From the President and CEO
We're excited about our Virtual Annual Meeting this week. Registration is still open for this free event, which will occur Thursday, September 24 at 3 p.m.

Joining us will be two very special visitors—Congressman Peter Welch and Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health, Dr. Mark Levine. They will address hospitals and health systems about our past, present and future response to COVID-19, as well as other topics.

The main focus of our meeting, however, will be health care equity. In the past few months, this important issue has become more evident and urgent as so many Vermonters and Americans call for racial justice. We know that health care is, sadly, another source of inequity and disparity. Our hope is that this annual meeting dialogue will jumpstart a vital conversation that can evolve over time. 

We have invited keynote speaker Maria Mercedes Avilla, PhD, an expert in health care equity training, who will help us imagine the first steps we need to achieve equity in Vermont's health care system. After her presentation, we will break up into smaller groups for discussion on how to actively change policies, procedures and actions to rid our system of racial, cultural and ethnic bias.

If you've never been to a VAHHS Annual Meeting, this short, accessible and free program is a great first taste. We hope you will join us.

Read the agenda here.

Register here.

This year, we will be using the Whova Web and mobile apps to do our registration. If you download the app or visit the Web app, you will be able to network with attendees and exhibitors before during and after the meeting and even schedule your own “Meet-ups” with peers and others who participate.

Thank you,
Jeff Tieman
VAHHS President and CEO
Legislative Update
If all goes as planned, this will be the last week of the 2019-2020 biennium. The FY 21 budget has passed both the House and the Senate, with the House to review some Senate amendments this week. The week may still hold a few surprises—any bill that does not pass now will have to start over from scratch in January—so, legislators may try to pass one or two last-minute surprises under the wire.      

Budget: The remainder of the FY 21 budget, H.969, has passed the Senate and has been sent back to the House with several amendments, including the expansion of hazard pay and capping out-of-pocket costs for insulin at $100 per month.

Hospital Price Transparency Bill:  On a vote of 7-4, the House Health Care Committee on Friday agreed to support a Senate amendment to H.795. The underlying bill creates a hospital price transparency dashboard by February 15, 2022 using the Vermont Health Care Uniform Reporting and Evaluation (VHCURES) data. The Senate Health and Welfare Committee amended the bill to have the Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB) make recommendations to the legislature on increasing hospital finances by September 1, 2021. The amendment addresses the confidentiality of information provided by hospitals regarding financial sustainability. In addition, the amendment requires the GMCB to work with the Department of Financial Regulation and the Agency of Human Services to identify ways to improve provider sustainability and increase equity in reimbursement amounts among providers. The legislation also clarifies Department of Financial Regulation emergency COVID-19 rulemaking authority to waive or limit cost-sharing requirements related to COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment, including tests for influenza, pneumonia, or other respiratory viruses when it is the primary or secondary diagnosis. 

Office of Professional Regulation Omnibus Bill: The omnibus Office of Professional Regulation (OPR) Bill passed both chambers and will be sent to the Governor for action. The bill, S.220, includes a provision to eliminate the requirement that clinical nurse educators have a Master’s Degree. The bill also expands the scope of practice of pharmacists to give them limited prescribing authority for some maintenance medications and potentially expand authority for influenza vaccine administration to other age groups including pediatrics. The legislation also allows pharmacists to administer tests for

Emergency Measures Legislation: The Senate passed S.354, a bill that establishes certain legal and regulatory flexibilities during declared states of emergency. The legislation establishes a process to extend a license to practice in a profession attached to the Office of Professional Regulation, deems out-of-state licensed health care professionals licensed in Vermont, allows retired health care professionals to practice under certain requirements, allows the Director of the Office of Professional Regulation to act on behalf of the boards attached to the office and allows the Executive Director of the Board of Medical Practice to act on behalf of its licensed providers.
In the News
How Vermont became a 'model for the country' in responding to the coronavirus pandemic
ABC News

It's mid-September, and Dr. Mark Levine is feeling really good. Vermont, where he serves as the state's health commissioner, has had the lowest rate of new COVID-19 cases and test positivity in the country for several weeks now. As of Wednesday, there were only three patients hospitalized in the state for the virus, and Vermont's last reported COVID-19 death was on July 28.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's foremost infectious disease expert, touted Vermont's COVID-19 response on Tuesday during a press briefing with Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, saying the state "should be the model for the country" on "opening up the economy in a safe and prudent way."
State to reboot all-payer model in response to warning from feds

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a warning notice to the state this week for failing to meet targets for the all-payer model, the state’s health care reform initiative. 

For two years in a row (2018 and 2019), the reform model has fallen woefully below goals for participation in the all-payer system. 

The all-payer model is an experiment that combines money from Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurance to fund health care services on a per-patient basis, rather than a fee for services rendered. The objective is to incentivize preventive care and to lower the growth of health care spending. OneCare Vermont, a pass-through, for-profit hospital and provider group, manages the all-payer system. 
Mt. Ascutney Hospital to Hold Online Rehabilitation Reunion Starting September 16
Vermont Business Magazine

Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center (MAHHC) has announced that it will hold a virtual Rehabilitation Reunion at, starting September 16. The Hospital’s annual event brings together former patients and caregivers of the Rehabilitation Center at Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center to reconnect and share their stories of success.

Starting on September 16, former and current patients are invited to visit the Hospital’s web page to see a video created just for them. The Hospital recognizes that current and former patients look forward to the annual in-person event. MAHHC wanted to find a way to mark National Rehabilitation Week and to be sure its patients know they are remembered, even though the in-person outdoor event is cancelled for this year. Instead, patients will hear from staff and patients on the video. They will also be able to join a dedicated online group that will be open through the end of September to let them engage with Hospital staff and share their stories.
People in the News
Mark Your Calendars
Achieving Equity in Health Care: A VAHHS Virtual Meeting
September 24 from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m.