Vermont co-op plan suffers surprising setback

About Joanne Kenen

Contributing editor to Politico Magazine and former health care editor-at-large, Politico, Commonwealth Fund journalist in residence and assistant lecturer at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.


Image by redjar via flickr.

We’ve written several times about the role of co-ops in the states (here and here) and posted a lot of resources  for those of you in states with this option. But here’s a story from The Associated Press that surprised me – Vermont just rejected the Vermont Health Co-op, saying it was going to cost too much and was probably too optimistic about enrollment. (Regulators also raised questions about its solvency, which was less surprising if you’ve been following co-ops.)

The co-op is hoping to get that decision reversed so it may not be over.  But this is noteworthy because it’s occurring in a small state that doesn’t have a lot of insurance participation in the exchange – something that backers of co-ops had hoped these nonprofit entities would address.

Vermont is a liberal state that backs health reform, and has created a framework for moving to a state version of a single-payer system a few years from now.  And so far it has only two health plans set to offer coverage in its exchange next year.  It’s the kind of state that – at least from the outside – one would have expected to work hard to find a space for the co-option. I welcome insight from anyone who knows Vermont well and has a different  take.

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