A rare move by the governor Tuesday, as lawmakers returned to Montpelier. Ceremony took a back seat to health care, as the governor called for an independent review of the flawed rollout of Vermont Health Connect.
In a rare move, Gov. Peter Shumlin spoke before a joint meeting of the House and Senate Health committees. It's a tact he's never tried before and one that hasn't been used since Gov. Howard Dean, who did so in order to address the same issue: health care.
"Like the rest of the country we've had our struggles," said Shumlin, D-Vermont.
Shumlin spoke from a podium rather than the witness chair as he updated the Legislature on the progress of health reform before taking questions. He spoke more harshly about the significant obstacles experienced in the rollout of the state's online insurance marketplace than he has in the past. But, he says the state needs to double-down on reform, continuing plans for single-payer.
"I have never been more certain that we're on the right path and I've never been more committed to ushering in America's first universal, affordable, publicly financed health care system," Shumlin said.
The Legislature has multiple proposals before it to both enhance and gut reform. But the governor doesn't want the bodies to get sidetracked with the issue. He charged economic development secretary Lawrence Miller with tackling website challenges, and promised an independent review of the overall process.
Rep. Mary Morrissey/R-Bennington: My concern is though that we would see the light of day of what the report actually says.
Gov. Peter Shumlin: I can assure you that we will share that report with you as soon as we can-- and with Vermonters.
"It felt a little bit like a press conference. I haven't heard the answers I need to hear yet, I still have a whole lot of questions about the direction that we're talking about," said Rep. George Till, D-Jericho.
Legislators, even some who support reform, say the governor didn't address all their questions.
The governor says this year is not the time to propose funding questions for single-payer, but a senator from his own party and county has done just that.
Many reform advocates and opponents say they don't believe the measure will go anywhere, but want to hear more about the plan.
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