ICEBERGS AHEAD: Exchange Impacts Loom Large for VT Employers

The following is brought to us curtsey of our friends at the Vermont GOP:

Decisions being made about Vermont’s federally mandated health care exchange could have profound implications for Vermont businesses and residents. As reported by VT Digger, employers are increasingly concerned by the impact these new health care exchanges will have on their employee’s health care coverage – as well as their bottom line:

“The federally mandated health benefit exchange will likely limit the number of insurers and plans employers can choose from, and it’s this squeeze on the variety of available options and associated costs that Vermont companies are worried about.”

(Read the full article at New federal, state rules for health care insurance rattle businesses).

The stakes are higher in Vermont than in other states, as the Shumlin Administration has been open about their intent to use the exchange framework as their pathway to a taxpayer-funded, government-managed single-payer system.

“The spirit of the exchanges was that Americans would have the ability to choose between insurers and pick the health care coverage that best meets their needs,” says Pat McDonald, VT GOP Chair. “But here in Vermont, Governor Shumlin seems determined to use the exchange framework to limit choice and to limit competition.”

“When the Affordable Care Act was being debated in Washington, President Obama promised Americans that if they liked their current health care coverage, they could keep it,” McDonald continued. “It remains to be seen whether that promise applies to the citizens of Vermont.”

McDonald also poked fun at the “play money” that is being distributed during the Administration’s “listening tour” in an effort to help participants discuss health care spending*:

“I have to shake my head and laugh at the fact that the Administration is fiddling around with play money. That says to me that they still have absolutely no idea how to pay for their centrally-planned system,” said McDonald. “This is no time for Monopoly money. This is a time to have a real discussion about what taxes the Administration plans to raise to pay for single-payer, and how those costs will be distributed in our small state.”

“The simple truth is that there are many icebergs ahead for the Administration on their quest for single payer: how to pay for it, the countless waivers they need, the opposition they will get from Vermonters that like their current health care coverage and want to keep it,” she continued. “In light of all those hurdles, the Administration should resist the temptation to use the exchanges to push their single payer dreams, and instead come up with an exchange plan that is in keeping with the spirit of the federal law.”



* Background on the “play money”: The instructions for “Exercise 2: Health Care Reform Financing Sources” distributed at the November 29th public forum in Brattleboro are as follows: “EXPRESS YOUR PREFERENCE. All meeting attendees are provided an envelope with $1,000 of money (in $100 denominations -10 X $100). There are boxes representing the non-federal and provider funding sources described during the presentation. After discussion around the circle, participants should put what they believe to be the proper allocation of their money into the boxes to fund Vermont’s future health care program.”