Dr. Hoffer Checks the Temperature of VHC

As so many have been wishing, Vermont’s intrepid state Auditor’s Office has just released its findings on the condition of Vermont Health Connect.  Though there is some improvement, the patient is still far from recovered.

The 62 page report looks at everything from IT to billing and oversight issues and concludes that the return on current investments depends very much on finally getting it right in short order.

“The State’s actions to address shortcomings of VHC’s IT governance have been notable,” Auditor Hoffer said. “A lot of people have put a great deal of time and energy into this undertaking. But the effectiveness of their efforts, and the value of the roughly $130 million spent on this project through the end of 2014, will not be realized unless planned improvements to the exchange are successfully released in May and the fall of this year.”

As painful as it is to witness the unravelling of the state’s first attempt at achieving universal coverage,  those who are truly committed to that goal should be the first to admit that badly administered half-measures do no good service to the desired end.  They just fuel the fires of opposition with smug ‘I told you so’s.’

While the Governor appears fully prepared to throw in the towel on Single Payer now that its siren song has served his purpose of leading the faithful once more to the polls, the future competitiveness of our sparsely-settled state depends very much on demonstrating our ability to solve this and other problems of modern living.  

If we can’t get it right, we will lose the positive distinction we have enjoyed as a pioneer state in public healthcare, just as we are in danger of losing any advantage we might have as a pioneer in clean energy.

Both areas of endeavor are being choked by cheapness.  

Unwilling to sell short-term revenue raises to the moneyed class for long-range gains in competitiveness, under the Governor’s leadership, we have disadvantaged another one of our signature economic initiatives (clean energy being the other) through hurried half-measures that contract-out key functions to the most attractive bidder and sacrifice effective oversight to the culture of sweeping public personnel reductions.

This rushed and poorly resourced plan hasn’t ended up costing us less; it has cost us much more because it is failing to be the program we need while creating backlogs and security issues that are paid forward to the next attempted “fix.”

Calling for a “cost-benefit analysis to explore alternatives” to the current system, Hoffer concludes the following:

“The financial controls of Vermont Health Connect’s premium processing system are seriously deficient,” Auditor Hoffer said. “The lack of financial reporting, account oversight, and a full validation of account balances is all very troubling.”

The window appears to be growing smaller and smaller for finally getting it right.

If the baby goes out with this bathwater, we’ll all have plenty to cry about.

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

One thought on “Dr. Hoffer Checks the Temperature of VHC

  1. the niceties of our NH neighbor, but the $8 million pricetag for a functioning competitive-carrier system with a larger pop than VT I must admit looks mighty sleek & shiny. They’re just nearby so I see & hear lots and can’t help but note comparisons.

    VT’s population has been compared to cities rather than states such as Memphis for one


    although I’m not heartless to the hopes and dreams of so many I saw it as a fools-errand once I did the simple 3rd grade arithmatic (which is all I really need to know for the practical applications in my simple life) of fractions which showed the carveouts to be too numerous and the newly poor which were once middle class added to the rolls of Medicaid to be unsustainable. And, Medicaid is managed care which disqualifies its users from services the VHC insurance purchasers qualify for.

    As far as I’m concerned this whole scheme now can be seen as a vehicle used by Shummy as a stepping stone, as he has used we who voted for him with such high hopes for many things, to higher office and to glide through election cycles.  

    Although this is not news it was always a hoax at least following the recognition that Tricare, Medicare, Erisa, teachers unions and VSEA union (largest employer in VT) could not be forced into a one-size-fits-all or employers w/over 100. Who else is there was always my question.

    The entirety of NE is relatively small and we should and could form a competitive cooperative. The mandates of ACA already disqualify many ins co’s like the ones Dean booted out long ago.

    The Medicaid fiasco is another hoax. The rules were greatly relaxed (another scheme) to fill the rolls so that Shummy could enact his job & business-killing employer tax rather than adding the relatively small amount to payroll which included – surprise! – many more millions in “discretionary spending”. If it was an income tax his base would turn his property into a bonfire. This guy couldn’t play a straight game to save his life. Plus expert testimony claims it would not necessarily right the cost-shift but would in fact increase the cost of health care. Glad the legislature sniffed it out. Hopefully they’ll keep sniffing.

    And, the “Sugary Beverage” boondoggle now includes diet drinks. The borders surrounding VT will be filled with wall to wall and bumper to bumper beverage stores and entrepreneurs parked with vans & pickups filled with soda-pop & Snapple. I was exploring the idea myself and the poor border stores in VT will be SOL.

    Prohibition proved ya can’t stop ppl from doing what they want no matter how harmful or ‘unhealthy’. I’m only for laws which prevent vast societal hardship & suffering mostly for the innocent bystanders. Deep-fried corndogs and powdered-sugar coated fried dough anyone? Chocolate-frosted chocolate donuts? How about the heroin of sugary snacks-cotton candy?  And there’s plenty of junk ppl eat every day far more harmful than ‘sugary beverages’. “Little Debbie” by comparison should be public enemy #1 but no one wants to have that screaming headline next to their name.

    There are many including myself who could pay something for care according to income (unemployed but ‘other’ works) as well as a co-pay, sort of like the, um, Catamount … which could contribute to the shortfall and at least sustain it. Health care revenue redux and back to the future? Plus VT caregivers are paid the same rate for Medicare.

    Plus, I have uncovered widespread corruption in the ACO arena but don’t know who to report it to. I fear giving it to those who wouldn’t do doghshit.

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