With the dreary weather last week, it was easy to imagine that there is still a long way to go in the 2018 legislative session and yet, we are in the final weeks. The annual charity "adjournment pool" is open and Statehouse regulars are making guesses about exactly when the session will come to a close, but it will almost certainly not go beyond mid-May.
At this writing, we are closely watching the budget in the Senate and the minimum wage bill in the House. We continue to advocate for the Senate to agree to the House-approved 2 percent Medicaid rate increase for all VNA services, including home health, hospice and long-term care. We also support the efforts of the House Appropriations Committee to grapple with the impact of a minimum wage increase on the state budget, including the Medicaid program. The VNAs of Vermont have worked hard to provide fact-based projections of the Medicaid rate increase necessary tto provide significant wage increases to our home health aides, personal care attendants and other non-clinical positions. Since our last report on the minimum wage issue, the Governor has signaled that he plans to veto the bill, and House Republicans have announced that they believe they will be able to block a veto override. Whether or not the minimum wage bill becomes law, we will build on the attention the issue has brought to the relationship between Medicaid rates and wages in Medicaid programs.
A veto of the minimum wage bill is likely to be one of many. Among others, highly contentious bills include paid family leave, efficiency standards and an education finance proposal. The Governor has already vetoed S.103, a chemical regulation bill. This Wednesday's override vote on the bill in the House will demonstrate whether the Republican minority can uphold a Gubernatorial veto.