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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The Frequency
4:32 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Politicians, Candidates React To Health Exchange Downtime

Vermont politicians and political candidates weighed in on Tuesday’s announcement that Vermont Health Connect will be taken offline for fixes for weeks. Here’s what they had to say:

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott

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VPR News
10:57 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Vermont's Health Exchange Site Is Offline For Repairs

From left, Gov. Peter Shumlin, Secretary of Human Services Harry Chen and Lawrence Miller, Shumlin's senior advisor on health care. Mark Larson (background, red tie) is no longer in control of Vermont Health Connect.
Taylor Dobbs VPR

Gov. Peter Shumlin announced Tuesday that his administration has made the decision to take the Vermont Health Connect website offline for weeks to make repairs, and oversight for the project has shifted.

Shumlin said he made the decision with the hopes of ensuring a smooth open enrollment period starting in November. Open enrollment is the time when new customers can purchase health care through the exchange for the coming year.

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VPR News
7:55 am
Tue September 16, 2014

VA Town Meeting Brings More Thanks Than Complaints

Brenda Cruikshank, State Commander, VFW, chats with Deborah Amdur, Director, VA Hospital at White River Junction, prior to public forum at the hospital.
Charlotte Albright VPR

Veterans and their families got a chance to weigh in on services provided at the VA Hospital Junction at a Town Hall style meeting on Monday. The meeting is part of a national effort to improve communication about the way the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs functions.

The White River Junction VA Town Meeting is one in a nationwide series of forums in the wake of scandals about long waiting times and poor services in other parts of the country.

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VPR News
5:53 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

Shumlin Won't Pursue Single Payer If It Doesn't Help Economy

Gov. Peter Shumlin, here at a press conference in Essex Sept. 2, says he hopes the financing plan for single payer healthcare will create jobs.
Angela Evancie VPR

Governor Peter Shumlin says he’ll abandon his quest to implement a single-payer health care system, if he can’t develop a financing plan that will improve Vermont’s economic climate. But he also says a good financing proposal could be an important catalyst for his effort to create more jobs.

Act 48, the law that put Vermont on the path to a single-payer health care system, was passed in 2011. It called on the governor to unveil a single-payer financing plan in January of 2013.

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Developing
6:00 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Opioid Use Is Rising Among Some Medicare Recipients, Report Shows

Forty percent of people getting Social Security Disability Insurance take opiod pain releivers, according to a new Dartmouth study.
Rich Pedroncelli AP/file

Researchers at Dartmouth College have learned that more than 40 percent of people getting Social Security Disability Insurance take opioid pain relievers.

Many of those patients fill six or more different painkiller prescriptions per year, typically from different doctors.

The new study is raising concerns about potentially harmful health effects.

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VPR News
5:48 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Hospital Budget Growth Is Low Again This Year

For the second year in a row, the projected budget growth for Vermont’s 14 hospitals is well under recent trends.  

While the growth in budgets varies from hospital to hospital, the Green Mountain Care Board has given its approval to an overall statewide increase of 3.1 percent. Last year, the growth rate was 2.7 percent.

Green Mountain Care Board chairman Al Gobeille says the growth in hospital budgets over the past two years is less than half of what it was between 2008 and 2012.

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Vermont Edition
12:10 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Homeless Find Health Care And Housing Help At Safe Harbor

(From left to right: Erin Ahearn, Homeless Healthcare program manager; Alison Calderara, Community Relations and Development director; Stefanie Comstock and Katelyn Hanson, outreach case workers at Safe Harbor Health Center.
Jane Lindholm VPR

For homeless Vermonters, getting quality health care is a big challenge. Close to 1,000 people come through the doors of the Safe Harbor Health Center in Burlington each year for medical treatment, dental care and counseling services. Plus, they can work on finding housing.

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VPR News
5:39 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Advocates Educate Doctors And Patients About End Of Life Law

Vermonter Marnie Wood, right, supports the physician-assisted-death law. Her sister Nancy Valko, left, chose to die peacefully in her Oregon backyard after suffering from ALS. Oregon's law was enacted in 1997.
courtesy Marnie Wood

It’s been a little over a year since it became legal in Vermont for physicians to help terminally ill patients hasten their death with medication.

But so far only two doctors have reported writing the lethal prescriptions, and it's not clear if they were used. So some advocates worry that patients are having trouble finding doctors willing to grant that final wish. Some doctors say the barrier is not just a moral dilemma—it’s a practical one.

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VPR News
6:05 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Regulators Approve Brattleboro Retreat's Correction Plan

The Brattleboro Retreat must correct problems found in a recent Medicare inspection.
Susan Keese VPR

The agency that oversees Medicare and Medicaid has approved a plan by the Brattleboro Retreat to correct problems found during a recent inspection. The psychiatric hospital was warned that its Medicare and Medicaid contract would end unless it filed correction plans by the beginning of this week.

The psychiatric hospital's most recent problems surfaced during a special inspection this summer, triggered by a fight in the hospital’s adolescent unit. The incident sent four employees to the hospital.

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Commentary
11:20 am
Tue September 2, 2014

Holvino: A Brother's Addiction

This winter, my brother lay in a comma in a San Juan Regional Hospital bed dying from Kaposi’s sarcoma. This fatal type of cancer had spread to his internal organs and was now shutting them down. Rober, as we affectionately called him, had abused heroin for more than thirty years and this was the final result and my last moment with him.

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