mystery, Vermonters were told, and will require VHC and the insurer to resolve each one individually — and by hand.
Keep in mind that Vermont still has a backlog of 5,300 change requests that it still had not resolved at the time the “improved” website was re-launched on November 15th. Those Vermonters continue to wait for the Vermont Health Connect bureaucracy to catch up. Again, pushing all of that paper by hand.
In fact, when all of the evidence is considered, it is clear that after the 2-month shutdown for repairs, the problems with Vermont Health Connect are growing — not subsiding.
Also growing is the Shumlin administration’s attempt to spin the Vermont media into reporting this abject managerial failure into a success. So much for Governor Shumlin’s post-election promises of transparency.
Despite a deafening call from Vermonters on election night to slow down, be more transparent, and get things right, for Governor Shumlin and his administration it’s politics as usual.
The issues facing Vermonters are the same today as they were on election day — the lack of competence, transparency and accountability in the Shumlin administration and in the Democrat controlled Legislature.
Will they ever be capable of being fully transparent about the continuing issues, their plans to address them and the impact to Vermonters? Will they finally hold those responsible for the website development and management accountable? Will they ever do the right thing and move on to a better and more affordable option?
Vermonters sent a strong message to Governor Shumlin on election night. Their voice for change was loud and clear. The question remains — were Governor Shumlin and the Democrat majorities in the Legislature listening?
Unfortunately, all signs currently point to more of the same.