YCQM: Aug 11, 2013 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

YCQM: Aug 11, 2013

Posted: Updated:
BURLINGTON, Vt. -

>> IN THIS EDITION OF "YOU CAN QUOTE ME TAPS, WE ARE TALKING ABOUT HEALTH CARE AND HEALTH CARE OPTIONS COMING TO ALL VERMONTERS, JOINING US IS MARK LARSON, COMMISSIONER OF VERMONT HEALTH ACCESS. THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.

>> THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

>> THERE'S A LOT TO EXPLAIN, AND THERE'S A LOT TO EXPLAIN IN TRACKING HEALTH CARE DEVELOPMENTS.

>> ABSOLUTELY. THE COMMISSIONER WE SPOKE WITH, WE PHEPBGSD YOU'RE ON AN INFORMATION CAMPAIGN, YOU'VE GOT 50 SOME ODD DAYS TO GO OR SO. WHAT'S IT LIKE TRYING TO TALK TO EVERYONE ABOUT WHAT REFORM WILL MEAN FOR THEM?

>> WE'RE EXCITED ABOUT WHAT WILL BE STARTED IN OCTOBER, A NEW WAY FOR VERMONTERS TO ACCESS HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS AND TO BE ABLE TO COMPARE THEM SIDE BY SIDE SO THEY CAN MAKE A CHOICE WHAT'S BEST FOR THEM IN THEIR BUDGETS. WE ARE CONFIDENT THAT WE WILL BE READY FOR OCTOBER 1ST WHEN THE VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT STARTS AND AS YOU MENTIONED, THE CHALLENGE THEN BECOMES HELPING VERMONTERS BE PREPARED TO SORT THROUGH THE OPTIONS TO UNDERSTAND VERMONT CONNECTS, HOW IT WORKS AND TO BE BETTER ABLE TO MAKE CHOICES THIS ALL.

>> WE ARE DOING A VARIETY OF THINGS, ONLINE RESOURCES, RESOURCES BY PHONE AND A NUMBER OF PEOPLE WORKING IN THE COMMUNITY TO HELP PEOPLE FIND ANSWERS TO THEIR QUESTIONS.

>> WHAT ARE YOU HEARING FROM PEOPLE AS YOU MOVE TOWARD THE OCTOBER DEADLINE?

>> WHAT WE ARE HEARING IS THAT CHOOSING HEALTH COVERAGE IS HARD. IT'S HARD NOW. PEOPLE HAVE A HARD TIME FIGURING OUT WHAT DO ALL THESE TERMS MEAN.

>> AND PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND, IF THEY HAVE A PLAN, ESPECIALLY IF THEY HAVE IT THROUGH THEIR EMPLOYER.

>> THAT'S THE CHALLENGE, TO MAKE IT AS ACCESSIBLE AS PEOPLE BECAUSE HEALTH COVERAGE IS A PERSONAL AND IMPORTANT DECISION. PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW IF THEY GET SICK OR INJURED, THAT THEY ARE GOING TO BE OKAY AND VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT IS GOING TO MAKE ACCESS THANK INFORMATION FOR VERMONTERS. THE CHALLENGE IS TO HELP VERMONTERS FEEL LIKE THEY WOULD BE PREPARED TO USE HEALTH CONNECT.

>> LET'S TALK ABOUT WHO THIS WILL IMPACT, BEGINNING IN STAGES. IT'S NOT EVERYBODY ALL AT ONCE. THE FIRST STAGE IS GOING TO BE BUSINESSES THAT HAVE 50 OR FEWER EMPLOYEES, AND ALSO I GUESS ANY VERMONTER THAT CAN CHOOSE TO BUY INTO IT AS WELL. DO YOU HAVE A SENSE OF HOW MANY PEOPLE MIGHT SIGN UP?

>> SO WE ARE EXPECTING AROUND 100,000 VERMONTERS WHEN EITHER GET THEIR INSURANCE THROUGH A SMALL BUSINESS, WHICH IS 50, FULL-TIME EMPLOYEES OR LESS, OR VERMONTERS WHO BUY COVERAGE FOR THEMSELVES AND THEIR FAMILIES, WITHOUT ACCESS TO COVERAGE AT WORK.

>> SO IF YOUR EMPLOYER PROVIDES A COVERAGE PLAN, YOU CAN'T APPLY?

>> IF YOUR EMPLOYER IS 50 FULL-TIME EMPLOYEES OR LESS, YOUR EMPLOYER CAN ACCESS COVERAGE FOR THEM AND THEIR EMPLOYEES, THROUGH VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT, OR IF I DON'T HAVE ACCESS TO COVERAGE AT WORK, I WOULD BE ABLE TO GO AS AN INDIVIDUAL AND BE ABLE TO ACCESS PLANS, AS WELL AS FINANCIAL HELP, IF I QUALIFY.

