Legislative Update
by Devon Green, VP of Government Relations

Rise and Legislate!

When Rep. Fagan from the House Appropriations Committee asked me to quickly pull together all of our chief nursing officers to discuss workforce and increasing clinical education opportunities, I knew it was a tall order. Our chief nursing officers are working the floor right now due to staffing shortages. In the end, the only time that worked was 6:30 a.m. on Friday. Luckily, key legislators and several representatives from higher education accommodated our schedule, and our chief nursing officers had the opportunity to advocate for increasing resources towards the shared faculty model, preceptor pay, backfilling clinical positions that are used for instruction and livable stipends for nurses pursuing advanced degrees. 

Thank you to Rep. Peter Fagan from the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Anne Donahue from the House Health Care Committee, and Rep. Stephanie Jerome from the House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development, as well as several representatives from Vermont State Colleges, Norwich University and the University of Vermont for getting up so early to meet with us. Most importantly, thank you to our chief nursing officers and all our nurses throughout the state.

In the News
Vermont’s Covid hospitalizations drop below 70, but death toll remains high

The Vermont Department of Health reported that 66 people were hospitalized for Covid-19 as of Monday — the lowest number of patients since Jan. 2, when the Omicron variant began to cause a surge in hospital stays.

But the state also reported eight more deaths related to Covid, putting February on track to rival January in Vermont’s pandemic death toll.

Although the number of people hospitalized varies from day to day, seven-day trends also indicate that hospitalizations have fallen from their peak of over 100 in mid-January.
Hospitals are for healing, not guns
The Times Argus

The Vermont Legislature just passed S.30, an important piece of legislation that will ban guns in hospitals across all of Vermont and strengthen the background checking of folks buying guns, effectively closing what is known as the “Charleston Loophole.”

Along with most Vermonters I hope S.30 has your strong support.

I was a founding member of GunSense VT and am still a strong supporter. The Charleston loophole that led to the massacre of nine people in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015 needs to end here in Vermont.

A year after the Charleston shooting in 2016, I met three of the founders of GunSense South Carolina on the steps of the Mother Emanuel AME Church where that Dylan Roof shooting tragedy took place. We prayed and took some photos with banners of both organizations so they could use those photos in future public relations efforts they were planning. They felt, as I did, that showing solidarity in the efforts to passing strong background check legislation is critical.
Vt. panel releases recommendations on reducing hospital wait times

A major state investigation into long wait times shows some Vermonters are going months without the specialty health care they need.

Normally, there are three components to a functioning health care system -- quality of care, affordability, and adequate access. But for the past several years, access has not been keeping up with demand and the pandemic made that problem worse.

The report dug into systemic issues that force some Vermonters to wait for months to see some medical specialists and it contains input from stakeholders in an attempt to come up with solutions.
Vermont hospital administrators respond to state report on lengthy wait times

Officials from hospitals across Vermont are responding to a state report assessing wait times for care.

The Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems brought together hospital officials virtually Wednesday to discuss the report. The analysis began last fall after the online weekly Seven Days chronicled patients’ frustrations seeking appointments. Among the recommendations in the state report is that wait time data be regularly collected and made public.

Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems President and CEO Jeff Tieman acknowledged that hospitals need to do better. But he says the state report presents only part of the story behind long waits for appointments.
Proposed Legislation Seeks to Keep More Vermonters Out of Medical Debt
Seven Days

As a case manager at a life insurance company, Mary-Jane Boyce has what she considers a good health plan. So when a bad case of the flu landed her in the emergency room at the Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin several years ago, she couldn't believe the price tag: $3,000, after insurance kicked in.

"All I could think about was, How am I going to pay this off?" said Boyce, 56, of Montpelier. "I don't have $3,000. I don't even have $1,000."

The payment plan offered by a debt collection agency allowed Boyce to pay in monthly installments, but even those proved too much at times. She couldn't always afford her asthma medications, one of which cost about $300 a month after insurance, and had to stop helping her daughter pay off student loans. Some weeks, she subsisted mainly on donations from the food shelf.
Hospitals in the News
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