Legislative Update 6-15-20

by Devon Green
Vice President of Government Relations
On Thursday, the legislature announced its plans for the rest of the year. They will pass a budget for the first quarter of FY21 and “ready-to-pass” bills by June 26th. Lawmakers will then spend the remainder of June passing bills that appropriate Coronavirus Relief Funds, before recessing for July and the first half of August. The Legislature will return in mid-August to pass a budget for the remainder of FY21. Since the Legislature is recessing, and not adjourning, existing bills may be acted upon when the Legislature returns.
Last Week
Coronavirus Relief Fund: After Speaker Johnson allocated an initial tranche of $200 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds to health care and human services priorities, the House Health Care and Human Services Committees proposed $153 million package to establish the Health Care Provider Stabilization Grant Program. This needs-based grant program, administered by AHS, will help cover the increased costs and lost revenue of COVID-19 to Vermont’s health care system. The House Health Care Committee’s package also includes $9 million to fund existing population health programs, such as telehealth and care management. One million is allotted towards addressing health disparities related to COVID-19 and another million towards mental health.
PA Licensure: The House passed S.128, the PA licensure bill, with a some small technical changes. It heads to the Senate for concurrence on the amendment and then will make its way to the governor’s desk.
Miscellaneous Health Care Bill: The House passed H.960, a bill that requires commercial insurance companies to identify and eliminate prior authorization requirements that have no tangible benefit and requires commercial insurers to establish a “gold card” pilot program for 2022 that would exempt certain prior authorization programs for providers. It also gives the Green Mountain Care Board oversight of the Brattleboro Retreat’s budget.
This Week
Coronavirus Relief Funds: The Appropriations Committee will be working quickly to finalize the House’s proposal for Coronavirus Relief Funds, including the $153 million for the Health Care Provider Stabilization Grant Program.