Like all noble pursuits, the latest push for universal primary care begins with the Circle of Trust, the high-backed red velvet chair on the front wall of the House of Representatives.
After lunch Tuesday, Rep. Brian Cina, R-Burlington, P/D, suggested to some of the 59 three-party co-sponsors of the new bill that they set “health care as a human right” before they go. ” collective intention. After a moment of silence, legislators marched out in unison, led by Siena, with Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman in the rear.
With a sense of ceremony, they walked through the Cedar Creek Room, meandered down the back stairwell, and through the cloakroom to their final destination: the small office of the drafting group in the Office of the Legislative Counsel, where the bill was handed over for formal introduction .
By contrast, the state’s journey to provide universal access to affordable health care has been far less straightforward. In 2011, lawmakers passed Bill 48, which created the Green Mountain Nursing Board and promised the state would “ensure universal access and coverage of high-quality, medically necessary health services for all Vermonters.”
Then the government. In December 2014, Peter Shumlin abandoned his dream of a publicly funded universal health care plan, Green Mountain Care, after a study showed it would require an 11.5% payroll tax hike, Raise income tax by 9%.
But Cina and his co-sponsors want their colleagues to revisit the idea and demonstrate that despite the Affordable Care Act, the need still exists. The bill calls for “gradual implementation of Green Mountain Care,” starting with publicly funded primary care in the first year and adding preventive dental and vision care in the second year, with no deductibles or copays.
“Right now, one of the biggest challenges facing Vermonters is lack of insurance,” Cina said. “We have low uninsured rates, but many people can’t afford insurance because the deductibles are so high and there are co-pays.”
Olivia Sharrow, director of Vermont’s free and referral clinic, and Daniel Barlow, director of the People’s Health and Wellness Clinic in Barre, were on the Senate floor Tuesday morning The health and welfare board room had the same message for lawmakers. Nine free clinics statewide that rely largely on volunteer clinicians cared for more than 11,500 people last year, about 1,500 more than in 2021, Sharrow said.
At Barre, Barlow said more than half of his clinic’s patients actually have health insurance — Medicaid or a private plan — but either can’t find a primary care provider or can’t afford out-of-pocket costs.
Cina said he doesn’t expect the bill to move forward as written; even testimony on the bill, he said, is a victory in his book. In the meantime, he enjoyed the pilgrimage with his colleagues. “I don’t think I’ve ever done this with a bill before,” he said.
— Christine Fountain
“Badly chosen, wrongly done and grossly misleading.”
On Tuesday, Jared Duval, a member of Vermont’s climate council, described what Natural Resources Administrator Julie Moore said last week about Potential Costs of Proposed Clean Heating Standards. Both testified before lawmakers on the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee.
Duval – who is also executive director of the Energy Action Network, which tracks and analyzes greenhouse gas emissions – said, “Because action is taken between now and 2030 to meet pollution reduction requirements in the heat sector.”
Moore focused her analysis on the projected upfront costs of items like switching to electric heat pumps and weathering homes. For those who use kerosene, heating oil and propane, making the necessary changes and raising fuel prices by 70 cents a gallon could cost $1.2 billion, she said. While she described her analysis as the product of “rough calculations,” she implored lawmakers to analyze the costs more carefully.
Duval said it was impossible to know how the Clean Heating Standard would affect fuel prices until the program was in place, but believed “her analysis greatly exaggerates the price impact on fossil fuels.”
“She testified that she was convinced she was wrong. I also believe she was wrong,” Duvall said. “Big mistake.”
On Monday, President Joe Biden announced the end of the federal government program Covid-19 Emergency Declaration On May 11, the move could affect the ability of Vermonters to get vaccinations, testing and treatment for the disease.
Since 2020, Covid-related national emergencies and public health emergency declarations have been in place, allowing for various regulatory changes to insurance, health systems, telemedicine, pharmacies, and vaccine mandates.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Gov. Phil Scott said the decision to end the state of emergency declaration was appropriate because COVID-19 “will be part of our everyday challenges.”
“We’ve gotten through this emergency. The vaccine we have works, and it’s going to become — like we did with the common flu, I believe — you’re going to get a Covid aid every year in some form. Pusher,” Scott said.
Read more here.
— Erin Petenko
On Monday, the House Appropriations Committee approved the midyear budget adjustment bill, emphasizing Approximately $86 million in general fund expendituresmost of which will be spent on housing — prompting Gov. Papa to waver at his weekly statehouse news conference on Tuesday.
Gov. Phil Scott told reporters he was “very pleased” with the committee bringing some of his administration’s priorities into the BAA — but as for additional spending approved by the committee, Scott suggested lawmakers start tightening their belts.
“I worry about the $86 they added, the $87 million and where that money came from,” Scott said. “Obviously, we have a lot of money in our budget and we just want to make sure that we continue to focus on the fundamentals and things that will get us through the next few years if we see a downturn in the economy.”
Asked what he thought of the committee’s $21 million proposal to extend the state’s emergency motel housing program through June 30, Scott said, “I don’t know if that’s needed. Is something we should discuss, but I think we have a plan now.” Currently, the plan is due to expire at the end of March.
— Sarah Milhoff
what are we reading
Lawsuit Alleges Mismanagement, Sexual Harassment and Retaliation at Woodstock Inn (VTDigger)
Vermont officials want to beef up school safety procedures (VTDigger)
Vermont lawmakers adopt landmark abortion ‘protection law,’ but protections can only go so far (VTDigger)
Amtrak train service in Burlington off to a good start (7 days)
Ex-prison warden wins retaliatory dismissal lawsuit against Department of Corrections (VTDigger)
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