Big Brother: Week 3 of the Obamacare Exchange

by Vermonters for Health Care Freedom

Urban Legend: Will the Vermonters who have enrolled for Obamacare please stand up?

Nearly three weeks after the state government launched the online Vermont Health Connect, individuals who have successfully used the choked-up website have reached a status akin to urban legend: Everyone has heard of them, but very few people have actually seen one.

In this issue:

Breaking News:

Big Brother Has Arrived in Vermont

And you thought it couldn’t happen here. We now know that the Shumlin administration has hired a Washington D.C.-based political lobbying firm, GMMC, to “frame the narrative” of the Vermont Health Exchange.

As reported in the October 13, 2013 Times-Argus, http://www.timesargus.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20131013/NEWS01/710139902, GMMC doesn’t like critical or investigative reporting, either. They were particularly critical of Bob Kinzel, lead health care reporter for Vermont Public Radio, who has done a fine job of digging beneath the veneer to actually report the truth about the more unpleasant aspects of the Exchange plans.

In an April analysis of media coverage provided to the administration, GMMC chastised Kinzel for having “written more cutting pieces addressing penalties expected to negatively affect small businesses”, and demonstrating “a generally negative tone” by ”bring(ing) to light that the benefit package offered through the exchange is not as comprehensive as the package offered by Catamount, causing some Vermonters to face lower premiums and higher out of pocket expenses”. Imagine that. Apparently purchasers not supposed to know all the facts when shopping for a new health care plan on the Vermont Exchange..

Putting this all into perspective: (1) Vermont opted to build its own exchange – even though it has never been done before – while 36 other states have opted to let the Feds do the heavy lifting instead. (2) Governor Shumlin and the legislature took the unprecedented step of forcing small businesses into the Exchange. No other state has done that. (3) Although Obamacare allows individuals to buy through the Exchange, in every other state in the nation – they can also buy outside the Exchange. They can keep the plans they have now, which many report are working just fine. (4) The Vermont Exchange has hired a DC lobbying firm to script TV ads, create “story boards” and train DVHA “spokespeople”, including Robin Lunge and Mark Larson. Spokesperson training includes a “guide on best practices when talking to reporters”, and “instructions on what not to do when communicating with the media”. These materials cost $11,000.

WHAT? This is VERMONT. We don’t do “slick”. For the most part, we are straight shooters and straight talkers. We are intelligent thoughtful people who demand critical investigative reporting so that we can know the truth. We are not interested in canned rhetoric – or misleading information – or partial truths – especially on something as critical as our health care.

Telling the truth doesn’t cost a dime. Why not just tell the truth when talking to reporters? You only need to “spin” your story if the truth won’t hold water. Apparently, since telling the truth costs nothing, the $1.8m must be buying a lot of hooey. For that money, one would expect to get the whole story – not just select facts and canned promo.

This may explain why the hard questions put to Larson and company go unanswered. Now the VHC’s hired gun wants to manipulate the Vermont press as well. Good luck with that. This is not Washington.. Our reporters can’t be had. Making the right choices involves knowing all the facts, even the unpleasant ones. All we can say is – keep it up, Bob Kinzel and other truthtellers – and we’ll do the same.

VERMONT’S HEALTH CARE EXCHANGE PREMIUMS FIFTH-HIGHEST IN U.S.

Premium-Graph

Data Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Graphic by Andrew Stein

Vermont Health Connect Score Card: 5 Key Steps Necessary for 100,000 Vermonters To Be Insured By January 1, 2014

VHCF has identified five key steps that Vermont Health Connect must successfully complete, to ensure no lapse in coverage for the 100,000 Vermonters who must buy insurance through the Exchange by January 1, 2014. These fundamental steps must be in place for the Exchange to operate.

