News in the Vermont Condition House – An analysis from DRM’s Government & Public Matters Team
News in the Vermont Condition House – An analysis from DRM’s Government & Public Matters Team
Tax-writing House Committee Proposes $48 Million Hike
The Home Methods Committee has approved a bundle of revenue measures totaling greater than $48 million. The package incorporates a transportation funding bill worth $11.4 million, a miscellaneous goverment tax bill totaling $13.3 million, as well as an executive branch fee bill that will raise $23.six million.
The transportation funding bill would increase consumer costs by $11.4 million, but revenues could be offset by an believed $a million because of another House-passed bill. That bill, H.571, allows some violators of automobile laws and regulations to pay for a lower fine in return for reinstatement of the licenses. The charges elevated include registration and license charges, however the greatest single source will come from eliminating a group allowance for motor fuel distributors collecting the motor fuel tax.
The charge bill includes a rise in a registration fee compensated by mutual funds from $600 to $1,500 each year and alterations in charges compensated towards the Department of Agriculture for a number of things, such as the registration of scanners, pump meters along with other calculating devices. The mutual fund piece may be worth $21 million.
The miscellaneous goverment tax bill would boost the assessment on employers who don’t provide medical health insurance for their employees by $six million. Additionally, it would produce a tiered system according to size the business. The balance enhances the existing gross receipts tax on heating fuels from .5 to .75 %, raising about $1.5 million.
Some people from the committee planned to become away in the finish each week, so Committee Chair Repetition. Jesse Ancel, D-Calais, required the bizarre step of voting the balance on Wednesday, 2 days in front of the expected General Fund budget. The move came critique from Republicans, who complained the Appropriations Committee might have little incentive to carry the road on spending if extra revenue had been within the goverment tax bill.
Telecom Bill Approved by Committee
he House Commerce and Economic Development Committee is constantly on the make expanded broadband coverage in Vermont important, also it passed another in a number of bills now to succeed that create.
The balance, H.870, would boost the Universal Service Fund from 2. to two.five percent, using the additional revenue employed for grants to grow broadband coverage. The balance necessitates the Department of Public Plan to give priority to allow applications that offer Online sites at public schools. The balance offers funding in the USF for any telecommunications news service for that blind and visually impaired.
Despite growing complaints from municipalities about condition preemption of local tower siting decisions, the committee opted to create only minor changes towards the existing statutory preemption. The balance includes new needs managing the colocation of facilities on existing towers.
The balance passed the committee unanimously, although three people opposed the rise in the USF. The balance has become pending in the home Institutions and Corrections Committee, that has jurisdiction more than a suggested $a million in new capital connecting for broadband grants that’s incorporated within the bill.
Commerce Occupies Workers’ Compensation Measure
The Home Commerce and Economic Development Committee started taking testimony now on the draft miscellaneous workers’ compensation bill. The balance doesn’t propose major alterations in the machine, however it does start adding some provisions that raise concerns about greater costs. The balance provides:
- Require insurers to pay for compensation to employees for time missed from try to attend medical appointments. Presently, such pricing is needed to become borne by employers
- Shorten the time by which hurt personnel are qualified for vocational rehabilitation advantages of 90 to two months
- Require insurers to submit all evidence towards the Department at work in electronic form
- Produce a vocational rehabilitation working group and
- Need a study through the Department at work on workers’ compensation and opiates.
The balance also proposes other employment-related changes, including:
- Expanded penalties for employers who neglect to pay wages
- New rules for temporary employment companies
- Research of contingent operate in Vermont and
- Research of portable worker benefits..
Treasurer Convenes Advisory Group Over Divestment
Democratic Condition Treasurer Janet Pearce on Friday convened a gathering of nearly 40 condition employees, union leaders, advocacy groups yet others to pre-plan an approach to study divestment of condition worker pension funds from coal and oil stocks. The meeting was chaired by Vermont Pension Investment Committee Chairman Tom Golonka of Silverlake Wealth Management, who guaranteed to put together a subcommittee of VPIC to review the problem at its next meeting.
