Shumlin: Little impact from federal health extension
By WILSON RING
The Associated Press | November 15,2013
MONTPELIER — President Barack Obama’s decision Thursday to allow the extension of existing health insurance policies for a year is unlikely to have much impact on Vermonters, said Gov. Peter Shumlin.
The state had already decided to allow individuals and small businesses to extend their current health insurance plans through March 31 to ensure people have coverage while problems are worked out with the Vermont Health Connect website.
Shumlin spoke Thursday with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont President Don George and MVP Health Care Vice President Bill Little.
“We remain confident in that time-frame and believe it will provide Vermonters the security and options they need as we continue to improve Vermont Health Connect and implement the federally mandated reforms,” the three said in a joint statement issued by the governor’s office.
“Of course, as the White House provides more information on the federal changes announced today by the president, we will continue to work together, and with lawmakers and our congressional delegation, to understand any further implications for Vermont,” they said. “But at this time, we remain confident that the course we are on is the right one.”
The comments came hours after the president said his administration no longer would require insurance companies to jettison current individual and small group plans that fall short of the minimum coverage standards of the Affordable Care Act.
As of Thursday, 3,746 people had chosen a health insurance plan through the Vermont Health Connect website, up 345 from the previous day. It was the third consecutive day the state offered sign-up updates, with each day showing significant progress in the number of people successfully signed up for health insurance through the website.
Meanwhile, Financial Regulation Commissioner Susan Donegan said her department has received reports of Vermonters being targeted by phone scammers claiming to be selling health insurance in order to obtain personal information.
“The scams ... have involved tricking consumers into revealing Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or other personal information under the guise of enrolling them in a health insurance plan on Vermont Health Connect,” Donegan said.
She reminded people to watch out for con artists who might try to impersonate people trained to help people sign up for health insurance.