MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — When the Vermont Health CO-OP was launched 15 months ago, it was hailed as a consumer-governed alternative to the commercial insurance that would be offered under the new marketplace being set up under the federal health overhaul.
But as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont and MVP Health Care prepare to begin offering coverage through the marketplace, the CO-OP remains in limbo, hoping for two green lights from state and federal agencies that are key to its survival.
It likely won’t even hit the Oct. 1 date that companies offering coverage through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) public exchange system were supposed to be ready to begin signing up subscribers, CO-OP CEO Christine Oliver said Monday.
“We won’t hit that. We won’t hit it for Oct. 1,” she said.
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And as for the beginning of next year, when the coverage is to become effective: “January’s probably not likely, either,” she said of the CO-OP, which stands for “consumer operated and oriented plan.”
The CO-OP needs the state Department of Financial Regulation to reverse a decision that denied the CO-OP a state license. The agency said its rates were too high to be competitive and criticized a governance structure it said created conflicts of interest.
Since then, the CO-OP has lowered its rates, retooled its governance and submitted a request for reconsideration to the state agency. The state agency could not comment about a pending application, spokeswoman Dale Schaft said Monday.
Meanwhile, Oliver said she expects to hear by the end of the month what the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) planned to do about a nearly $34 million loan agreement announced at the CO-OP’s founding last summer.