Urgent: Vermont Healthcare Exchange
URGENT: Don’t Let Vermont Lose Ground on Health Care!
The House Health Care Committee is poised to significantly increase the cost of health care for low and middle income Vermonters entering the new Vermont Health Exchange. This comes at a time when too many people already forgo necessary medical care or insurance altogether because of the high costs of coverage. If these costs are allowed to go up, the State will reverse the progress we’ve made over the past six years to provide uninsured Vermonters with affordable, quality health care coverage.
We need your help TODAY! Call or email House Health Care Committee members or your own legislator and tell them to keep health care affordable for all Vermonters. The list of Health Care Committee members can be found at the end of this email. If your legislator is not on that list, please contact them anyway. It’s important that all House members hear your concern. The full list of legislators with contact information can be found here: http://www.leg.state.vt.us/legdir/districts.cfm?Body=H&Session=2014. To find out who your legislator is, click here: http://www.leg.state.vt.us/legdir/FindMyMember.cfm.
Since 2005 the percent of uninsured Vermonters has dropped from almost 10 percent to just under seven percent - a gain of over 20,000 more people with coverage. This is in large part because of the affordable premiums and low out-of-pocket costs provided through VHAP and Catamount. In 2014 Catamount and VHAP will be eliminated, and an estimated 30,000 people will have to buy their insurance through the Vermont Health Exchange rather than Catamount or VHAP. In his budget address, Governor Shumlin proposed a subsidy that would have reduced some of these increases. However, even with the Governor’s proposed subsidy, health care premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs for most people will be significantly more expensive in the Exchange, in many cases thousands of dollars more each year. Since the Governor’s address, funding from the federal government did not come through as anticipated, greatly eroding the proposed subsidy.
On February 12, the House Health Care Committee held a straw poll of its members to gauge support for providing state funding to ensure low and moderate income Vermonters currently on VHAP or Catamount will not have to pay more in the Exchange. Only three of the 11 members showed their support to hold these people harmless (Representatives Till, Poirier and Pearson). This is a shocking reversal of support for affordable, quality health care coverage that has been the hallmark of the House Health Care Committee for the past six years.
This astonishing lack of support stands in the face of the state’s own data that cost is the number one reason given by uninsured Vermonters for not having coverage. The Committee’s position was taken despite years of experience that shows when costs of health care go up, low and moderate income Vermonters will drop their coverage. This position was taken despite the support for maintaining affordable coverage in the Exchange from health care professionals, a large coalition of advocates for health care reform, and the voices of people who rely on VHAP and Catamount.
We cannot afford to go backwards on health care in Vermont. We need your help. Call or email House Health Care Committee members or your own legislator TODAY and tell them to keep health care affordable for all Vermonters.
House Health Care Committee Members:
Mike Fisher of Lincoln, Chair
Sarah Copeland-Hanzas of Bradford, Vice Chair
Paul Poirier of Barre
Leigh Dakin of Chester
Douglas Gage of Rutland City
John Mitchell of Fairfax
Mary Morrissey of Bennington
Chris Pearson of Burlington
Kristy Spengler of Colchester
George Till of Jericho
Mark Woodward of Johnson