Robin Lunge

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Scott: Nomination flawed but acceptable if confirmed

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott said Tuesday he will accept an appointee to the Green Mountain Care Board made by the previous governor if the Senate votes to confirm her, even as his administration continues to voice concerns about whether she should be confirmed. Robin Lunge was appointed to a six- year term on the Green Mountain Care Board, the state’s health care regulatory body, by former Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin in mid- November before he left office in early January. She began serving in an interim capacity as a board member on Nov. 28 because the Senate was not in session and could not immediately act to confirm the nomination. But as Vermont Public Radio reported Monday, the paperwork that i s typically filed when such an appointment is made could not be located when the Senate Health and Welfare Committee recently tried to act to confirm Lunge’s appointment. Continue Reading →

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Lunge heading to Green Mountain Care Board

MONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin has appointed Robin Lunge, one of the top health care reform advisors in his administration, to the Green Mountain Care Board. Lunge, Shumlin’s director of health care reform since 2011, will replace Dr. Allan Ramsay, whose term expired in late September, on the five-member board. Lunge will begin serving her six-year term on Nov. 28. The board has regulatory authority over hospitals and insurance companies and is responsible for controlling the growth rate of health care spending. Continue Reading →

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State will soon file waiver to bypass health exchange for small business

MONTPELIER — Legislation to allow small businesses to continue bypassing Vermont Health Connect is headed to Gov. Peter Shumlin’s desk to be signed into law. The Shumlin administration sought legislation allowing the state to request a waiver from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services because the state’s online health insurance marketplace launched without the expected functionality to enroll small business customers. The Senate passed the House version of the bill Thursday by a unanimous voice vote. Sen. Michael Sirotkin, D-Chittenden, speaking on the Senate floor, told his colleagues the legislation is needed because the federal government set a deadline for small businesses to enroll through Vermont Health Connect by Jan. 1, 2017. Continue Reading →

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Small biz direct enrollment to last through 2015 open enrollment

MONTPELIER — The Shumlin administration told lawmakers Tuesday that small businesses will have the option to continue directly enrolling in health care insurance plans during the next open enrollment period slated for this fall. Director of Health Care Reform Robin Lunge delivered the update to the Senate Finance Committee early Tuesday afternoon. Mark Larson, commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access, delivered the same message later to the House Health Care Committee. “The good news that I have is that the feds have approved the ability for us to continue with direct enrollment moving forward through the 2015 open enrollment period for 2016 plans and our intention is to allow this as an additional option,” Lunge said. Direct enrollment with the state’s two insurance carriers was a contingency plan offered by Gov. Peter Shumlin when the state’s federally mandated online insurance marketplace, Vermont Health Connect, failed to function properly at launch last October. Continue Reading →

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In September report, Shumlin administration told of “critical” problems with insurance exchange

Acknowledging the severity of the technological glitches in Vermont’s new health insurance website, Gov. Peter Shumlin Thursday issued a surprise announcement extending the deadline by which residents will have to enroll for policies in the new marketplace. But key members of the administration have known since at least the middle of September of defects in Vermont Health Connect, some of which, they were told by outside consultants, were potentially substantial enough to derail the enrollment timeline. In a 192-slide Power Point presentation, conducted on Sept. 11 and 12 and prepared at the behest of the federal government, managers at the Department of Vermont Health Access detailed a range of “risks” in the online marketplace, and presented “workarounds,” “mitigation” plans, and “contingencies.” The so-called “Operational Readiness Review” also includes a presentation from Gartner, Inc., a Connecticut-based tech consultant hired to review the website. Continue Reading →

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Despite early hiccups, administration says launch of Vermont Health Connect is a success

MONTPELIER – State officials are hailing Tuesday’s launch of the state’s online health insurance marketplace as a success, but opponents were quick to denounce the new system as the online portal immediately experienced technical issues. Tuesday marked the official launch of Vermont Health Connect, the state’s version of the online health insurance exchanges required under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, widely referred to as Obamacare. Vermont Department of Health Access Commissioner Mark Larson touted the benefits the exchange will provide Vermonters. “I am proud of our staff for their hard work to date, and I am confident that commitment will continue as Vermonters access the marketplace to make smart health coverage decisions over the course of the six month open-enrollment period,” Larson said in a statement. “Today marks a crucial first step in Vermont’s move to provide quality coverage, help small businesses and Vermonters afford insurance, and control the staggering increases in health care costs.” Continue Reading →

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News out of D.C. today opens up $4 million hole in health care budget

The feds have dealt a financial setback to the Shumlin administration’s efforts to assist low- and middle-income residents heading into the exchange next year. But Shumlin’s health care chief, Robin Lunge, says the administration is already putting together a “plan b” to deal with the news. Word came over the phone from Washington, D.C., today that the “cost-sharing assistance” in Shumlin’s fiscal year 2014 budget won’t be eligible for a federal match. That opens up a $4 million hole – a solution to which Commissioner of Vermont Health Access Mark Larson could present to lawmakers as early as tomorrow. The cost-sharing assistance is essentially an updated version of Catamount Health, tailored to complement the framework of the federally mandated “health benefits exchange.” It would subsidize insurance costs for people making as much as 400 percent of the federal poverty level. Continue Reading →

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