In the spring of 2015, in response to many of us calling for change, the Governor set a deadline of May 31, 2015 to have Vermont Health Connect’s “change of circumstances” functionality in place and working. He also indicated that the automated system that would allow for customers to sign up for plans online would be in place by the fall 2015.  And, most importantly, at that time Shumlin made clear that if either of the two deadlines were missed, we would begin the process of transitioning to the federal exchange or to a state-federal hybrid model.

Even more strident at the time was House Speaker Shap Smith.  He made it very clear that if the May deadline passed, we would begin the transition.  “If nearly two years after we try to bring the exchange online we still don’t have an exchange that works in an effective way, then I believe that we need to move to another system,” he said on Vermont Public Radio.

So where are we now after over two years, an estimated $200 million setting up Vermont Health Connect, and an additional projected $104 million on 2015 and 2016 VHC operations?

Well, the “change of circumstances” function is still not working, thousands of Vermonters continue to be in the limbo “backlog,” and VHC is essentially a mess.  Yet despite the problems and promises, we continue to double down and dig deeper.

Finally, to add insult to injury, the underlying goal of the Health Care Exchange - to make health insurance more affordable - is simply not being achieved.  In fact, both health insurance companies that have products on the Vermont Exchange are requesting over 8% increases in their insurance rates next year.  This is on top of the 14% increase from 2014 to 2016.

It's time to pull the plug - responsibly - on Vermont Health zoloft Connect, and to replace it with a health care exchange and health care reform that works for Vermonters.