The audience met for around an hour . 5 inside a large conference room outdoors the Treasurer’s Office. Ecological advocacy groups along with a Shumlin Administration staffer attempted to influence the discussion toward creating a arrange for divestment by May 2, a deadline put down inside a letter from the Senate committee, but Pearce was adamant she’d simply offer an update around the process at that time. Gov. Peter Shumlin held another press conference around the issue on Thursday.
Condition employees were cautious about outsiders searching in their investments. “This is my money that I’ve been depositing for, like, 40 years“ stated corrections officer Dave Bellini, president from the Vermont Condition Employees Association. “I think I heard that coal stocks are likely to tank and I’m throughout that. However if you simply just don’t like the organization out on another have skin hanging around, I am not listening.”
House Panel Reconsiders Prescription Medication Disclosure Bill
After passing H.866 from committee a week ago with little testimony, House Healthcare Committee Chair Repetition. Bill Lippert, D-Hinesburg, required towards the House floor on Thursday and requested the bill be delivered back to committee for more consideration. Lippert’s request came after Repetition. Bob Bancroft, R-Westford, expressed anger to Speaker Shap Cruz at the possible lack of committee process using the bill.
The balance will need manufacturers of certain prescription medications to report information towards the Eco-friendly Mountain Care Board on research, development, acquisition along with other costs connected using the output of the drugs and also the prices billed to purchasers. The proposal also necessitates the GMCB to determine which drugs necessitate reporting, but it doesn’t provide any funding towards the board for that assigned tasks.
Lippert told House people the committee will require testimony around the bill in a few days.
Gobeille Reviews U.S. Top Court Loss on Medical Claims
Eco-friendly Mountain Care Board Chair Al Gobeille made an appearance prior to the House Healthcare Committee on Wednesday to examine the state’s recent reduction in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-2 decision in Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual. A Legal Court ruled that Vermont cannot compel benefit plans paid by the Worker Retirement Earnings Security Act to supply data on compensated medical claims, backing Liberty Mutual Insurance Company’s contention that federal law prohibits such needs.
Gobeille stated our prime court discovered that a 2005 Vermont data collection law cannot affect self-funded insurance coverage, that are most generally utilized by large companies, and also the state’s make an effort to regulate diets ran afoul of ERISA. The situation is envisioned having major implications for health information exchanges, and for other claims that have began all-payer claims databases. Gobeille stated the information is essential to discovering cost discrepancies among doctors and hospitals.
“The insufficient data for Liberty Mutual represents only 137 patients throughout Vermont. But the problem is certainly one of precedent and integrity from the data. The exclusion of ERISA plans in the database undermines the caliber of the information,Inches stated Gobeille. Self-funded plans represent the biggest area of the private insurance market.
Senate Advances Legislation on Regulating Hospitals, Health Insurers, and MCOs
The Senate has transpired S.255, an invoice that further regulates hospitals, health insurers and managed care organizations. The balance requires a statewide comparative hospital quality report and would expand the data health insurers must report yearly towards the Department of monetary Regulation to incorporate data on claims processing, denials and grievances. DFR would publish these details on its website.
The Senate approved the ground amendment provided by Sen. Ginny Lyons, D-Chittenden, which necessitates the director of healthcare reform to consider possibilities to align accountable care organizations, managed care organizations and also the State medicaid programs program and also to report on their behavior towards the legislature by 12 ,. 15, 2017.
Repeal of huge Groups in the Exchange Moves towards the House
The Senate now approved S.214, an invoice that will repeal the authority for employers with more than 100 employees to buy qualified health intentions of Vermont Health Connect. The legislature approved a 1-year delay this past year to be able to permit the Eco-friendly Mountain Care Board to review the possibility impact available on the market. The Senate approved the balance due to the expectation that just individuals large groups with poor claims experience will stay insured while large groups with less risk will decide to self-insure, making more premium pressure around the large group insured market.
The balance will moves towards the House.
Bill-Back Increases to finance Office from the Healthcare Advocate
The Miscellaneous Goverment Tax Bill includes a rise to work from the Healthcare Advocate to fill losing federal grant funding. The Home Methods Committee decided to make use of the Eco-friendly Mountain Care Board’s bill-back authority towards the entities it regulates to finance work. The brand new allocation are available here.
Second Senate Committee Passes Opioid Bill?
