- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 18, 2017

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - An apparent clerical error has thrown into question the November appointment of a Vermont health care regulator.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott said Tuesday that if questions about Robin Lunge’s appointment can’t be resolved, state law requires her to go through the formal nomination process before he could re-appoint her.

But if the Senate votes to approve Lunge’s appointment, Scott said would accept the vote.

“I don’t want this to turn into a partisan political fight, but we have to respect the process,” Scott said.

Scott’s general counsel, Jaye Pershing Johnson, said if legal and constitutional requirements were not met, decisions made by the board with Lunge as a member could be vulnerable to legal challenges.

In November, Scott’s Democratic predecessor, Gov. Peter Shumlin, appointed Lunge to a six-year term on the Green Mountain Care Board, which regulates the state’s $5 billion health care industry. Under state law, the governor has to officially notify the Vermont Senate of his appointment, but no one can find any paperwork usually used to convey such nominations.

The Senate still must vote on Lunge’s appointment.

Lunge is the longtime director of health care reform in the Shumlin administration who helped spearhead the former governor’s push for single-payer health care. She declined to comment Tuesday.

Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe said state law does not say what mechanism must be used to inform the administration about such appointments. He said everyone in the Senate knew within minutes of the appointment that Shumlin had nominated Lunge.

“Admittedly there is the wrinkle in the manner of communicating the appointment that didn’t follow what I would call the custom of sending a letter,” Ashe said.

Lunge’s appointment will be considered by the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare, Ashe said, followed by a vote by the full Senate.

“There’s no reason not to go forward with a confirmation vote,” Ashe said. “If the members of the Senate believe that the communication hasn’t been sufficient to meet the test, I mean, they can vote no.”

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