Health

Vermont will become the third state to offer voter registration through its health insurance marketplace later this year.

Secretary of State Jim Condos said Monday that he has designated Vermont Health Connect as a voter registration agency. That means Vermonters will be able to register to vote at the same time they are buying insurance under the federal health overhaul law.

California and New York are the other two states that have taken such steps.

Open enrollment begins in October.

AP/Toby Talbot

Vermont’s 13 hospitals have submitted budgets to the Green Mountain Care Board for the coming fiscal year that call for a spending increase of just 3.0% the lowest annual inflation rate in the modern era and one which amounts to a solid step forward toward controlling costs, a cornerstone of health care reform.

Starting on January 1, all individuals and businesses with fewer than 50 employees will use the Exchange, known as Vermont Health Connect, to purchase insurance.

A variety of plans will be available. They all have the same benefit package but they have different deductibles and co payment options. The plans with the largest out of pocket expenses have the lowest premiums.

Mark Larson is the Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health Access. He says the system will be ready to enroll Vermonters on October 1.

The Vermont Health CO-OP has formally requested that the state’s top financial regulator reconsider her recent refusal to grant the company a license to sell health insurance on the federally-financed Exchange, which will begin enrolling customers Jan. 1, 2014. 

The U.S. House has voted to delay a key part of the Affordable Care Act. The bill would postpone the individual mandate to purchase insurance for at least a year.

State officials say the vote is another attempt by House Republican leaders to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.

State health care officials are closely following this issue because Vermont is the only state in the country that requires all individuals to go through the state’s new Exchange when they purchase insurance policies after January first.

AP/Toby Talbot

The Green Mountain Care Board, the chief manager of health care reform efforts in Vermont, sent a strong message to all the players last week that cost containment and affordability for individuals and businesses in the state will play an enhanced role as the process of reform moves forward.

State officials are responding to a charge that a key part of Vermont’s health care law might be illegal.

The basic issue in this dispute is part of Vermont’s new health care law that requires all individuals and small businesses to go through the new state exchange to purchase insurance after January 1st.

Vermont is the only state in the country to prohibit the sale of policies outside of the Exchange, which is known as Vermont Health Connect, for all individuals and businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

sectionhiker.com / Flickr

Thurs 07/11/13 Noon and 7PM  It’s late at night and you’re desperate to get to sleep, but there’s one solitary mosquito whining around your room. Mosquitoes are more than just an annoyance, though. They can carry deadly diseases, and it seems like there’s more of them every year.

We'll talk with state entomologist Alan Graham and infectious disease epidemiologist Erica Berl to learn more about mosquitoes, the diseases they carry, and how to get rid of them.

VPR/Nina Keck

Nearly 100 people met in Brandon Wednesday evening to hear how the state plans to fight Equine Encephalitis or EEE - the mosquito borne illness that caused two deaths in Rutland County last year.

State Health Commissioner Harry Chen said those tragic deaths ushered in a new reality in Vermont that the state is taking very seriously.

“I think it was vitally important for us to come back here,” said Chen, “and show you what we’ve done throughout the winter in terms of planning, in terms of building resources and capabilities to better address that new reality.”

The Obama Administration's decision to delay employer mandate is not expected to affect Vermont’s new Health Care Exchange

Under the Affordable Care Act, businesses with more than 50 employees are required to offer health insurance starting in January or face an annual penalty of $2,000 per employee. Companies with fewer than 50 employees aren’t subject to penalties in the first year of the law.

In a surprise announcement, the Obama Administration has decided to delay the mandate on larger businesses until 2015.

AP/Toby Talbot

The U.S. House Oversight committee says the Vermont Health Care Exchange may be illegal because it includes a small business mandate.

House Republican leaders in Washington are examining the exchange because Vermont is the only state in the country that requires small businesses and individuals to purchase their health insurance through the entity beginning in January.

A new Dartmouth Atlas study shows a major shift in “end of life” services for Medicare patients.

The study is based on a review of the health records of more than a million Medicare patients who died during 2010.

Dr. David Goodman, the lead author of the study says the report shows a much greater use of home and hospice care for terminally ill patients and less hospital care.

Ryan Stone / Flickr

Fri 6/28/13 at Noon & 7PM A new report by The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice shows that most Medicare patients prefer to live their final days at home, rather than in the hospital. We'll talk with Dr. David Goodman, one of the authors of that report.  Send your questions or comments to vermontedition@vpr.net.

We'll also talk to Senator Patrick Leahy about the immigration bill currently working its way through the Senate.

Adam Pearce

In 2009, Kevin Pearce, then a champion snowboarder, suffered a near-fatal brain injury in a training accident.

His family rushed from their home in Hartland to his hospital bed in Utah. Amazingly, Pearce emerged from his coma and began the long road to recovery.

His father, glass artist Simon Pearce, his mother Pia, and three brothers formed an enduring support group. A new HBO film, “The Crash Reel,” tells the family’s story. It previews June 22 at the Hopkins Center at Dartmouth.

In New Hampshire, House and Senate lawmakers have moved toward agreement on a scaled-back version of a bill intended to align New Hampshire insurance rules with President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law.

The state insurance commissioner had argued that a wide range of changes were necessary to preserve the state's traditional role in regulating insurance plans.

But opponents of the bill cast the original as an attempt to move New Hampshire toward a state-operated marketplace, something specifically prohibited by state law.

A prospective health insurance carrier panned by state regulators last month has overhauled its governing board in an attempt to rehabilitate its reputation and win the right to sell policies in Vermont.

Starting in January, all individuals and businesses with fewer than 50 employees will go through the new Health Insurance Exchange, known as Vermont Health Connect, to purchase insurance policies.

To date, two companies have been approved to sell policies on the exchange – Blue Cross of Vermont and MVP. An application by a third entity, the Vermont Health CO-OP, has initially been rejected by the state. In larger states, there are as many as a dozen carriers selling policies.

VPR/Susan Keese

The Brattleboro Retreat is a key player in the state’s plan to replace the shuttered Vermont State Hospital with a network of regional facilities. But now the Retreat stands to lose federal funding unless a number of ‘deficiencies’ are quickly resolved.

The group that oversees virtually every aspect of health care in the state, the Green Mountain Care Board, went to the Northeast Kingdom to explain how policies will be marketed and bought next year through an online healthcare exchange.  

Beginning in January, all individuals and businesses with fewer than 50 employees will have to purchase their health insurance on the Exchange.

Susan Keese / VPR

Juggling or swinging on a trapeze may seem like an unusual form of therapy for people who’ve had cancer. But a circus arts workshop in Brattleboro helps cancer survivors prove to themselves that their bodies are still capable of meeting new challenges.

Britta Reida experienced the benefits of circus therapy in her own life.

Reida says she was never athletic -- until she took a class at the New England Center for Circus Arts in Brattleboro and fell in love with the trapeze.

At first she couldn’t reach the bar without help.  But she kept at it.

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