RELEASE: HCHR campaign statement on proposed 2016 VHC health insurance rate hike

For Immediate Release: July 28 2015

Contact: Keith Brunner, 802-363-9615

Healthcare is a Human Right Campaign statement on proposed 2016 Vermont Health Connect rate increase

In response to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont’s 8.4% rate increase request for their 2016 Vermont Health Connect health insurance plans, the Healthcare is a Human Right campaign is releasing the statement below. [1]  Supporters of the campaign will be in Montpelier tomorrow (July 29) calling on the Green Mountain Care Board to reject the rate hikes and resume its role in guiding Vermont to a universal, publicly-financed healthcare system. [2]

HCHR Statement:

“Private insurance is already too expensive under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Vermont Health Connect, and still we are not getting the care that we need. Insurance companies that make tremendous surpluses and pay their executives high salaries are asking for more of our money at a rate that surely exceeds any pay raises that we will receive, serving as another indicator that we must move beyond the ACA to a universal, publicly financed healthcare system without the need for insurance companies. [3]

BCBS is a non-profit company set up by Vermont law with the express purpose of lowering the cost of health services to the people of Vermont. As such, it is exempt from paying taxes and will receive a tax break of over $15 million this year. Yet BCBS is unable and unwilling to ensure that all Vermont residents can get the healthcare they need. That’s why the Healthcare is a Human Right campaign has proposed to dissolve BCBS and turn its assets over to a new public corporation that can operate Green Mountain Care as a true public good that belongs to all of us. [4] At this point, we urge the GMCB to consider the obligation BCBS has under the law, and to ask BCBS to work harder to meet this obligation.

It is unfair that one in five people are struggling with medical bills, while BCBSVT executives are paid up to half a million dollars each. [5]  It is inequitable that low-income people pay proportionally more for healthcare than the wealthy, while making do with low-value insurance plans. Rising inequality in Vermont is directly linked to how the private insurance system works, and why we need to change this.

Inequality is growing, and so is healthcare spending, and this will continue unless the GMCB acts. We can no longer afford to protect and perpetuate a healthcare system that is both wasteful and unjust. We call on the GMCB to reject these rate increases, and to resume its role of guiding us to a universal, publicly financed healthcare system. Healthcare is a public good, not for private profits.”

NOTES FOR EDITORS

1] Currently both major insurance providers offering health insurance on the Vermont Health Connect have filed for rate increases for the 2016. The GMCB is in the process of reviewing these filings. BCBS and Cigna have requested an average premium price increase of 8.4% and 3.0% increases respectively. Some BCBS plans would increase by up to 14.3%. http://ratereview.vermont.gov/rate_review/BCVT-130082559

2] The GMCB is holding a public hearing on the BCBS proposal tomorrow from 9am - 3pm, in the 2nd floor Board Room, 89 Main St, City Center, Montpelier. Supporters of the HCHR campaign will be testifying in public comment between 12pm and 3pm. http://ratereview.vermont.gov/2016_VHC_Rates_Filed

3] In 2014 BCBS requested a 9.8% increase for its 2015 plans; GMCB approved 7.7%: http://ratereview.vermont.gov/rate_review/BCVT-129572217

4] See bill H.475, which was introduced in 2015 with the support of the HCHR campaign: http://legislature.vermont.gov/assets/Documents/2016/Docs/BILLS/H-0475/H-0475%20As%20Introduced.pdf

5] BCBS 2014 salaries and bonuses: http://www.dfr.vermont.gov/sites/default/files/BCBSVT-Act-150-filing.pdf