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Legislative Update 3-18-19

March 17, 2019

Last Week

Crossover has ended!  We’ll have a full wrap up of what is moving and not moving next week after the money committees get their bills out.  In the meantime, here is a summary of the latest:

Rural Health Bill: The House Health Care Committee voted out a bill creating a Rural Health Services Task Force.  The task force will identify ways to sustain Vermont’s rural health care system and ensure it provides access to affordable high-quality health care services with an emphasis on the role of rural.  The task force will look at Vermont’s rural health care system’s financial, administrative, and workforce barriers.  Members of the task force include the Secretary of Human Services, the Chair of the Green Mountain Care Board, the Chief Health Care Advocate, two rural hospitals, and several other health and mental health professional representatives.  VAHHS appreciates the House Health Care committee’s focus on sustaining and fortifying Vermont’s rural health system and looks forward to working with committee members and other groups on this critical issue.

Workforce Bill:  The House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development passed out a workforce development bill that includes requiring a report from the Office of Professional Regulation on the barriers to recruitment and retention of nurse educators.

Childhood Obesity Bill: The Senate Health and Welfare Committee passed S.141, which requires restaurants serving children’s meals to serve water, milk, or fruit juice as the default beverage while still allowing for customers to request other beverages, such as soda.  VAHHS spoke in support of this bill and supports efforts to promote healthy choices for children.

Primary Care Study: The Senate Health and Welfare Committee passed out S.53, a study to compare Vermont’s spending on primary care services compared to other states’ spending; the trajectory of primary care spending under the All-Payer Model; and the effect of increases in primary care spending on access, quality, and current efforts under the All-Payer Model. 

ACO Reporting: Senate Health and Welfare passed out S.7, a bill requiring reporting on integration of social services into Vermont’s accountable care organizations.


This Week

This is the week for the money bills to pass out of their committees and for other committees to gear up and get ready for what they will be working on in the second half of the session.  A couple of things we’ll be watching this week:

Bill back: Last week, the House Ways and Means Committee voted down the Administration’s proposal to shift a portion of their share of funding for the Green Mountain Care Board onto hospitals and insurers through changing the bill back formula.  This came after House Health Care wrote a memo that was not in support the Administration’s proposal.  With lack of support for the proposal from two committees, House Appropriations was not inclined to shift the funding onto hospitals and health insurers.  We will be watching Appropriations to see what they do next with this issue.

Individual Mandate and Market Stabilization: House Health Care passed H.524, a Market Stabilization bill that includes state penalties to replace the defunding of federal individual penalties for the individual health insurance mandate. 

Secure Recovery Residence Proposal:  The House Health Care Committee will be hearing about proposals for secure residential mental health facilities from the Department of Mental Health and Rutland Regional Medical Center.  

Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Mental Health Workforce: Al Gobeille, Secretary of Human Services and Tricia Coates of Vermont State Colleges will be testifying on substance use disorder treatment and mental health workforce.


Devon Green, Vice President of Government Relations