>> AS YOU KNOW, HEALTH INSURANCE IS A BIG COST FOR COMPANIES AND THIS IS ONE OF THE REASONS WHY THE STATE IS MOVING TOWARD THIS, TO HELP UNINSURED VERMONTER, BUT ALSO, HELP TRY TO CONTROL THE COST OR STEM THE GROWTH IN HEALTH CARE, WHICH EVERYONE KNOWS IS GOING UP ASTRONOMICALLY. WHAT IS TO STOP A BUSINESS, WHO HAS MAYBE 52 EMPLOYEES, FROM SAYING YOU KNOW WHAT, I COULD SAVE MONEY IF I DROP MY SHELT INSURANCE COVERAGE AND SHED THE TWO EMPLOYEES TO GET ME UNDER THAT 50 THRESHOLD?

>> SO YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT, THAT HEALTH CARE HAS BEEN A REALLY SIGNIFICANT FINANCIAL BURDEN TO SMALL BUSINESSES, IT'S SOMETHING THEY STRUGGLE WITH AND THEY STRUGGLE IN TWO WAYS. ONE IS PROVIDING PLANS THAT ARE MEANINGFUL AND COMPREHENSIVE, AND THEN CONTRADICTING -- CONTRIBUTING FINANCIALLY IN A WAY SO THAT THE EMPLOYEES CAN AFFORD IT AS WELL. THERE ARE NEW OPTIONS. IF YOU ARE JUST OVER THE THRESHOLD OF 50 EMPLOYEES, IT IS STILL IMPORTANT TO THINK ABOUT THIS YEAR ABOUT WHETHER PROVIDING COVERAGE IS THE BEST WAY OF PROVIDING CARE TO YOUR EMPLOYEES OR NOT. SO IF YOU DON'T PROVIDE COVERAGE NEXT YEAR, YOUR EMPLOYEES COULD GO TO VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT TO BE ABLE TO ACCESS COMPREHENSIVE PLANS AND FINANCIAL HELP IF THEY QUALIFY, AND FOR MANY THAT MIGHT ACTUALLY BE BETTER OFF THAN WHAT THEY ARE GETTING TODAY AND FOR OTHERS, IT MIGHT NOT BE. THAT'S WHERE EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYEES HAVE TO HAVE AN IMPORTANT CONVERSATION TOGETHER THIS FALL TO FIGURE OUT WHAT'S THE BEST PATH FOR THEM.

>> YOU'VE GOT 10 ESSENTIAL BENEFITS WITHIN ALL OF THE PLANS. BUT AMONG THE 18 PLANS ON OFFER FROM MVP AND BLUE CROSS, WHAT ARE THE ACTUAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE PLANS?

>> THE PLANS VARY IN TERMS OF THEIR PREMIUM, HOW MUCH YOU WOULD PAY FOR EACH MONTH, AND THEY VARY IN TERMS OF HOW TO POCKET EXPENSES OR STRUCTURE, SO OUT OF POCKET EXPENSES ARE THINGS LIKE COPAY DEDUCTIBLES , COINSURANCE, SO SOME PLANS WILL HAVE A SLIGHTLY HIGHER PREMIUM BUT LESS OUT OF POCKET EXPENSES OR LOWER PREMIUMS AND HIGHER OUT OF POCKET EXPENSES AND PEOPLE LIKE THE OPTIONS BASED ON THE HEALTH NEEDS AND THEIR FINANCIAL SITUATION. SO ACROSS THE PROGRAMS, MVP, BLUE CROSS WILL PROVIDE THE PLANS BASED ON THOSE FACTORS, WHAT'S THE PREMIUM, THE COPAYS, WHAT IS THE PLAN THAT BEST FITS MY HEALTH NEEDS.

>> UNDER THE CHANGES, WILL THERE BE SOME WINNERS AND LOSERS?

>> I THINK WHENEVER WE TALK ABOUT THE KIND OF CHANGE THAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT, THAT'S FAIR TO SAY THAT THERE WILL BE PEOPLE WHO WON'T FIND A PLAN THAT THEY THINK FITS AS WELL AS THE ONE THEY HAVE TODAY, AND MANY VERMONTERS FEEL THEY HAVE ACCESS TO A PLAN THAT'S A WHOLE LOT BETTER THAN WHAT THEY HAVE TODAY, SO I THINK THAT'S VERY TRUE. FOR INDIVIDUALS BUYING THIR OWN COVERAGE TODAY AND NOT GETTING IT AT WORK, I THINK ALMOST -- MOST OF THOSE VERMONTERS ARE GOING TO FEEL LIKE THEY HAVE ACCESS TO BETTER PLANS, AND ALSO, FINANCIAL HELP TO MAKE THEM MORE AFFORDABLE.

>> NOT NECESSARILY THOSE THAT AREN'T MOVING INTO MEDICAID AND MEDICARE. VHAP AND -- THEY ARE EXCEPTIONAL DEALS AND THAT DOESN'T SEEM TO BE SNAG THE CHANGE WILL MIRROR AS EFFECTIVELY.

