GMCB approves $600M for experimental all-payer health care system

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) About 90,000 Vermonters will see changes to the way their health care is paid for next month. The Green Mountain Care Board voted Thursday to approve the budget of the organization running the state's all-payer model.

Vermont's experimental health care payment system is now approved to move forward with a major expansion.

"Let the record note that it was unanimous," said Green Mountain Care Board chair Kevin Mullin.

The GMCB approved a $600 million budget Thursday to cover the health care costs of more than 120,000 Vermonters.

"It's probably the most exciting day I've had since we started OneCare," said OneCare CEO Todd Moore. OneCare is what's called an Accountable Care Organization, or ACO. It turns the way health care is paid for on its head. Instead of paying doctors and other providers in the ACO for each service or procedure they perform, it pays them based on how those procedures improve patients' health. The goal is not just get people healthy, but also to lower health costs.

"This is a great step forward by Vermont in trying to lead the country to move away from a failed system of fee for service," Mullin said.

The budget approval means OneCare can move forward with an expansion next month from 30,000 Medicaid patients, to 120,000 patients. That will include Vermonters on Medicaid, Medicare, and commercial insurance.

"This is the step that OneCare was founded in 2012 that we envisioned -- leading Vermont to a higher state of health care reform than anyone, and be a beacon for the country," Moore said.

The state has a goal for the model, limiting the growth of health care spending to about 3.5-percent a year -- when usually its anywhere from 4 to 7-percent. Former Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin launched the effort, and current Republican Governor Phil Scott is continuing it.

About half of Vermont's fourteen hospitals are involved in OneCare to some degree.