Government & Politics

Report: Brock major player in Vermont Health Connect records requests

Republicans have quietly been reaping fodder about the troubled rollout of Vermont Health Connect, while less quietly critiquing the Shumlin administration’s handle on the situation.

Peter Hirschfeld of the Vermont Press Bureau reported Sunday that the 2012 Republican gubernatorial candidate and former state auditor, Randy Brock, filed roughly two-thirds of the 35 health care-related public records requests sent to the Shumlin administration since September.

Brock isn’t the only Republican operative probing for missteps on the part of the administration — Brady Toensing, vice chair of the state Republican party, and Darcie Johnston, director of the anti-single-payer group, Vermonters for Health Care Freedom and Brock’s campaign manager during the 2012 election, have also submitted requests.

Brock told Hirschfeld that the requests weren’t politically motivated, and Toensing, too, said that he was driven by personal concerns. But, he acknowledged, the information gleaned could play a role in the 2014 election.

According to Hirschfeld’s story, Johnston fed Rep. Mary Morrissey, R-Bennington, information about a privacy breach with the website, prompting the question that Mark Larson, commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access (DHVA), infamously dodged. Morrissey earlier told VTDigger she received the information from a constituent.

The material gleaned from the records requests has led to several news stories exposing internal struggles between the state and its primary IT vendor, CGI, and warnings outlined by Gartner Inc., a consulting firm hired to help oversee the rollout of Vermont Health Connect. News organizations have also issued multiple requests.

Johnston has been by far the most outspoken critic, frequently calling attention to the website’s failings. Republican party chair David Sunderland has weighed in on a regular basis as well.

In a letter sent to Shumlin and distributed to reporters on Monday, Sunderland made a very public request for information, demanding that the governor disclose “all overtime hours worked, number of temporary workers hired, and the total cost impact to state and federal taxpayers as a result of processing paper applications for health insurance.”

Sunderland also called on Shumlin to “personally guarantee Vermonters that everyone who has applied for health care coverage through Vermont Health Connect -- electronically or by paper application -- will have both coverage and plan information by January 1, 2014.”

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Alicia Freese

About Alicia

Alicia Freese began her journalism career as a reporter with VTDigger. She later spent five years covering local and state politics as a staff writer for the Seven Days newspaper. Her work has won awards from the New England Newspaper & Press Association, the Association of Alternative Newsmedia and the Vermont Press Association.


Follow Alicia on Twitter @aefreese

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