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In the News
A high cost
The Rutland Herald

One of the effects of the global pandemic is going to have on Vermont hospitals is going to be felt long-term. Ultimately, it could also have an effect on patients, too.

During the past week, the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems has issued several statements — warnings, really — that hospitals are in crisis.

Leaders of Vermont hospitals are saying they face new challenges — and opportunities — as they manage staff shortages and inflation pressures in the face of the pandemic recovery.

A news release from VAHHS interim president Mike Del Trecco, urged the Green Mountain Care Board to approve hospital budgets as submitted. They represent increases as low as about 6% and as high as more than 18% in some cases.
As it seeks steep budget increases, Vermont's largest hospital suggests it could rolll them back this fall

Leaders of the University of Vermont Health Network, the state’s largest hospital operator, asked state regulators for steep budget increases Friday but promised to reduce their request by Nov. 15, if possible. 

The health network, which operates three hospitals in Vermont and three in upstate New York, is seeking double-digit increases to what it charges people with commercial insurance. If the state regulatory Green Mountain Care Board approves the request in full, those who carry private insurance could see their premiums increase significantly next year.

“Not one person on our team wanted to come here and get double-digit rate increases today,” network chief operating officer Al Gobeille told the board Friday. “This is not what we want. … We're here today because we have to seek the funding necessary to care for our communities, our friends, our neighbors, our family members.”
SVMC, citing deficit, seeks budget increase from Green Mountain Care Board
Manchester Journal

Southwestern Vermont Medical Center is asking the Green Mountain Care Board to approve a $188,872,209 budget for fiscal 2023, a 6.35 percent increase over its 2022 approved spending plan.

The hospital, the county’s largest employer, cited the need to address a projected operating deficit — its first since 2009 — and increasing staffing costs in a presentation published on the Green Mountain Care Board’s website.

According to the presentation, which the board is scheduled to consider Monday, the hospital is projecting a $1.3 million loss for fiscal 2022. A sharp increase in budgeted expenses outpaced a smaller increase in revenue, according to the presentation.

Hospital president Tom Dee said the budget is the most daunting he’s faced in 40 years in hospital administration.
BMH asks for double-digit rate increases to offset multi-million-dollar losses
The Bennington Banner

From October 2021 to June 2022, Brattleboro Memorial Hospital took $3.7 million out of its reserve accounts to fund operations, reducing the reserve from $9.2 million to $5.6 million.

As a result, the BMH Board of Directors is “very concerned about the financial performance and how fragile BMH is [which] cannot sustain $3.5 million losses,” stated Rhonda Calhoun, chairwoman, in information provided to the Green Mountain Care Board.

To meet the needs of the hospital and the community it serves, BMH is requesting a 14.9 percent rate increase for fiscal year 2023, which starts on Oct. 1, or it might lose even more money.

This is “the most difficult time this Board has experienced,” states the information provided by Calhoun.
Grace Cottage Hospital asks for 5 percent rate increase
The Brattleboro Reformer

The Green Mountain Care Board is reviewing budgets and rate hike requests from hospitals around the state.

It has until Sept. 15 to review the proposals, which include a 5 percent rate hike request for fiscal year 2023, which begins Oct. 1, from Grace Cottage Hospital in Townshend.

That is the same increase the hospital asked for last year, said Stephen Brown, chief financial officer.

In the past few years, said Brown, the rate request has between 3 and 5 percent.

The Care Board is an independent five-member board whose members are appointed by the governor for six-year terms. Its responsibilities include reviewing and approving hospital budgets, as well as insurance premiums.
UVM Health Network asking for budget increases amid inflationary woes

Vermont’s largest hospital network, the University of Vermont Health Network, is asking for unprecedented budget increases.

The senior management team made their case Friday to health care regulators on the Green Mountain Care Board.

UVM said they're facing a perfect storm with higher costs for staff, drugs and supplies amid a cash shortage. The network also said this budget is crucial to get passed to ensure the health and safety of their patients across the network.

“You're gonna hear about our financial position, [which] has continued to deteriorate, and that puts Vermonters really at risk,” said Dr. John Brumsted, UVM Health Network CEO. “And there's no hyperbole — there are dire consequences to not having this budget approved.”
People are turning down Vermont job offers because they cannot find housing

Housing is so tight in Vermont that some job applicants are turning down employment offers because they cannot find a place to live.

Hearing hirees say “no” to job offers because they are giving up on their house search is a problem recruiters are facing in state and municipal government, nonprofit organizations and businesses.

The state government’s recruiters started noticing the problem in the last 12 months and it heated up this spring, said Doug Pine, Vermont’s deputy director of human resources.

“The actual number of people is not that huge, but when it does happen, it kind of hurts,” Pine said. That’s because the issue is prevalent among highly skilled positions in some of the areas that are “very hard to fill right now,” he said, including health care, engineering, information technology, finance and attorneys.
Vermont businesses get creative to attract new employees amid worker shortage
Vermont Public

Vermont has near-record-low unemployment rates while also record highs for job availability. Retaining staff and recruiting new applicants has been a challenge for businesses and organizations around the state.

So some businesses are getting creative to attract workers.

Child care as a benefit
Standing inside the childcare center at Smugglers Notch, Brittany Gray is surrounded by miniature tables, brightly colored toys, and young smiling faces. After taking some time off, she's returning to the Jeffersonville resort.

"I've actually only been here three days, this is my third day," Gray said. "And I came back because of the free child care, I have a 2-and-a-half-year-old. And before that, it was just too expensive to be able to work."
State, health care providers outline resources to address opioids and substance use disorder

Vermont Business Magazine At his weekly media briefing on Thursday at Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin, Governor Phil Scott highlighted available resources and new state investments passed this year to combat the opioid epidemic and support those with substance use disorder, including nearly $9 million in new investments for prevention, treatment and recovery.

The governor was joined by state leaders from the Department of Health, including Health Commissioner Dr Mark Levine, as well as representatives from the UVM Health Network, community prevention coalitions and health care providers.

In total, across all funds, the state budget this year invests $66.2 million for substance use programs at the Vermont Department of Health. This includes nearly $9 million in new or additional state funding for the following:
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