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Legislative Update 1-28-19

January 27, 2019

Last Week

Hospitals 101: VAHHS provided the Senate Health and Welfare committee with an overview of Vermont’s hospitals.  We emphasized the unique nature of our top-rated system—we are small, rural, and the only state with a 100 percent nonprofit hospital system. We also discussed both the contributions and challenges of hospitals in the areas of health care reform, Medicaid and mental health. 

In health care reform, hospitals are driving payment and delivery system reform under the All Payer Model, including $27 million over 2018 and 2019 towards primary care, Designated Agencies, home health agencies, Area Agencies on Aging, community health teams and Supports and Services at Home (SASH). At the same time, $209 million in transitional funding from the state and federal government has failed to materialize and the Green Mountain Care Board holds hospitals to rates that leave little room for community investment.

With the University of Vermont Health Network and Brattleboro Retreat’s expansion of inpatient psychiatric beds and Vermont’s hospitals hiring mental health technicians and building therapeutic spaces in their emergency departments, Vermont’s hospitals are contributing over $30 million towards mental health. 

Hospitals contribute enough revenue to Medicaid under the provider tax that their contribution, along with the federal match, pays for all Medicaid hospital services while allowing for an additional $50 million to go towards the Medicaid fund.  Hospitals have also suffered Medicaid cuts in the past two years totaling nearly $15 million.

Budget Address: In his budget address, Governor Scott, who has held a staunch anti-tax approach the last two years, surprised us with a proposal to extend the tobacco tax to e-cigarettes and vape products.  We are glad the governor acknowledges the detrimental effects of tobacco and hope he can also lend his support to raising the age limit on tobacco sales to age 21. 

Many were surprised by the minimal mention of health care in the Governor’s budget address. Nonetheless, we are still certain to see legislative action on our issues early and often.

This Week:

Mental Health Advocacy Day: On Wednesday, Vermont Care Partners and 41 co-sponsors will be advocating for mental health policies, and urging lawmakers about the importance to “Support Vermont Communities ~ Invest in Mental Health.”  VAHHS will be testifying that support is needed throughout the care continuum for mental health.

Screening of The Faces of ACEs At 10 a.m. on Friday, Senate Health and Welfare, the House Health Care Committee and the House Human Services Committee will hold a joint film screening of The Faces of ACEs with discussion to follow.  This 30-minute documentary explores the negative health effects of Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs). This event, as are all committee meetings, is open to the public, so all can attend.

Devon Green
Vice President of Government Relations, VAHHS