Vermont well being program decreased hospital stays, saved cash

The first two years of a Vermont program designed to keep patients healthy while cutting costs saved Medicare patients money and kept more people out of the hospital, an evaluation of the program found.

Commissioned by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services and released this week, the report looked at the first two years of Medicare’s participation in Vermont’s so-called all-payer model of health care.

the report found that in 2018 and 2019, Medicare patient costs were saved about 4.7% year over year in the system under study. For all Medicare patients in Vermont, the system saved about 6.5% year over year.

In 2019, the system reduced the acute hospital stays of people in the system by almost 18%, it reduced the acute treatment days of patients in the hospital by 14.7% and the number of people re-admitted to hospital within 30 days by 12, 4%.

“These declines are very encouraging,” said Ena Backus, director of health care reform in Vermont, on Friday.

The same report found that the project run by the OneCare Vermont organization did not enroll as many people to join the system as hoped. In 2019, it was hoped the program would cover 75% of eligible Medicare patients, but it only hit 47%.

Vicki Loner, CEO of OneCare, said the overall results are encouraging.

“We still have a long way to go to fully realize the (all-payer) vision, but we are on the right track and we must continue to make steady progress for the people of Vermont.”

The report covers 2018 and 2019, the first two years of the five-year program.

The goal of the total pay model is to maintain patient health while reducing healthcare costs by paying a fixed amount of money for each insured patient rather than for every service provided.

To achieve this goal, medical providers, and in some cases social workers, work closely with patients to ensure they are receiving the best possible care.

The report commissioned by CMS from an organization affiliated with the University of Chicago looked only at the Medicare population of Vermont participating in the all-payer model. It also looked at the impact of the system on Vermont’s Medicare program as a whole.

Medicare is the state health insurance for people over the age of 65.

According to the report, the system provides an important, unifying forum for providers, payers and the state to work towards health reform.

“The widespread transformation of long-term care will take time,” the report says.

OneCare also works with Medicaid, an insurance company for low-income Americans, and some of the patients privately insured through the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont.

Future reports will look at the performance of both Medicaid and private insurance companies, Backus said.

The five-year program is slated to run through 2022, but Backus said Vermont officials will request an extension of the program to 2023 by the end of this year.

Earlier this year, Vermont auditor Doug Hoffer released a report that found OneCare missed its Medicaid financial targets by $ 25.6 million between 2017 and 2019.

County-level ARPA cash freed up for native governments, Vermont delegation publicizes

After months of deliberation, the U.S. Treasury Department will allow federal Covid-19 aid funds made available to county governments to go directly to Vermont cities and towns, the state’s congressional delegation said Friday.

That means the Vermont city councils will receive an additional $ 120 million in federal funds.

The American Rescue Plan Act, passed in March, provides separate funding for state, local, and city governments. The parishes of Vermont were US $ 76 million appropriated. The Treasury Department designated counties as a form of local government and withheld county-specific money from Vermont because Vermont county governments have no mechanisms to obtain it.

Vermont counties oversee courthouses and sheriff’s departments, and their budgets are drawn up by elected assistant judges. These budgets are usually quite small. Chittenden County is the only county in Vermont with an annual budget of over $ 1 million.

So the Vermont Congressional Delegation urged federal officials to recognize the uniqueness of Vermont counties and to channel the county’s money to cities and towns that perform government functions that counties often perform in other states.

In a joint statement on Friday, Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders and Congressman Peter Welch said, “With this updated Treasury rule, US $ 120 million for the state will finally go to cities across Vermont. and these resources will help meet the needs for Vermonters across the state. “

Leahy, chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, asked Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to change the name during a subcommittee hearing in June.

“I would like to thank our congressional delegation for their advocacy and the Biden administration for their willingness to listen and adapt to Vermont’s unique county structure,” said Governor Phil Scott in a statement Friday. “This revision of the guidelines will allow our communities to take full advantage of the ARPA funding they are entitled to so they can make critical investments to meet their needs and help us better recover from the pandemic.”

It remains unclear how the funds will be distributed to the individual cities at the district level.

