Vermont Health Connect

Recent Posts

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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Scott not sold on exchange report, will outline plan in budget address

MONTPELIER — Gov.-elect Phil Scott says a recent report recommending that the state stick with Vermont Health Connect has not necessarily changed his belief that the state should abandon the exchange as he prepares to outline his path forward later this month. Scott, a Republican who will be sworn in as Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin’s successor on Thursday, promised during his campaign against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sue Minter that he would seek to join the federal exchange or partner with other states, while shuddering Vermont Health Connect. The Strategic Solutions Group, an independent party hired by the Legislature to determine whether the state should stick with or abandon the exchange, released its report just before Christmas. The report noted the state’s exchange has “significant deficiencies” and more work is needed if it is to be sustainable. But it also asserted that sticking with Vermont Health Connect is preferable to the solutions Scott proposed during the campaign. Continue Reading →

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Shumlin: Obamacare critical for Vermonters

MONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin is defending Obamacare and the state’s health care exchange as President-elect Donald Trump signals his intention to decimate them, a move the governor says will be an “extraordinary disaster for Vermonters.”

Shumlin, who is nearing the final month of his governorship, used a Montpelier news conference Tuesday to defend the federal and state health care reform efforts during his six years in office. He said Vermont Health Connect, the state’s online health insurance marketplace created under the federal Affordable Care Act, is finally working as anticipated when it launched in Oct. 2013. “I personally believe that Vermont now has among the best functioning state exchanges in America and probably the best functioning state exchanges in America,” the governor said. The open enrollment process, which has struggled in past years as technology faltered, is “proceeding smoothly,” Shumlin argued. Continue Reading →

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Blue Cross Blue Shield: Vermont Health Connect owes $6.2 million

MONTPELIER — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont is seeking $6.2 million from the state for premiums the insurer did not receive and claims it paid out after the state had terminated individual insurance plans, according to the company and state officials. BCBS and the state are engaged in a reconciliation process to settle the books for health insurance plans sold on Vermont Health Connect, the state’s online health insurance exchange, during 2015. It is the second year that reconciliation is taking place. The state paid $1.6 million to settle the book of business in 2014. A public records request made by the Vermont Press Bureau seeking documents related to the 2015 reconciliation process was returned by the Department of Vermont Health Access, but all 125 pages had all relevant information related to the request redacted. Continue Reading →

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Scott releases health care plan, seeks to close exchange

BURLINGTON — Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, the Republican nominee for governor, released a health care plan Wednesday that seeks to scuttle the state’s online health insurance exchange and undo other initiatives put in place by outgoing Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin. Speaking at a news conference on Burlington’s Church Street, Scott linked his health care proposals to the major theme of his campaign — making the state more affordable. “For a lot of people who live here or who are thinking about living here, I think the affordability crisis will be the defining issue during this election,” he said. “One of the many reasons Vermont is unaffordable for so many Vermonters is because of the cost of health care.”

Scott reiterated his call Wednesday to scrap Vermont Health Connect in his first major policy proposal of the gubernatorial campaign. He has been calling on the state to abandon its own exchange for several years in favor of joining either the federal exchange or a multi-state exchange that does not yet exist. Continue Reading →

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House votes to fund review of exchange

MONTPELIER — The Vermont House overwhelmingly voted to fund an independent review of Vermont Health Connect Wednesday, appeasing minority Republicans who have been clamoring for an in depth study to help determine the future of the online insurance marketplace. By a vote of 136 to 5, the House approved an amendment to an unrelated housing bill that appropriates $400,000 for the review. The House Appropriations Committee included language in the 2017 fiscal year state budget it has already passed calling for the study, but did not include funding — angering some Republicans. House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Mitzi Johnson, D-South Hero, and House Health Care Committee Chairman Bill Lippert, D-Hinesburg, promised to find the funding. Johnson told her colleagues Wednesday that the promise was kept. Continue Reading →

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Blue Cross seeks millions from Vermont Health Connect

MONTPELIER — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont believes it is owed more than $5 million from Vermont Health Connect for unpaid insurance premiums and claims paid on plans that were terminated by the state in 2015. The insurance carrier is going through a reconciliation process with the state for the second straight year to settle its books for plans it sold through the state’s online health insurance marketplace. For plans sold in 2014, the state paid BCBS $1.6 million after the reconciliation process was complete. BCBS told state officials last month that it believes as much as $3.8 million is owed for unpaid premiums in 2015. Additionally, another $2.3 million is owed on claims it paid out for plans that were terminated by the state but not communicated to the company, according to Cory Gustafson, director of government and public relations at BCBS. Continue Reading →

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Scott promises to ditch Vermont Health Connect as governor

MONTPELIER — Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott reiterated his call to abandon Vermont Health Connect in a web video released Thursday by his gubernatorial campaign. Scott is facing off in a primary with former Wall Street executive Bruce Lisman, who is also calling for shutting down the state’s online health insurance marketplace. In an email sent to supporters Thursday morning, Scott’s campaign said he has been calling for “real” solutions for “more than two years” to fix the exchange, which has faced technological shortcomings since it launched in October 2013. “Elect Phil Scott and Vermont will transition to a better, less costly model that provides Vermonters more affordable health insurance choices,” the campaign wrote in the email. Vermont Health Connect launched without some major functions that were expected, including the ability for consumers to make changes to personal information online, such as their address or marital status. 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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State will soon file waiver to bypass health exchange for small business

MONTPELIER — Legislation to allow small businesses to continue bypassing Vermont Health Connect is headed to Gov. Peter Shumlin’s desk to be signed into law. The Shumlin administration sought legislation allowing the state to request a waiver from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services because the state’s online health insurance marketplace launched without the expected functionality to enroll small business customers. The Senate passed the House version of the bill Thursday by a unanimous voice vote. Sen. Michael Sirotkin, D-Chittenden, speaking on the Senate floor, told his colleagues the legislation is needed because the federal government set a deadline for small businesses to enroll through Vermont Health Connect by Jan. 1, 2017. Continue Reading →

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