Green: Legislature enters crucial second half of session

by Devon Green, Vice President of Government Relations, VAHHS We’re officially in the second half of the session. Anything that didn’t get passed out of its committee of jurisdiction is dead… unless it’s a money bill; or dispensation is requested; or it is turned into a committee bill; or it gets tacked on to a different bill. Nothing is ever truly dead until the gavel falls for adjournment. Below is a summary of key bills from this week.

Workforce: A lot of movement on workforce this week with the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee passing out a workforce bill that includes:

  • $3.8 million towards scholarships for clinical mental health counseling and all levels of nursing for those with household income of $75,000 or less
  • $3 million for nursing forgivable loan incentives
  • $1 million for a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner forgivable loan incentives
  • $1 million for EMS training

The House Health Care committee is passing out the interstate counseling compact, the physical therapy licensure compact, the audiology and speech-language pathology compact and a psychology interjurisdictional compact. The House Health Care committee also passed H.473, a bill that allows for remote supervision of radiologist assistants. Thank you to our Chief Medical Officers for timely feedback on the issue.

Workplace Violence: The Senate Health and Welfare Committee passed out S.36 on Thursday. The committee made the following changes:

  • pared down the definition of disorderly conduct to fighting or violent, tumultuous or threatening behavior
  • made criminal threatening of a health care provider a felony
  • required a report on health care provider training and recommendations around de-escalation practices

Thank you to Sen. Sears and Sen. Lyons and their committees for their work on this bill. Next stop for the bill is the Senate floor and then the House.

Adult Protective Services Bill: The House Human Services Committee advanced H.171, an update to the vulnerable adult abuse and neglect statute, including expanding the definition of abuse and neglect to include medical treatment provided negligently. We are concerned that this expanded definition equates human error with abuse and will continue making our case on the Senate side.

Cybersecurity: This was the equivalent of a March Madness Cinderella basketball team—H.291 passed out of committee in a flash. The bill creates a Cybersecurity Advisory Council, including a representative from a Vermont hospital or accountable care organization. It also requires the Green Mountain Care Board to develop standards to protect critical health care infrastructure.

Vermont Association of Hospitals & Health Systems