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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

Questions Raised About Health Exchange Computer Systems

In order for Vermont’s new health care exchange to work properly, there needs to be a seamless computer interface transmitting critical consumer information from Blue Cross and MVP, to the state system.

Kevin Goddard is a vice president at Blue Cross. He told members of the House Health Care committee, that as of today, he couldn’t guarantee that the system would work properly.

"The testing schedule for this has been so compressed that we do not have that confidence yet" - Blue Cross VP Kevin Goddard

  “The testing schedule for this has been so compressed that we don’t have that confidence yet,” said Goddard.” That’s not to say that it won’t happen.”

Goddard said the accelerated testing timetable gives Blue Cross very little time to deal with problems that might develop.

“Normally what you’d expect in a testing process is that there would be some deficiencies identified - that’s why you test - and then you go back and reprogram to correct those deficiencies,” said Goddard. “Because of the compressed timeframe our concern would be that any deficiencies that are revealed through testing - there will be very limited time to address those.”

And Goddard says there are some real life consequences if the system doesn’t work.

“The fear of course is that... if the information is not transferred in a seamless way some folks could end up on January 1st to have enrolled but whose information is not yet on our system at least,” said Goddard. “And so that when they access care there may be interruptions as they try to access care when they go to the pharmacy.”

Mark Larson is the commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access. He told the committee his department is ready to step in and deal with any problems that arise.

“We have a team of people who will be ready to respond to every issue that is raised to us in as rapid a process as we possibly can,” said Larson. “So that when we known about problems that they get fixed quickly and we believe that’s our responsibility.”

Both Blue Cross and MVP are expected to update the committee next month about any problems that have emerged during the upcoming testing process.

Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
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