“Congress intended that these public financier funds would help local governments fill the gaps created by the pandemic, respond to the ongoing crisis and find a path to long-term recovery,” wrote Ted Brady, Executive Director of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, in an email to VTDigger. “The towns and villages of Vermont appreciate the dedication of our congressional delegation and Governor Scott’s efforts to ensure funding gets through locally.”

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Vermont pet mayor helps raises cash for canine park

FAIR HAVEN, Vt. (AP) – The re-elected Mayor of Fair Haven has achieved his goal of raising money for a new dog park.

‘Freedom’ a fighter: Injured bald eagle on the mend

Murfee, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, received $ 5,000 in donations, and a Castleton couple, WCAX-TV, raised that amount reported. The US $ 10,000 will go to Fur Haven Dog Park.

Murfee was re-elected for a second term in March in a close race with a hen named “Colonel Kernel”.

Fair Haven started to have a volunteer mayor to raise money for the renovation of a playground in the community and to civically involve the local children. In 2018, residents elected Lincoln to the Goat as Honorary Mayor.

Bennington continues to work on the land swap for weapons

After the fundraising campaign for the playground, the city decided to run a dog park.

Vermont Small Companies Will Should Wait Months for Aid Cash, Lawmakers Warn

click to enlarge

  • Tim Newcomb © ️ Seven Days

Members of Congress are putting the finishing touches on a $ 1.9 trillion aid package that could be finalized Tuesday in the US House of Representatives.

But Vermont lawmakers are already warning small business owners it could be midsummer before they see any cash relief. Legislators must decide how and through which programs to divide their expected $ 1.3 billion stake in the pot, a process that can take months, House spokeswoman Jill Krowinski (D-Burlington) warned during one virtual meeting of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce on Monday.

“This is the part that we really struggled with in the last session: the time it took [state lawmakers] to put the rules together, ”said Krowinski.

Last year, Vermont received a $ 1.25 billion share of the $ 2 trillion CARES bill passed by Congress in March 2020. It wasn’t until the beginning of July that the first corporate grants began to accept applications.

A similar scenario could also play out this time, said Krowinski.

“Even if the money is approved in April or May, we may not get it until later in the summer,” she said.

It’s not early enough for business owners who last applied for grants this fall, said Kim Donahue, co-owner of the Inn at Round Barn Farm in Waitsfield.

“That’s really not okay,” said Donahue, who heard the same time estimate on a phone call to other property owners on Monday morning. “We already have an enormous need.”

Many small business owners are pinning their hopes on an economic development package that is now going through the Vermont Senate that includes $ 10 million in grants for businesses that were ineligible for state or federal COVID-19 grants in the past year. The Senate Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs Committee was due to hear testimony on the bill on Tuesday.

Money for company “safety net” customs toward approval at Vermont House

Money for company “safety net” customs toward approval at Vermont House

By Anne Wallace Allen

From message

Once the federal COVID-19 law goes into effect, the U.S. Treasury Department will have 30 days to get the money to the states. Next, Governor Phil Scott would make recommendations to lawmakers, said Joan Goldstein, commissioner for the Department of Economic Development. The legislature would then have to set priorities and create grant programs.

Last year, the Commerce and Community Development Agency provided approximately $ 340 million to Vermont’s small businesses through such programs.

Goldstein said she was concerned about the hospitality businesses that have been closed or severely restricted for a year.

“We know that anyone whose business has anything to do with restaurants, lodging, gatherings, entertainment and transportation – all of these hurt,” she said. “Even if they got money beforehand, they’ll probably need more money before everything opens up. Property characteristics say they are 10 percent occupied. People just don’t come. ”

Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint (D-Windham) said lawmakers will try to do as much work in advance as possible to expedite the process. They may have to return to the virtual statehouse in August like last year.

“I don’t think that’s what anyone wants, but we might have to keep the budget open, maybe come back,” said Balint. “We just don’t know yet. it’s too early. ”

Even with the practice of creating the programs, Goldstein said, it will be months before lawmakers decide where and how to spend the money. Vermont’s annual budget is generally around $ 6 billion, and policymakers aren’t used to spending an extra billion on programs like education, childcare, and broadband.

“I don’t expect it to be weeks. It will take months, ”said Goldstein. “There will be hearings; there will be testimony. It is a lot of money.”