Miller, Moulton take new jobs in shakeup
By Neal P. Goswami
Vermont Press Bureau | April 11,2014
MONTPELIER — Patricia Moulton will leave her post as head of Brattleboro Development Credit Corp. to become Vermont's new secretary of commerce.
The move comes as part of a high-level staff shakeup in the Shumlin administration announced Thursday.
Moulton will take the job of Commerce Secretary Lawrence Miller, who will become a senior adviser to the governor and chief of health care reform as the Shumlin administration ramps up its effort to implement a universal, publicly financed health care system.
Moulton, a former labor commissioner and deputy secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, will take over the agency starting June 1.
Moulton stepped down as deputy commerce secretary in February 2013 to work on workforce development for BDCC, then as its executive director.
Moulton said Thursday she looks forward to bringing “the voice of the business community back to Gov. Shumlin.”
She added, “I'm up for the challenge and ready to be here and looking forward to working with everybody.”
Sen. Kevin Mullin, R-Rutland, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said senators were pleased with the new roles for both Miller and Moulton.
“We are excited about today,” Mullin said. “We think this is a double win for the state of Vermont.”
Laura Sibilia, director of economic development for BDCC, praised the choice of Moulton as the new commerce secretary but said the group has “mixed feelings” over losing her.
“Though Pat has only been with BDCC for just over a year and serving as executive director for three months, her decades of experience in economic development, including state government, have been exceptionally helpful in guiding the development of some new functions in BDCC's organization,” Sibilia said.
In announcing the moves, Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding touted Moulton as someone who brings “instant credibility in the business community.”
Spaulding made the announcement because Gov. Peter Shumlin was in Putney with his ailing father.
“This is an extremely positive day for the Shumlin administration,” Spaulding said. “We are strengthening our overall Team Shumlin in a way that will strengthen jobs and economic development.”
Shumlin tapped Miller in January to oversee Vermont Health Connect, the state's online health insurance marketplace, after its botched rollout last fall. Since taking on that role, Miller helped negotiate a revamped contract with the state's contractor to help complete the massive IT project.
Now Miller — founder and former CEO of Otter Creek Brewing, former CEO of Danforth Pewter and former director of the National Bank of Middlebury — will oversee all aspects of the state's aggressive health care reform efforts.
He will lead a group of administration officials including Robin Lunge, director of health care reform; Doug Racine, secretary of human services; Mark Larson, commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access; and Al Gobeille, chairman of the independent Green Mountain Care Board.
“Lawrence will be reporting directly to the governor,” Spaulding said. “That means the secretary of administration and other agency secretaries and commissioners and so forth will be listening to Lawrence, with the authority of the governor.”
The administration has “a very aggressive time schedule and challenge” ahead of it in implementing Green Mountain Care, Shumlin's proposed universal health system, Spaulding said. Miller will be organizing the efforts of a growing team of administration officials focused on health care reform, he said.
“We need to have somebody that can focus full time on this,” Spaulding said. “There are many of us in the administration that are spending time on the general health care issue … and the thing is we actually need to have a quarterback to make sure that all of us who have a role in this are supported and coordinated.”
Miller, who has had little experience in health care issues and policy before this year, said he intends to spend the next few months beefing up his knowledge.
“There's a lot of digging in to do,” he said.
Miller said he hopes to help the administration assuage concerns in the business community resulting from all of the unanswered questions about the system and how it will be paid for.
“They want to make sure they're not exposed to runaway costs in the future,” he said.
But it will be some time before crucial details are known, according to Miller.
“There will continue to be unknowns for a while,” he said. “We aren't going to be able to define all of the risks and ranges for a bit.”