The number of state-run Obamacare exchanges may fall even lower next year as yet another state is considering handing the reins over to the federal government.
Friday, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, said that his administration is considering closing the state exchange, Vermont Health Connect, and having the federal government take over. Vermont’s exchange is still suffering from technological problems, even after the second open enrollment period, and has been more expensive than estimated. Currently, customers are not able to update their data once they’ve applied for coverage. (RELATED: Vermont’s Directing Obamacare Customers To Shutdown Website To Pay)
Shumlin is giving Vermont’s new contractor, Optum, until early October to have the exchange up and running for next year’s enrollment period. He said the website is on track to be ready, but the state will have a contingency plan for the feds to take over and form a “federally-supported state-based marketplace” if Vermont’s system still isn’t working properly.
“We now have a vendor with a proven delivery record to finish the job,” Shumlin said in a statement. “Ideally Vermonters will continue to benefit from the Vermont-focused health insurance marketplace that we all envisioned…but if our system can’t deliver for Vermonters by next fall, we’ll need to take action to move permanently to a system that can.”
The state exchange was supposed to last just until 2017, while Vermont prepped the country’s first single-payer health system, but Shumlin’s administration was forced to abandon those plans in December due to out-of-control costs. (RELATED: Vermont’s Giving Up On Single-Payer Health Care Amid Ballooning Costs)
Only 13 states and Washington, D.C. opted to build their own Obamacare exchanges in the first year of the health care law. There’s already been a few shifts — Idaho was the only state to build its own exchange after using HealthCare.gov in 2014 — and others have already failed. Oregon’s state-run exchange has been officially dissolved and Nevada has switched over to HealthCare.gov for enrollment.
Now the few remaining hold-out states are considering allowing the federal government to handle their own exchanges as well. A bill to close Minnesota’s Obamacare exchange in favor of HealthCare.gov passed a state committee this week and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton is open to the idea.
The state exchange, MNsure, is also dealing with technological problems. (RELATED: Minnesota Man Tells State Obamacare Exchange Its Glitches Killed His Wife)