11-4-15 – Vermont Health Connect: The Bad Numbers

by John McClaughry

Last Monday we got the long awaited report from the Shumlin administration on what we should do about the perennially failing Vermont Health Connect, the Obamacare insurance exchange.

The issue is whether the state should abandon the exchange, and instead sign up with the federal exchange.

What is startling about this report is the magnitude of the taxpayer dollars required by both of the alternatives. The report says it will require $45 million to stay with the not yet fully operative Vermont Health Connect. This includes remaining technology work and ongoing annual costs, but it’s not clear how much those ongoing costs will be year after year.

Switching to the federal exchange, the Shumlin administration says , will cost $76 to $112 million for the transition costs and ongoing annual costs.

However if we bag Vermont Health Connect the Obama administration may want us to give back the $198 million it gave us to create our exchange in the first place. That’s an astounding number of dollars for an insurance exchange serving just over a hundred thousand customers buying policies from just two insurance companies.

Shumlin also wants Washington to OK letting Vermont small businesses continue to sign up for insurance directly with Blue Cross and MVP – which of course bypasses the exchange altogether.

This embarrassing three year episode has become a monumental case history in state government incompetence, that we’re still paying for.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

H. Brooke Paige November 5, 2015 at 8:23 am

The Most Significant News Is That the Vermont Health Connect Website Is Still Not “Fully Functional – The Rogue Attempts to Avoid Repairing What He has Broken !

Small Businesses must still sign up through Blue Cross and Blue Shield directly because the VHC has never been able to process this significant portion of Vermont’s healthcare insurance coverage.- and apparently never will !

Shumlin and the Legislature has lead us into the imposable situation of being unable to return to the fully functional system we enjoyed before they subjected us to the current VHC madness and unable to move forward to a new fully functional system with VHC under the direction of the Green Mountain Care Board because the design they chose and the designers they selected were incompetent and incapable of providing a functioning operating system.

Shumlin now presents the threat of even higher costs of moving to a fully functional system under the federal “Obamacare” exchange postulating that staying with the now partially functioning VHC system will cost $45 M annually IF the Fed IF the Feds will allow the GMCB to continue to “farm out” the small business segment (and the large employer segment in the near future). verses $76 M to $110 M annually to “transition” to the federal exchange.

Further, Shumlin hypostasizes (fanaticizes) that the Obama Administration may demand repayment of the $199+ M we have (he has) blown on his failed VHC experiment; should we decide to move to the federal exchange.

In the end Shumlin’s solution is NO SOLUTION at all: it is merely his excuse for keeping Vermont in limbo, at least until he has cowardly slinked from the stage – leaving his successor to contend with the wreckage of the broken healthcare insurance system he personally created and supervised the development of.

Truly, this decision is the act of a rogue, a rube, attempting to run and hide rather than “face the music” and repair what he has broken !

H. Brooke Paige
Washington, Vermont

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