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Vt. health costs grew 1.5 percent in 2011

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A new analysis from Vermont’s Green Mountain Care Board says health care costs in Vermont grew slowly in 2011, climbing by just 1.5 percent.

That’s down from average annual growth of 4.7 percent from 2006 to 2010.

Board Chairwoman Anya Rader Wallack says it’s too early to declare victory over rising health costs, with the pace of cost growth expected to pick up in the coming few years.

Meanwhile, a second report from the board, on cost-shifting from government-backed insurance programs to private insurance, says that continues to be a big problem.

The board is expecting private payers, including uninsured state residents, to absorb about 80 percent of the additional $142 million in spending budgeted for fiscal year 2013, which started Oct. 1, 2012, officials said.

Speakers predicted that, once the state’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) health insurance exchange (HIX) program starts, about 20,000 of the 50,000 state residents in public health plans will enroll in private health plans through the exchange, and about 30,000 will end up in Medicaid.

In Vermont, at least, the initial exchange rate proposals do not reflect the kind of PPACA rate shock that some have predicted, officials said.

Allison Bell contributed to this report.

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