Green Mountain Care Board seeks input from health care providers during listening tour

Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 5:55 PM EDT
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MORRISVILLE, Vt. (WCAX) - A dozen health care providers gathered at a roundtable Wednesday to tackle some of their biggest challenges, including rising costs and ongoing labor shortages.

The gathering of health care providers in Morrisville is to suss out the complex intersection of challenges facing the health care industry that impacts Vermonters seeking care.

“We have hospital sustainability challenges, we have non-hospital challenges, we have affordability challenges for Vermonters to access that care,” said Owen Foster, chair of the Green Mountain Care Board, the state’s health care regulator.

Costs continue to spiral, staffing concerns persist, and wait times for specialty care remain long. Many hospital leaders say the health care system is still feeling the effects of the pandemic. “We’ve learned a lot about how we really are connected deeply and we need each other to manage care, keep the cost down and do the best job we can,” said Coply Hospital’s Joseph Woodin.

The GMCB’s Foster says they are aware of the problems He says their mission is to help control costs and improve the health of Vermonters but that they only have a number of tools, including regulating hospital budgets, health care reform efforts, and approving insurance plans. “We need the communities to teach us on what’s working and what isn’t so we can expand that through the state,” Foster said. He says the Morrisville gathering is among three stops on their listening tour.

One area where state dollars appear to be paying off is Jenna’s Promise, a Johnson center that provides substance use treatment, housing, and employment opportunities. “We’ve been having a great success rate and I think that’s because we’re treating the whole person,” said Dawn Tatro, the organization’s founder.

It’s a critical piece of the health care puzzle that Woodin says alleviates stress on other parts of the system, like the local emergency room at Copley. “It’s not just the hospitals but the fabric that puts together the care of all of our residents,” he said.

Providers at the roundtable stressed that despite the challenges, Vermonters still receive a high quality of care.

The meeting comes about a month before Vermont’s major hospitals are slated to present their budgets to the GMCB, and the pandemic and staffing challenges are once again expected to take center stage.

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