DVHA and UVMMC partner to make innovative chronic pain care more accessible

PATH Program Provides Comprehensive, Holistic Treatment for Individuals Experiencing Chronic Pain 

Vermont Business Magazine The Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA) and the University of Vermont Medical Center announced today that Vermont Medicaid is entering a pilot program which will provide its members the ability to participate in the Partners Aligned in Transformative Healing (PATH) program at UVM Medical Center’s Comprehensive Pain Program, a clinical arm of the Osher Center for Integrative Health at UVM. Up to 100 Medicaid members suffering from chronic pain will be able to participate in the pilot program.

Launched in 2019, PATH is a 16-week outpatient program that approaches chronic pain from a “whole person” perspective, melding conventional medical treatment with complementary therapies.  

Through the program, participants are afforded access to a range of integrative therapies – many, such as reiki, massage therapy, culinary medicine, and yoga, not previously covered by Medicaid. In addition, participants will engage in group and a variety of other therapies, including psychologically informed physical therapy, health coaching, nutrition, and occupational therapy. 

The program has demonstrated success in improving participants’ level of comfort and the ability to engage in activities meaningful in optimizing the quality of each individual’s life. 

By treating chronic pain holistically, PATH participants gain a variety of skills and techniques to manage symptoms, increase comfort, and improve function.

Access to this approach to care for Medicaid members is a first nationally. Only a few comprehensive programs of this type currently exist in the United States, and their costs can easily put them out of reach for many. 

The PATH program is unique in this regard. DHVA and the UVM Medical Center have collaborated on an innovative bundled payment model that allows patients access to the full program for one fixed price, rather than billing separately for each visit and service type. 

“We are delighted to collaborate with Medicaid and now have the opportunity to offer this whole-person approach to individuals who receive their health care coverage through Medicaid.  A crucial component of our mission is working to eliminate disparities in access to care.  Our agreement with DVHA is a tremendously important step forward in this direction,” said Jon Porter, MD, Medical Director of the Comprehensive Pain Program and Director of OCIH. 

“We are excited to be partnering with UVM Medical Center on this pilot and proud that Vermont will be the first Medicaid program in the country to participate in this in this type of program. Bringing The Comprehensive Pain Program’s whole-person approach to our members, who too often experience barriers to care and fragmented care, is a huge step forward in health equity,” said Dr. Michael Rapaport, DVHA’s Chief Medical Officer. “The improvements in quality of life for program participants, as well as the reduction in both the use of pain medication and invasive interventions, demonstrate how the value-based payment model can lead to better care and better outcomes.”

PATH participants must meet certain eligibility criteria and must be referred into the program by their physician. Each cohort is limited to 10-12 people, and group work is a core component of the approach.

About The University of Vermont Medical Center

The University of Vermont Medical Center is a 499-bed tertiary care regional referral center providing advanced care to approximately 1 million residents in Vermont and northern New York. Together with our partners at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont and the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, we are Vermont’s academic medical center. The University of Vermont Medical Center also serves as a community hospital for approximately 150,000 residents in Chittenden and Grand Isle counties. 

The University of Vermont Medical Center is a member of The University of Vermont Health Network, an integrated system established to deliver high quality academic medicine to every community we serve.

About the Department of Vermont Health Access

The Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA), within the State of Vermont's Agency of Human Services, is responsible for administering the Vermont Medicaid health insurance program and Vermont's state-based exchange for health insurance. Medicaid was designed to provide a government-funded health insurance plan for income-eligible people and people who are categorically eligible. The federal government establishes requirements for all states to follow but each state is allowed to administer their own Medicaid program differently. 

DVHA’s mission is to improve Vermonters' health and well-being by providing access to high-quality, cost-effective health care, through our core values of Transparency, Integrity and Service.  

About the Osher Center for Integrative Health at the University of Vermont 

The Osher Center for Integrative Health at the University of Vermont (OCIH) brings together exceptional practitioners, researchers, and educators from the College of Nursing and Health Sciences (CNHS), The Larner College of Medicine (LCOM), The UVM Health Network (UVMHN), and a skilled community of integrative therapists to provide patient care, conduct research, advance policies, and educate the community about best practices in the field of integrative health. Formed with a generous gift from the Bernard Osher Foundation in 2022, OCIH joins 10 other Osher Centers for Integrative Health across the world in modeling a transformative, equitable, and whole-person approach to healthcare to optimize the health of individuals, communities, and our planet. 

Source: 11.6.2023. Burlington, Vt. – The University of Vermont Health Network. For more information visit www.UVMHealth.org/MedCenter. For more information visit: https://dvha.vermont.gov or call: 802-879-5900