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Vital signs improving for Vt. Health Connect - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vital signs improving for Vt. Health Connect

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

The governor and top health officials say vital signs for Vermont's health exchange are improving. Tens of thousands are now signed up, but not as many as initially anticipated. The deadline is looming for those who want exchange coverage in time for Jan. 1. As of now, about 60 percent of those originally expected to enroll are signed up.

"We've signed up in the last four or five days as many people as signed up in the first five to six weeks of Vermont Health Connect," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont.

Backed by exchange customers, navigators and administrators, as well as legislators, Governor Shumlin touted Vermont's health insurance marketplace as the best-functioning in the nation.

The bar is not set high, with less than 400,000 signed up across the country.

"My job as governor is to ensure that we deliver on the opportunity that is afforded Vermonters through the Affordable Care Act," Shumlin said.

Forty-five-thousand will be insured through exchange plans; 15,000 signed up via the website, a navigator or paper application. The remaining 30,000 will be covered through a work plan where the employer either automatically enrolled or did so directly through one of the insurance companies.

"We're making great progress and we have more progress to make," Shumlin said.

Shumlin says staff will continue working on the exchange 24-7 through the holidays.

Legislators, navigators and customers at the press conference say the site may not be 100 percent yet, but it's working efficiently.

"Go health care!" said Galen Cheney, an exchange customer.

Administrators say they believe 65,000 Vermonters had the potential to be eligible for the exchange Jan. 1, down from earlier estimates. They say most of those not entering will be covered by plan extensions or expanded Medicaid eligibility.

Outspoken reform opponent Darcie Johnston says she's pleased more Vermonters are now able to access coverage through the website. But she remains concerned about security and the potential for a crisis after the three-month extension of current coverage expires at the end of March.

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