Update – Week 3:

1. Maintain a secure and continuous connection to the Federal Data Hub.

Score: F

  • VHC Refuses to Demonstrate

2. Connect with and transfer records without issue or delay to the three insurance carriers, Blue Cross, MVP and Delta Dental

Score: F

  • Unknown

3. Share site information with Vermonters without delays or computer interruption issues

Score: D

  • Many businesses and individuals unable to sign in
  • Many brokers and navigators unable to sign in
  • Reported experiences:

From Tax Professional Kim P. Loewer, EA ATA:

“THE GOOD NEWS: Well guess what – I finally got my technical problem callback just a few minutes ago. This was in response to the call I placed last Saturday. So the callback from technical support only took 6 ½ days.

THE BAD NEWS: I tried the “fix” they gave me for my password while they were on the phone with me. It didn’t work! Error message said my old “password” was not correct, so I couldn’t correct it with a new password. Comment from the VHC rep “Well I guess we need to go back to the drawing board and see how we can fix the problem”.

So this makes attempt #6 and I haven’t gotten any closer to resolution. If VHC really wanted people to file via paper forms (which is really what it appears that I’ll have to do) why did they invest all the money in the website?

I’ll keep you posted. Hopefully my attempts won’t reach double-digits.”

Any luck since then, Kim?

“Unfortunately, no. And no callback from technical support since last Friday.

There was one pundit who recently told an Obamacare supporter “I’ll download all the movies ever made and you try to register for Obamacare and we’ll see who gets done first”. I feel like that here in Vermont – I’d tell the governor “I’ll download every movie ever made that has a reference to Vermont and you try to register as an employer and employee on the VHC website and we’ll see who gets done first”.

Discouraging, to say the least.”

4. Vermonters able to create accounts and sign up for coverage

Score: D

  • Administration has capitulated on October 1 system readiness; now hopes for November 1.
  • State resorts to paper forms that are incomplete
  • Forms do not capture information for small businesses to enroll employees or to contribute to their health insurance
  • Employees can’t choose a plan or see what their employer is offering

5. Meet December 15th deadline so that 100,000 Vermonters won’t lose or have lapses in coverage

Score: F

  • State needs to sign up 1,948 people a day EVERY DAY between October 18th and December 15th. Due to VHC computer glitches, nearly three weeks have already been wasted since the October 1 start date.
  • Signing up” means:
    1. a complete and correct application,
    2. connectivity to all federal portals,
    3. obtaining a correct subsidy amount.
    4. accurate interface with insurance carriers
    5. carriers’ ability to couple federal subsidy payments with self-payments,
    6. carriers issuing a copy of the insurance policy and an enrollment card, and
    7. carriers ability to pay the first claim on January 1.
  • “ Registering” an account is only picking a user name and password, like on Amazon.com. You haven’t bought anything yet. As of Tuesday, 10/15, VHC said that only 631 have signed up. And none of those can pick a plan due to system failures. So, even the 631 will need to reenter the system after November 1 to actually get coverage. This is not progress.
  • · VHCF does not believe the Shumlin administration can pull this off. Every day that passes lessens the available time to enroll the 100,000 Vermonters who are forced to migrate into the Exchange for coverage. This did not have to happen,

And now, for a little levity:

“Single Payer Burger”

  • Overblown
  • Undercooked
  • 99% bureaucratic fat
  • Only the minimum daily requirements of the following:
    • Health Care
    • Service
    • Cost Savings

Warning: Consumption may lead to all of the following conditions: rationing of care, cost shifts, physician exodus, tax increases, flattened wallets, rate shock.

If any of these symptoms occur, see your doctor immediately (if you still have one). Otherwise, move to another state as soon as possible.

cheeseburger

shumlin_custom-8bcd320e3927b7294ad5725537b1429cf858957d-s6-c10

Bad For Your Health

 

One thought on “Big Brother: Week 3 of the Obamacare Exchange

  1. In the current issue of The Weekly Standard it’s reported (p. 25) that the average (30-yr-old male non-smoker) premium cost will rise 600% compared to similar pre-ACA insurance. highest such increase in the Nation. Maybe it’s because there a shrinking young-adult demographic in VT (Montpelier policy-result) to subsidize the increasing elderly demographic?

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