A note from Jeff Tieman, President and CEO of VAHHS.
It’s Crossover Week, putting us at the midpoint of the legislative session. There’s no shortage of challenges coming our way as legislators address a state budget gap, a broken mental health system, and Medicaid DSH payments to name a few. Outside the health care zone, there’s education, immigration, job creation and regulation reform, all of which the Scott Administration and legislative leaders are also staring down. And of course, we haven’t even considered the implications of federal changes for our state.
In this mix are definite opportunities; for example, the Senate approved S.3, a bill that would helpfully narrow the duty-to-warn standard created by the Vermont Supreme Court’s Kuligoski decision. The bill would put back in place a clearer standard for health care providers to follow in discharging patients and giving appropriate post-discharge instructions.
More broadly in mental health, we have spoken in the legislature, in coalitions and with the media to explain the contribution hospitals make and the pressures they face to treat mental illness and manage ED crowding. These conversations are not easy, but we are working to help foster greater collaboration among all affected groups.
Along with members and coalition partners, VAHHS is also participating in the important stakeholder dialogues taking place to find resources and real solutions to confront our state’s mental health challenges.
Whether we are supporting a proposal like S.3, or opposing harmful Medicaid cuts, our voice matters—even more in the coming weeks. Legislators will be formalizing proposals and passing bills for the governor’s consideration and, as you well know, things move quickly in the final weeks of the legislative session.
During this process, legislators need to hear from VAHHS, from hospital leaders and from medical staffs and Board members about how our field is constantly leaning in — on payment reform, mental health, opioid addiction, on improving safety and wellness across Vermont. And legislators need us to be clear about the implications of the proposals they are considering, which could affect hospitals’ ability to provide the highest quality care to all who need it.
The next few weeks will be challenging. Most important is that we stay together to send a clear and consistent message to our patients and caregivers, regulators and lawmakers: that hospitals are pillars of the community, large employers and the economic engines and leaders moving to a value-based system to better serve Vermonters and contain costs.
Bottom line, we make big differences every day— inside and beyond hospital walls.
In this edition of Update, you will also find coverage of the American Health Care Act, the proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act. VAHHS stands with the American Hospital Association and partners across the state and around the country in opposing the bill as currently written.
Thank you in advance for your help and work in the weeks ahead. Buckle up and stay alert.