>> VHAP AND CATAMOUNT HAVE BEEN GOOD PRODUCTS FOR A LOT OF VERMONTERS. EVEN FOLKS IN VHAP AND CATAMOUNT HAVE FOUND THAT PREMIUMS COULD BE LOWER AND SOME WILL FIND THEY'RE NOT AS LOW AS THEY HAVE BEEN. SO IT WILL BE, AGAIN -- THERE WILL BE SOME WINNERS, SOME LOSERS, BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT EXACTLY THE SAME. AND THEN THERE WILL BE SOME WHO FIND THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE HIGHER DEDUCTIBLES THAN THEY HAVE IN THE PAST SO, IT WILL BE REALLY IMPORTANT THAT WITH THE INFORMATION THAT'S AVAILABLE ON VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT THAT PEOPLE LOOK A THE PLANS TO BE ABLE TO FIGURE OUT WHAT'S THE PLAN THAT WORKS BEST FOR THEM.

>> WE'RE HEARING, I'M SURE YOU ARE HEARING THIS AS WELL, ESPECIALLY FROM SMALL BUSINESSES WHO JUST FEEL LIKE THERE IS SO MUCH UNCERTAINTY OUT THERE, AND THEY'RE JUST NOT SURE HOW TO MAKE THE DECISION.

>> YEAH, AND WE ARE HEARING THAT, AND SO WHAT WE ARE PLEASED TO BE ABLE TO OFFER IS THAT RIGHT NOW, THE INFORMATION THAT THE PLANS AND THE PREMIUMS ARE AVAILABLE ON OUR WEBSITE, TWO MONTHS BEFORE THE EPENROLL MENT -- BEFORE THE OPEN ENROLLMENT STARTS, THERE WILL BE TIME THAT BUSINESSES CAN SIT DOWN WITH THE INFORMATION. WE'RE ALSO PLEASED TO BE ABLE TO OFFER NAVIGATORS WHO ARE -- WE'VE CONTRACTED WITH 18 VERMONT ORGANIZATIONS WHO WILL PROVIDE OVER 300 INDIVIDUALS WHO WILL BE AVAILABLE IN THE COMMUNITY TO SIT DOWN IN PERSON WITH SOMEBODY AND ACTUALLY WALK THROUGH THE INFORMATION AND HELP PEOPLE FIGURE OUT WHAT PLAN WOULD BE BEST FOR ME AND MY EMPLOYEES. WE'VE ALSO BEEN WORKING WITH BROKERS TO TRAIN BROKERS ABOUT VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT IN THE PLANS. A LOT OF VERMONT BUSINESS HAVE RELIED ON BROKERS TO HELP THEM SORT THROUGH THE COMPLICATION OF HEALTH COVERAGE AND WE ARE TRYING TO SUPPORT BROKERS IN CONTINUING THAT RELATIONSHIP SO THAT, AGAIN, SMALL BUSINESSES HAVE RESOURCES TO BE ABLE TO TURN TO.

>> AS YOU KNOW, THERE HAVE BEEN SOME GROUPS WHO ARE OPPOSED TO THIS HEALTH CARE REFORM. THEY HAVE A LOT OF QUESTIONS. LET'S HEAR FROM ONE OF THOSE VOICES, DARCY JOHNSON REPRESENTS A GROUP WHO HAS A LOT OF CONCERNS ABOUT HOW THIS HEALTH CARE PIECE IS GOING TO COME TOGETHER.

>> WE THINK THE HICCUPS ARE GOING TO BE SIGNIFICANT AND IT'S GOING TO PUT INDIVIDUALS AND SMALL BUSINESSES WHO ARE TRYING TO PURCHASE HEALTH CARE IN A VERY PRECARIOUS POSITION.

>> I KNOW YOU'VE HEARD THAT MANY TIMES, THAT IT'S GOING TO PUT THESE HICCUPS, WHICH SEEM TO BE INEVITABLE WHEN YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING, SO THE LAWS ARE GOING TO HURT SMALL BUSINESSES AND PEOPLE WHO ARE TRYING TO SAVE MONEY.

>> I UNDERSTAND THAT THERE'S A CONCERN THAT WE WON'T BE READY, THERE'S A CONCERN THAT IT WON'T WORK COMPLETELY ON DAY ONE. WE REMAIN VERY CONFIDENT THAT OUR TEAM IS DOING A GREAT JOB AT BUILDING THE VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT TO BE READY FOR OCTOBER 1ST. I UNDERSTAND THAT UNTIL IT IS ACTUALLY READY AND VERMONTERS CAN SEE IT, THERE WILL BE A CONCERN THAT IT'S NOT GOING TO BE READY. THAT'S THE BURDEN THAT WE CARRY. I'M VERY CONFIDENT THAT VERMONTERS WILL BE PLEASED WITH THE PRODUCT THAT'S AVAILABLE IN OCTOBER.

