GOP wants Vermont firms hired to work on health website

The Vermont Republican Party is calling on the Shumlin administration to use in-state vendors to work on the troubled Vermont Health Connect website.

The GOP took aim at a contract with Benaissance, based in Omaha, Neb., a subcontractor for CGI that is being paid more than $1.4 million to process payments made through the exchange.

“The VTGOP has nothing against the Corn Husker state, but given the dismal job creation we’ve seen under Gov. Shumlin’s leadership … The very least Gov. Shumlin could do is guarantee to Vermonters that those processing jobs will be done by a business here in Vermont,” said state GOP chairman David Sunderland in a statement Tuesday.

Republicans aren’t the only ones concerned about outsourcing. Rep. Paul Poirier, an independent from Barre, raised similar concerns last week questioning why a Vermont firm hadn’t been hired to handle payments.

The outsourcing took on added significance given the backlog of people waiting for their payments to be processed. Trinka Kerr, the state’s health care advocate, told lawmakers it was taking as long as two weeks for some people’s checks to clear.

Checks mailed to the Williston address provided through the exchange are sent from there to Nebraska, processed and returned.

Decisions by contractors to subcontract out their work are subject to state approval. Mark Larson, commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access, told lawmakers that Benaissance was selected through a competitive bid process.

No Vermont companies responded to the state’s request for bids, Larson said.

Morgan True

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