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Vermont Receives Federal Grant to Implement Health Care Exchange

Vermont is getting a $104.4 million federal grant to continue setting up a health benefits exchange.  While the program is required under the Affordable Care Act, those working on universal health access in Vermont say completion of the exchange will help their overall goal to create a single payer system.

Health Benefit Exchanges are designed as internet-based marketplaces where small employers and individuals can compare and purchase health insurance plans. The Department of Vermont Health Access had applied for the Level 2 grant at the end of June.  Deputy Commissioner for the Health Benefits Exchange Lindsey Tucker explains that federal funding for the exchanges is three-tiered.

The 104 million dollars will be used to create the  information technology, website and call center development and operations, that Tucker says will allow the state to run the exchange.

Vermont Medical Society Executive Vice President Paul Harrington says the new grant should get the state to the point where people can sign up for the exchanges.

Vermont’s efforts to create a single-payer health care system is occurring simultaneously with the  work to comply with the Federal Affordable Care Act creation of health care exchanges.  Lindsey Tucker says the exchange is a springboard to the single payer system.

The Green Mountain Care Board is working on a separate and parallel track to craft Vermont’s single payer health care reforms.  Board Member Con Hogan.

The exchange must be running by 2014 and Vermont plans to begin open enrollment in the exchange on October 1st, 2013