Some good news arrives by a very circuitous route

Here’s something you wouldn’t expect, based on all the continued carping about Vermont Health Connect. The Times Argus, Saturday edition:

Vt. Health Exchange Called the Best

And Seven Days:

GAO: Vermont’s Health Exchange More ‘Operational’ Than Others

The news comes from an audit of state health exchange IT systems conducted by the Government Accountability Office, and released on Wednesday. The Vermont rating was not highlighted by the GAO, but it was definitely there. A chart on page 38 of the 109-page report shows that Vermont had the best operational status of any state-run health exchange. In a measure of four categories, Vermont was judged “fully operational” in three, and “partially operational” in the other one.

The chart was first reported in the Connecticut Mirror, which highlighted Connecticut’s rating of “partially operational” in all four.

Hey, wait a minute: didn’t Lt. Gov. Phil Scott suggest that Vermont switch to the Connecticut system? Why, yes he did, as Seven Days’ Nancy Remsen reports:

In fact, the Connecticut exchange is one that Lt. Gov. Phil Scott had suggested Vermont might want to partner with since, he said, it had fewer problems with its launch.


I will acknowledge that being the most functional state health exchange is a little like being the tallest Oompa-Loompa. But still, Vermont rated the best. Two takeaways:

— Setting up a state health exchange is a really tough challenge. Every state has struggled. Vermont was not unique; in fact, Vermont has come out of this long, slow, painful process in better shape than any other state. Maybe the Shumlin administration deserves more credit than it’s gotten.

— Abandoning Vermont Health Connect, at this point, would be a mistake unless there’s an unforeseen setback. The still-abundant criticism of VHC is based on past frustration, not current fact.

This doesn’t alter the fact that the Shumlin administration badly botched the original VHC rollout, and compounded the situation with its consistent outpourings of baseless optimism. Support for a single-payer system was greatly diminished by the chasm between promise and performance. The administration would have been better off with a little more honesty and a little less cheerleading.

But we are where we are. The GAO report indicates that Vermont has made more progress than any other state. There’s a tangible measure that will be difficult for VHC critics to ignore. And maybe Phil Scott ought to slow his roll on “partially functional” Connecticut.

2 thoughts on “Some good news arrives by a very circuitous route

  1. David

    This is really surprising isn’t it, considering how many people have been suffering through VT Health Connect. It is hard to believe it could be any worse in other states. It would have been nice if it included the cost per capita, where VT would be highest, unfortunately. I understand that it will cost well over $50 million a year to operate the VT exchange. Also I don’t think anyone would argue that the federal exchange is less glitch prone than the state exchanges. It would be more cost effective for all the states to switch to the federal exchange, particularly for VT where the cost is so high for running the state exchange. We sure could use the savings to fill the budget gaps.

  2. Kathy Callaghan

    It was measured on core functionalities being up and running, not how well the functionalities were working for users. Plus Vermont’s exchange has so many other bells and whistles and workarounds and it is those that still aren’t working. So take this report with a measure of salt. There are thousands of Vermonters who will tell you it is still a nightmare for them.


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