State Gets Additional $42 Million To Set Up Health Exchange
Vermont will receive an additional $42 million to ensure that the new health care Exchange is ready to go into operation on October 1.
Vermont is one of 17 states that have decided to implement their own health care exchange under the Affordable Care Act.
And the Obama Administration is allocating hundreds of millions of dollars to the states to ensure that each exchange is operating by the beginning of October.
Mark Larson is the commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access – it’s the department of state government that’s responsible for getting the Vermont exchange, known as Vermont Health Connect, on line in less than three months.
Larson says the new $42 million grant will be used for a variety of purposes that are designed to ensure that the Vermont exchange is ready on time.
“These are the final components to make sure that the functionality will be there for Vermonters when they start using Vermont Health Connect in October,” said Larson.
Larson says part of the money will help his department thoroughly test the operations of the Exchange before it goes into use.
“So that we have made sure that all the kinks have been worked out before Vermonters start getting on themselves,” said Larson.
Getting the systems ready so that we can have as much time for testing is the technology challenge - DVHA Commissioner Mark Larson
And Larson says there’s also a good chunk of money to help develop a contingency plan in case there are technical problems with the Exchange. He says it’s a plan that will allow the state to process applications manually.
“So we have in essence in this grant ensured staffing levels for the worst case scenario so that we’re fully prepared for whatever comes into being in October,” said Larson.
With the new grant, Larson says the state has received roughly $170 million from the federal government to set up its exchange.
In addition to the new federal grant, a group of 9 Community Health Centers in Vermont have received a total of a $500,000 to expand public outreach efforts for the Exchange.
The money will allow the Centers to hire people to work directly with their patients regarding the various options for coverage that are available on the Exchange.