Health Care Advocates Refuse To Give Up Fight Against Exchange Board
(Updated 12:56 p.m.) Members of the Health Insurance Exchange Board of Directors were again greeted by protesters Thursday morning as they began their meeting at the state Capitol.
With Band-Aids over their mouths protesters stood in the back of the room holding up a sign that spelled out “Consumers.”
The protesters feel consumers and small businesses, who will have to purchase insurance through the exchange in 2014, have been silenced because they don’t believe any of the 11 voting members represent their interests.
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who co-chairs the Insurance Exchange Board, greeted the protesters as she walked into the meeting room Thursday. The protesters have become a familiar sight and Karen Schuessler, director of Citizens for Economic Opportunity, said they plan to continue their demonstrations.
“We just want them to hear our message,“ Schuessler said. “Individuals and businesses do need to be represented.“
The protesters didn’t disrupt the presentation by the marketing firm of Mintz and Hoke, they just stood silently holding their signs in the back of the room. Last October, protesters made a scene by standing up with their signs in front of a projection screen in the middle of a PowerPoint presentation.
Wyman has previously said advocates have the ability to go to the legislature and ask them to add more members to the board.
“The governor and I are very aware of these concerns, and as we have stated before will support any proposed legislation to add members to the board,” Wyman said in a statement Thursday.
“I am fully confident that the work being done by the Exchange will result in quality insurance coverage at a price that is fair to consumers, medical providers and insurers,” she added.
The presentation from Mintz and Hoke Thursday morning was about how to include all the stakeholders in the conversations leading up to the creation of the Insurance Exchange.
“It’s about building consensus at the very beginning,” a representative of the marketing firm said.
Wyman echoed the statement Thursday reiterating how “It’s very important to include everyone in the decision making process.”
But the health care advocates still feel excluded.
Schuessler said they are making their case to lawmakers and will push for the addition of two more members, one who represents consumers and one who represents small businesses.
Schuessler said it’s a gross injustice that the Insurance Exchange was created to help individuals and small businesses purchase insurance yet they are not represented on the board.
Ocean Pellett of Waterford, one of the protesters Thursday, dropped by Wyman’s office to give her a handwritten note which said “Let Vicki Vote.”
State Health Care Advocate Vicki Veltri is currently one of the three non-voting members of the Insurance Exchange board.
The governor and legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle all made appointments to the board back in August.