>> ON WEDNESDAY, REPRESENTATIVE BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD SAID LOOK, WE'RE THRILLED WITH WHAT THE STATE HAS DONE ON THE FRONT END, THE ACTUAL VERMONT CONNECT WEBSITE, WE'RE PRETTY CONFIDENT IN WHAT WE HAVE ON OUR END BEHIND THE SCENES, BUT IT'S GOING TO BE MAKING THOSE TWO SYSTEMS TALK TO EACH OTHER THAT COULD POTENTIALLY BE THE STICKING POINT AND WE'RE CONCERNED ABOUT THE TIME WE HAVE TO TEST THAT. WHAT MAKES YOU A LITTLE BIT MORE CONFIDENT THAN THEM THAT THAT'S GOING TO BE READY F. NOT ON DAY ONE, THEN DAY TWO, RATHER THAN, SAY, DECEMBER.

>> THE IMPORTANT PART BETWEEN NOW AND OCTOBER IN TERMS OF HAVING VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT READY TO GO IS MAKING SURE THAT WE DO IT, AS GOOD A JOB AS WE CAN, IN TESTING THE SYSTEM, SO THAT BY THE TIME THAT VERMONTERS USE IT FOR REAL, WE HAVE DISCOVERED ALL THE BUGS THAT WE CAN, AND FIX THEM, SO THAT VERMONTERS DON'T EXPERIENCE THOSE. AND WE UNDERSTAND THAT, AGAIN, THAT'S GOING TO BE THE THING. UNTIL IT WORKS AND UNTIL PEOPLE CAN SEE IT, THERE IS GOING TO BE CONCERN THAT MAYBE IT WON'T WORK. WE ARE MAKING SURE THAT WE HAVE REALLY, REALLY BRIGHT AND TALENTED PEOPLE WHO ARE WORKING ON THE SYSTEM. WOULD TALIBAN GREAT IF THERE WERE MORE TIME TO BE ABLE TO TEST THINGS, SURE, BUT WE DON'T HAVE THAT. IT'S GOING TO BE ONLINE IN OCTOBER AND THAT'S WHAT WE ARE PREPARING FOR.

>> THIS IS SOMETHING THAT'S HAPPENING NATIONWIDE AS PART OF THE PRESIDENT'S PLAN TO HEALTH CARE. THERE'S AN LOT OF VARYING DEGREES OF STATE'S READINESS FOR THIS AND VERMONT SEEMS TO BE SAYING IT IS PREPARED FOR THIS. WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS? WE ARE DOING WELL BECAUSE WE DECIDED EARLY WHAT WE WERE GOING TO DO. A LOT OF STATES WAITED AROUND TO SEE THE OUTCOME OF AN ELECTION, TO SEE THE -- WE ALSO HAVE HAD A GREAT PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE STATE, THE CARRIERS, BLUE CROSS, MVP, DELTA DENTAL, WITH A NUMBER OF THE ORGANIZATIONS. YOU SEE THAT REFLECTED IN THE NAVIGATOR ORGANIZATION, WHERE VERMONTERS HAVE COME TOGETHER TO DECIDE WE'RE GOING TO MAKE THIS THING WORK, BECAUSE IT'S IMPORTANT TO VERMONTERS -- AGAIN, HEALTH COVERAGE IS AN IMPORTANT TOPIC TO INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES, AND VERMONT HAS HAD A HISTORY OF DOING COLLABORATIVE WORK TO MAKE HEALTH REFORM BE SUCCESSFUL, AND I THINK THAT'S PART OF -- WE ARE BUILDING ON THAT SUCCESS, AND I THINK THAT'S WHAT'S PUT US AHEAD.

>> YOU MENTIONED THAT THERE WERE GOING TO BE TWO MAIN PROVIDERS. THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF BACK AND FORTH ABOUT A THIRD PROVIDER, A HEALTH CO-OP. WHAT IS THE LATEST ON THAT? THEIR OFFICIAL PLAN WAS REJECTED. I UNDERSTAND THERE HAVE BEEN TALKS GOING BACK AND FORTH. WILL THEY BE ALLOWED TO ENTER THIS MARKETPLACE?

>> IN ORDER TO OFFER PLANS UNDER VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT, A CARRIER HAS TO BE LISTENED SO, A CO-OP HAS BEEN TRYING TO ACHIEVE THE LICENSE AND THAT'S THE PROCESS THEY ARE IN. REALLY, UNTIL THEY HAVE A LICENSE, IT'S NOT REALLY A QUESTION FOR US AT VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT. SO WE CONTINUE TO WORK WITH OUR PARTNERS AT THE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL REGULATION, WHICH DEALS WITH THE LICENSING ISSUE, AND IT'S REALLY BETWEEN DFR AND THE CO-OP AT THIS POINT.

