MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) -- A group of health care advocates is urging the Legislature to create a special state subsidy when Vermont's subsidized health care program is shut down in 2014.
That's when the roughly 10,000 Vermont residents enrolled in Catamount Health will need to buy their coverage through a newly created market place exchange. The web-based, state regulated marketplace will allow consumers to do online comparison shopping for health insurance by comparing costs and benefits offered.
The exchange would bring the state into compliance with the federal health insurance reform law passed two years ago. Gov. Peter Shumlin and his administration hope to use the exchange as a springboard to bring most Vermonters into a government-run, single-payer health care system beginning in 2017.
Peter Sterling of the Vermont Campaign for Health Care Security tells Vermont Public Radio (http://bit.ly/RTjlfT) he's concerned. He said the federal subsidies that will be available through the exchange are not as good as the existing Catamount coverage.
Sterling said a person enrolled in Catamount with an annual salary of $22,000 faces a potential out-of-pocket limit of just over $1,700. But he said their financial exposure in the exchange will be twice as big. He said out-of-pocket costs triples for someone making $33,000.
Robin Lunge, director of health care reform for the Shumlin administration, said the out-of-pocket maximum would adversely affect a small group of people. She added, "but of course if you were in that small group of people, the out-of-pocket maximums under federal law are quite large."
Lunge said her office is looking at ways to address the issue in next year's budget.