Health

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.

Governor Peter Shumlin signed a group of bills Wednesday designed to crack down on prescription drug abuse and related crimes. But the measures don’t focus on increased penalties for drug abusers, in fact, quite the opposite. Instead, the so-called “Good Samaritan” law makes Vermont just the 13th state in the nation to offer limited immunity from prosecution to people reporting a potentially deadly drug overdose.

Mosquito Season Heats Up

Jun 6, 2013

Thanks to recent warm, wet weather - mosquitos are out in force.  That has many in towns around Brandon concerned - because that’s where the mosquito born Triple E virus killed two people last year.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or Triple E, and West Nile are both rare and potentially deadly viruses.  Both illnesses are also initially carried by birds but spread to humans by mosquitos who feed on both.

On October 1, Vermont’s new health care Exchange, known as Vermont Health Connect, is scheduled to be up and operating.

It’s the place where all individuals, and businesses with fewer than 50 employees, will go to purchase health insurance starting in January.

While the basic benefit package is the same for all policies sold on the exchange, consumers can choose from a variety of cost sharing options including the size of the policy’s deductible and various co payment plans.

VPR/Charlotte Albright

A researcher at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center has found what may be a way to improve treatment for adults who have a common form of leukemia.

The recently published study shows that two drugs may be better than one.

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, or CLL, accounts for about one third of all leukemia cases in the United States, and about 4500 people die from it every year.

AP/Toby Talbot

Big plans are being considered at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington. The hospital has applied for a Certificate of Need to spend $3.7 million on detailed planning and design work for a new building that could have four stories and include up to 128 single patient rooms.

The hospital needs the approval of the Green Mountain Care Board just to spend the money on the design phase. If they decide to move forward and build the project, they’ll need separate approval.

Dave Keelty, director of facilities planning and development for Fletcher Allen Health Care.

State Regulators Defend Vt. Health CO-OP Decision

May 30, 2013

State regulators are defending their decision to reject the Vermont Health CO-OP's application to sell insurance.

The Affordable Care Act provides federal loans to newly formed member-owned health care cooperatives, and to date, the Vermont Health CO-OP has received just over $30 million.

The CO-OP also needs a state license to sell insurance and company officials said they were stunned to learn this week that their application had been rejected.

Officials at a newly formed Health Care Cooperative say state regulators deliberately used inaccurate information to reject the group’s license application.

Under the Affordable Care Act, federal loan money is available to help create member owned health care organizations. These new companies would be allowed to sell insurance policies on new state Exchanges beginning in January.

The New Hampshire Senate Commerce committee wants the full Senate to reject a bill that would bring the state’s insurance laws in line with President Barack Obama's health overhaul plan.

The State’s Insurance Commissioner says without the bill, the federal government will regulate all insurance products in New Hampshire, not just those related to the health care overhaul.

But Republicans who voted against the bill in committee called it the latest in a series of moves by the department and the governor's office to set up state-run insurance markets.

The head of a newly created cooperative health insurance company set up to serve Vermont says there may be inaccurate and misleading statements in a state ruling that denied the company a license.

C.E.O. of the Vermont Health Co-op, Christine Oliver, says the co-op will continue to fight for its future. She's planning a briefing for today.

AP/Toby Talbot

Vermont's largest health insurance provider and the largest private psychiatric hospital are working together and creating what they believe will be a better way to deliver both traditional and mental health care.

Officials from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont and the Brattleboro Retreat say they've created a new business called Vermont Collaborative Care designed that will integrate mental health and substance abuse care with traditional health care.

AP/NIAID, Agriculture Department

Tues 5/28/13 Noon & 7 pm  Scientists are learning more and more by the minute about the trillions of microbes that live in and on our bodies. These microogranisms play an incredibly important role in the digestive process and our ability to combat infectious diseases and allergies.

Dartmouth Microbiology and Immunology Professor Deb Hogan and Gary Mawe, UVM Professor of Neurobiology, give us a look through the microscope to educate us on the role these organisms play in our lives.

VPR/Nina Keck

High school students who have autism now have more options than ever for enrolling in college and succeeding there. On the next Vermont Edition, we look at programs that provide social and academic support for college students on the autism spectrum.

The State of Vermont says a newly formed Health Care Cooperative has serious financial problems and should not be given a license to offer insurance policies beginning next year. 

Under the Affordable Care Act, member owned Cooperatives can be licensed to sell health insurance policies on a state exchange beginning in 2014. To do so, they must receive both federal and state approval.

The organization helping Vermont prepare for the federal health care reform has hired groups to help people navigate the system.

Vermont Health Connect announced Tuesday it had awarded $2 million in grants to organizations that will provide in-person enrollment assistance for health care coverage.

The organizations will manage people who will be trained and certified to provide direct assistance to individuals, families and small businesses.

Riverhead Books / Penguin

Tue 5/21/13 Noon & 7 pm When writer Sue Halpern faced the loneliness and boredom of an empty nest, she decided to face it in an unusual way. She and her dog Pranksy began visiting a local nursing home as a therapy dog team. Along the way Halpern learned some interesting things about herself, and the virtues we all try to live by. 

VPR/John Dillon

A bill allowing terminally ill patients to get medication to end their lives became law on Monday with Gov. Peter Shumlin’s signature.

Although the law takes effect immediately, it may be some time before it’s used. Doctors and hospitals say they’re looking carefully at whether and how to participate.

The signing ceremony in the governor’s Statehouse office was both a celebration and a quiet remembrance for those who worked on the issue but didn’t live long enough to see it through.

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