Daily Archives: August 28, 2015

Paid sick leave: everybody’s binky for 2016

It’s been a years-long battle to enact a paid sick leave law in Vermont. The issue came close in 2015, passing the House but failing to survive the Senate. Next year? Bet on it sailing through.

As Seven Days’ Terri Hallenbeck reports, top Democrats (with the consicuous exception of Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell, a PSL skeptic) held a news conference Wednesday at Hen of the Wood Restaurant* to announce that PSL legislation would be on top of their agenda for 2016.

*Nice work if you can get it.

The move was not at all political, no sirree. Just ask declared gubernatorial candidate, House Speaker Shap Smith:

Smith dismissed his political ambitions as a factor Wednesday. “The election has nothing to with it,” he said. “It’s the right thing to do.”

Regardless, Smith will be up against other Democratic candidates who support the concept. If he’s able guide the bill into law in 2016, that success will give him a boost in a Democratic primary race where the issue is likely to resonate.

Yup.

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Fighting with both hands tied behind their backs

My pageview stats for the past several days tell a stark tale: I should stop writing about mental health, and go back to renewable energy*. So naturally, here I go with another piece about mental health. Ever the contrarian.

*Of course, if I really wanted to make clickbait, I’d probably write about nothing but Bernie Sanders.

The mental health care system has often come under attack in Vermont for mistreatment or overtreatment of patients, for alleged forced hospitalization, restraint, or medication. Indeed, the practice of psychiatry in general has few friends in the state. There’s a simple reason for this, and it has nothing to do with the quality of care.

It has everything to do with privacy.

Medical practitioners are legally bound to guard patient confidentiality. This is a very good thing, and I would not seek to change it. However, one of the unintended effects is that when a doctor or nurse or hospital is accused of harming a patient, only one side of the story is heard: the patient’s. If providers tell their story, they are breaking federal law and the ethical standards of their profession.

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