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September 17, 2013

After Feds Pull Funding, Vermont Health Co-op Folds

Fleischer.OliverThe Vermont Health Co-op is no more.

Four months after state regulators denied the nonprofit's application to sell health insurance on the forthcoming exchange, the federal government pulled its funding Monday and ordered it to close. The co-op's board subsequently voted to dissolve itself, CEO Christine Oliver said late that evening.

"Without the financial support of our federal partners, it will not be possible to offer Vermonters the member-owned and member-governed health insurance option that will be available to Americans in many other states," Oliver said in a written statement.

Founded 15 months ago, the co-op sought to provide a third option for Vermonters slated to buy health insurance through the federally mandated health insurance exchange come January. But the South Burlington-based nonprofit's plans were derailed in May when the state Department of Financial Regulation denied its application to participate in the exchange.

Continue reading "After Feds Pull Funding, Vermont Health Co-op Folds" »

September 04, 2013

This Week's Issue: Bike Thefts, Crowded Sidewalks and Harry Potter


This week's Art Hop issue is on newsstands now. But fear not, news junkies! We've got the usual bunch of news and politics, too. Here's what you'll find:

August 29, 2013

"Bloom Season" Is Upon Us

AlgaeFall is right around the corner. But until the leaves turn red and gold, people around Lake Champlain must contend with changing colors of a different sort: For the last two weeks, pea-green blooms of algae have been popping up in Missisquoi, St. Albans and Malletts bays.

“Mid-August through September is, unfortunately, what we in the business call ‘bloom season,’” says James Ehlers, executive director of the nonprofit Lake Champlain International.

Scientists have determined that early summer rain brings nutrients like phosphorus into the lake, and long stretches of sunlight facilitate photosynthesis, resulting in the pea-green film, Ehlers explains. 

“It’s not unlike April showers bring May flowers,” he says.

Continue reading ""Bloom Season" Is Upon Us" »

August 26, 2013

Grand Isle Voters Say No to Chloramine in Water and Yes to a Costlier Alternative

Local-chloramineVermonters who oppose the use of chloramine, a chemical disinfectant added to public water supplies to reduce potentially cancer-causing agents, scored a rare victory last week in Grand Isle County. On Aug. 20, residents of the Grand Isle Consolidated Water District voted 94 to 24 in favor of an $809,000 bond to construct a costlier but ultimately more effective and less controversial water-filtration system.

In recent years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has required public water systems throughout the country to comply with stricter standards on the presence of so-called disinfection byproducts, which can be harmful to human health. Disinfection byproducts have been linked to certain cancers as well as reproductive and developmental disorders. The EPA has recommended that public water systems switch to chloramine, a combination of chlorine and ammonia, as the "best available technology" for controlling those disinfection byproducts.

Continue reading "Grand Isle Voters Say No to Chloramine in Water and Yes to a Costlier Alternative" »

August 21, 2013

This Week's Issue: Fixing Shabby Burlington Apartments; New Cops Learn How Not to Be Racist

Happy Hump Day, everyone. Here's what you'll find in this week's Seven Days:

Grab this week's issue in print, online or on the iOS app.

August 14, 2013

This Week's Issue: Drones, Vaginas and Cholera

CoverYou know the drill — another Wednesday, another Seven Days. No epic website outages here today (knock on wood!), so here are the news and politics stories you can read right now:

Grab it on newsstands, online or on the app.

August 07, 2013

This Week's Issue: Seven Days Writers Finally Go Outside

080713-coverToday's Seven Days is worth picking up just to see our writers in adorable little cartoon form on the cover, as illustrated by Rob Donnelly (right). But if you're looking for actual news, here's what we've got this week:

Pick up your copy in print, online or on our app. And BTW, Northeast Kingdom-ites, did you know we now distribute more papers than ever in your neck of the woods?

June 19, 2013

Fleischer Steps Aside in Shake-Up at Vermont Health CO-OP

618-LM-healthcoopThe founder of the Vermont Health CO-OP is stepping down as board chair as part of an effort to convince skeptical state regulators to reconsider a recent decision denying the CO-OP a license to sell insurance.

Mitchell Fleischer, the CEO of private insurance and investment firm Fleischer Jacobs Group, says he's ceding his position to minimize distractions as the federally funded CO-OP tries to bounce back from a scalding decision issued by the Department of Financial Regulation last month that accused the fledgling CO-OP of mismanagement and financial instability.

In that decision, DFR commissioner Susan Donegan rejected the CO-OP's application to sell insurance on the federally mandated health care exchange set to launch in January. Using federal funds allocated by "Obamacare," the CO-OP would offer a member-owned alternative to the only two companies currently licensed to sell insurance on the exchange: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont and MVP. 

For now, those plans are on hold. Donegan has said the CO-OP has two choices — submit a new application for licensure, or appeal DFR's decision to the Vermont Supreme Court. Neither could realistically happen quickly enough to let the CO-OP join the health care exchange this year. So the CO-OP's leaders are banking on a third approach: convince Donegan to reopen her decision. 

But the CO-OP needs to make significant changes to have any chance of winning over Donegan. The questions CEO Christine Oliver and Fleischer (pictured) found themselves asking themselves, Fleischer says, boiled down to: "What can we fix? ... And can we get all of this done in the next month?"

Fleischer's resignation — which came officially on June 13 — is part of that plan.

Continue reading "Fleischer Steps Aside in Shake-Up at Vermont Health CO-OP" »

June 12, 2013

This Week's Issue: Parks, Prostitution, PATRIOTs and Pipes

Cover061213In this week's wood pulp-and-ink edition of Seven Days:

April 15, 2013

The Week Ahead: April 15-21, 2013

The Week AheadPay your taxes!

Here's what's happening in Vermont news and politics this week. Got a newsworthy event for next week's calendar? Email by Friday to submit.

Monday, April 15

  • At 10 a.m., Burlington bigwigs (mayor, police chief) and law enforcement will hold a press conference at the U.S. Attorney's office in Burlington on the "heroin epidemic," which has rather suddenly replaced prescription opiates as the scourge of Vermont. 
  • That whole assault-weapons ban in Burlington thing? The city council's charter change committee takes it up today. At the very convenient time of 11:30 a.m. in city hall.
  • Vermont's health care reform is important — but damn confusing. Hear Mark Larson, director of the Office of Health Care Access, explain it live at 5:25 on Channel 17.

Rest of the week after the break...

Continue reading "The Week Ahead: April 15-21, 2013" »

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