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

New Obama Health Care Delay Won't Affect Vermont

The delay will affect roughly 25 states that decided not to create their own exchange but instead allowed the federal government to come in and set up an online insurance marketplace.

Robin Lunge is the director of Health Care Reform in the Shumlin Administration. She says the new announcement by the White House to delay the online enrollment by small businesses in these  states, won’t affect Vermont

We will not be impacted by any changes with the federal schedule - Robin Lunge, Director of Health Care Reform

“Since Vermont is doing its own version of an insurance marketplace called Vermont Health Connect, we will not be impacted by any changes with the federal schedule,” said Lunge. “New Hampshire is doing a federal exchange so folks in New Hampshire would be impacted.”

And Lunge says the federal decision makes a lot of sense:

“From my perspective it looks to me like what they’re to manage is ensuring that Americans get good service and have a good experience,” said Lunge. “And if that means delaying bits and piece of the law in order to achieve that I think that’s the approach that they’re taking.”

But Lunge says it would be a mistake to delay the entire implementation of the Affordable Care Act based on some of early problems that have occurred.

“I think it’s a bit simplistic to equate the information technology part of the law with all of the good things in the Affordable Care Act,” said Lunge. “And it’s important to remember that many of the insurance reforms will move forward regardless of information technology delays.”

In a development that’s not related to the new federal delay, Lunge says Vermont has decided to postpone the electronic payment of premiums on the state exchange until at least November 1.

“Through Vermont Health Connect Vermonters will be able to compare plans and submit their enrollment information starting October first,” said Lunge. “They certainly could pay by check if they would like to in October but what we will be doing is we’ll send out bills after folks have chosen their plan.”

Vermont is the only state in the country that requires that all individuals, and small businesses with fewer than 50 employees, to go through the Exchange if they want to purchase health insurance coverage beginning on January 1.

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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