People's Team Meets with HCA about State Healthcare Exchanges

On December 2, 2010, Peg Franzen and Cassandra Edson of the People's Team met with Christine Oliver, Deputy Commissioner of the Healthcare Administration, division counsel Rebecca Heintz, and Betsy Forrest of the Department of Vermont Health Care (the Medicaid office, formerly "OVHA") to present the Healthcare is a Human Right campaign's position on Vermont developing a healthcare exchange. Although we disagree fundamentally on the value of a healthcare exchange, which the campaign views as perpetuating the model of healthcare as a commodity, the meeting had some positive outcomes. We learned that HCA and DVHA will strive to make any work done toward building an exchange be useful to all types of healthcare system designs. For example, we discussed how setting up the eligibility system for the exchange could be work that could support setting up a system to distribute identification cards for any system of universal care that using identification cards to access a person's electronic health record. It was good to hear the regulators committment to making their work useable for the healthcare system design Vermont ultimately decides to use, as well as an acknowledgement that their work needs to be coordinated with that work that comes of the Hsiao team designs.

Below is a reproduction of the memorandum we gave to Deputy Commissioner Oliver. In addition to this memo, we produced a copy of the HCHR Assessment tool and explained how use this tool to evaluate whether or not any system complies with the principles of universality, equity, transparency, accountability, and participation.

Healthcare is a Human Right Campaign
To: Christine Oliver, Herb Olson, Rebecca Heintz, Betsy Forrest
From: The Healthcare is a Human Right Campaign, VWC
Date: December 2, 2010
Re: Comments Concerning a Healthcare Exchange

We appreciate the opportunity to be able to meet with you today to express our concerns regarding Healthcare Exchanges and to offer positive suggestions on moving forward.

The Healthcare is a Human Right Campaign proposes that the department use any federal grants it has obtained for facilitating a constructive and integrated planning process of comprehensive health care reform in Vermont, which takes full account of the will of the people of Vermont, expressed in Act 128. We urge the department to avoid using any federal grants to interfere with or foreclose opportunities presented by the legislatively mandated work of consultant Dr. Hsiao and his team.

We call on the department to proceed carefully, transparently, and in full consultation with other planning processes underway. The Healthcare is a Human Right Campaign urges the department not to commit itself to setting up an exchange or any particular aspects of an exchange until the legislature acts on Act 128. The Administration needs to work in tandem with the legislature and respect the democratically mandated process underway. This process calls for the adoption of a healthcare system design that meets the human rights principles of universality, equity, transparency, accountability, and participation, codified in Act 128. We urge you to work in concert with Dr. Hsiao's consulting team and the goals and principles of Act 128.