Green Mountain Care Board

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GMCB cuts Blue Cross rate request by one-third

MONTPELIER — The Green Mountain Care Board has rejected Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont’s 12.7 percent requested rate increase, imposing a smaller increase of 9.2 percent. The board, the state’s health care regulatory body that oversees insurance rates and hospital budgets, announced the rate approval Thursday. BCBSVT requested the 12.7 percent increase, citing rising medical and pharmaceutical costs, increased utilization of medical services, an aging population and mandated changes to federal law as, the reasons behind the rate hike. After an analysis of the review, however, the board unanimously approved a lower rate increase for 2018 plans sold by BCBSVT on the state’s health insurance exchange. “As we issue our decision today, we are mindful of the uncertainties surrounding provisions of the Affordable Care Act, and the difficulties that many Vermonters —particularly those who do not qualify for premium assistance or cost-sharing reductions — face as health insurance premiums continue to rise faster than other economic indicators,” the board wrote in its order. Continue Reading →

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GMCB trims MVP rate hike request

MONTPELIER — The Green Mountain Care Board has approved a 3.5 percent rate increase for MVP Health Care plans sold on the Vermont Health Connect exchange in 2018. The Green Mountain Care Board, the state’s regulatory body that approves insurance rates and hospital budgets, announced the approved rate increase Wednesday. It is about half of the 6.7 percent rate increase originally sought by MVP, which insures about 10,000 Vermonters. “Today’s decision reflects our dual interests to approve rates as lean as possible, while ensuring that carriers remain solvent and therefore willing to continue to participate in our health insurance marketplace,” the board wrote in its order granting the increase. MVP and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont, the state’s largest insurer, filed requested rate increases with the board in mid-May. Continue Reading →

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Scott selects Mullin, Usifer for Green Mountain Care Board

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott formally announced the appointment of Republican Sen. Kevin Mullin to serve as chairman of the Green Mountain Care Board, along with Maureen Usifer, who will work alongside Mullin as another new member. Mullin, 58, of Rutland, is the current chairman of the Senate Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs Committee. He said Wednesday he will resign his Senate seat in the coming days to accept the appointment to the board. Mullin was appointed to the Senate in January 2003 and has won re-election every election cycle since then. He previously served three terms in the Vermont House. Continue Reading →

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Scott will tap Mullin to lead Green Mountain Care Board

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott has chosen Rutland County Republican Sen. Kevin Mullin to be the next chairman of the Green Mountain Care Board, according to several sources. Mullin, the current chairman of the Senate Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs Committee, will resign his Senate seat in the coming days to accept the appointment to the board. Both Mullin and Scott spokeswoman Rebecca Kelley declined to comment on the appointment Tuesday evening. Scott called Mullin Tuesday to inform him of the appointment, according to the sources. Other candidates who were interviewed but not selected have been informed in recent days. Continue Reading →

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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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Lunge heading to Green Mountain Care Board

MONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin has appointed Robin Lunge, one of the top health care reform advisors in his administration, to the Green Mountain Care Board. Lunge, Shumlin’s director of health care reform since 2011, will replace Dr. Allan Ramsay, whose term expired in late September, on the five-member board. Lunge will begin serving her six-year term on Nov. 28. The board has regulatory authority over hospitals and insurance companies and is responsible for controlling the growth rate of health care spending. Continue Reading →

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Green Mountain Care Board backs all-payer model

MONTPELIER — The Green Mountain Care Board on Wednesday voted to advance a draft agreement with the federal government that seeks to transform the way health care providers are paid in Vermont, paving the way for the state and federal government to begin implementation. Gov. Peter Shumlin and his top health care officials negotiated for nearly two years with the federal government on the so-called all-payer model. It will be based on the Accountable Care Organization model — groups of doctors, hospitals and other health care providers that come together to provide coordinated care. The concept is intended to provide better information about a patient’s medical history among providers. The all-payer model includes private insurance as well as government programs like Medicaid and Medicare as payers. Continue Reading →

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State, feds reach deal on all-payer model

MONTPELIER — Vermont has reached a deal with the federal government to move forward with a plan to overhaul the way health care is paid for in Vermont by basing payments to providers on the quality of health outcomes rather than the volume of services they provide, Gov. Peter Shumlin announced Wednesday. Shumlin, a Democrat whose tenure in office will end in January after three terms, has been seeking the transformational shift in the state’s health care payment system for more than two years. Negotiations with the federal government have resulted in a draft agreement that will now be presented to the public for review before the state and federal government sign off on it. “We have now a draft agreement from the federal government that will allow us to take on a challenge that I believe effects the pocketbooks of every single Vermonter,” Shumlin told reporters at a news conference Wednesday. “This is probably the single thing that hurts Vermonters the most economically. Continue Reading →

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Republicans call for assessment of Vermont Heath Connect

MONTPELIER — Vermont’s top republicans are calling for an independent assessment of Vermont Health Connect to determine if it’s worth keeping. On Friday, Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, Senate Minority Leader Joe Benning and House Minority Leader Don Turner called for the Green Mountain Care Board to conduct an assessment of the state’s beleaguered health care exchange. “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging,” said Scott, whose remarks follow testimony offered earlier this week to the House Health Care Committee from Garton Consulting, which recommended an independent assessment. Sen. Benning, R-Caledonia, reviewed a two-year time line of blown deadlines, cost overruns and lack of functionality for Vermont Health Connect. “Vermonters have suffered a long history of broken promises and missed deadlines on this frustrating path to affordable and dependable health care,” Benning said. Continue Reading →

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Vermont proposes all-payer health care model

MONTPELIER — Vermont has taken the first step toward a radical change in the way health care providers are paid for their services. On Monday, state officials submitted a proposal to the federal government that would see doctors paid for the health outcomes of their patients, rather than for the services they provide. “I think anyone in the health care industry knows that fee-for-service results in duplication and inefficiency,” said Gov. Peter Shumlin, a statement he has made in one form or another during his five years in office. Rather than pay for every visit to the doctor’s office or every test a patient takes, the proposed all-payer model would allow Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers to pay health care providers based upon the heath outcomes of their patients. The Shumlin Administration submitted its proposal Monday to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, seeking permission to employ an all-payer model in Vermont for five years, beginning in January 2017 and continuing through December 2021. Continue Reading →

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