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Legislative Update 4-8-19

April 06, 2019
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Last Week

Mental Health Facilities: The Department of Mental Health presented its plan for a 16-bed secure residential facility to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.  This facility would replace the Middlesex Therapeutic Community Residence and would likely be located in Central Vermont to take advantage of existing staff already working at the Middlesex facility.  The proposed secure residential facility would serve individuals who no longer need hospital-level care, but continue to need treatment in a secure setting. 
 
The Department of Mental Health also presented information on publicly-funded housing with mental health services for individuals in the mental health system of care.  Among other things, the report points out the lack of housing and support services in Essex, Caledonia and Orleans counties and recommends focusing on maximizing housing subsidies and pairing mental health and other services with housing.
 
Accountable Care Organizations: OneCare Vermont presented to the House Health Care Committee and discussed its $37.25 million in investments to Vermont’s delivery system.  These investments are largely funded by hospitals and include investments in primary care, Support and Services at Home (SASH) and care coordination with Home Health Agencies and Designated Agencies. 
 
Workforce: Following up on VAHHS testimony last week, Vermont Talent Pipeline Management and the Vermont Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Network presented on health care workforce needs in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.  The Vermont Talent Pipeline forecasted over 3900 vacancies in nursing careers by 2020.  Recommendations from the presenters included investment in early pipeline development work, investment in education and developing additional tools to educational loan repayment.   
 

This Week

Support for Mental Health Supervision in Emergency Departments: The Appropriations Committee is examining funding for supervision of individuals in emergency departments who have the legal status of being in the care and custody of the Commissioner of Mental Health. The Department of Mental Health came out with a report on this issue last week.  The report acknowledges that hospitals need assistance in this area and discusses shifting Department of Mental Health funding from sheriffs to hospitals through grants or per diem payments to emergency departments in hospitals that do not have an attached inpatient psychiatric unit. 
 
Rural Task Force: Senate Health and Welfare will be discussing and possibly voting on H. 528, a bill creating a Rural Health Services Task Force.  VAHHS anticipates that the Department of Health will testify on its rural health efforts and request a role in the task force.

Workforce Development: The Senate Health and Welfare Committee will hear from Bi-State Primary Care on workforce needs and recommendations, including reducing administrative burdens for practicing health care providers and programs to help health care providers approaching retirement who may want a different type of work or different hours shift within the sector. 
 
Workforce Development: The Senate Health and Welfare Committee will hear from Bi-State Primary Care on workforce needs and recommendations, including reducing administrative burdens for practicing health care providers and programs to help health care providers approaching retirement who may want a different type of work or different hours shift within the sector.