On the election of seven-, the Senate Finance Committee passed S.243, an invoice that tries to combat opioid abuse, on Thursday The committee focused its review on the pharmaceutical manufacturer fee which is supposed to fund the balance. A piece-by-section review of the balance are available here. Vermont Department of Health Senior Policy Advisory and General Counsel David Englander provided the committee having a introduction to your budget. His presentation are available here. The balance boosts the Evidence-Based Education and Advertising Fund by roughly $1.51 million for any total assessment to manufacturers of roughly $2.5 million.
The committee amended the balance to impose penalties and interest on manufacturers that neglect to spend the money for manufacturer fee and also to require department to write their email list on its site. Englander told the committee that 88 percent of manufacturers are submission using the law that produced evidence-Based Education and Advertising Fund to gather and evaluate info on pharmaceutical marketing activities.
The balance has become within the Senate Appropriations Committee because of its review.
Senate Approves Prescription Medication Transparency Bill
The Senate this week passed S.216, a bill related to prescription drugs. The bill:
- Requires the Department of Financial Regulation to adopt rules for Vermont Health Connect plans requiring health insurers to provide enrollees, potential enrollees and health care providers with the names of prescription drugs covered and the applicable cost-sharing amounts. The rules will also address drug tiers, prior authorization, step therapy, and utilization management requirements;
- Requires the Medicaid office to use the same reimbursement formula for all eligible health care organizations under the 340B program. The 340B Drug Discount Program was created in 1992 and requires drug manufacturers to provide outpatient drugs to eligible health care organizations at significantly reduced prices;
- Requires the Department of Vermont Health Access to study modifications to the 340B reimbursement formula to determine financial implications on any recommended modification; and
- Revises current law to allow a health care provider or member of the Green Mountain Care Board to have refreshments or snacks at a conference or seminar.
The bill now moves to the House.
House Passes Bill Requiring Consumer Protections For ACO’s
On Thursday, the House passed H.812, a bill that requires the inclusion of consumer protections in the Green Mountain Care Board’s waiver agreement with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The bill also requires the GMCB to incorporate a detailed list of consumer protections into the All Payer Model, develop certification standards and processes for accountable care organizations that participate in any program reform or initiative, and review ACO budgets.
Bill Requires Workplace Violence and Crisis Response Policy for AHS Employees
The House voted nearly unanimously this week in support of legislation to require each department of the Agency of Human Services to establish and maintain written workplace violence prevention and crisis response policies for employees working directly with clients. The bill, H.74, also requires providers with AHS contracts to have a written policy in place for the protection of employees.
Although Vermont has adopted federally-approved Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards that provide workplace safety guidance, AHS testified that safety education is usually reactive to an incident. H.74 requires a prevention policy that could help prepare employees before an incident occurs.
Committee OK’s Shifting Cost of Positions from General Fund to Insurance Premiums
The House Ways and Means Committee gave its approval this week to an administration proposal that would shift the cost of three Fire Service Training Council positions from the general fund to insurers.
The legislature created an insurer assessment of $250,000 in 1993 to help fund fire service training. The assessment has grown dramatically since then, with the administration now proposing an annual charge of $1.25 million.
Insurance lobbyists argued that the assessment has grown by 500 percent, with the rapid growth resulting from the lack of oversight over spending requests from the council. The legislature has felt far less constrained in increasing assessments on insurers than they have in raising general fund revenues. If the assessment had grown at the rate of inflation it would only be about $414,000 today.
Committee members were clearly unhappy with the administration’s cost-shifting. But faced with the choice between eliminating three fire training positions or increasing insurance assessments, the committee quietly approved the proposal.
House Appropriations Committee Wades Through Final Decisions On Wish List Funding
The House Appropriations Committee spent all day Friday reviewing the items on its budget “wish list.” Among the items the committee agreed to fund are a two percent COLA increase for designated agencies, $75,000 for Governor Shumlin’s needle exchange program, $1.3 million for a Judicial Child Protection Package, $350,000 for one-time tax IT security funding, $1 million for Child Care Subsidies, and funding for several current bills, including H.868, the economic development bill. Items on the list that the committee declined to fund include Attorney General’s office salary increases and additional funding for H.859, the House Education Committee’s special education bill.
November 14, 2017