Vermont: Will Charlie Brown finally kick the football this year?

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Gov. Shumlin Updates on Vermont Health Connect Progress

MONTPELIER – Gov. Peter Shumlin, representatives from Vermont’s insurance carriers, and officials and staff from Vermont Health Connect (VHC) gathered today to update on the health insurance marketplace’s progress. The Governor announced that the technology upgrade necessary for a smooth open enrollment has been delivered and tested and will be deployed starting this evening; the backlog of change of circumstance cases has been cleared; VHC is now operating at a vastly improved customer service level for change requests; and customers will be able to report many changes online starting Monday. Meeting those milestones is consistent with the schedule laid out by the Governor in March 2015 and in legislation passed later in the spring.

“Today’s news is not mission accomplished but it is a significant step in our effort to deliver on the promise of Vermont Health Connect for Vermonters,” Gov. Shumlin said. “Every state and the federal government have struggled to get their health care exchanges up and running. It has been neither a smooth nor easy process for states or customers alike. While there is still a lot of work to be done and I have no doubt there will continue to be bumps in the road, the system upgrades deploying today and the incredible hard work that has brought the backlog of Vermonters waiting on change requests down from over 10,000 in just four months is a big step towards normalizing operations.”

The functionality needed to automate the renewal process has been delivered by the State’s system integrator, Optum, and tested with Vermont’s insurance carriers. VHC’s online accounts and logins will be inaccessible starting this evening in order for the system to be updated with the new technology. The VHC website will be back up on Monday. Over the next month, business processes will be developed and VHC staff will be trained to use the new technology for open enrollment, which begins on November 1 and is the time in the year when Vermonters with VHC plans can change their plan selection for the coming year.

“Meeting these milestones is just the first step,” said Chief of Health Care Reform Lawrence Miller said. “Over the next month we will be honing the new technology and training staff on how to use it in preparation for a smooth open enrollment for Vermonters starting on November 1st.”

In addition to actually building and testing the technology, one of the necessary precursors to tonight’s deployment was overcoming the historical backlog of change of circumstance requests, which had grown as high as 10,272 in May. Reaching that milestone was made possible by the successful deployment of automated change functionality at the beginning of June. Over the summer VHC staff worked through the backlog, processing change requests – such as changing an address or adding a family member to a plan – that had been a primary source of frustration for customers.

Because of the manual workarounds utilized before automated change functionality was deployed, approximately two percent of the customers in the backlog, or 186, were not able to have their more complex changes applied to their account through the normal change process. These 186 customers are being temporarily withdrawn from the VHC system in order to update their accounts. Each has been assigned a VHC customer service contact who has reached out to them to explain the process which will be completed by October 15th.