Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

After Yearlong Debacle, School Employees' Backlogged Medical Claims Should Be Paid This Week

Consumer Assistance Program
Vermont's Office of the Attorney General
The Consumer Assistance Program at the Attorney General's Office received multiple complaints regarding school employees' health reimbursement arrangements.

Most Vermont school employees with unpaid medical claims should see those claims paid this week, according to Vermont Education Health Initiative’s trust administrators. Mark Hage of the VT-NEA and Bobby-Jo Salls of the nonprofit Vermont School Boards Insurance Trust said roughly $600,000 in payments were recently processed.

The unpaid claims came about after districts contracted the small Williston firm, Future Planning Associates, to administer 24,000 employees’ health reimbursement arrangements beginning January 2018. The firm was unable to process many of the claims and terminated all of the contracts in April.

The school districts then moved to DataPath, an out-of-state corporate administrator, but that was also rocky. About 70,000 claims remained unprocessed through September. The following month, DataPath sent out $1.1 million in payments.

Around that time, complaints to the Attorney General's Office Consumer Assistance Program acquired by VPR indicated ongoing frustration among district staff. One complainant, whose name was redacted, wrote in early October that he or she hesitated to go to the doctor, and had medical bills sent to collections. 

Credit Consumer Assistance Program / Vermont's Office of the Attorney General
Vermont's Office of the Attorney General
A complaint submitted On October 8, 2018 to the Consumer Assistance Program.

Another complaint from Christopher Hood, president of the Champlain Valley Education Association, was forwarded in early October to the Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program by the state teachers' union, VT-NEA. Hood wrote “many teachers in my district are now getting collection notices for the first time in their lives,” and asked “What is the impact on credit scores? How could this effect [sic] an upcoming home purchase?”

Hood cited one email he had received from a staff member stating “‘People are being denied services by providers if they don’t pay out of pocket. Many people don’t have the means to pay up front.’”

Now, Mark Hage with VT-NEA and Bobby-Jo Salls with VSBIT say almost all employees’ previous medical claims have been paid, and current claims are being processed on time.

“If there are any glitches here that we don’t know about, we’re going to identify them,” Hage said, “and we’re going to resolve them. But we think we are getting to the point where the great majority of the claims that were outstanding -- older claims -- have been addressed.”

To date, Hage said, only 232 out of the initial 70,000 backlogged claims remain.

Emily Corwin reported investigative stories for VPR until August 2020. In 2019, Emily was part of a two-newsroom team which revealed that patterns of inadequate care at Vermont's eldercare facilities had led to indignities, injuries, and deaths. The consequent series, "Worse for Care," won a national Edward R. Murrow award for investigative reporting, and placed second for a 2019 IRE Award. Her work editing VPR's podcast JOLTED, about an averted school shooting, and reporting NHPR's podcast Supervision, about one man's transition home from prison, made her a finalist for a Livingston Award in 2019 and 2020. Emily was also a regular reporter and producer on Brave Little State, helping the podcast earn a National Edward R. Murrow Award for its work in 2020. When she's not working, she enjoys cross country skiing and biking.
Latest Stories