Campaigners with the Nonviolent Medicaid Army condemned today’s decision by the Green Mountain Care Board to approve double-digit health insurance rate hikes and called for an extension of the state’s moratorium on Medicaid cutoffs through the month of August.  Blue Cross premiums for individual plans have doubled in the ten years since Vermont Health Connect was established. 
The Board’s announcement comes as historic and ongoing floods sweep the state, and as the Scott administration carries out a controversial purge of the state’s Medicaid rolls, with 11,000 residents thrown off the program since April.  Two out of three had their healthcare terminated because they didn’t receive or respond to a letter at their place of residence.
Over the past week, dozens of people have called on Department of Vermont Health Connect (DVHA) Commissioner Andrea DeLaBruere to extend the state’s July moratorium on Medicaid cutoffs through the month of August, warning that hundreds if not thousands are still displaced from their homes due to the floods. In response, DVHA encouraged those cut off from Medicaid to enroll in Vermont Health Connect plans. “Having health insurance makes it easier to access health care, and to avoid unexpected medical bills,” said DeLaBruere. 
Campaigners with the Nonviolent Medicaid Army aren’t having it.
“Medicaid is free, or close to it,” said Ellen Schwartz, a resident of Brattleboro active with the NVMA. “Private health insurance, with high premiums, copays and deductibles, results in some 85,000 Vermonters reporting they have problems paying medical bills. It’s like throwing someone off a raft into water filled with sharks and telling them it’s an equivalent situation.” 
In February, Marshfield resident and NVMA leader Anders Aughey told the Burlington Free Press that the deductible on his bronze-level Blue Cross plan is $7,150 and his premium is $224 per month, after subsidy.  “My experience is I’m paying a lot of premiums for coverage I can’t use because the deductible is so high,” Aughey said.
The Nonviolent Medicaid Army, anchored in Vermont by the Vermont Workers’ Center, is a national network fighting for the right to healthcare and inspired by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s call for a “nonviolent army of the poor” during the Poor People’s Campaign of 1968.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
- The Green Mountain Care Board approved 11% and 14.4% increases for MVP and Blue Cross individual 2024 plans. Via GMCB press release: https://gmcboard.vermont.gov/sites/gmcb/files/documents/Press%20Release%20-%20Rate%20Review%20Decisions%20August%202023.pdf
- Vermont Health Connect Individual Plan Rates, 2014 – 2024: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1wsvMq0a7w1YghtMzssYKtSwLw_fdaVyZpWzlNkIFMrw/edit?usp=sharing
- Department of Vermont Health Access Renewal Dashboard, accessed 7 August 2023: https://dvha.vermont.gov/unwinding/renewal-dashboard
- Health Insurance Options for Vermonters Affected by Flooding, DVHA Press Release, 3 August 2023: https://dvha.vermont.gov/news/health-insurance-options-vermonters-affected-flooding
- 2021 Vermont Household Health Insurance Survey, Vermont Department of Health, p.135 and 144. Link: https://www.healthvermont.gov/sites/default/files/documents/pdf/VT%20Household%20Health%20Insurance%20Survey%202021%20Report%205.6.22.pdf
- Thousands of Vermonters will lose Medicaid with end of Covid funding, Burlington Free Press, 9 February 2023. Link: https://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/money/2023/02/09/many-vermonters-will-lose-medicaid-coverage-as-covid-funding-dries-up/69854677007/