Not happy
with VT Connect

Editor of the Reformer:

I hope this letter will strike a chord with many of your readers who are experiencing major difficulties trying to purchase health insurance through Vermont Health Connect. I won’t bore your readers with the trials and tribulations I have faced since Nov. 3, 2013, trying desperately to navigate this supposedly "easy" way for the average citizen to purchase health insurance. Suffice it to say that after almost three months I still do not have a policy with a claim number attached to it for submission of any services.

I wish to state for the record that my husband and I are part of the group of people who lost their health insurance under the Affordable Healthcare Act. We are a sole proprietor business that was purchasing our health insurance under a small group business plan. The premiums were expensive, but provided all necessary coverage for our medical needs. As of January 1st it all went away and we were forced to purchase through the exchange.

Enrollment was a nightmare. Waits on hold to speak to a representative were up to an hour long at a time. Information and instructions were given that were either incorrect or changed so frequently that by the next day they were obsolete. This is the reason behind my having sent three checks, thus far, for premiums to some processing center in Omaha, Nebraska. Contact today with my bank reveals that two of the checks have cleared my account, one on Jan. 13 and one on Jan. 22. The third check, the first one sent, seems to be permanently lost somewhere between here and Nebraska.

The first call to the VHC help center today ended after a 20-minute wait on hold with a short ring, a pick up, and "Darn it." The line then went dead. An immediate re-dial led to another 15 minutes on hold but, lo and behold, an actual person. This person accessed my account, verified that both of my checks had been received and processed by the Omaha contractor, and that my account was still "pending." She didn’t have a clue what the holdup was so she put me on hold and sent me to another department. The eligibility specialist who answered confirmed what the first had said and promised to look into it and get back to me. Guess what? I haven’t heard a peep from anyone.

So, the state has two months’ worth of my premiums in their bank account but I have no insurance. January is almost finished and all medical expenses have been paid for out of my own pocket with no estimate in sight as to when I might be able to file for reimbursement. My prescriptions at this point cannot be reimbursed because the time line set by the pharmacy has come and gone. How is this Affordable Care? I’m required by law to pay for health insurance that I cannot use because the "system" is broken and will not function. And the worse part: There doesn’t seem to be anyone to hold responsible.

Kathleen Hege,

Townshend, Jan. 24

On heroin, and more

Editor of the Reformer:

As a Vermont resident of 50 years with three great teenagers, I would like to thank the governor for making the right decision on those addicted to heavy drugs. I hope all other politicians will see this and be willing to face political suicide within this country.

I would only support the growing and selling of marijuana and help products in this state if it included a low tax. Therefore, all the money made does not return to the back alley drug sales. I hope people will learn the advantages of this system from Colorado and Washington.

In today’s society, it is harder for kids to get cigarettes and alcohol than it is for them to get marijuana and other harder drugs. We must remember the benefits marijuana has to offer. Now showing positive signs curing cancer within mice, we are faced with the question: Are the drug companies terrified of losing profits? Keep this in mind; this is a money game.

Look at the great financial gains for states willing to break federal law. Many of these laws need to change from the Stone Age to the new age. Forty years of failed policy has cost Vermont $154 million a year in prison costs. Would the feds like to start paying that bill for their mistakes?

If Vermont were to offer free health care, college and property taxes with the billions of revenue in the general fund, this would certainly attract young individuals to this state. Opposed to seeing them exit in search of full-time jobs in order to support their family. Also, we must invest in full-time teachers and quality schools. If we do not invest in great education and keep cutting school budgets, we will only pay for it with higher prison costs. As $54,000 per inmate, we either pay now or later.

True freedom is having the ability to think for oneself. I suggest putting 75 million unemployed to work around the world or a revolution will begin. Would this happen in the United State? We should start sharing the wealth, not just the 1 percent.

Paul Reis,

Bellows Falls, Jan. 24

Bill would leave
us defenseless

Editor of the Reformer:

I was just scanning the current bills in Montpelier and found, what I think, to be the most dangerous bill ever proposed in Vermont. Article 16 of Vermont’s Constitution, guarantees the people of Vermont the right (not privilege) of defending themselves and others.

Since 1791, Vermont has had a cherished right most other citizens of this nation never had. We call it "Constitutional Carry." Other states call it "Vermont Carry." This means Vermonters can legally carry a weapon (including a firearm or knife) in their travels through the state on their daily business. Criminals have known about this for two centuries. This is one of the reasons Vermont is such a nice, peaceful, tranquil state. To quote author Robert Heinlein, "An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life." To this end, thousands of Vermonters routinely carry on a daily basis.

Criminals know a large percentage of the Vermont population is neither scared, nor defenseless, but, which percentage? They are not about to test the waters.

Life is good in Vermont, unless this bill passes. It appears Senator Don Collins thinks that ought to change. S.178 proposes to gut the ability for parents to keep themselves and their children safe. Every day parents drop their children off, or pick them up, from school, the same parents who, as mentioned above, exercise their Constitutional right to protect themselves and loved ones.

S.178 will make law-abiding citizens immediate felons, complete with jail sentences, fines, confiscation of all their firearms, and the loss of that same Constitutional right, by simply dropping off their kid at school. As a side effect, this bill will prevent Vermonters from even leaving their homes while armed.

I’d hate to imagine what will happen when the mentally ill, who desire to make themselves into the next mainstream media rockstar "school shooter" are offered no deterrent? No one will be there to stop them, and they will know that, as law-abiding citizens are, exactly that, law-abiding.

Vermont law states that for there to be a crime, there has to be "intent." The intent of this legislation is very clear -- to undermine the Second Amendment in Vermont, any way possible, and to create a new air of "fear" that this state has never had to endure. I urge Senator Collins to rethink his proposal, and withdraw his bill for the good of all Vermonters.

Bob DePino,

Westminster West, Jan. 24

That was some typo

Editor of the Reformer:

In "Vermont, lover of snow, jealous of snowstorms elsewhere" (Jan. 23), the statement that Killington ski resort offers year-round skiing and snowboarding on 200 trails is unbelievable, Really unbelievable! Even from the Associated Press. You need to read these things before you print them. I think they recently celebrated 100 days of skiing this season, but that is something that could be checked. Don’t you think these kind of statements make it harder to believe other statements in your paper that might even be true? Just wondering how a statement like that came about and who would believe it.

Annie Kellam,

Putney, Jan. 24