Late last week, Vermont’s health benefits exchange plan was approved by the federal government. This means that Vermont with join nineteen other states who have been given the green light to proceed with implementing their insurance exchanges. The state will now move full steam ahead in creating the Vermont Health Connect web portal, where individuals and small businesses will compare and purchase health insurance starting in January 2014.
Federal health care reform protects consumers, provides funds to build our health technology infrastructure, and expands access to care for millions of Americans. Along with these benefits, reform also presents a unique challenge to people currently on the popular Catamount and VHAP programs. These programs will be replaced in 2014 by the subsidies available to middle and low income Vermonters who buy insurance through Vermont Health Connect. Despite the subsidies, Vermonters formerly eligible for Catamount and VHAP could see significant increases in their health expenses.
This issue has been flagged by legislators as a top priority for the 2013 legislative session, and we need you to let your representatives know they have your support in making sure we don’t move backwards in our efforts to implement meaningful health care reform. The gap between the subsidies available through Vermont’s exchange and the benefits formerly available through Catamount and VHAP will impact Vermonters who are already at risk for being underinsured. We need to make sure we are not setting up barriers between them and the care they need.