Late February 2019
From the Executive Director
Recently, my husband and I were working through some family logistics for a busy day that included the need for one of us stop at a grocery store with a medium-sized list. I was skeptical when he budgeted a mere 15 minutes for the task and astonished when he successfully pulled it off. No matter how few items are on my grocery list, I don’t think I’ve ever made it in and out that quickly. As my husband pointed out, that’s because for me, all errands are also opportunities to stop and chat when I run into a friendly face. After a few decades of living, working and playing in the same community, I know a lot of people. Naturally I really enjoy living in a town that conducts local elections through an in-person town meeting because it means running into neighbors and friends I don’t see often enough, especially in the cold winter months. 

As someone who is “from away,” when I first started going to our town meeting, I was struck by the number of community organizations that receive support through ballot items and the engagement of my neighbors who could speak on behalf of those organizations. I’m proud to be connected to one of those organizations now. 

Each year on Town Meeting Day, voters across Vermont allocate funding to help ensure that everyone has access to the home health and hospice care they need. It used to be that towns hired Town Nurses to provide care at home to residents. With support from the cities and towns we serve, VNAs took on that role and today, our not-for-profit members care for children, adults, seniors and families, helping to keep people where they most want to be at home,  regardless of their ability to pay . These allocations and the generous donations of individuals in each community are critical to making that possible. Help make sure everyone has access to the dedicated and highly skilled expert staff of nurses, therapists, social workers, licensed nursing assistants, care attendants and hospice volunteers of Vermont's VNAs.  Vote on Town Meeting Day.

As in all Vermont elections, early voting until the day before the election is also an option. That’s what I’ll be doing this year since I’ll be taking my son to look at colleges on Town Meeting Day. Formerly known as the “absentee ballot,” early voting is available to any voter who requests a ballot prior to voting day. You do not need to be out of town or ill to vote early. More information is available from your town or city clerk.  Click here  for more information from the Secretary of State.
Vermont Update
Minimum Wage Bill Advances
A bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024 passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on a 5-2 vote this week and received preliminary approval on a vote of 19-8 on Friday in the first of two votes on the Senate floor. 

During committee discussion on the bill, Senator Kitchel (D-Danville) noted that the committee will need to grapple with the Medicaid cost implications of increasing the minimum wage when they take up the budget bill. She specifically referenced home health agencies and other long-term providers in her comments as groups that would need rate increases in order to fund the new mandate.

On Wednesday, VNAs of Vermont Executive Director Jill Mazza Olson provided testimony to the House Appropriations Committee on the SFY2020 budget currently under consideration. She urged the committee to provide an inflationary increase to home health agencies and fund all mandated wage increases in the Medicaid budget. Olson also highlighted a decade of Medicare cuts and the phase out of the three percent “rural add-on” payment for Medicare home health services. 
On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee advanced  S.27 , a bill that now extends the sunset on the home health and hospice provider tax until July 1, 2021. VNAs of Vermont Executive Director Jill Mazza Olson testified in support of extending the sunset rather than eliminating it entirely, as the bill originally called for. The provider tax draws down a federal match which helps balance the state Medicaid budget, but is also a burdensome expense for home health agencies. She presented a chart demonstrating that – despite assurances to the contrary when the provider tax was first implemented – Medicaid rates have been increasing at rates well below inflation. 
Federal Update
The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center (HPCC) and the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA) have developed the following brief survey for home health and hospice providers to gauge the degree of interest in pursuing palliative specialty training and/or certification in hospice and palliative care for their nursing staff (the content outline for the certification program is available  HERE ).  
What We're Reading
Our national partners at the National Association for Home Care and Hospice report that the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) has established a  Resource Hub  designed to assist states in advancing the development of palliative care. More recently, NASHP has expanded the site to include two resources for use in this regard:
In January 2019, NASHP hosted a webinar providing guidance on the report. Following are links to the webinar and the slides:
(adapted from the NAHC Report)
In the News
Educational Opportunities
Webinars and In-person Events
Second Thursday of each month | 3 to 4 p.m.
Select one from the series or save by attending six or 12.
Hosted by VNAs of Vermont

QI Scholars Initiative : Space Available
Began September 27 | 3 to 4 p.m.
CME/CEUs offered for this event
Hosted by VNAs of Vermont
10-month program
Webinars and in-person sessions

Understanding how to run and interpret CASPER reports
March 6 | 1 to 2 p.m.
Hosted by VNAs of Vermont

Still left in the four-part series:
March 20 | 3 to 4 p.m.
Methadone Use at End-of-Life
Hosted by VNAs of Vermont

April 11 | 1 to 2 p.m.
Hosted by VNAs of Vermont

May 15 | 10:30 a.m. to 4:40 p.m.
Hosted by OneCare Vermont
Hilton Burlington Lake Champlain
In-person Event

June 12 to 13 | 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Fireside Inn, Lebanon, New Hampshire
Hosted by VNAs of Vermont
In-Person Event
Upcoming Events