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Report on Vt. Health Connect faults management - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Report on Vt. Health Connect faults management

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

A new report lays much of the blame for Vermont's error-ridden health exchange rollout on its administration.

The report indicates the Shumlin administration ceded ownership of the project and did not have the necessary structure or processes available to hold its now-fired contractor accountable.

The report released Friday details a lack of oversight in the build out of Vermont Health Connect.

Its authors say Vermont needs an IT director with experience handling hundred-million-dollar projects-- something the Shumlin administration did not have when they started this nearly $200 million project. But now they are in talks with someone to take on this job.

To date, the only person to lose his job connected to the exchange was Human Services Secretary Doug Racine, all of other major players are still in place.

The report details problem with project management within the Shumlin administration and an absence of well-defined objectives and delivery dates.

"What we didn't do well in the past was do that underlying work and really vet out the quality of the project management plan," Health Reform Chief Lawrence Miller said.

Miller says they set deadlines but did not initially identify ways to meet them.

He and Department of Vermont Health Access Commissioner Mark Larson say the report is a snapshot of the state of the system as of June. They say work addressing many of the problems is already underway, including rectifying the backlog of coverage plans requiring changes and firing the project contractor, CGI.

"We haven't de-scoped any major functionality," Larson said.

Promised but yet to arrive capabilities for the website will be frozen through much of the winter, as administrators focus almost exclusively on solidifying workarounds for November's enrollment and re-enrollment period.

"We've got the ability to take the right amount of time to go through full end to end testing on all components and then come up with something we know works, solidly," Miller said.

Miller says he's confident they can ensure the problems don't affect the customer experience moving forward.

Larson say the good news is the report indicates they do have a structure to build upon, one that could still be the basis for a single-payer system.

"There's no recommendation that says start again," Larson said.

It won't be clear if the exchange has increased or decreased the percentage of Vermonters with health insurance until early next year. That's when the Department of Financial Regulation will release the results of its annual survey.

Click here for more stories on Vermont Health Connect.

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