"It won't be perfect tomorrow, but it will be functioning and perfect in the foreseeable future," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont.
The governor faced reporters to defend Vermont Health Connect's performance. He says since the Oct. 1 launch website speed has improved and connection to the federal hub is now happening, before it was only connecting 70 percent of the time. And error messages went from 800 in one day down to zero. So far, 1,400 people have signed up out of an expected 100,000.
"This is a good cause. We are doing this for the right reasons. We've had technology challenges, we get that. Our technology challenges are not as great as the federal hub; we are making improvements," Shumlin said.
Vermont's online exchange is mandated under Obamacare to provide coverage to uninsured and businesses with fewer than 50 employees. Vermont is spending $172 million on the effort. Glitches mean customers still cannot actually pay for coverage. And the governor now says the state probably won't even make its own delayed goal to accept payments by Nov. 1.
"So the bottom line is I can't look you in the eye truthfully and say hey, we have this figured out on a tight schedule to the moment as we could with a road project," Shumlin said.
And that is why Vermont Republicans called on the governor this week to delay requiring Vermonters to buy through the exchange until it works-- an idea he rejected.
Gov. Peter Shumlin: My backup plan is to continue doing exactly what I am doing which is to ensure I'm doing everything I can, working with the vendors to get this website right and I'm making progress every day.
Reporter Kristin Carlson: So, there is no backup plan?
Gov. Shumlin: Uh, let me clear about contingencies; we all know that governors have to make sure things work and that's what I'm doing.
"My reaction is we are dependent on a whole lot of hope from the governor," said Darcie Johnston of Vermonters for Health Care Freedom.
Johnston worries Vermonters could wind up without coverage Jan. 1, since, by law, that's when many plans will go away.
"No, it's not ready. It's not close to being ready and only today admitting the things that we said were wrong three weeks ago," Johnston said.
Kristin Carlson: On Jan. 1 how confident are you that Vermont Health Connect will be up and running for Vermonters?
Gov. Shumlin: I'm confident that not only will Vermont Health Connect be up and running Jan. 1, but doing its job.
Kristin Carlson: 100 percent working?
Gov. Shumlin: Well, you know there is no website that works 100 percent. When you have a new website and launch of this kind you can often have glitches and problems that you work on. A website like this is an ongoing effort.
Kristin Carlson: So, there still will be glitches Jan. 1?
Gov. Shumlin: If I could answer that question I wouldn't be governor, I would be God.
CGI is building Vermont's website. It's the same company building the federal exchange. Vermont's contract with CGI has doubled in cost to about $84 million. Because the company has missed key performance goals spelled out in the contract, the state is eligible to seek $5 million in fines. Thursday, the governor said that's not his priority; he's focused on fixing the website problems, but that he might seek money later for what he calls "disappointing results."
Thursday, April 17 2014 7:08 AM EDT2014-04-17 11:08:22 GMT
The Stowe Police Department is currently investigating the untimely death of two adults. Stowe Police responded to 262 Cady Hill Road at 4:38 p.m. and discovered deceased individuals. The Stowe PoliceMore >>
The Stowe Police Department is currently investigating the untimely death of two adults.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 11:49 PM EDT2014-04-17 03:49:04 GMT
Major flaws were uncovered in the Burlington School Budget that failed at the polls. An audit has discovered that the district was making huge errors when budgeting for next year. What this means, is thatMore >>
Major flaws were uncovered in the Burlington School Budget that failed at the polls. An audit has discovered that the district was making huge errors when budgeting for next year.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 6:53 PM EDT2014-04-16 22:53:47 GMT
Teamwork between a Montgomery farmer and a corporal with the Franklin Country sheriff's department may have saved a life when they pulled off a daring rescue. A woman became trapped in her truck tryingMore >>
It was a lifesaving rescue in the nick of time. A Franklin County sheriff's deputy put his life on the line to save a woman trapped in a truck with floodwaters raging around her. More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 7:00 PM EDT2014-04-16 23:00:55 GMT
After this week's whirlwind weather events and major flooding Tuesday, Governor Shumlin (D-Vermont), VTrans and state transportation officials held a news conference Wednesday to discuss the aftermath. ShumlinMore >>
After this week's whirlwind weather events and major flooding Tuesday, Governor Shumlin, VTrans and state transportation officials held a news conference Wednesday to discuss the aftermath.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 12:02 PM EDT2014-04-16 16:02:05 GMT
The floods forced Gov. Andrew Cuomo to declare a state of emergency in New York. The governor made the declaration Tuesday night. It covers six counties in northeastern of New York, including two inMore >>
The floods forced Gov. Andrew Cuomo to declare a state of emergency in New York.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 6:21 PM EDT2014-04-16 22:21:46 GMT
A body found near the North Hartland Dam appears to be that of a missing man from New Hampshire. Michael Hayward, 42, of Sunapee, disappeared two months ago. His car was found near the Quechee Gorge. PoliceMore >>
A body found near the North Hartland Dam appears to be that of a missing man from New Hampshire.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 7:14 PM EDT2014-04-16 23:14:24 GMT
Authorities say six people managed to escape a house fire in Plattsburgh Tuesday morning. First responders say when they arrived at 42 Smith Street, the house was completely engulfed in flames. CityMore >>
Authorities say six people managed to escape a house fire in Plattsburgh Tuesday morning. Police say the blaze was sparked by a child playing with a lighter.More >>