EAI Asks Legislators to Support Plan for Potential Delay in Vermont Health Connect Mandate

The Ethan Allen Institute sent the following letter to all Vermont state representatives and senators:

October 22, 2013

Dear Legislator:

Due to the ongoing technical problems with Vermont Health Connect, a sizable number of your constituents may find themselves without health insurance coverage on January 1, 2014.

Sec. 3 of Act 171 of 2012 provides that “no person may provide a health benefit plan to an individual or small employer [2-50 employees] unless the plan is offered through the Vermont health benefit exchange…” known as “Vermont Health Connect”.

Although Vermont Health Connect went live, as scheduled, on October 1, 2013, computer system glitches have prevented those individuals and small employer groups required to purchase insurance through the exchange from doing so. As a result, at this writing as many as 100,000 eligible Vermonters have not enrolled, selected a plan, and paid for a premium.

If these problems can be worked out by DVHA and the contractors, it is possible that all hundred thousand might still be able to enroll, choose, and pay before their present insurance coverage ends on December 31, 2013.

If these problems are not worked out well before December 31, it seems unavoidable that thousands of Vermonters will wake up on New Year’s Day to find themselves and their families without health insurance coverage – unable to buy what they are required to buy, and with no legal alternative to turn to. But there is a solution.

The 2012 legislature recognized the complications that might arise in the creation of Vermont Health Connect. They inserted Sec. 41a into Act 171. This section authorizes the Commissioner of Financial Regulation to “allow for the extension of a small group and association plan beyond their renewal date in order to ensure a smooth and orderly transition from health plans offered in the small group and association markets in 2013 to health plans offered in the small group market through the Vermont health benefit exchange in 2014.”

The purpose of this letter is to ask you to lend your support, as a legislator, for the Commissioner of Financial Regulation to invoke this “emergency clause” no later than November 18, if by that date Vermont Health Connect is not fully functional.

This action by the Commissioner would allow individuals and small groups and their carriers to extend their present coverage until such time as Vermont Health Connect becomes fully functional.

If you are willing to lend your support, please sign and return the enclosed postcard. We will collect your responses until November 8, and convey your support to the Commissioner, the Governor, the small business community, and the media.

Yours truly,
Robert Roper,