Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. In our house we celebrated high school graduations and our country’s independence with family and friends. We also talked about our country's continued quest to firmly instill in our culture and our systems that all people are created equal. We have much work to be done and I’m honored that residents in Essex Junction have put their faith in me to help craft and implement policies that embrace this fundamental value in all Vermont’s systems. I welcome hearing from residents on how we can move forward as a community and state.
Please feel free to reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Representative Dolan (email@example.com).
ESSEX JUNCTION INDEPENDENCE
Our Village, Our Voices is a citizen-led initiative to create a vision for the future of Essex Junction. This group’s purpose is to educate and inform residents about the upcoming separation vote, listen to residents for input into the vision and values Essex Junction should hold, and to get out the vote for the upcoming November vote. In our weekly legislative updates, Representative Dolan and I will be posting one of the facts from their website www.ourvillageourvoices.org. Have a question about the why, the process or the history? The website has a contact section for asking your questions.
Question: Other than possible tax savings, what might be some of the other benefits of becoming a city?
Answer: The people of Essex Junction will be served by a government focused solely on their needs. All the municipal tax revenues collected from Essex Junction taxpayers will go directly to helping provide and improve most of the services they use and depend on, such as parks and recreation, water and sewer services, public works and street maintenance, community planning, library services, and fire safety.
I want to also draw your attention to the blog section on their website. The first article is a timeline of all the various merger and separation votes in our community dating back to 1958. You can also follow the Trustees work at www.essexjunction.org/independence.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: TELEHEALTH FOCUS - ACT 21
With the session now firmly behind us I will use my bi-weekly update to highlight some of the lesser known actions taken this past year. This featured piece of legislation requires a bit of context. In January 2020 I introduced a bill to expand Vermont’s telehealth policies. As we took testimony that year it was evident that opening up the medical professions that could operate via telehealth and by ensuring that doctor’s receive equal reimbursement for a telehealth visit as an inpatient visit, with the appropriate patient protections, that we could increase accessibility. Days before the Statehouse shutdown due to COVID-19 the House passed this legislation with a 5 year sunset of the equal reimbursement. We felt it would take that long for doctor’s offices to build the technology and for both doctors and patients to feel comfortable with telehealth visits.
This telehealth legislation (House bill 723) became a key component in our COVID emergency legislation (House bill 742) signed by the Governor on March 30, 2020. As people reached out during the pandemic to share their stories, it became evident that telehealth allowed some people to receive health treatment for the first time, opened more opportunities for youth and adults to receive mental health care and as we moved out of the pandemic ensured transportation and day-care issues were not an impediment to receiving care. Since some of the provisions of the expanded telehealth policies would end with the pandemic, this session I co-sponsored H104 to facilitate the interstate practice of health care professionals using telehealth.
The legislation that passed and became Act 21 formed a Telehealth Working Group to compile and evaluate methods for facilitating the interstate practice of health care professionals using telehealth modalities, including through the creation of telehealth licenses, waiver of licensure, national licensure compacts, and regional reciprocity agreements. The working group also must consider the impacts and ethical considerations related to patient care, whether to limit the practice to preexisting patient relationships, the effects of prescribing medications and other issues relevant to the interstate practice of health care professionals. The working group will provide their findings and recommendations by December 15th, 2021.
During testimony this session we heard from many Vermonters, particularly related to mental health treatment, how the opening of opportunities for care provided by telehealth during the pandemic needed to be continued. Accessibility is key in our quest to build a better healthcare system. I look forward to following the working group this summer and digging into the recommendations next session.