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

State And Feds Likely To Audit Vermont Health Connect

State Auditor Doug Hoffer says it’s possible that his office and the federal government will work together to review the troubled roll-out of Vermont Health Connect, the state's health insurance exchange. 

The price tag for getting Vermont Health Connect up and running exceeds $180 million and most of the money has come to the state in the form of federal grants.

"It is of interest to the people of the state. It is a huge undertaking for state government." State Auditor Doug Hoffer on the reasons why his office will conduct a performance audit of Vermont Health Connect

A new independent report concludes that the exchange encountered serious technical problems for several key reasons.

It cited an aggressive federal timetable, a decision by the state to drop its initial contractor, and a series of mistakes by the contractor that was chosen.

The report also pointed to the challenge of implementing a massive state information technology project which involved very few people who had any working knowledge of the Affordable Care Act.

Auditor Hoffer says the report provides a good starting point for his office to launch its own performance audit in late June or early July:

“It’s of interest to the people of the state. It’s a huge undertaking for state government and all other state governments. It’s a continuing issue going forward because of the direction that the Legislature has mapped out for us,” said Hoffer. “Clearly some issues arose in the implementation of this one and I think it’s critical looking ahead to what the plan is that we straighten those out and get them fixed before we get to the next level, if we ever do.”

One area that Hoffer wants to focus on is the security protocols of the computer systems that are used to sign people up for coverage on the exchange.

“That is something that will continue. That’s not a one-off,” said Hoffer. “People will continue to use the IT system that’s been developed whether we get to single payer or not. And they need, and deserve, the right to believe and know that the system is secure and that their personal information will be secure.”

Hoffer says he hopes to work with the Inspector General of the federal Health and Human Services Agency on this project. He recently invited them to his office to discuss a possible collaboration. 

“They were more than happy to come because they are themselves at this moment going through the same exercise we are,” Hoffer said. “And we wanted to be sure that we are on the same page so we weren’t going to replicate something they planned or, in the alternative, opportunities to work together.”

Hoffer says the performance audit of Vermont Health Connect should take about six months to complete.

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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