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

State Not Ready To Delay Health Care Law

The Shumlin Administration says it’s trying to do two things at the same time – give Vermonters confidence that the state’s new health care exchange, known as Vermont Health Connect, will be fully operational in the next few weeks and the Administration needs to develop a contingency plan in case technical problems continue.

According to Mark Larson, the commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access, a top priority is to make it possible for people to pay on line for the policies they select. To date, roughly 1,800 people have chosen their coverage but they’ve been unable to complete their financial transaction.  Larson says the system is being rigorously tested.

I think it is too early to make a decision about specific contingencies until we have all the information that we need to make sure that those are the right choices - Mark Larson, Commissioner of Department of Vermont Health Access

“I think we are learning from those tests and I think we’ll continue that process until we feel that it’s ready to go live and serve Vermonters,” said Larson.

Lt. Governor Phil Scott has suggested that the Administration delay implementation of the new health care law for at least 3 months to give the state sufficient time to thoroughly test the key components of the Exchange.

“I just think that Vermonters need to be comforted knowing we’re going to be ok we have a plan B or C in mind and we’ll implement that,” said Scott.

Larson says that’s not an approach that the Administration is contemplating at this time but he says the Administration is trying to evaluate the pros and cons of different contingency plans.

“I think it’s too early to make a decision about specific contingencies until we have all the information that we need to make sure that those are the right choices,” Larson said.

Larson admits that the task facing the Administration right now is very challenging.

“There is a balancing act that goes on in terms of trying to get work done and making sure that we respect the concerns that have been raised by Vermonters,” said Larson. “And we continue to assess where we are at with all of those factors on a daily basis.”

Larson says it’s too early to tell if the electronic payment system will be up and operating by the end of the week.

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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