Mr. Miller has a hissy fit

Here’s a new one in Vermont governance: a top state official refusing to “work with” a reporter who covers his beat. Strange but true. And he put it in writing!

Dramatis personae: Lawrence Miller, chief of health care reform; and Erin Mansfield, health care reporter for VTDigger. Miller wrote a hot blast of an opinion piece in response to Mansfield’s recent article about the latest wave of problems with Vermont Health Connect, and here’s the opening paragraph:

The most recent exchange story is an extremely slanted piece of journalism. It does not tell the whole story of Vermont Health Connect, accuses me of lying, and creates an inaccurate perception. This particular column follows repeated factual inaccuracies by VTDigger’s health reporter, adding the new feature of character assassination. I give up. I will not work with her anymore.

Digger, for its part, “stands behind the accuracy” of Mansfield’s story.

I don’t know who’s right and wrong here. Maybe she overemphasized the negative, which is often the case in journalism. Non-news is, by its nature, not news. When something works, we don’t write a screaming headline about it.

But Miller’s version doesn’t pass the smell test.

He claims that taking the “change of circumstance” function off-line was planned all along, and that the function is back on line again. He also claims that the administration has been fully informing the Legislature throughout.

Which, if true, doesn’t explain why legislative leaders are pissed off about being kept in the dark, or why House Speaker Shap Smith is near the end of his rope:

“If we can’t make progress in the next couple of weeks on the change of circumstances, I would start to lean toward the federal exchange,” he said.

“Couple of weeks.” That’s pretty damn harsh.

Okay, let’s set all that aside and give Miller the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say Mansfield’s article doesn’t tell the whole story. But to accuse a reporter from Vermont’s most respected public-policy news source of deliberate bias and “character assassination” and refusing to work with her anymore? A reporter backstopped by two of the most experienced people in Vermont journalism, Anne Galloway and Mark Johnson?

That’s a really bad look for Miller.

Oh, and also: he can’t do that. He simply can’t.

Maybe it’s time for Larry to head back to the relative calm of the beer business.

4 thoughts on “Mr. Miller has a hissy fit

  1. Brooke Paige

    Larry Needs to Wake Up and Smell the Funeral Flowers !

    “Web site Larry” is just beginning to realize he is Putney Pete’s fall guy ! Poor Larry has been Pete’s faithful lapdog and now that VHS is flailing in its death throes, he starts to blame the messengers of the obituary ! Larry, why help dig the graves for Pete and Al (Gobeille) and then then cheer as we throw them in !

    H. Brooke Paige
    Washington, Vermont

  2. Walter Carpenter

    “Larry, why help dig the graves for Pete and Al (Gobeille) and then then cheer as we throw them in !”

    While I will not comment on the article, Miller’s done a pretty good job of doing the impossible and working out that mucked up exchange. It ain’t perfection yet, but neither are the federal ones and one wonders if the health insurance lobbyists who helped write this law had that in mind.

  3. newzjunqie

    Reading, rereading, can’t find a thing in Ms. Mansfield story accusatory or inaccurate, Morgan True also did admirable job, nothing has changed. All been said before-situation ongoing, this report merely more of the same. Nerve was struck, motivating hot-under-the-collar hissyfit imo.

    Trick not new-bullying messenger desperate attempt to control narrative with tacit threat to Digger and other media-accept Miller revised-version of all issues & neverending problems or off with head. And yes, he HAS lied like a rug, as have all the rest, proof being *nothing has changed except ever more promises and statements which invariably prove to be false* What part of “Fixed” do they not get, we are several years down the road from the first “Fixed”.

    Jobs of highly-paid heads of GMCB, VHC and myriad of staff now on the line. Scheme to seize all government health care payments coming to VT *minus* CMS oversight biggest power & money grab of Shummy & their careers.
    What’s changed-stakes are raised in effort to pull this off as CMS scrutiny on Shummy & ostensibly agency heads. As Shummy continues attempt to pull wool over eyes of all, future successes for this bunch rest upon this grand scheme, as it also includes salvaging of epic fail VHC rather than going to federal exchange.

    Making VT side of CMS talks public-act of arrogance & desperation as CMS absent from conversation. Let us see entire back and forth pls, what are they hiding. Once again gaming VTers by presenting what is actually a ‘proposal’ as done deal-many are confused-media not doing very good job of clarifying. As Gobielles’ cat-that-swallowed-canary choirboy mug appears with each new story deceptively promising about to happen ‘any day now’.

    Clearly this phase of years-long talks has been going on for many months, not counting leaked promise @ governors’ association shindig-Shummy promising “everyone would be in the pool”. That is Tricare, VA, Erisa, Medicaid & MEDICARE. Same cheerful promise for years-whats the holdup? If it were inevitibile would be an announcement via a press release & presser, but reportedly could take until end of this year to decide.

    Funneling new revenue into foolhardy expansion of another moneypit-Medicaid, will continue to make VT a magnet for families in states that offer less generous benefits or none at all-incredibly stupid. VT w/population of medium-sized city, mostly elderly w/many poor & getting poorer, doesn’t have jobs, tax or revenue base to support bringing in more poverty-stricken who are not contributing to VT economy or their own health care dollars to support other moneypit-VHC.
    Not difficult to recognize plotline another CYA to avoid fixing problems, proving they are unfit to take on more. CMS will not hand over reigns unless VT can do it for less than CMS, simultaneously holding costs down. Despite all their bullshit, balancing books on backs of elderly Medicare beneficiaries by cutting services simply cannot be avoided. Cost of adding another layer of bureaucracy an additional subtraction from quantity & quality of care.

    Uunfortunately, Miller nor the rest of the gang inspire confidence & with seniors’ heath care on the line ante also upped. Cardinal rule of finance: “Never invest good money after bad” . Giving this bunch fresh stream of cash not unlike handing a drunk another case of booze. Soo, when does this spigot of endless keggers for this bunch of drunks get shut off?


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