>> DO YOU THINK MORE PROVIDERS WOULD BE BENEFICIAL TO VERMONTERS?

>> WHAT I'M PLEASED WITH IS THAT VERMONT HAS BEEN OUT IN THE MARKETPLACE FOR HEALTH COVERAGE IT REPRESENTS, IT HAS ESTABLISHED A NEW OPPORTUNITY FOR CONSUMERS TO HAVE INSURANCE COMPANIES COMPETE FOR THEIR BUSINESS. AND I THINK THAT YOU SEE THAT REFLECTED IN THE COMPETITIVENESS OF THE RATES THAT ARE VERY CONSISTENT WITH WHAT VERMONTERS HAVE SEEN IN THE PAST. THERE WAS A SIGNIFICANT TKHAERPB THERE WOULD BE A GIGANTIC JUMP IN RATES AND RATE SHOCK THAT WOULD OCCUR AND WE'RE NOT SEEING THAT.

>> SO YOU ARE SAYING WITH JUST TWO INSURERS, THAT'S ENOUGH COMPETITION, YOU HAVE SEEN THE SYSTEM WORK?

>> I THINK THAT WE ARE SEEING COMPETITION WITHIN THE MARKETPLACE, THAT VERMONT CONNECT HAS WORKED FOR CONSUMERS, YES.

>> DO YOU THINK THERE WAS ANOTHER ENTRY POINT, ANOTHER INSURER, WOULD THAT CONTINUE TO DRIVE DOWN PRICES, IF THERE WAS MORE COMPETITION?

>> I'M NOT SURE THAT THAT'S TRUE. IT'S HARD TO SAY WITHOUT HAVING AN ACTUAL --

>> WELL, THERE'S JUST -- I GUESS THE CO-OP, ONE OF THE ISSUES WAS THAT THE RATES WERE TOO HIGH, AS WELL AS THEIR VIABILITY. I GUESS --

>> THERE'S AN LOT OF BACK AND FORTH ON THAT AS WELL.

>> YES, AND SO THAT'S -- VFR IS LOOKING AT IT. THEY HAVE REOPENED THE CASE. AND SOMETHING THAT I SUPPOSE I COULD USE MORE CLARIFICATION ON, AS THEY MENTIONED WEDNESDAY, IT'S NOT REALLY A CO-OP. CAN YOU EXPLAIN THAT MORE? THEY SAY DON'T THINK OF IT THE SAME WAY AS YOU WOULD A FOOD CO-OP. IT'S STILL AN INSURANCE COMPANY. IS THAT SOMETHING YOU CAN TALK TO US ABOUT?

>> I'M NOT AS FAMILIAR AS MY COLLEAGUES IN THE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL REGULATIONS WITH THE ACTUAL GOVERNING STRUCTURE OF THE CO-OP, BUT IT IS NOT LIKE A TRUE MEMBER-OWNED CO-OP WHERE EVERYBODY IS BUYING A SHARE INTO THE CORPORATION. IT IS DIFFERENT FROM THAT. BUT THE IDEA WAS THAT IT WOULD BE A MORE CONSUMER- DRIVEN INSURANCE COMPANY, AND THAT IS PARTLY WHY THE REVIEW OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL REGULATION IS SO IMPORTANT, BECAUSE THEY ULTIMATELY BEAR THE RESPONSIBILITY OF ENSURE THANK A COMPANY WOULD BE DESIGNED TO ACTUALLY PROVIDE GOOD SERVICE TO ITS CUSTOMERS, AND THAT'S THE REVIEW THAT THEY ARE ENGAGING IN NOW.

>> WE'LL TAKE A BEEF BREAK AND CONTINUE OUR DISCUSSION

>> WELCOME BACK, EVERYONE. THERE ARE BIG HEALTH CARE CHANGES COMING TO VERMONT AND WE ARE TALKING ABOUT THAT WITH MARK LARSON, COMMISSIONER OF THE VERMONT HEALTH ACCESS. COMMISSIONER, A LOT OF PLANS, THEY HAVE DIFFERENT NAMES, I SORT OF THINK OF OLYMPICS, GOLD, SILVER, BRONZE. WHAT DO PEOPLE HAVE TO THINK ABOUT, WHAT INFORMATION DO THEY NEED TO MAKE THE BIG CHANGES THAT, IMPACT THEIR WALLETS, THEIR HEALTH, THEIR LIFE, THINGS THAT PEOPLE HOLD SO CLOSE?

>> SO WHEN VERMONTERS GO ON VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT, THE IDEA IS THEY WILL BE ABLE TO PUT SOME BASIC INFORMATION ABOUT WHAT'S INTERESTING TO THEM AND ABOUT THEMSELVES, AND BE ABLE TO SEE PLANS SIDE BY SIDE. AND THEY WILL WANT TO LOOK AT THINGS LIKE WHAT'S THE PREMIUM, WHAT ARE THE COPAYS FOR THE SERVICES THAT I CAN ACCESS, WHAT ARE THE DEDUCTIBLES THAT I WOULD HAVE TO PAY. AND THEY WILL BE ABLE TO LOOK AT THAT WITH PLANS SIDE BY SIDE, APPLES TO APPLES, KNOWING THAT ALL THE PLANS COVER THE SAME COVERED SERVICES.

