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Vermont Health Connect Upgrades Showing Initial Success, Miller Says

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Vermont Health Connect
New change-of-circumstance functionality at Vermont Health Connect has passed a series of tests, says Health Care Reform Chief Lawrence Miller. Miller says he's optimistic the exchange will be ready for open enrollment in November.

Health Care Reform Chief Lawrence Miller says he's encouraged by the initial results of new technical changes at Vermont Health Connect, the state's health care exchange.

Miller says these changes should significantly reduce a backlog of more than 10,000 cases in the next few months.

For months, anyone who needed to update their information at Vermont Health Connect had to endure a very lengthy process to make these changes. It's known as the "change of circumstance" function. It's used when someone changes jobs or gets married.

Until this week, this function was largely done by hand and because it takes several hours to process each application, there's a backlog of more than 10,000 of these cases.

Now a new process has been put into place that allows customer service representatives at Vermont Health Connect to enter this information directly into the exchange's computer system.

Miller says the new system has passed a series of tests and is now being used with a limited number of actual cases.

“You always go through this process with a major new release of doing a series of changes,” Miller said in an interview on Vermont Edition Friday. “We're working with real cases and then monitoring each of those all the way through the process to make sure they're all working correcting."

"We're transmitting all files back and forth to Medicaid, so we're moving into a position that's actually feeling pretty good." - Lawrence Miller, health care reform chief

Miller says the system is gradually validating more and more cases and the results so far have been very promising.

“We did a few the first day, tens the next day, yesterday well over a 100 and last night's batch didn't have any errors." 

And Miller says the new system is also meeting several other target goals.

"Once we're satisfied on our end, we're begriming to send small sets of sample cases to the carriers so that they can validate on their end,” Miller says. “We're transmitting all files back and forth to Medicaid, so we're moving into a position that's actually feeling pretty good." 

Based on the initial success of this new program, Miller says he's optimistic that Vermont Health Connect will be ready to handle the thousands of renewal cases that will flood into the system when open enrollment begins again in November.

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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