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Report blames all parties for bumpy exchange rollout - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Report blames all parties for bumpy exchange rollout

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Vermont Health Connect's troubled rollout caused coverage deadlines to be pushed back multiple times. But for most, Monday marks the end of that extension. Open enrollment closes March 31. That means those without a change of circumstance-- marriage, birth of child, or a care policy expiring later this year-- won't be able receive coverage again until January.

"We really encourage anyone looking for coverage to sign up now," Vt. Health Access Commissioner Mark Larson said.

But administrators aren't only looking forward to the deadline, they're also looking back at the October rollout. A new report aims to chronicle what went wrong.

"Find it very helpful, think it gives us some important information about the step we can take moving forward," Larson said.

The report, put together by an independent consulting firm out of Maine, relies on interviews with staff to look at the processes that led up to the Oct. 1 launch last year. The site did not become operational for another month, and six months later still has undeveloped features.

Among other issues, the report cites:

 

  • Vermont's late start beginning work
  • A lack of experience for both the state and contractor dealing with a project this size
  • A similar lack of understanding for both surrounding the Affordable Care Act, as well
  • Not enough contingency planning
  • Too little staff training prior to going live
  • Communication problems between key stakeholders
  • Vendor failure to communicate deployment issues and inability of executives to understand them
  • Some even told consultants the political climate did not allow the state's Department of Information and Innovation to be honest about the likely success or failure of the project

 

"I think it should be taken in the spirit of looking forward to ensure success in the future," Larson said.

Larson says they have already addressed some of the concerns and says those they haven't will be.

The report recommends multiple steps for everyone involved in Health Connect. Most focus on clear communication about goals, expectations and where the project is headed.

The governor requested the report at a cost of $85,000. It bases its findings on confidential interviews, and only assesses the state prior to rollout and does not cover issues that followed.

Vermont Health Connect will have extended hours this weekend leading up to the deadline. The call center will be open Saturday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Click here to read the State of Vermont Health Services Enterprise Release 1 Lessons Learned Report.

Related Story:

Deadline looms for Vt. Health Connect signups

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