Don George

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Health insurers seek rate increases

MONTPELIER — Vermont’s largest health insurer is asking regulators to approve a double-digit increase in premiums as it deals with myriad cost pressures. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont has filed its requested 2018 health insurance rates for plans sold on the state’s exchange with the Green Mountain Care Board, the state’s health regulatory body that reviews and approves health insurance rates as well as hospital budgets. The insurer, which covers about 70,000 Vermonters, is seeking an average rate increase of 12.7 percent. BCBS President and CEO Don George said the requested increase is based on the cost of health care services as well as policy decisions unrelated to care that the company does not control. Those outside pressures account for about 6 percent of the 12.7 percent increase, he said. Continue Reading →

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State to pay Blue Cross $3.5 million to settle billing discrepancies

MONTPELIER — State officials have agreed to pay Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont $3.5 million to close out the insurer’s line of business through the state’s online insurance marketplace in 2015. The additional payment to Blue Cross comes after a months-long reconciliation process that was required to help settle discrepancies within the billing and enrollment system of Vermont Health Connect, the state’s online health insurance exchange set up through the federal Affordable Care Act. The agreement between the state and Blue Cross was finalized late last year by the administration of former Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin, who left office last week as Republican Gov. Phil Scott was sworn in. Cory Gustafson, Scott’s Department of Vermont Health Access commissioner, confirmed the $3.5 million settlement Thursday. Gustafson worked as the director of government and public relations for Blue Cross at the time of the settlement before being tapped to served in Scott’s administration. Continue Reading →

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Shumlin claims exchange victory

WINOOSKI — Gov. Peter Shumlin and his health care reform team said Monday they have met a key deadline in implementing a core function to Vermont Health Connect and plan to continue improving the online health insurance marketplace through the fall. “Having Vermont Health Connect work as it was designed to is the best possible outcome for Vermont. There’s no question that the biggest challenge that we’ve faced since we launched is change-of-circumstance,” Shumlin said at a news conference Monday. “We set a deadline of today … and I’m pleased to announce that this team behind me and some who aren’t here have delivered.”

Shumlin said the upgrade of the site to include change-of-circumstance, the ability for customers to have their personal information changed online, meets the first of two self-imposed deadlines he laid out in March as he faced mounting pressure about the exchange’s performance. The upgrade, which is still being phased in by the administration, will allow customer service representatives to make changes to consumers’ accounts in an automated way. Continue Reading →

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