Legislative Update 4.25.22



Devon Green,
VP of Government Relations
There’s a saying in negotiations along the lines of “a good compromise leaves everyone unhappy.” Last week was full of tense negotiations, particularly around the health care reform bill, S.285. While everyone is walking away from that bill sufficiently unhappy, I was struck by what a joy it was to sit in-person around a table for the first time in over two years to hash things out. We’ve accomplished amazing things remotely, but nothing quite compares to the flow of ideas that happens when you’re face-to-face.
Workforce: The Senate Health and Welfare Committee recommended the following changes to H.703, the health care workforce bill:
  • $1 million over two years instead of $3 million over three years to increase nurse faculty pay
  • Nurse preceptor incentives reduced from $2.4 million to $1.4 million
  • Nursing pipeline grants reduced from $3 million to $2 million
  • Nurse and physician’s assistant loan program expanded to include dental hygienists, medical technicians, primary care physicians, child psychiatrists, surgeons and other fields experiencing workforce shortages. Increases funding from the house-passed $2 million to $3 million
  • Increased nurse faculty incentives from $500,000 to $1 million with $500,000 each going to forgivable loans and loan repayment
The Senate Economic Development Committee will continue to work on the bill and vote it out this week.
Health Care Reform: For the second time this session, a legislator compared passing a bill to the long painful process of giving birth as the House Health Care Committee advanced S.285, the health care reform bill. Amidst the discussion, AHS announced that the federal government intends to grant a two-year extension under the existing All-Payer Model agreement. The bill now includes the following:
  • $1.4 million to the Agency of Human Services to work on value-based payments for the next iteration of the All-Payer Model and report back to the legislature in January
  • $3.6 million for the Green Mountain Care Board to report back on the following in January:
  • Developing value-based payments for hospitals, including:
  • Determining how to incorporate value-based payments into the hospital budget process
  • Assessing the impacts of regulatory processes on the financial sustainability of Vermont’s hospitals
  • Plan for an engagement process around hospital sustainability
Mental Health: The House Health Care Committee advanced S.195, which requires the Department of Mental Health to help develop a statewide peer support specialist certification program. The Department of Mental Health must report back with its recommendations by December 15.