On July 23rd, the Green Mountain Care Board hosted a public comment forum regarding the requested rate increases for health insurance by Blue Cross Blue Shield and MVP. There were dozens of people in attendance, many of whom shared painful and personal stories of the real impact rate increases have had, and will have, on their lives.
Campaign for Vermont's Executive Director was in attendance and made the following statement in opposition to the proposed rate increases.
My name is Eric LaMontagne. I am a 32-year Vermonter, a resident of South Burlington and Executive Director of Campaign for Vermont.
Thank you for the opportunity to present comments here tonight. The comments I am making are reflective of both my personal position and that of my organization. For sake of full disclosure, Campaign for Vermont is a non-profit advocacy organization actively involves in promoting public policy that creates an economy for all Vermonters to be economically secure and to prosper – one that is also transparent and accountable.
Thank you for all of the other people here tonight that came up and bravely shared some very painful personal stories. While I do have my own story to share, my comments this evening are of a different nature: the need for transparency and accountability.
Blue Cross and MVP are asking the Green Mountain Care Board to approve another set of rate increases.
They are asking to take more money out of the pockets of Vermonters.
This is not a proposal that should be supported. Nothing has led us to believe that the accountability and transparency exists to a degree that gives us any confidence that our money is being well spent, that the best interests of Vermonters are what is driving this increase, or that everything that can be is being done to mitigate the need for an increase.
Campaign for Vermont asks the following questions:
- While Vermonters are being asked to pay more, what has been done to hold the medical institutions – hospitals and pharmaceutical companies – accountable for the upward pressure on insurance premiums?
- What is being done to mitigate the need for annual increases this year and in future years?
- Have other avenues or alternatives been explored, or is asking us for more money simply the easy way out?
What do we get for our extra money? How does this cost increase improve the health and lives of Vermonters?
- To what or to whom should we look so that we can trust that our money is being used responsibly?
- Are these increases absolutely necessary for the continued well-being of our state, and if so, why? What are the consequences of NOT raising the premiums?
These questions about accountability and transparency need to be answered before asking Vermonters to shoulder yet another financial burden. I am willing to bet that very few people in here saw their income increase 15%, or 11% - the additional amount that Blue Cross and MVP are asking of us. This is real money, impacting real people, in real ways. This will force people to make real decisions about how they spent their money. Many will have to make real sacrifices to pay the additional costs. This is what we are being asked to do.
Transparency and accountability to all Vermonters have not been demonstrated. Until it has, these increases must not be supported.