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Legislative Update 2-4-19

February 01, 2019

Last Week:

This week continued with background and overviews of the health care system in legislative committees and included a number of mental health discussions.

Mental Health Advocacy Day: On Wednesday, Vermont Care Partners, NAMI Vermont and 40 co-sponsors, including VAHHS, advocated for mental health policies, and urged lawmakers to “Support Vermont Communities ~ Invest in Mental Health.” VAHHS testified in House Health Care and presented all the areas where VAHHS and hospitals are collecting data, creating partnerships, and developing opportunities to improve care and outcomes:

  • Data: Hospitals have been submitting inpatient data to VAHHS for over a year. We analyzed eight months of data and found that 3 percent of patients make up 40 percent of the time for hospital stays. It is worth looking further into these numbers to figure out what is being done right for 97 percent of patients and provide appropriate care for the small proportion of patients who have very long hospital stays.
  • Partnerships: Hospitals have been partnering with mental health providers to improve care across the mental health care continuum. Some hospitals have embedded mental health providers from Designated Agencies in their emergency departments and have reduced emergency department visits. VAHHS and Vermont Care Partners have worked with the Department of Mental Health to bring hospitals and designated agencies together for statewide meetings on addressing long-stay patients.
  • Opportunities: Hospitals are participating in several promising pilot projects, including Telefriend, which reduced hospital readmissions by 80 percent in a small study in New Hampshire.

OneCare Vermont testified in Senate Health and Welfare on the “bold experiment” that is Vermont’s All-Payer Model: OneCare Vermont testified Friday about providing $37 million annually to existing community providers to shift Vermont’s health care system to be more patient-centered, coordinated, and focused on primary prevention.

Faces of ACEs: The VAHHS team attended a screening of the movie “The Faces of ACEs.” At the screening, Kimberly Pierce, a physician's assistant at the Health Center in Plainfield, spoke about Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs) screenings and how doing the screening and getting an ACEs score is a powerful first step in addressing the toxic stress experienced as a child that can lead to serious physical and mental health issues later in life. If you are interested in seeing The Faces of Aces, please contact VAHHs and we will put you in touch with Kimberly Pierce. 

Budget Adjustment Amendment: The house passed the FY 2019 budget adjustment bill this Thursday, which included a cut to the budget for Sheriff supervision of mental health patients in emergency departments as well as language to allow AHS to pursue the new Institutes for Mental Disease (IMD) waiver opportunity from CMS. (still checking the sheriff cut figures)

E-cigarettes: The house overwhelmingly passed H.47 this Friday, which subjects electronic cigarettes to wholesale tax as “other tobacco products” under current law.

Moratorium on home health agency certificates of need: The senate voted on Friday to extend the moratorium on home health agency certificates of need through January 1, 2022.

Next Week:

Sheriffs in Emergency Departments: VAHHS will be testifying in Senate Health and Welfare on the cut to funding for sheriffs in emergency departments. Now, with our emergency departments in crisis mode, is not the time to eliminate funding from these vital community resources. For more information, check out this recent VT Digger article.