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.