Health Care

VPR's coverage of changes to Vermont's Health Care laws and systems. Follow Bob Kinzel on Twitter. Read the Vermont Health Care Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

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VPR News
5:00 am
Fri August 22, 2014

New Drug Rules For Doctors Would Regulate Pain Treatment

Health department officials say they don’t want to tie doctors’ hands when it comes to treating chronic pain. But they do want to stem the flow of narcotic painkillers into the hands of people who might misuse them.
Fuse Thinkstock

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.

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VPR News
4:25 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

Feds Warn Brattleboro Retreat Over Safety Issues

Brattleboro Retreat is in jeopardy of losing federal funding if it does not fix problems identified in an inspection this summer.
Toby Talbot AP File Photo

For the second time in three years, the Brattleboro Retreat faces a potential loss in federal funding because of a failed inspection. Despite the warnings, the state’s commissioner of mental health says he’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.

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VPR News
4:55 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Analysis: Lawrence Miller Is Shumlin's Broom To Clean Up Health Exchange

Former Commerce Secretary Lawrence Miller is Gov. Peter Shumlin's point-person on health care reform.
Toby Talbot AP

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.

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The Frequency
3:16 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Karen Hein To Depart Green Mountain Care Board

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 she’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.

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VPR News
6:00 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Despite Pleas To Bypass Troubled Exchange, Shumlin Stays The Course

In this 2013 file photo, workers at the Vermont Health Connect call center talk to customers in Burlington.
AP File/Toby Talbot

Ongoing problems with the state’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 there’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.

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VPR News
5:00 am
Thu July 31, 2014

Lack Of Medicaid Coverage Hampers Addiction Treatment

A sign invites clients to a counseling service in St. Johnsbury. They can get Medicaid coverage for metal illness, but not addiction.
Charlotte Albright VPR

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. That’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.

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VPR News
5:51 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

In Fight For Soda Tax, Stakes Getting Bigger

Anthony Iarrapino, who will lead the lobbying push for a 2-cent per-ounce excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, sits behind a display showing how much sugar some common drinks contain.
VPR/Peter Hirschfeld

Two years ago, Vermont’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.

“We really got outspent, big time,” says Tina Zuk, director of government relations for the American Heart Association. “I think we got outspent 80-to-1.”

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VPR News
6:29 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Obamacare Architect To Help Vermont Design Single Payer

In this May 12, 2009, file photo Jonathan Gruber, professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, participates in a Capitol Hill hearing on the overhaul of the heath care system in Washington.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

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.

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The Frequency
12:50 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

New Report Applauds Vermont's Policies Guiding Pain Medication

A new report that ranks states' policies that govern the way doctors prescribe pain medications gives Vermont an "A". "Higher grades mean more balanced state policies influencing pain management, including with the medical use of opioid analgesics."
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

Vermont gets an “A” for state policies that govern the way doctors prescribe pain medications. That’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.

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VPR News
6:02 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

State Seeking Tech Firm For Medicaid Overhaul

State data centers director Joe Ng walks through a South Burlington data center on Thursday. The Agency of Human Services is looking to upgrade its entire computer system to deliver better services.
VPR/Angela Evancie

Vermont is on the hunt for a technology firm to help with a massive overhaul of the state’s human services system. And state officials are hoping to deliver better living through computer science.

The new request for proposal is for a “Medicaid Management Information System.” It’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.

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