Oppose Senate bill S.211….written by Vermonters for Vermonters?

Senate bill S.211 is an attempt by the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems (VAHHS) to gain more power. Their dominant member is the UVM Health Network (UVMHN).

Over the past decade, UVMHN has been acquiring smaller hospitals and practices under the guise of improving care coordination, pirating community-based primary care providers to the detriment of Vermont communities. This acquisition strategy has resulted in UVM’s increased market dominance, which it can now exploit to demand exorbitant price hikes. In fact, UVM’s price increases are among the highest in the United States. As a result, commercial insurers are charging higher premiums to all Vermonters, regardless of whether or not they receive care at UVM.

The Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB) is made up of five healthcare experts who serve staggered six-year terms. The governor appointed each member after a thorough bipartisan vetting process. The primary objective of the GMCB is to serve the people of Vermont transparently while adhering to strict open-meeting laws. The mission is to achieve population health for all Vermonters. The three core measures of population health are quality, access and affordability.

In 2023, the GMCB imposed limits on the price increases that hospitals could make during the budget cycle. In response to this decision, VAHHS and UVMHN lobbied Senators to create S.211, which would, in effect, move many of the Board’s regulatory duties to the Agency of Human Services (AHS) where a single politically appointed person, the director of healthcare reform, would handle regulatory work.

This change would diminish the GMCB’s authority and sidestep Vermont’s open meeting law. VAHHS and UVMHN could then direct all their lobbying efforts toward this single individual who could be replaced every two years.

Vermonters cannot let UVM’s monopoly power increase further with this proposed change. Despite increasing prices, UVMHN has failed to provide better care for the people of Vermont. Care coordination is still poor, access to care is even worse, and the quality of care is declining. Every extended Vermont family has a story of long waits for appointments, poor outcomes, poor services, and huge debt after receiving treatment at one of their facilities.

Legislators, business leaders, and all Vermonters must be aware of the risks to Vermonters that would occur if S.211 were to pass. It’s a bill developed and driven by UVMHN to ensure it gets what it wants. It will further enrich UVMHN leadership while seriously undermining the health and finances of Vermonters.

Tell your legislators to say “No” to S.211 and please share widely.

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