GOP candidates say ‘No’ to health exchange

MONTPELIER — Vermont’s four candidates for governor agree that something needs to be done about Vermont Health Connect, and now both Republican candidates have made campaign promises to abandon the exchange.
Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, who is seeking the Republican nomination against Bruce Lisman, a former Wall Street executive, released an ad last Thursday saying that if he becomes governor he will transition Vermont to the federal health exchange or to a multistate exchange.
In 2015, Scott investigated whether Vermont should team up with another state such as Connecticut to build an exchange. On Feb. 19, he stood with Republicans and one Democrat to say that if lawmakers demand an independent review of Vermont’s exchange, the Shumlin administration should not have oversight of it.
Lisman called on Shumlin on Feb. 19 to abandon Vermont Health Connect and transition to the federal exchange. Lisman’s recommendation followed testimony from a consultant for Gartner Inc. who said Vermont should not spend new money on Vermont Health Connect technology. In his campaign “kick off” speech on Oct. 19, Lisman called for repeal of the mandate, the shut down of Vermont Health Connect, and transition to the federal exchange.
Sue Minter, who served as transportation secretary, said she would call for an analysis of Vermont Health Connect on day one as governor. However, Minter said she would not go straight to the federal exchange, because she doesn’t want Vermonters to pay more money for their health care.
“It’s not a simple decision to go from one (health exchange) to the next,” she said. “Our goal should be to make the one that we have work for everyone and provide excellent customer service. That’s what Vermonters expect from their government.”
Matt Dunne, the other Democratic candidate, who recently left his job as a Google executive, said he would leave all options on the table, “but I will say from the outset that I don’t think it’s a good idea for us to turn over our interaction with health insurance to the federal government.”
He said audits are “always helpful,” but his main recommendations had to do with management.
“Being able to develop a website that people can use predictably and that has a back-end that can work with insurance providers and others should not be that complicated,” Dunne said.

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