Legislative Update
This is the point in the session where anything I write could change completely in the next hour, so I will keep things short and sweet. Fingers crossed, knocking on wood, and just about every other lucky and/or superstitious gesture that this is the last week. Good luck, all!

Workforce: With the Senate delaying and diluting the nurse workforce provisions in H.703, the House has restored its original nurse workforce initiatives in S.11, a bill that previously prohibited robocalls. VAHHS wholeheartedly supports this effort.

Health Care Reform: The House reduced the amount of funding the Agency of Human Services would receive for All-Payer Model planning in S.285 from $1.4 million to $900,000 with the understanding that the Agency could get federal matching funds to make up the difference. The House will have a final vote on the bill this week.

Prescription Drugs: The Senate Health and Welfare Committee took out the quality and safety requirements around “white bagging” and “brown bagging” prescription drugs in H.353, but prohibited health insurers from requiring the practice.
In the News
Vermont’s Covid hospital admissions double in 1 week

The average daily number of new hospitalizations for Covid-19 in Vermont has nearly doubled in the past week, according to data from a state modeling report.

For the week ending April 25, Vermont averaged 11.7 new hospitalizations per day, compared to six the week before, according to the state Department of Financial Regulation.

The department’s report comes in lieu of the state’s weekly Covid press conference, which is typically held on Tuesdays. Gov. Phil Scott and other state officials did not address Covid at their press conference this week, which was held at a job fair in Essex Junction.

Cottages Industry: The Housing Crisis Complicates Hiring, Forcing Employers to Become Realtors and Builders
Seven Days

As HR manager at Stone Environmental, Joanne Perry has become adept at helping new hires find their way around Vermont's tight housing market. When the Montpelier-based company offered GIS specialist Paige Gebhardt a job in December, Perry advised her to start searching right away. 

With her April start date approaching, Gebhardt, who had been living in Texas, was still looking. So Perry connected Gebhardt with a Stone Environmental employee who had talked about getting a housemate. Now Gebhardt, 27, and her cat, Louie, are bunking in her new coworker's spare bedroom in an East Montpelier farmhouse. 

After 18 years at the 50-person environmental consulting company, Perry jokes that she is the office mom, and she manages an array of tasks. 
Paxlovid shortage frustrates Vermonters seeking Covid treatment

The message from state officials was clear: If you test positive for Covid-19 and are at high risk of severe disease, call your doctor. You could get a prescription for antiviral medications that lower your risk of hospitalization and death.

But Vermonters that have recently sought out those pills — particularly Paxlovid, reportedly the more effective of the two types on the market — said they’ve faced challenges getting a prescription, or finding the medication if they do have a prescription.

Robin Scheu said both she and her husband tested positive for Covid five days apart. Her husband got the “last dose” of Paxlovid in the area, a pharmacist told them, and recovered within a few days.
UVM Health Network Halts Badly Needed Psychiatric Bed Project
Seven Days

Vermont’s largest hospital network says it is shelving plans to build new inpatient psychiatric beds because it can no longer afford the desperately needed project.

The project has been in the works since 2018, when state regulators ordered the University of Vermont Health Network to use more than $20 million in budget surplus to open more mental health beds.

The network responded with an ambitious plan to replace 15 existing beds at the Central Vermont Medical Center with a 40-bed unit that would offer single-occupancy rooms inside of a new four-story building connected to the Berlin hospital.
Hospitals in the News
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