Legislative Update 3.27.23


Devon Green, VP of Government Relations
In Vermont, for both weather and the legislature, March is in like a lion and out like a lion. Last week wrapped up the crossover deadline for money bills. We will have more details on what’s in and out of the FY ‘24 budget as we go through it this week, but rest assured everything will be moving pretty quickly from here on out. 
Workplace Violence: The workplace violence bill, S.36, passed the Senate last week with just one “no” vote. A huge thank you to all the senators who voted yes on the bill—we truly appreciate their support and desire to act on this issue. The House is immediately going to work on this bill with the House Judiciary Committee taking testimony this week.
COVID Flexibilities: This week’s nailbiter was H.411, the bill that extends our current COVID regulatory flexibilities, including temporary licensure of out-of-state health care providers in good standing. The flexibilities are set to expire under current law on March 31st. The Senate Health and Welfare Committee and the entire Senate acted quickly to pass out the bill. It is now safely in the hands of the governor, and will make the deadline. Thank you to Rep. Houghton and Sen. Lyons for guiding the bill through without sacrificing process.
EMS: The House Health Care Committee heard about an omnibus EMS bill, H.263, including:
  • Appropriate $20 million to the EMS Special Fund to help defray the costs of unreimbursed care and education
  • Reimbursement for patients who are provided care by EMS but are not transported
  • Medicaid reimbursement at 100% of Medicare
  • Study committee on regional coordination
Competency: The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced S.91, which makes changes to the process of competency to stand trial and pleading not guilty by reason of insanity. Among many changes, the bill proposes:
  • Requiring that a competency determination must be made before an insanity defense can be put forward
  • Requires the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living to make recommendations on whether Vermont should have a competency restoration program
Opioid Overdose Treatment and Prevention: The House Health Care Committee heard recommendations made by the Opioid Settlement Advisory Committee in the Governor’s FY24 proposed budget, including:
  • $2.2 million for outreach staff
  • $2 million for four additional opioid medication Hubs
  • $1.9 million for naloxone distribution
  • $200 thousand to increase Fentanyl Testing Strip distribution