>> AND YOU'VE GOT THAT ALSO INCLUDES -- WE'VE GOTTEN E-MAILS FROM PEOPLE THAT ARE CONCERNED THAT IF THEY PLUG THAT IN, DOES THAT INCLUDE INCOME SENSITIVITY OR MONEY THAT MIGHT OFFSET THE COST?

>> IF I'M AN INDIVIDUAL AND I'M PURCHASING BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE ACCESS TO COVERAGE AT WORK IT WOULD SHOW ME WHAT KIND OF FINANCIAL HELP I'D BE ELIGIBLE FOR AND IT WOULD SHOW ME THE PREMIUMS FOR THE PRODUCTS AS FAR AS THE FINANCIAL HELP I QUALIFY FOR AND CALCULATE WHAT WOULD I PAY ON A MONTHLY BASIS MYSELF.

>> SO YOU STILL HAVE TO CHECK THAT, MIGHT -- RIGHT, YOU HAVE TO GO TO THE NAVIGATOR, CONFIRM THE INTERNET TOOL IS CALCULATING IT CORRECTLY. ARE THERE MORE FACTORS?

>> IN OCTOBER, ALL OF THAT CALCULATION WOULD --

>> BUT RIGHT NOW IS THERE A CALCULATOR ON THE WEB PAGE.

>> WE DO HAVE AN WWW.VENEZUELAHEALTHCONNECT.GO V, WHERE PEOPLE CAN PUT IN THE HOUSEHOLD SIZE, THEIR INCOME, AND GET AN ESTIMATE OF WHAT IT COSTS AT THE DIFFERENT LEVELS IN OCTOBER FOR A PLAN THAT WILL START IN JANUARY. THAT WON'T BE A PERMANENT OFFER, BECAUSE THEY WOULD HAVE TO FILL OUT A FULL APPLICATION IN OCTOBER, WHEN OPEN ENROLLMENT STARTS. BUT IT'S A GOOD ESTIMATE, BASED ON A SMALL AMOUNT OF INFORMATION.

>> SO IS THIS MOVE TOWARD THIS BIG KHABG IN OCTOBER S. THIS ABOUT LOWERING HEALTH CARE COSTS, IS THIS ABOUT LOWERING THE RATE OF INCREASE IN HEALTH CARE COSTS, IS THIS ABOUT COVERING UNINSURED VERMONTERS? WHAT IS THE GOAL. HOW WILL YOU KNOW IF IT WORKS?

>> OUR PRIMARY MISSION AT VERMONT CONNECT IS TO PROVIDE INFORMATION TO BE ABLE TO COMPARE AND CHOOSE A HEALTH PLAN THAT WORKS BEST FOR AN INDIVIDUAL OR A BUSINESS. AND OUR LONG TERM GOALS ARE TO CONTROL THE COST OF HEALTH CARE TO IMPROVE THE HEALTH OF VERMONTERS, TO MAKE SURE THAT EVERY VERDICTER -- VERMONTER IS COVERED AND TO MAKE THE WAY WE PAY FOR IT BETTER THAN TODAY. IT IS GOING TO MAKE HEALTH CARE AFFORDABLE TO A LOT OF VERMONTERS, IT IS GOING TO MAKE PURCHASING COVERAGE SIGNIFICANTLY MORE ACCESSIBLE TO A LOT OF VERMONTERS, BOTH BUSINESSES AND INDIVIDUALS. IT WON'T GET US TO ALL OUR GOALS, AND WE WILL NEED TO KEEP WORKING IN THE FUTURE. THERE WILL BE MORE TO DO. BUT IT'S A BIG STEP FORWARD.

>> ONE OF THE COST DRIVERS, AS YOU KNOW, WITH HEALTH CARE IS PEOPLE USING HEALTH CARE, PEOPLE WANTING TO HAVE THE TEST, PEOPLE WANTING TO HAVE THIS DONE. DOES THIS ADDRESS THIS SIDE AT ALL AND IN THE END DOES CONTROLLING HEALTH CARE COST MEAN PEOPLE HAVE TO USE LESS HEALTH CARE?

