Shumlin responds to national criticism of Vt. health exchange - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Shumlin responds to national criticism of Vt. health exchange

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

"I have not read the story so it's tough for me to respond to the question," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont.

The governor was reacting to a national article by Newsweek entitled "Doubling Down on Obamacare." The lengthy article focused on Vermont's effort to launch Vermont Health Connect, the website where consumers can buy health insurance.

The opening Newsweek paragraph connected Vermont's troubles with the national effort to reform how people get and pay for health insurance. It reads, "If Obamacare gets blown up by Congress later this year, you might want to thank (or blame, depending on your prejudices regarding the Affordable Care Act) the state of Vermont. If it can't make it there, some argue, it can't make it anywhere."

"No, every state has struggled with its rollout; some have done better than others. Frankly, Vermont has done better than many and the federal government has struggled with the rollout," Shumlin said.

The governor was peppered with questions at a Burlington press conference and bristled over charges in the article that hinted state officials knew in July there were problems with website.

Newsweek wrote, "In the demonstration 'a lot was left to the imagination,' says a person familiar with the event who declined to be named, citing the ongoing work between CGI Federal, which has the $83 million contract for the job, and Vermont officials."

"When we have had information we have shared it and I don't there are any secrets. I don't think there is any new news," Shumlin said.

Vermont Health Connect launched in October. That caused the governor to push back the enrollment deadline from Jan. 1 to April 1. And though the online insurance marketplace is still not fully running, the deadline is not expected to be extended again. The administration has launched an investigation into what went wrong. It's unclear when that report will be made public.

Vermont Health Access Commissioner Mark Larson, the man in charge of implementing the exchange, calls the Newsweek article "inflammatory."

Click here to read the article in Newsweek online.

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