Make exchange more affordable

February 01, 2013

Brattleboro Reformer

For years, Vermont has led the way in making health care accessible and affordable by giving low- and middle-income Vermonters the chance to buy insurance through the state's VHAP and Catamount Health programs.
However, Catamount Health and VHAP will be eliminated when Vermont's Health Care Exchange begins in 2014. Approximately 30,000 of our fellow Vermonters who are either enrolled in or eligible for these programs will have to buy insurance through the Exchange, which in most cases will include significantly higher out of pocket maximums.

I applaud Governor Shumlin and his Administration for allocating $10.3 million in cost-sharing assistance and premium subsidies to cushion the blow of these price increases in 2014, but it's simply not enough. It's great that they have taken steps to lower premiums, but for many people, real health insurance is the assurance that if anything goes wrong, their families will be covered. Many families will be stuck rolling the dice and joining the uninsured population if they are faced with significant increases in their premiums.

I strongly encourage the Legislature to sit down and figure this out. I highly doubt that their goal when they put Vermont on the road to Green Mountain Care was to make it so that our fellow Vermonters can't afford to pay for unexpected injuries, hospital visits or surgeries. Our elected officials have an opportunity to prevent this, and help ensure that low and middle-income Vermonter's maintain affordable and accessible health care.

John Hatton,
Brattleboro, Feb. 1