>> ONE OF THE IMPORTANT THINGS WE CAN DO IN CONTROLLING HEALTH CARE COST IS MAKING SURE PEOPLE ARE ASSESSING THE RIGHT HEALTH CARE AT THE RIGHT TIME AND WHAT WE KNOW RIGHT NOW IS THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE DON'T HAVE ACCESS TO PREVENTATIVE SERVICES, TO REGULAR, ROUTINE CARE, THAT WOULD ACTUALLY HELP PREVENT FUTURE ILLNESSES THAT WOULD BE MORE COSTLY TO THEM AND MORE COSTLY FINANCIALLY. SO WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT PEOPLE HAVE ACCESS TO A PRIMARY CARE DOCTOR, GETTING PREVENTATIVE SCREENINGS. THOSE ARE IMPORTANT TO CONTROLLING COSTS GOING FORWARD. WE ALSO NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT AS WE LOOK AT HOW WE REIMBURSE PROVIDERS THAT, WE MOVE FROM AN INCENTIVE TO DO MORE AND MORE, TO AN INCENTIVE TO PRODUCE BETTER RESULTS.

>> BUT YOU KNOW, I MEAN, IF YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT YOUR CHILD, YOUR SPOUSE, AND THEY SAY WELL, YOU COULD DO THE TEST OR LET IT RIDE, A LOT OF PEOPLE WOULD SAY DO THE TEST, DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN DO. SO MAYBE THE REIMBURSEMENT TIES IN BUT IT ALSO TIES INTO PEOPLE'S DESIRE TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE DOING EVERYTHING.

>> I YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT WE DO WANT TO DO EVERYTHING WE CAN TO MAKE SURE THAT PEOPLE THAT WE CARE ABOUT ARE AS HEALTHY AS THEY CAN BE AND I THINK AS WE MOVE FORWARD, WE HAVE TO BE REALLY THOUGHTFUL ABOUT WHAT MAKES A DIFFERENCE FOR OUR HEALTH AND WHAT DOESN'T.

>> ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT MAYBE LIMITING CHOICES PEOPLE MIGHT HAVE OR AT SOME POINT, SAYING THIS TEST ISN'T NEEDED, IT'S NOT YOUR DECISION TO MAKE?

>> I THINK WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT IS GIVING INFORMATION TO PROVIDERS, AGAIN, ALIGNING THE FINANCIAL INCENTIVES FOR PROVIDERS, AND GIVING VERMONTERS INFORMATION SO THAT WHEN THEY ARE IN THOSE SITUATIONS, THEY CAN START OFF BY MAKING WELL INFORMED DECISIONS ABOUT WHAT REALLY WILL HELP THEM BE HEALTHY AND WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FINANCIALLY.

>> BUT DO YOU SEE A TIME AT ALL WHERE THE STATE IS MOVING TOWARDS SINGLE PAY OR? THAT'S NOT YOUR FOCUS NOW, YOU ARE FOCUSED ON VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT, BUT A PLAN WHERE IT SAYS THIS IS WHAT WE'LL PAY FOR, THIS IS NOT WHAT WE WILL PAY FOR.

>> I THINK SOME OF THAT GOES ON TODAY. PEOPLE MAY HAVE EXPERIENCED THINGS LIKE PRIOR AUTHORZATIONS THAT MAY NEXT, WHICH IS REALLY ABOUT ASKING THE QUESTION IS THIS THE RIGHT CARE TO BE PROVIDING. I THINK SOME OF THAT WILL CONTINUE. BUT I DON'T EXPECT THAT -- PEOPLE TALK ABOUT THE SCARY IDEA OF SOMEONE GOING TO COME AROUND AND TELL ME I CAN'T GET THE CARE THAT I NEED. I THINK THAT THOSE FEARS ARE A A LITTLE BIT OVERBLOWN AT THIS POINT. I THINK THEY WILL CONTINUE TO FIND THEY CAN ACCESS CARE THAT THEY NEED. THERE WILL BE MORE AND MORE ATTEMPTS TO TRY TO EDUCATE PROVIDERS AND CONSUMERS ABOUT WHAT ARE THE THINGS THAT REALLY DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE, DO WE HAVE THE DATA TO --

>> DO WE HAVE THE DATA TO BE ABLE TO OFFER THAT INFORMATION TO DOCTORS? A LOT OF WHAT I'VE READ INDICATES THAT WE NEED A LOT MORE DATA COLLECTION ALMOST AS A FIRST STEP.

>> WE HAVE A GROWING BODY OF INFORMATION, PARTICULARLY ABOUT CERTAIN CONDITIONS, DIABETES, OBESITY, THINGS LIKE SMOKING. WE KNOW THINGS THAT WORK AND DON'T WORK. AND I THINK MORE AND MORE WE NEED TO INTEGRATE THAT INFORMATION INTO OUR HEALTH SYSTEM. THERE ARE OTHER PLACES WHERE WE ARE STILL LEARNING, BUT THERE ARE A LOT OF AREAS WHERE THE RESEARCH IS PRETTY CLEAR ABOUT WHAT KIND OF PRACTICES WORK AND WHAT DON'T.

