Legislative Update 4.4.22


Devon Green, VP of Government Relations
Free-Standing Birth Centers: The Senate passed S.204, licensure of freestanding birth centers. Sen. Hardy noted that, like many births, it was a long and painful process. The point of contention was whether birth units should be required to go through a Certificate of Need process. As passed, the bill includes freestanding birth centers in the Certificate of Need process, but directs the Green Mountain Care Board to conduct a needs assessment and make recommendations by April 1, 2023.
Wait Times Report: The Director of Health Care Reform and the Department of Financial Regulation presented its Health Services Wait Times Report to both health care committees. The Department of Financial Regulation said it would continue to collect data on the issue. The Green Mountain Care Board is also collecting data on this issue through its hospital budget process. 
Mental Health: The House Health Care Committee heard from witnesses on S.195, which sets up a process for developing a statewide certification program for peer support specialists. The Office of Professional Regulation would like to review the regulation of peer support services and potentially have greater regulatory oversight.  
Cybersecurity: In examining current cyber security issues, the House Energy and Technology Committee heard from the University of Vermont Health Network about its ransomware attack a year and a half ago. While there was no data breach or ransom paid, recovering from the attack took a considerable amount of time. Lessons learned include:
  • Cybersecurity is a top priority for the entire organization
  • Ensure downtime procedures cover extended downtimes
  • Cyberattack recovery is an “all hands” effort—not just the IT department
  • Cost and coverage of cyber insurance is an ongoing challenge
Prescription Drugs: The Senate Health and Welfare Committee heard an introduction to S.242, a bill that provides quality and safety protections for sending prescription drugs from specialty pharmacies directly to health care organizations, which is called “white bagging,” as well as the practice of sending specialty medications directly to patient homes, which is called “brown bagging.” The committee will review this issue in conjunction with H.353, the pharmacy benefit manager bill.