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).

On July 2, the new Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital opened in Berlin. The $28.5 million facility is the centerpiece in the state’s mental health care network that has suffered to find enough beds for psychiatric patients since Tropical Storm Irene damaged the state hospital in Waterbury almost three years previous to this opening.

But as of just a few weeks ago, only 21 of the new care facilities’ 25 beds were available, in part because of a shortage of nurses. The new hospital was using traveling nurses to fill some of the open slots.

Vermont’s state employees are going to be hit with a nearly 18 percent increase in their health care premiums. The increase is taking place because more state employees than projected were treated last year for cancer and heart disease. The increase came as a shock because the VSEA plan had no increases in the past two years.  

Human Resources Commissioner Maribeth Spellman says the increase is directly related to much higher than expected use of expensive health care services.

One of the hardest decisions of my life was telling the oncology nurse at the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital that I was not submitting my 87 year old mother to the painful daily treatment the blood specialist was recommending. It was clear the treatment was not going to cure her or make her life more comfortable and she had trusted me with her end of life care when she could not decide for herself. Though I knew she did not want extraordinary measures or aggressive treatments to prolong of her life, it was still a gut wrenching decision.

More and more ambulance services are needing cash transfusions to stay in business.

Volunteers are scarce, operational costs are rising, and revenues are not keeping pace. So some of the most rural services are starting to consolidate.

That includes Calex—originally named for Caledonia and Essex Counties—which now serves St. Johnsbury, Danville, and Littleton, New Hampshire.

VPR rode along on a call that may have saved a life.

Ten of Vermont’s 14 hospitals are battling Medicare reimbursement rules that they say will hit their bottom lines hard.

The federal government claims it overpaid the hospitals. And it wants that money back – amounting to as much as $12 million dollars, statewide. So the hospitals are lodging a formal appeal.

The Vermont Department of Corrections and its contractor for health care services are facing two lawsuits accusing them of gross negligence, medical malpractice and cruel and unusual punishment, among other charges.

In both lawsuits – one filed on behalf of the family of Robert Mossey, who killed himself in prison last year and the other filed by a former inmate whose name wasn’t disclosed – the plaintiffs say the quality of health care in Vermont’s prisons, provided by contractor Correct Care Solutions, is severely lacking.

A key Statehouse supporter of a single-payer health care system says the dismal performance of the state’s health care exchange has undermined public confidence in sweeping reform efforts.

It’s a critical reason why Washington Sen. Anthony Pollina is searching for a plan that clearly demonstrates the benefits of a single-payer approach and Pollina thinks he has found it.

By now you are no doubt familiar with the news that several West African countries are suffering from an outbreak of the potentially deadly Ebola virus. That awareness, depending on how you react to media coverage of the epidemic, may have morphed to concern, anxiety, or — hopefully not — panic, after a man in Dallas came down with the virus following his travels to Liberia and back to the U.S.

Of all the constituencies Gov. Peter Shumlin will need to win over in order to move forward with single-payer health care, perhaps none are as powerful as Vermont’s hospitals. But hospital CEOs worry that publicly financed health care could harm the quality of medical services.

Jill Berry Bowen, CEO of Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans, says she’s an enthusiastic proponent of Shumlin's plan to overhaul the way health care is delivered in Vermont.

A repeat inspection this week has found the Brattleboro Retreat remains out of compliance with federal Medicare and Medicaid standards.

The psychiatric hospital was threatened with the loss of federal funds because of problems identified in earlier inspections. But it now has another chance to keep its Medicare certification.

A team of state regulators carried out the three day return inspection on behalf of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS.

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