Hi Pete and all, guess this will go to all VVBGA members ...

I have written to Wendy Sue of  NOFA  regarding our experience with Catamount, in response to your, Pete's, heatlh insurance question.  Catamount really is the only affordable employee health care option we have found, however one big downside is that when enrolled employees' payroll decreases significantly in the winter, they are required to seek unemployment to maintain health insurance coverage, as Catamount is 60% federally-funded.  We had not had any unemployment claims until this year and both were in response to this issue.  We ultimately will be paying the unemployment back through an increased rate.  This, on top of paying into the health care program, will now have to be factored into our pay scale.

I've written a letter to the appropriate folks in the State involved and copied to appropriate state reps and senators.  I received a response letter from the state health program stating the federally-funding issue.  Also Sen. Sara Kittell did call us to discuss our concerns.     

I'm not sure it is an issue that can be resolved at the state level.  It is however a concern for any employers with seasonal variation in employees, ie fruit and veg. farmers and the ski industry.   One option is to consider a salary approach for long term permanent employees, similar to what some schools do (not sure if that is how VT does it.)  Our employees do not seem fond of that idea.

Myself, I'm pushing for a single payer system and a preference for breaking the connection between health insurance and employment. 

Good luck.    
Jane Sorensen
River Berry Farm

----- Original Message -----
From: "Pete Johnson" <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 6:52:41 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern

Thanks to everyone who responded to my health insurance inquiry. It sparked lively discussion that basically ended with the conclusion that if you or your employees qualify for Catamount discounting based on your income, go that route. On another note, anyone have an accountant that they really like? Someone who knows farms and is aggressive and knowledgeable about tax avoidance (not evasion)? Please respond to [log in to unmask] Thanks

Pete's Greens at Craftsbury Village Farm
266 S. Craftsbury Rd, Craftsbury, Vermont 05826
802-586-2882, #7