Leading Stories, Articles

June 12th, 2018

VT braces for loss of psychiatric bed Medicaid funding

By Janine Weisman

A special waiver exempts Vermont from a decades-old restriction prohibiting states from using Medicaid funds to cover services for non-elderly adults with mental health conditions in hospital settings with more than 16 beds. But Vermont’s waiver is set to expire starting in 2021 and phase out completely in 2025. That would leave the state on the hook for the $23 million in federal dollars being used to provide treatment for patients ages 21 to 64 at the Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital (VPCH) in Berlin and Brattleboro Retreat, said Department of Mental Health (DMH) Commissioner Melissa Bailey. A proposal among an [More]

June 11th, 2018

Revenue to focus on increasing inpatient capacity

By Pamela Berard

The Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB) gave the go-ahead for the University of Vermont (UVM) Health Network to move forward on a project that would use the Network’s extra revenue from 2017 to increase inpatient mental health capacity in Vermont. The GMCB, established by the Vermont Legislature in 2011, is charged with reducing the rate of health care cost growth in Vermont while ensuring the state maintains a high-quality, accessible health care system. Vermont’s hospital budgets are regulated by the GMCB. When health care facilities exceed allowable budgeted net patient revenues, they are subject to review and possible regulatory action, [More]

May 14th, 2018

Mass. increases beds, facilities while other states remain stable

By Phyllis Hanlon

The psychiatric care landscape has shifted in recent years from an inpatient setting to community placement and back to in-hospital treatment. New England Psychologist surveyed the New England states to assess the current inpatient situation. Kathleen Remillard, public information officer (PIO) at New Hampshire’s Department of Health and Human Services, reported that the state has had no psychiatric unit closures in the past year. Rather, New Hampshire has gained 20 new transitional housing beds for patients recently released from New Hampshire Hospital or other designated receiving facilities. Vermont has also added 20 youth psychiatric beds; and four mobile crisis apartments [More]

May 13th, 2018

Vermont searches for solutions to increase bed capacity

By Janine Weisman

The Vermont House of Representatives Committee on Health Care has already come out against funding a temporary 12-bed forensic unit at the Northwest State Correctional Facility in Gov. Phil Scott’s proposed fiscal 2019 state budget. But during the appropriation process in early April, Senate members appeared more receptive toward the facility proposed to alleviate the demand on emergency rooms and psychiatric facilities around the state. “That’s a showdown between the Senate and the House that we get caught in the middle of,” said Department of Mental Health (DMH) Commissioner Melissa Bailey. “They’ve got to figure out where they’re going to [More]

March 7th, 2018

Vermont prison complex meant to accommodate multiple populations

By Janine Weisman

Fixing the mental health system is a key part of a plan Vermont Gov. Phil Scott’s administration introduced to the State Legislature in January to build a 925-bed prison complex in northwest part of the state over 10 years. Fifty forensic beds — 20 reserved for hospital level care and 30 for outpatient or residential level care — are part of the $150 million corrections campus outlined in the Agency of Human Services (AHS) Report on Major Facilities. AHS oversees both the Department of Corrections and the Department of Mental Health. The plan to create the large complex in Franklin [More]

February 10th, 2018

Mental health, harassment among Vermont’s priorities

By Eileen Weber

Vermont’s House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D-Grand Isle-Chittenden) and Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe (D/Prg-Chittenden) want to collaborate with Governor Phil Scott this year on legislation for education, clean waterways, a $15 minimum wage, better mental healthcare and stronger sexual harassment policies and procedures. In the wake of rampant opioid addiction and the #MeToo movement, the two relevant issues are mental health and sexual harassment. Ashe and Johnson are in favor of legislation that not only addresses the high cost of prescription drugs but also limits prescription pain killers. Johnson said the opioid epidemic may account for the rise in [More]