State health care regulators are making decisions without taking into account whether Vermonters can afford the health care they need, according to Auditor Doug Hoffer. The Green Mountain Care Board has no “clear and direct consideration of Vermonters’ ability to pay for health care,” according to a memo released Tuesday by the State Auditor’s Office. Hoffer called the omission “a troubling trend” in the state’s approach to regulating and overseeing health care.

The five-member Care Board oversees hospital budgets, insurance rates, and the state’s efforts to change the way health care is funded with the all-payer model.

Vermont has some of the most stringent health care regulation in the country, but costs continue to rise. “That has real impact for people on the ground, both for families who get insurance on the [state health insurance] exchange, for employers, for school boards who have to raise taxes, it just goes on and on,” Hoffer said in an interview.

Kevin Mullin, the chair, called the accusation that the board board doesn’t consider cost “nonsense.” Health care costs are too high, he acknowledged, but the board has an at-times contradictory mandate to keep hospitals afloat. read more