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

Blue Cross Prepares Contingency Plan In Case Health Exchange Isn't Ready

For the past few months, Blue Cross Vice President Kevin Goddard has raised strong concerns about the operational capability of the computer programs that are the foundation of the state’s new health care exchange.

Goddard is concerned that the testing period for these systems has been far too short. A number of people are still reporting problems logging onto the website of Vermont Health Connect and this week state officials are trying to fix a problem with the exchange’s online payment system. Goddard says time is running short to find a solution.

“I think Blue Cross feels and I’m sure everybody does that until the entire system is fully tested until the tests demonstrate that the thing will work flawlessly we will all remain concer

I think Blue Cross feels that until the entire system is fully tested we will all remain concerned - BCBS Vice President Kevin Goddard

ned,” said Goddard. “So certainly we’re no less concerned then we have been previously and I think that’s probably a reasonable way to feel given the magnitude of the transition that we’re all trying to support here.”

When lawmakers passed Act 171, the law that creates the state exchange, they mandated that all individuals and small businesses with fewer than 50 employees go through the exchange if they want to purchase coverage starting on January first.

The law also included a provision that allows for the continuation of existing policies if the exchange is not fully operational by the end of this year.  Goddard says Blue Cross is looking at this option as a contingency plan.

“We’ve begun to look at what the issues are around that what the implications are both for the health plans and probably most importantly for the groups and members,” said Goddard. “So it’s a little bit early to say exactly what all those issues are but that’s something that we’re taking a look at for sure.”

And Goddard says it won’t be difficult to extend polices for current customers.

“From a system point of view not so complicated,” said Goddard. “But from a communications point of view and from a point of view of integrating whether it’s 3 months or 6 months down the road with the Exchange products and things like that those are the things I think that have to be thought through.”

The Shumlin Administration is also considering a variety of contingency plans but the Governor says it’s too early to begin discussing these options in public.

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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