Daily Archives: February 27, 2023

Green Mountain Care Board Prepares to Punt Away an Investment in Inpatient Mental Health Care

Our health care guardians at the Green Mountain Care Board are trying to sneak through a bit of business that combines bad policy with questionable procedure.

Well, I guess that explains the “sneak through” part. They can’t be proud of this.

Six years ago, the GMCB ordered the University of Vermont Medical Center to take $21 million in surplus revenue and spend it on developing a plan to boost inpatient mental health care, which has been abysmally lacking since Tropical Storm Irene wiped out the old state hospital in 2011. We’re now in our twelfth year of inadequate inpatient care that has left severely mentally ill patients languishing in emergency rooms and frontline providers dealing with the consequences.

The failure to address this situation ought to be a source of embarrassment if not shame to Our Political Leaders.

Anyway, it seemed like a decent idea: Let UVMMC use the surplus to tackle a challenge that nobody else would.

Well, now the GMCB is about to let UVMMC off the hook, further delaying any meaningful response to the shortage of inpatient care. And the Board trying to rush it through with the least possible fanfare.

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House Panel Dials Back on the Self-Dealing, Approves Election Bill

In a fairly quick hearing on Friday, the House Government Operations and Military Affairs Committee voted 9-3 in favor of a package of election reforms. It was a party line vote with all Democrats in favor, all Republicans opposed, and no Progressives on the committee.

The changes in H.97 (as it is now called) make the package less overtly Democrat-friendly, and add an important improvement for those who need to vote remotely. (Text of bill downloadable from the committee’s webpage.)

The latter first: The bill would allow people to deliver their completed ballots electronically by “a secure online portal developed and maintained by the Secretary of State.” This would make it easier for those who have trouble delivering a ballot in person, including some people with disabilities and — especially — military personnel stationed overseas.

The original bill had drawn criticism for advantaging Democrats largely at the expense of the Progressive Party, but two pro-Dem changes were removed or watered down before the committee vote. The original bill would have barred candidates from running under multiple party labels, which is exactly how many Progressive candidates have won office. It would also have removed limits on donations by a candidate to a political party.

As approved, H.97 would allow candidates to run with multiple labels, but it prescribes the order in which the party names would appear next to the candidate. And donations from a candidate to a party would be capped at $100,000, an increase from the current $10,000.

But the bill, as a whole, remains Democrat-friendly.

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