Correction: State No Longer Looking to Administer Medicare

October 26, 2014

Anne Galloway

Two recent stories about the relationship between Medicare and Green Mountain Care, the state’s planned universal publicly financed health care program – often called single-payer – were inaccurate. The stories were based on statutes on the Legislature’s website that had not been updated.

The online statutes do not reflect the latest changes made by the Legislature in 2014.

Section (e) of chapter 18, Public Private Universal Health Care System, in Title 33, Human Services, still states online that, “The Agency shall seek permission from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to be the administrator for the Medicare program in Vermont. If the Agency is unsuccessful in obtaining such permission, Green Mountain Care shall be the secondary payer with respect to any health service that may be covered in whole or in part by Title XVIII of the Social Security Act (Medicare).”

Act 144, which was enacted in 2014, repeals that section, though the statutes have not been updated online.

Section (f) of the same chapter now reads, “Green Mountain Care shall be the payer of last resort with respect to any health service that may be covered in whole or in part by any other health benefit plan, including Medicare, private health insurance, retiree health benefits, or federal health benefit plans offered by the military, or to federal employees.”

State officials have said they are no longer seeking to administer Medicare as part of Green Mountain Care, and the law reflects that change.

Two recent stories contain inaccuracies that result from using the out-of-date online statutes:

Feliciano claims Shumlin wants to “take over” Medicare

Senate candidate sparks controversy with Burma Shave signs

Rep. Sarah Buxton, D-Tunbridge, is correct that Republican Senate candidate Bob Frenier’s campaign signs claiming the state wants to administer Medicare as part of single-payer are inaccurate.

Frenier’s other claim, that Vermont seniors on Medicare won’t have the same access to private supplemental coverage under Green Mountain Care remains a hypothetical. Most seniors have supplemental Medicare coverage, often known as Medi-gap plans.

It is currently unknown what Green Mountain Care will cover or what private supplemental health insurance policies will be offered once the program is in place.

Gov. Peter Shumlin has said there is no reason to expect that currently available supplemental coverage options for Medicare would change if the state moves forward with a single-payer health care system.