Shumlin adminstration polling on taxpayers’ dime?

That’s the allegation from critics of Peter Shumlin’s single-payer health care law. They say a random-digit telephone survey of 1,000 Vermonters, commissioned by the Department of Vermont Health Access, is testing public opinion on one of the governor’s campaign keystones.

DVHA officials say their intentions are pure. The survey, according to Commissioner Mark Larson, is funded by a federal grant and is intended to gather information crucial to the development of the health-benefits exchange.

Information collected in the $40,000 survey, he says, will be used to customize Vermont’s federally mandated online insurance marketplace.

Larson insists the survey isn’t a public-opinion poll, and that it has nothing to do with single-payer health care.

Why then, critics are asking, does the survey ask folks about “Green Mountain Care,” and whether they have a “positive, negative or neutral” opinion of the program?

Around Montpelier at least, ‘Green Mountain Care’ is commonly used to refer to the single-payer system envisioned in Act 48. 

Larson, however, says it’s also the term used to describe an assemblage of government-subsidized  health insurance prorgams – like VHAP, Catamount and Dr. Dynasaur. THAT’S the Green Mountain Care the survey is talking about, Larson says.

You can read all about the flap, for free, at http://www.vermonttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/RH/20120322/NEWS03/703229846

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