Questions Over Health Connect

Questions Over Health Connect

Randy Brock says the system has serious flaws but Mark Larson says the website will launch fine October 1st.
WINOOSKI, V.T. - On the eve of the Vermont Health Connect launch some of Vermont's republicans are pointing to some major flaws in the system. Randy Brock says simply "The system doesn't work."

The former state senator and gubernatorial candidate says Vermont Health Connect has gotten too expensive and despite the price tag still doesn't work properly. Department of Vermont Health Access commissioner Mark Larson though says things are going according to schedule.

In an editorial piece on vtdigger.com Brock noted that the company contracted to program the health exchange website, CGI Systems and Technology, has missed key deadlines and ended up costing much more than originally expected.

It's cost the state about $84,000,000 to have CGI develop the site, more than was originally budgeted. That figure rose because of three major amendments in the contract to change the original plan for how the website was to operate.

"The contract has grown and the work we've been asking of our contractor. And therefor the cost been adjusted compared to that," Larson said.

CGI has also missed deadlines for developing the site. Brock notes that the state could fine CGI for not hitting those goals but Larson doesn't say whether the state is willing to go that route.

"We'll continue to work with CGI to make sure that we hold the accountable to the tasks that we contracted for them," Larson said.

But the date that Larson cares most about is October 1. Vermont Health Connect is launching 9 a.m. that morning. Vermonters will be able to look at the different health insurance options available to them that day. They can choose and file for the insurance they want starting November 1.

"The milestones were intended to help us get to that point and we are at that point where we'll be live tomorrow with Vermont Health Connect," Larson said.

But Brock and others aren't convinced that means Vermonters will have access to health insurance by January 1. Darcie Johnston with Vermonters for Health Care Freedom believes there's a real possibility that could happen.

"O
ur biggest concerns is that Vermonters individuals and those employed by small businesses will not have health insurance come January 1," Johnston said.

Johnston has even organized a robo-call campaign against Vermont Health Exchange. A recording of her voice urges Vermonters to contact Governor Peter Shumlin's office with complaints of the new system.

Meanwhile democrats say that Brock and other republicans are trying to stir up fear ahead of the launch.

"
Brock and the national Republicans may be able to scare some people for a short time, but continuing his failed campaign rhetoric falls flat," Vermont Democratic Party Communications Director Ryan Emerson said in a statement.

Tuesday Vermonters will get to see for themselves the new system under which all health care decisions will be made. Although the website launches October 1, Vermonters will not be able to actually choose an insurance option until November 1. The deadline to sign up is December 15 in order to have active insurance by January 1.
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