Legislative Update 4.18.22


Devon Green, VP of Government Relations
Senate Appropriations beat expectations by voting the budget out on Friday, which signals that the session will go at a frenetic pace until the expected adjournment date of May 6.
Health Care Reform: A coalition of health care provider associations, including VAHHS, testified in House Health Care last week against S.285, a bill that provides $4.45 million to the Green Mountain Care Board and $550,000 to the Agency of Human Services to develop alternative payment models, including hospital global budgets, and lead a community process on the sustainability of the hospital and health care system. VAHHS testified that the new payment models presented would not address the more immediate and critical issues of workforce, mental health, and patients who are ready for discharge but do not have access to long term care services, and funding is better invested in those areas. The coalition highlighted that it does support the work of the All-Payer Model and views this as the vehicle for change. The committee will take up the bill again this week.
Workforce: The Senate Economic Development Committee considered moving the nurse and physician assistant loan repayment program to the Area Health Education Centers Program (AHEC), and will continue to work on the workforce bill, H.703, this week.
Mental Health: It looks like the version of the budget passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee includes $500,000 to reimburse emergency departments for patients who are waiting for more than a day for inpatient psychiatric care. Typically, emergency departments get one payment because patients normally stay for a few hours. This new Medicaid rate reflects the intensity of our mental health crisis and the need for systemic change.