Legislative Update 4.3.23


Devon Green, Vice President of Government Relations
A lot happened last week, so let’s dive in:
Regulatory Flexibilities: The governor signed the COVID regulatory flexibilities bill, H.411, into law last week just shy of the March 31st deadline. VAHHS appreciates the quick work on this bill from the legislature and the governor’s office. The biggest takeaway is that out-of-state health care providers who are in good standing and working in a health care facility are deemed licensed after registering with the licensure entity.
The exception is if there is a provisional license offered by the Office of Professional Regulation. The Office of Professional Regulation currently provides provisional licenses for nurses. For RN and International Nurse questions, please call 802-828-2396. For LPN, LNA, MNA and APRN questions, please call 802-828-1503.
Workplace Violence: A thank you is not enough for Alison Davis, MD, Rutland Regional Medical Center, Jill Maynard, RN, Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, Patricia Johnson, RN, Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, and Ryan Sexton, MD, Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital. These health care providers relayed their experience with workplace violence for the House Judiciary Committee last week, and VAHHS appreciates how they and all the other health care providers are able to come forward with their stories to support S.36.
Workforce: The House-passed budget includes many health care workforce initiatives, including:
  • $3 million towards the Vermont Nursing Forgivable Loan Incentive Program.
  • $3.8 million to the Vermont State Colleges to provide critical occupation scholarships (includes nursing, mental health counseling, and dental hygienists)
  • $1 million to Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) to establish a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Forgivable Loan Incentive Program
  • $100,000 to VSAC to establish a Dental Hygienist Forgivable Loan Incentive Program.
  • $1 million to provide Emergency Medical Services training.
  • $170,000 to Agency of Human Services (AHS) for the three-year limited-service health care workforce coordinator position
Budget: Other items in the budget include:
  • $10.1 million to expand the Blueprint for Health Hub and Spoke program with emphasis on mental health and pediatrics
  • $10 million to continue to address the emergent and exigent circumstances impacting health care providers following the COVID-19 pandemic
  • $763,000 to increase rates for primary care to 110% of Medicare
  • $1.65 million to increase rates for specialty care by 3.8%.
Forensic System of Care:  The Senate passed S.89, which creates a 9-bed outpatient residential facility as part of the Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital, and S.91, which decouples competency and sanity evaluations and requires the Department of Mental Health to determine whether the recommend competency restoration.
Hospital Lien: The Senate Judiciary Committee passed S.79, which instructs hospitals to bill accident liability insurers first before placing a lien on patients, with some exceptions for deductibles and coinsurance.