Vermont will become the third state to offer voter registration through its health insurance marketplace later this year.
Secretary of State Jim Condos said Monday that he has designated Vermont Health Connect as a voter registration agency. That means Vermonters will be able to register to vote at the same time they are buying insurance under the federal health overhaul law.
“Voting is a fundamental right, and as the chief elections officer in the state of Vermont, one of my top priorities is to promote the registration of all eligible voters,” Condos said.
California and New York are the other two states that have taken such steps.
Condos said his office will work with health officials to train workers and make sure the voter registration process is easy and effective. Mark Larson, commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access, praised the decision, as did Allen Gilbert, executive director of the Vermont ACLU.
“It shows the state’s commitment to voting rights.”
Open enrollment begins in October for the new insurance market, also known as an exchange, being set up under the federal law. Many will be eligible for tax credits or state subsidies to help cover the cost of that coverage, which is being offered by two insurance companies: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont and MVP Health Care.
State officials and private partners have been working to spread the word about the new law, and the state has been training so-called “navigators” to help enrollees with questions. Final rates for levels of coverage also have been set, ranging from $336.13 per month for MVP Health Care coverage for a single person willing to risk a 50 percent copay for hospital services, to about $1,670 per month for a family plan with a 10 percent copay.
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