Legislative Update 2.21.23


Devon Green, VP of Government Relations
Despite weather warm enough to keep the Capitol doors open earlier last week, the return to cold weather reminded us that the session is far from over. We’re hunkering down as bills pass out of committees and the House starts working on the FY 2024 budget in earnest.
Mental Health: Senate Appropriations removed $9.25 million dedicated to an adolescent inpatient psychiatric unit out of the FY 2023 Budget Adjustment Act (BAA). The proposal will be discussed for the FY 2024 budget after feasibility study results are released. The full Senate will likely pass the BAA out early next week.
The House Health Care Committee provided greater details on two bills they are considering for suicide prevention:
  • H.230: requires safe storage of firearms around children, information about suicide prevention services at dealer locations, and a 72-hour waiting period for firearms transfer
  • H.283: addresses suicide prevention services, such as dedicated funding for the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, a suicide fatality review team, and suicide prevention in schools
Long Term Care: A rate study of the Medicaid reimbursement rates paid for adult day, adult day rehabilitation, personal care, and homemaker services submitted by the Department of Vermont Health Access and the Department of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living estimated $30.9 million is needed to adequately staff and fund services.
Blueprint Mental Health and Expansion: The Executive Director of Blueprint for Health presented the House Health Care Committee with greater details on the Administration’s proposed pilot to further integrate mental health services into primary care, expand substance use disorder services at hubs, and expand support to families through the DULCE Program for 2 years with a $4.6 million per year investment from the state for a total of $10.5 million per year. Despite Blueprint services benefiting all patients regardless of payer, commercial insurers are not expected to contribute to the pilot. 
Dental: The House Health Care Committee heard from the Vermont Dental Society and the Health Care Advocate in support of the Administration’s proposal to increase Medicaid reimbursement to 75 percent of the commercial rate for dental care. Currently, the rate is 35 percent of usual and customary fees. The Vermont Dental Society presented evidence that increased reimbursement resulted in greater access to dental care.