Please join us for our next community conversation April 13th from 8:30am to 10:00 am at Sweet Alchemy located at 45 Upper Main St. This is a time to talk with your Essex area representatives about issues of importance to you. Come early, come late – stay for 10 minutes, stay for the whole time. Hope to see you there!
Last week the House passed out H107 Paid Family and Medical Leave bill on a vote of 92 – 52. As many may know the United States is one of only two countries that does not offer a paid family medical leave insurance program that is universal. Currently only 15% of Vermonters have access to any kind of family and medical leave insurance and some of those aren’t offered a plan that is substantial enough to take any meaningful time off. This legislation seeks to keep Vermonters here and attract new workers, provides a level playing field for small businesses and protects our most vulnerable Vermonter.
In its current form, H107, provides eligible employees up to 12 weeks per year for parental and bonding leave and up to 8 weeks for personal medical and family caregiving leave. Total leave in one year cannot exceed 12 weeks. An eligible employee is one who has earned at least $11,200 in at least 6 months of the last 4 calendar quarters. If someone works multiple jobs, the earnings would be calculated across all employment. The program is paid by employee contributions - employers can cover some or all of the cost. There are many more details I can provide for anyone interested. H107 now moves to the Senate.
The Health Care Committee, on which I serve, continues its deep dive into understanding Vermont's ACO system. For those who are not familiar with this system, ACO stands for Accountable Care Organization. In its simplest form, ACO's are organizations of providers, usually centered around a hospital and the surrounding care practices, that agree to be collectively held accountable for the quality of care that patients ("attributed lives") receive. The intention of having ACOs is to give medical providers greater flexibility in providing treatment, and incentivize coordination of care. For example, in this model, primary care physicians are financially rewarded when their patients do not need to use the emergency room.
Vermont has a single statewide ACO, called OneCare Vermont. Whereas many ACOs in other states are linked only to Medicare, Vermont's ACO uses the "All Payer Model." This means that all the payers - Medicare, Medicaid, Blue Cross / Blue Shield, MVP - are connected to OneCare. The idea of having an ACO is to gradually switch to a "Per Member Per Month" payment model, where provider networks are given a lump sum of money to keep their patients healthy each month, instead of having to bill for every individual service, which is the current "fee for service" system.
The testimony we've received surrounding ACO's has raised a number of questions for our committee to continue to work through, including what oversight the state should have over OneCare Vermont, whether having an ACO will really change the quality of care received, and how the savings from the ACO compares with the administrative cost of the ACO.
Thanks for your time in reading the legislative updates. Please don't hesitate to reach out with questions or comments.
Thank you for the continued opportunity to serve Essex Junction.