Thurs, Feb 9 at 1pm
Thurs, Feb 16 at 1pm
89 Main St, 2nd Floor, Montpelier

Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia: Effective Communication Strategies for Caregivers 
hosted by Brattleboro Area Hospice and VT Alzheimer's Association
Thurs, Feb 9, 5:30pm
30 Terrace St, Brattleboro
Link to additional info
hosted by National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization 
Thurs, Feb 9, 2-3pm
Complimentary Webinar
Link to additional info
a Pre-Valentine's Fundraising Event for Lamoille Home Health & Hospice  
Fri, Feb 10, 4-7pm
Haymaker Card & Gift Gallery, Morrisville
Link to additional info
This week, I had the privilege to testify in front of the House Health Care Committee about the VNAs of Vermont. Many legislators on this year's committee are either new to the committee or new to the legislature. During the early weeks of the session, the committee chair invited a variety of witnesses to help provide an overview of Vermont's health care system. My approach to the testimony was to share what I have been most struck by in my own transition from working for hospitals to working for VNAs: the autonomy and independence required of the VNA workforce; the essential role VNAs play in primary care; and the depth and breadth of the VNA experience with treating the whole person long before "patient-centered care" became a health care reform catch phrase. I expect we will return to some of these themes as we develop new opportunities to tell the VNA story.
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Thank you to those of you who reached out to me over the last few weeks with feedback on the newsletter. Please keep your feedback coming to In the coming weeks, look for "spotlights" on the incredible work our members are doing.

Jill Mazza Olson
The biggest news of the week was the Governor's budget address on Tuesday. The arc of each legislative session is shaped by the budget, which always ends when a budget agreement is reached by the House and the Senate. Thus, the release of any Administration's budget marks a "beginning" of sorts; the time when the issues that will dominate the session start to come into focus. While news media coverage was largely focused on the Administration's education proposals, like all state budgets, this one included some health care proposals.

Most significant to providers, the budget includes no reimbursement increases for any provider group - and proposes a $1.7 million cut to hospitals' so-called "disproportionate share" (DSH) payments. The Medicaid budget does fund expected increases in Medicaid "caseload." Given that Medicaid pays less than the cost of care, this is of little help to providers. Serving more Vermonters who are insured by Medicaid unfortunately means losing more money. Losses from underpayments far exceed any potential "economies of scale" that might come from serving more individuals.
CMS Considers Changes to Home Health Star Ratings

On January 20, 2017, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) held a Special Open Door Forum call to announce changes under consideration to the home health Star Ratings. CMS is considering removing the measure: Influenza Immunization Received for Current Flu Season (based on assessment data from the Outcome and Assessment Information Set [OASIS]) and adding the claims-based measure: Emergency Department (ED) Use without Hospitalization.

NAHC/HAA Urges its Members to Provide Feedback for 2017 Legislative and Regulatory Priorities

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), along with its affiliate the Hospice Association of America (HAA), is soliciting member and advocate input regarding the most significant legislative and regulatory priorities for the home care and hospice community. NAHC will use these priorities to guide its legislative and regulatory advocacy during the March on Washington and throughout 2017. Three online questionnaires are now available to allow home care and hospice organizations, as well as other interested parties, to provide their input. The questionnaires will only be available through Friday, February 3, 2017. Each agency is allowed only one submission.

The questionnaires include:

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