Shumlin 'Hopeful,' But Not Sure Exchange Will Be Open Before Deadline

Nov 7, 2014

Gov. Peter Shumlin is “hopeful” that Vermont’s health care exchange website will be online in time for the open enrollment period that begins Nov. 15. But he didn’t sound certain Friday that his team will make the deadline.

“I’ve been discouraged so many times by this website that I’ll believe it when I see it,” Shumlin said on Vermont Edition Friday. “What I’ve been told by my folks who are working really hard on this is that we’ll be ready for open enrollment on Nov. 15.”

But that’s as solid a commitment as the governor would give that the state’s trouble health care exchange website, Vermont Health Connect, will be functional when the open enrollment period starts.

Open enrollment is the three-month period during which new customers can purchase a health care plan through the state’s Affordable Care Act health care exchange.

In mid-September, two months before open enrollment, Shumlin’s administration was forced to take Vermont Health Connect offline due to security issues and other development problems.

Shumlin said at the time that the administration had “made the decision to temporarily take down the VHC website to implement the necessary improvements and have a well-functioning website on Nov. 15.”

The state's Republican leaders want to go a different route, they said at a joint news conference Friday. Leaders of the GOP from the Vermont House of Representatives and State Senate said they would like to shut down Vermont Health Connect entirely in favor of sending Vermonters to the federal health care exchange.

Shumlin and others have argued that switching to the federal system would harm low-income Vermonters who benefit from added subsidies available only through the state-run exchange.