Legislative Update 3/1/21

by Devon Green
VAHHS Vice President of Government Relations
Last Week
State COVID Relief Bill: The House advanced H.315, a $62 million mini-coronavirus relief fund (CRF) bill with the following:
  • $5 million to mental health needs
  • $500,000 to address health care disparities by enhancing data collection
  • $350,000 each to the Association of Africans Living in Vermont (AALV) and VT Refugee Resettlement Program (USCRI) 
The House Appropriations Committee did not include the House Health Care Committee’s request of $5 million in funding to expand the health care workforce, including $3 million in nurse and physician scholarships. This will likely go into the FY’22 budget.
Interstate Nurse Compact: The Senate Health and Welfare Committee advanced S.48, a bill that would allow Vermont to enter the Interstate Nurse Compact. VAHHS supports efforts to streamline licensing for nurses as a means of strengthening Vermont’s workforce.
Stem Cell Legislation: The Senate Health and Welfare Committee voted in favor of S.22, a bill that would require health care practitioners who administer stem cell products that are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to provide notice of this fact to their patients and in their advertisements, and to provide a disclosure form to each patient prior to administering any non-FDA-approved stem cell product. VAHHS supports this bill.  
Inpatient Mental Health: The House Health Care Committee passed H.46. The bill requires the following:
  • voluntary patient consent to the understanding that inpatient treatment may be on a locked unit 
  • DMH to collect information and report on data regarding the use of emergency involuntary procedures for patients admitted to a psychiatric unit regardless of whether the patient is under the care and custody of the DMH commissioner.
  • Reporting of emergency room delays for patients seeking mental health care in hospital settings until 2023