Legislative Update 4-19-21

Last Week

Interstate Nurse Licensure Compact: The House Government Operations Committee took testimony on S.48. The Interstate Nurse Licensure Compact is an important health care workforce initiative and a key recommendation from the Rural Health Services Task Force 2020 Report.  Under the compact, nurses can apply for a license in one compact state and have access to all the other compact states without applying for separate licenses, which is an appealing option for new graduates. Maine and New Hampshire are currently compact states and New York and Massachusetts have bills pending in the legislature.

In addition to VAHHS, other supporters of the bill include the Office of Professional Regulation, Board of Nursing, American Nurses Association-VT Chapter, Organization of Nurse Leaders, and a coalition of health care provider organizations including the long-term care facilities, home health and hospice agencies, federally qualified health centers (FQHC) and others.

Forensic Care Working Group: VAHHS testified in favor of a working group proposed in S. 3 to explore forensic care options for individuals in need of mental health care who are involved in the justice system. The original bill requires a report from the working group in November, but VAHHS along with the Department of Mental Health and other supports would like to see more time and resources allocated to this group to provide more comprehensive analysis and recommendations.

Credit Card Payments to Health Care Providers by Insurers and Separating the Small Insurance Market: The House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development amended S.88 to provide health care providers with the option to affirmatively elect to accept reimbursement by credit card from an insurer. Health insurers cannot require health care providers to accept payment by credit card. 

In the same bill, the House Health Care Committee decoupled the small employer insurance market from the individual insurance market. Combining the small employer market (which is typically less expensive) with the individual market (which is typically more expensive) helps spread the cost of health insurance. Under the American Rescue Plan Act, however, the individual insurance market will temporarily receive a large increase in subsidies to make individual insurance more affordable, so decoupling the small insurance market may mean less of an increase in insurance rates. 

This Week

Health Care Reform: VAHHS will testify on S.120, a bill that creates a Health Care Affordability Committee consisting of six legislators to report back in January 2022 about opportunities to make health care more affordable and to consider the following issues:

  • Long-term trends in out-of-pocket costs
  • Efficacy of the All Payer Model in making health care more affordable for Vermonters
  • Whether Vermont’s rate of uninsured increased during COVID
  • Opportunities to decrease health care disparities
  • Opportunities to expand public option programs