Two years ago, lawmakers asked the Vermont Department of Health to come up with rules to prevent the abuse of narcotic painkillers. Now, health officials want to impose new regulations on doctors prescribing the drugs.
For the second time in three years, theÂ Brattleboro Retreat faces a potential loss in federal funding because of a failed inspection. Despite the warnings, the stateâ€™s commissioner of mental health says heâ€™s still confident that the retreat can provide quality care.
The federal warning comes after a suicide attempt at the Brattleboro Retreat in June which, after retreat staff notified the state, prompted a site visit of the facility.
During the cold war, American intelligence experts would often try to divine what was going on in the Soviet Union by looking at photographs of Kremlin public events. If Ivan Somebody was in the picture two places from the Russian leader in March and again in May, but was gone in a similar photograph in July, that meant something. Most likely that Ivan was toast.
One of the inaugural members of the Green Mountain Care Board will step down after her three-year term expires this fall.
Dr. Karen Hein informed Gov. Peter Shumlin this week that sheâ€™ll depart the five-person board at the end of September. Hein was among the first people to serve on a quasi-judicial panel created by the Legislature in 2011 to oversee some of the most pivotal aspects of health care reform.
Ongoing problems with the stateâ€™s health care exchange have prompted renewed calls for major changes in the way that individuals and small businesses purchase health insurance in Vermont. But Gov. Peter Shumlin is resisting these changes.
Vermont Health Connect has had technical problems right from the start. For instance, the online payment system for small businesses has never worked and thereâ€™s no solution on the horizon. So the Shumlin Administration is allowing these businesses to buy their policies directly from the insurance companies through next year.
As an ever increasing number of people seek help with alcohol and drug addiction, a payment loophole is preventing many of those patients from getting timely treatment. Thatâ€™s in part because Medicaid does not reimburse private providers who treat their patients for addiction, unless they are also diagnosed with a mental illness.
But not every patient who abuses alcohol or drugs is mentally ill.
Two years ago, Vermontâ€™s House Committee on Health Care became the first legislative panel in the country to approve a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. The vote triggered a massive response from the beverage industry, which poured more than $600,000 into advertising and lobbying aimed at killing the measure.
â€śWe really got outspent, big time,â€ť says Tina Zuk, director of government relations for the American Heart Association. â€śI think we got outspent 80-to-1.â€ť
An economist who helped the Obama administration design the Affordable Care Act is coming to Vermont to help Gov. Peter Shumlin develop a proposal for single-payer health care. And his work will help decide which taxes Shumlin will propose using to raise the $2 billion needed to support the new system.
Vermont gets an â€śAâ€ť for state policies that govern the way doctors prescribe pain medications. Thatâ€™s according to new study conducted by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, with support from the American Cancer Society.
The state-by-state report card looks primarily at legislation and rules that spell out for doctors how to make sure that people in pain get the medications they need to maintain some quality of life as they battle serious conditions, like cancer.
Vermont is on the hunt for a technology firm to help with a massive overhaul of the stateâ€™s human services system. And state officials are hoping to deliver better living through computer science.
The new request for proposal is for a â€śMedicaid Management Information System.â€ť Itâ€™s part of a broader project called the Health and Human Services Enterprise, which is among the biggest, and most costly system overhauls in the history of the state.