Vermont’s $170 Million Exchange Isn’t Operative Yet

by Jim Geraghty

Tell us again how great those state exchanges are:

The statutory deadline of Oct. 1 has long since gone by, but Vermont Health Connect remains essentially inoperative. You can review the Obamacare-approved insurance plans offered for 2014, but you can’t buy one. Kyle Midura of WCAX-TV observed on the Oct. 18 “Vermont This Week” program that site visitors “almost inevitably get an error message.”

Governor Shumlin first dismissed Vermont Health Connect’s missed opening date as a “nothing burger.” He then said the exchange would be operative by Nov. 1, and that unspecified people were “working 24/7” to get it going. Most recently, he waffled on the Nov. 1 deadline as well, saying it might be ready by Nov. 3. Midura noted that administration officials view this as a “soft deadline” — more a suggestion than a requirement that triggers real-world consequences.

How the hell do you roll out a website where people can’t pay for what they’ve bought?

According to Mark Larson, the commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access, a top priority is to make it possible for people to pay on line for the policies they select. To date, roughly 1,800 people have chosen their coverage but they’ve been unable to complete their financial transaction. Larson says the system is being rigorously tested.

Cost of Vermont’s exchange? $170 million. Heck of a job, fellas.

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