Health Connect officials get earful from lawmakers - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Health Connect officials get earful from lawmakers

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Legislators, lobbyists and journalists stretched the House Health Care Committee's room to its capacity Tuesday morning.
It's the first opportunity for members to ask questions of the Shumlin administration since receiving assurances in August and September that health reform would launch without a hitch. "I'm not interested in glossed over answers and a rosy scenario. I'm interested in the facts and I think Vermonters are interested in those facts," said Rep. Chris Pearson (P-Burlington).

Pearson says health reform is critical for Vermont's economy, the lives of its families and a few bumps in the road are to be expected. But he says he trusts the administration less following its consistent downplaying of potential problems both before and after the October first launch.
"There's reason to be skeptical and for many of us in the legislature, we're going to have a sharper eye moving forward," he said.

"I can't measure whether there was anything intentional there," said Rep. Mike Fisher (D-Lincoln). The committee chair says he's frustrated as well but that he still has faith those running the exchange will make sure no one loses coverage come January. "While transitions are tough, we will get through them," he said.

Navigators say they've yet to successfully enroll a business through the online tool and are still facing significant challenges on the individual and family end. Insurance spokespeople say businesses should be able to enroll directly through carriers by next week.

"The state has no guarantee that they can solve these problems," said Darcie Johnston, an outspoken critic of the administration's reform efforts.  She says delaying the mandate for exchange plans until April is not enough and that a one year delay is preferable. "This is about Vermonters and it is not about a political goal of the governor's or any other legislative faction," Johnston said.

Reform proponents say they're concerned troubled exchange will slow momentum for single-payer's arrival in 2017. Opponent's say they hope that's the case.

One legislator did ask Commissioner Mark Larson what he would have suggested the legislature do differently given the benefit of perfect 2020 hindsight. His answer: Nothing -- and that's the sort of responses leaving legislators concerned with the program's future as well.

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