Vermont uses Democratic state rep’s brother to push state health exchange

By Yaël Ossowski | Watchdog.org

In the effort to promote the new health insurance exchange required by Obamacare, Vermont might have gone a little overboard.

In a promotional advertisement posted to its social media accounts, Vermont Health Connect, the state’s health insurance exchange, posted a testimonial featuring Brian D. McCarthy, a father of two from Swanton. Hepraises the exchange.

via Twitter

What the state health department forgot to mention is McCarthy is actually the brother of Democratic State Rep. Michael McCarthy of Saint Albans, an ardent supporter of the health-care exchange who has made it a big part of his platform for state office.

Testimonials from average citizens have been used by the Vermont Health Connect social media accounts, including Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, to convince Vermonters that the new health insurance exchange will be a favorable marketplace for those who did not previously have health insurance.

McCarthy’s quotation indicates his employer dropped the option of health-care coverage once the insurance exchanges required by the Affordable Care Act came into force last month.

“My employer decided to drop coverage with the knowledge that our employees will take advantage of subsidies directly through Vermont Health Connect,” Brian McCarthy says in his testimonial. The photo was also posted on Vermont Health Connect’s Twitter timeline.

The odd connection was first pointed out by an observant Tweeter on Tuesday.

In a similar story on health insurance testimonials making headlines Wednesday, the woman whose photo was used on the healthcare.gov website has reached out to ABC News in light of what she deems to be “cyber-bullying” by users online.

“I mean, I don’t know why people should hate me because it’s just a photo,” said “Adriana,” an American permanent resident originally from Colombia who posed for the free glamour shots for the Department of Health and Human Services.

“I didn’t design the website. I didn’t make it fail, so I don’t think they should have any reasons to hate me.”

McCarthy did not return calls or messages from Watchdog.org, but the state insurance exchange did have some comments.

“We are dedicated to ensuring that Vermonters understand the benefits of using Vermont Health Connect and we are sharing success stories so that Vermonters understand how health reforms may affect them in a positive way,” said Emily Yahr, spokeswoman for Vermont Health Connect. “Mr. McCarthy amongst many others has a genuine story to share.”

This article originally appeared on Watchdog.org.

Yaël Ossowski is an international consumer activist and writer. His writings and interviews have appeared in newspapers, magazines, and online outlets across the world in multiple languages. He is founder and editor of Devolution Review, deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center, and senior development officer for Students For Liberty. He was previously a national investigative reporter at Watchdog.org. He has a Master’s Degree in Philosophy, Politics, Economics (PPE) from the CEVRO Institute in Prague and a Bachelor's in Political Science from Concordia University, Montreal. He currently splits his time between Vienna, Austria and Charlotte, North Carolina.
Website https://yael.ca
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