VHCF Response to VPRIG

by Vermonters for Health care Freedom

Yesterday marked the long awaited beginning of Vermont Health Connect, Gov. Shumlin’s $170 million online purchasing site for health insurance plans approved by ObamaCare. Unfortunately Vermonters won’t be able to actually purchase health insurance on Vermont Health Connect, because the $170 million was apparently insufficient to provide for customer enrollment, income eligibility, subsidy calculation, and payment. Gov. Shumlin insists that this technological marvel will actually work by November 1, and that the one month delay is, in his quaint terminology, merely a “nothing burger”.

But the clock is running for Vermonters whose current health insurance cannot be renewed when its current policy year expires. The 2012 legislature, apparently less sure than Gov. Shumlin that Vermont Health Connect would be able to meet the October 1, 2013 launch date, provided an escape hatch (Act 171, sec. 41A). If the Exchange is not able to enroll customers, the Commissioner of Financial Regulation has the power to extend health insurance contracts until the state can get its act together.

When VHCF found that Vermont Health Connect cannot actually enroll paying customers as scheduled, and when VHCF had no credible assurance that by November 1 things would be any better a month from now, we sent out phone messages to people likely in danger of becoming uninsured. In particular, we said “If [Vermont Health Connect] is still bungled by January, your current coverage will terminate, you won’t be able to buy new insurance on the exchange, and you’ll end up out of options and out of luck.”

We encouraged them to “call Gov. Shumlin’s office yesterday and tell him to use the waiver in the law now, to allow your insurance plan to renew, and better yet, tell him to repeal the mandate that you must buy coverage through his unworkable exchange.”

This provoked alarm at the VPIRG, which supports total government control of health care for all Vermonters. Yesterday afternoon we received an email advisory from one Falko Schilling, who curiously styles himself as the group’s “consumer protection advocate”, reading as follows: “The [VHCF phone] call implied that Vermonters could be uninsured come January due to Vermont Health Connect, while in fact we are likely to see a decrease in the number of uninsured Vermonters.”

Yes, we did imply that many thousands of Vermonters could become uninsured come January because of the bungled Shumlin Exchange – unless Gov. Shumlin directs his Commissioner of Financial Regulation to make use of the waiver authority in Act 171. This is indisputably correct.

Certainly if VPIRG Consumer Advocate Falko Schilling wished to turn loose his hordes of activists to counter the phone calls that poured into the governor’s office yesterday, he has every right to do so. But that is not what Falko Schilling did. What he did was mobilize his hordes to try to silence our message, not by calling the governor’s office and voicing their contrary opinions, but by flooding my email account.

VPIRG’s attack on my email account is completely consistent with its advocacy of a totalitarian health care system, where Vermonters can only obtain “appropriate care at the appropriate time in the appropriate setting”, as determined by a five person government board, in light of available funds, of course.

Now VPIRG has resorted to the methods favored by totalitarians everywhere – to suppress any dissent from their gospel of the all- powerful state.

We again call on Gov. Shumlin to direct his Commissioner of Financial Regulation to invoke the “escape hatch” provision to protect Vermonters against losing their health coverage due to his unworkable exchange.

We again call on Gov. Shumlin to ask the legislature to reverse its decision prohibiting any Vermonter with a small group or non-group plan from purchasing health insurance outside of his currently unworkable exchange.

And we call on Gov. Shumlin to publicly disavow the reprehensible tactics of his supporters at VPIRG, in attempting to silence our voice.

Vermonters for Health Care Freedom stands for just that – health care freedom. We reaffirm our commitment to the democratic political process in Vermont, and we will not be intimidated.