>> YOU TALKED ABOUT THIS IDEA OF PEOPLE NEEDING THE PREVENTATIVE CARE AND HOW IMPORTANT THAT IS, BUT WE'VE HEARD TIME AND TIME AGAIN, YOU TRY TO CALL THE ENDOCRINOLOGIST, EVEN SOMEONE WHO YOU ARE SEEING, AND THEY SAY OH, WE CAN SEE YOU IN DECEMBER, WE CAN SEE YOU IN SIX MONTHS FROM NOW, AND DIABETICS ARE SUPPOSED TO GET CHECKUPS EVERY THREE MONTHS. I HAVE PEOPLE WHO SAY THEY TRIED TO GET A PRIMARY CARE DOCTOR AND THEY SAY OH, WE CAN SEE YOU IN EIGHT MONTHS.

>> IT'S CLEARLY AN IMPORTANT TOPIC AND ONE THAT WE ARE MINDFUL OF, MAKING SURE THAT IN VERMONT, THE HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS THAT VERMONTERS NEED TO MEET THEIR HEAD NEEDS --

>> DO YOU THINK THAT EXISTS CURRENTLY?

>> I THINK THERE ARE AREAS WHERE WE HAVE CHALLENGES. I THINK SOME OF IT VARIES ON THE COMMUNITIES THAT FOLKS LIVE IN.

>> IT'S A TOUGH MESSAGE, BECAUSE SAYING EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE PREVENTATIVE CARE, SAVING HEALTH CARE DOCTORS, PEOPLE TRY TO DO AND THEY CAN'T EVEN GET IN TO SEE SOMEBODY.

>> THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THAT WE CAN DO, THE FIRST, IS TO MAKE SURE THAT INDIVIDUALS HAVE ACCESS TO COVERAGE, BECAUSE IT'S THAT COVERAGE THAT ALLOWS THEM TO GO OUT AND ACTUALLY SAY HEY, HE CAN -- CAN YOU SEE ME BECAUSE I CAN PAY FOR IT BECAUSE I HAVE A CARD. THEY ALSO, THEN, BRING WITH THEM DOCTORS TO REIMBURSE PROVIDERS, WHERE RIGHT NOW WE HAVE TOO MANY VERMONTERS WHO, BECAUSE THEIR COVERAGE ISN'T VERY GOOD, AND BECAUSE THEIR DEDUCTIBLES ARE TOO HIGH, DON'T ACTUALLY GO TO THEIR PRIMARY CARE DOCTOR BECAUSE OF THE FINANCIAL BURDEN IT PLACES ON THEN, OR THEY DON'T GO UNTIL THEY GET SICK BECAUSE THEY FEEL LIKE THEY CAN'T AFFORD IT. THROUGH VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT, WE WILL PROVIDE PLANS THAT ARE BETTER PLANS THAN MANY VERMONTERS HAVE TODAY, AND WE WILL CONTINUE TO WORK WITH VERMONT DOCTORS AND THE PROVIDER AND MAKE SURE THAT WE CONTINUE TO ADDRESS THE ACCESS ISSUES.

>> OCTOBER IS COMING UP, I KNOW, VERY FAST. I'M SURE IN YOUR MIND, WITH ALL THE FOLKS YOU ARE WORKING WITH. WHAT KEEPS YOU UP AT NIGHT AS YOU WORK TOWARD THIS BIG CHANGE?

>> WHAT I REALLY WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT WE DO IS MAKE SURE THAT VERMONTERS HAVE ACCESS TO INFORMATION THAT WILL HELP THEM MAKE THE CHOICES THAT THEY WILL MAKE THIS FALL IF THEY ARE LOOKING FOR COVERAGE, SO WE'RE WORKING HARD TO MAKE SURE THAT THERE ARE RESOURCES AVAILABLE ON THE WEBSITES, WWW.VERMONT HEALTHCONNECT.GOV, TO MAKE SURE THAT THERE WILL BE PEOPLE AVAILABLE BY PHONE THAT VERMONTERS CAN CALL AND AGAIN, WE HAVE NAVIGATORS AND BROKERS AND OTHERS IN THE COMMUNITY. FOR ME THE THING THAT KEEPS ME UP IS MAKING SURE THAT WE ARE DOING ENOUGH TO PROVIDE INFORMATION OUT IN THE COMMUNITY, SO WHEN VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT IS READY TO FALL, THAT VERMONTERS WILL BE PREPARED TO USE IT.

>> MARK LARSON, HELPING OVERSEE VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT. AS YOU SAID, MANY TIMES THE STATE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU, VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU WITH COMMENTS, CONCERNS, AS THE STATE MOVES TOWARDS THIS NEW HEALTH CARE PLAN. MR. LARSON, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

>> THANK YOU.

>> AND THANK YOU AND WE KNOW YOU WILL KEEP US UPDATE AS THE PLAN DEVELOPS.

>> THANK YOU TO YOU AT HOME FOR WATCHING, EVERYONE. HAVE A GREAT SUNDAY! CAPTIONING PROVIDED BY CAPTION ASSOCIATES, LLC WWW.CAPTIONASSOCIATES.COM

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