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House Committee Tells Vermont It May Be Violating the ACA, Vermont Disagrees

A difference of opinion has cropped up between the state of Vermont and the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee...
July 10, 2013

A difference of opinion has cropped up between the state of Vermont and the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. At issue is a Vermont state law that says starting next year, individuals and businesses with up to 50 employees have to get their health insurance through the state exchange, called Vermont Health Connect, which is to be open for enrollment by Oct. 1.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee wrote on Friday to Mark Larson, commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access, to say it appeared that requiring enrollment in the exchange violated the federal law. The committee cited language in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that says nothing in it “can be construed to prohibit” health insurance companies from selling plans outside the exchange, or individuals and businesses from buying them. Vermont officials responded by pointing out the next paragraph in the law, to make the case that while the federal government promises not to bar health insurance outside exchanges, it specifies that states are free to take that step within their own borders.

This dust-up is an example of a clash of extremes: A Republican majority in the U.S. House, which has voted more than three dozen times to repeal the ACA — and been thwarted by a Senate controlled by Democrats — against a state whose governor and Legislature want to go further than the ACA, using its exchange as a springboard to set up as close as possible to a single-payer system starting in 2017.

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