Health care snafus stifle signups
by Mike Eldred
Nov 26, 2013 | 2099 views | 0 0 comments | 88 88 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DOVER- While users of Vermont’s Health Connect website may be having more success than those using the national site, Dover municipal employees have found a glitch in the system that is preventing them from purchasing coverage for their families.

At Tuesday evening’s selectboard meeting, interim administrator Jeanette Eckert told board members she’s been in contact with state officials on a daily basis in an attempt to iron out a series of problems she and other town employees have had with the site.

This week, she said, she finally made some progress. “I was able to enroll, and I received confirmation,” she said. “But my husband is still in limbo.”

Eckert explained that the original roster the town submitted to the state listed only the employees - no information for dependents was requested by the state.

However, when employees went online to sign up, the webforms had no provision for taking dependent information.

Selectboard chair Randy Terk asked if the state had offered any hope of a solution.

“They think it’s something they can do at their end,” Eckert said. “But I recommend that all employees fill out their application as soon as possible.”

Eckert said she could help employees with the application process, and had already guided several through the process with success. “I know it like the back of my hand by now.”

“If it were me, any way you could register, even if it’s just you and not your spouse, I would do that,” said Terk. “The last thing you want is to not be listed on the exchange. Once you’ve done that, whatever happens, I would think (the state) bears some responsibility.”

Although the state has extended deadlines and allowed individuals and employees to extend their current insurance until March, Terk said the selectboard would stick with their decision to fund employees’ health insurance through Vermont Health Connect. “We spent a lot of time with employees and at meetings, and I see no reason to reopen the matter. The most important thing is to make sure insurance for employees doesn’t lapse.”

Eckert agreed. “Health Connect has assured me that we’re almost there, and to change now would just (prolong the problem).”

In other matters, the board approved a list of 36 roads to be opened to snowmobile traffic for the winter. Board member Tom Baltrus, also a board member of the Deerfield Valley Stumpjumpers , noted that the roads are only open to allow access between trails. “If you’re riding on the road and can’t pass the red-face test that you’re headed for a trail, you’re in the wrong.”

The board also voted to put the contract for cleaning of town offices out to bid after the current contract expires.

Board members said they hope the bidding process will help secure a lower price. They hope to have bids by their December 3 meeting.

In economic development discussions, director Ken Black said the third-quarter 1% local option tax revenue is up. “We got $77,643, the highest third quarter we’ve had since we started by about $2,000,” he said. “Not a lot, but it’s trending up.”

Black said meals and rooms were “pretty well flat,” but the revenue from sales was up significantly.

“I would think that would be an indication of business in the valley,” said Terk.

“Absolutely,” Black said. “The first quarter is usually our best; we’ll see what the fourth quarter brings in a few months.”

In other economic development news, the Valley Trail and Dover Park are now on Google Maps. “It works great. It will be a great thing for folks to use on their iPhones or tablets.”
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