VT Governor’s Budget Address

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin http://governor.vermont.gov delivered the budget http://governor.vermont.gov/sites/governor/files/Budget%Address%20printed%20version%201-15%20final.pdf. He expressed his thoughts on several issues involving healthcare.

First, the Governor wants Vermont to be the first state to move from the current fee-for-service system to one that pays providers for the quality outcomes they produce and the Governor wants to pursue an “all payer” waiver with the federal government.

Secondly, the Governor proposes to strengthen the Green Mountain Care Board www.greenmountaincare.org an independent board created to ensure that changes in the health system would improve quality while stabilizing costs.  He is asking the legislature to enhance the Board’s role as the central regulator of healthcare and give the Board the ability to open investigations into pressing issues and act when needed.

He also wants the Board to have budgetary and programmatic oversight of the Vermont Technology Leaders. (VTL) www.vitl.net. VITL is in place to assist healthcare providers in the state adopt and use health information technology and has been legislatively designated to operate the HIE for Vermont.

The Governor wants the state to invest in Vermont’s Blueprint for Health http://hcr.vermont.gov/blueprint an initiative working with stakeholders to implement a new health services model. The Blueprint’s medical homes and community health teams have effectively increased social services for the sickest and most needy Vermonters on Medicaid.

However, Blueprint is at risk since participating providers have not seen an increase in payments since it was launched. The Governor’s budget proposes a new $4.5 million appropriation and also supports home health organizations with an additional $1.25 million.

The Governor’s budget proposes to expand programs to enhance the work done by home and community providers and proposes an additional $500,000 that will draw down $5 million in federal match.

To help fix the state’s broken Medicaid reimbursement rates, the budget proposes investing $25 million starting January 1, 2016 that would provide a 50 percent increase to primary care providers and reduce the current Medicaid cost shift by half. The proposed budget would also commit nearly $30 million in FY16 to cover the nearly 20,000 people who now have insurance due to Vermont Health Connect and Medicaid expansions.

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