(Host) According to a new report, a large number of uninsured Vermonters hope to sign up for the state’s new Catamount Health Care plan.
Almost 2,000 people have qualified for coverage in the first 6 weeks of the program and officials expect this number will grow in the coming months.
VPRs Bob Kinzel reports:
(Kinzel) At the beginning of November, a major marketing campaign was launched to encourage uninsured Vermonters to sign up for one of the state health care programs that are part of an initiative known as Green Mountain Care.
Based on their income, individuals are eligible for different programs that help subsidize the cost of health care coverage.
In the first week of November, the Green Mountain Care website averaged 13,000 hits a day and the program’s toll free number averaged almost 300 calls a day.
The goal of Green Mountain Care is to sign up about 5,000 uninsured Vermonters during the current fiscal year. In the first 6 weeks of the program, almost 2,000 people have applied and been found eligible for the coverage. These individuals will now choose between benefit plans that are available through Blue Cross and MVP.
Steve Maier is the co chairman of the Commission on Health Care Reform:
(Maier) "I’m encouraged by the numbers…we have real Vermonters who today have insurance that didn’t have it last month and it sounds like the trends are really good and it obviously takes a few weeks for things to work their way through the system. It appears to me that we’re looking at numbers that are going to exceed our expectations."
Chittenden senator Doug Racine says he’s pleased that so many uninsured people are interested in Green Mountain Care but he said the commission can’t lose sight of another key goal – that’s taking steps to help reduce the overall cost of health care for all Vermonters:
(Racine) "I just think there needs to be an acknowledgement of that in here that our task is very, very difficult very, very challenging and unless we can significantly have an impact on the cost side that what we are doing is not sustainable and in the end I think will implode."
The commission is considering several options to expand the state’s health care programs.
One proposal would provide subsidized coverage to under insured individuals – these are people who have existing policies with very high deductibles and another plan would allow young adult children to stay on their parent’s policies until they reach 26.
The commission plans to vote on these and several other recommendations at their meeting in December.
For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.