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

Shumlin Confident Exchange Problems Will Be Fixed Soon

A day after he announced a contingency plan to deal with the technical problems with Vermont Health Connect, the Governor expressed confidence that no further changes will be needed.

I do not believe we are going to be facing anymore need for extensions or additional options - Gov. Peter Shumlin

Individuals and small businesses can keep their current coverage until the end of March and the businesses will be allowed to purchase policies directly from Blue Cross and MVP without going through the exchange.

Shumlin says this plan will give the state more than enough time to resolve the technical problems with the exchange.

“I’m going to fix it we’re going to get it done we’re going to do it right,” said Shumlin. “And we will get it done soon enough so that I don’t believe we’re going to be facing anymore need for extensions or additional options.”

Shumlin says he has this confidence, in part, because a key program that integrates several important components of the exchange has just been fixed.

“I just got off the phone and one of the big fixes that’s going to help make more functions just today finally worked,” said Shumlin. “So you’re going to find in the coming weeks it’s better every day.”

Randy Brock, the GOP candidate for governor in 2012, called on Shumlin to appoint an independent commission to investigate the problems at the exchange. Brock said the panel was needed because “we cannot trust an administration that got us into this mess to tell us honestly what went wrong and how to fix it.”

Shumlin says he’s focused on fixing the exchange, not scoring political points.

“I think by the time the Legislature gets back in January there will be a broad enough consensus that we took a challenging situation and made it better that wouldn’t make it necessary to act like Washington DC and make politics out of a situation that has been difficult,” said Shumlin.

Retired Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis says there is some political risk for Shumlin.

“If the Administration can get Vermont Health Connect so that it is working completely as intended by the new deadline of March 31st then I think the risks will diminish,” said Davis. “But if there are other problems that develop between now and the end of March the risk will increase.”

Davis says Shumlin’s goal of implementing a single payer system in Vermont in 2017 could hinge on his ability to iron out the problems with Vermont Health Connect in the coming months.

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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