Legislative Update – January 28, 2016

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Jan 28, 2016 No Comments ›› maxinegrad

Vermont State HouseMy Committee Work: House Judiciary

We continued our work on DUI, DLS (driving while license suspended), notice to crime victims upon offender’s release from custody or a facility, and Agency of Education’s work on school/class suspension and its link to incarceration.

A representative from MADD testified in favor of H.560’s provisions regarding ignition interlock devices. He stated that since 2011, the use of interlock devices has prevented 6,000 incidents of driving while impaired. It is interesting to note that MADD previously opposed interlocks due to its preference for license suspensions. However, given that suspended licenses do not deter people from driving while under the influence, MADD supports interlocks, as the device ensures highway safety. Current law, however, contains certain disincentives to the device’s broader use. H.560 would remove these disincentives so that more individuals would drive with a Restricted Driver’s License, using an interlock device to ensure sober driving, rather than facing a license suspension.

Other Committee Work: Health Care

The Exchange Small Business Waiver

The House passed H.524. It requires the Department of VT Health Access to pursue a federal waiver alleviating the requirement that VT establish an internet-based exchange through which businesses purchase health insurance and instead allow the continued purchase of those plans directly from insurers.


House Human Services has taken up S.20, which creates a mid level dental practitioner.

The committee heard testimony on the need for greater access, especially for children and adults on Medicaid, and that there is a significant shortage of providers for this population. Others are having trouble finding dentists taking new patients. HS also heard that 48% of the dentists in Vermont are nearing retirement age and we are having trouble attracting new dentists to Vermont.

The debate is reminiscent of when we established mid-level medical practitioners—PA’s and NP’s 20, or so, years ago. Many would now admit we couldn’t do without the medical mid-level practitioners we have and it would seem worth trying the same approach with mid-level dental practitioners.

43rd Anniversary of Roe v Wade—H.620 Press Conference

I was glad to attend a press conference celebrating Roe v. Wade and announcing the introduction of H.620.

“While we have made serious progress on ensuring Vermont women have access to safe and legal abortion care, we still have serious barriers when it comes to comprehensive reproductive health care.

Vermont has an unintended pregnancy rate of 50%. H.620, a comprehensive birth control bill will break down barriers to access to birth control and reduce the unintended pregnancy rate in Vermont. This bill will codify provisions in the Affordable Care Act that classify birth control as preventative health care. It will ensure women have a full year supply of oral contraceptives instead of having to go back to their health care provider every month or three months, and it increases access to the most comprehensive and effective birth control methods on the market,” stated lead sponsor Rep. Ann Pugh.

Access to safe reproductive health care is an economic issue. Birth control has a many positive impacts on women’s lives.  When women have access to birth control they can be more self-reliant, better take care of their families, complete their education and be employed.

Medicaid Facts:

It’s the primary health insurance program for low-income VTers and people with disabilities. Also provides coverage for pregnant women and nursing home care.

How many VTers use Medicaid? 
Primary insurance coverage: 155,000 in FY’15, 164,000 projected in FY’16.

Supplementary coverage (insurance premium assistance, Rx coverage, Choices for Care): 52,000 in FY’15; 55,000 projected in FY’16.

Medicaid is funded jointly from federal/VT dollars, generally in a 55/45 ratio.

Where does VT Medicaid funding come from? 51% General Fund; 21% Provider Tax; 14% Tobacco settlement/cigarette tax; 14% miscellaneous

VT Health Connect (“Exchange”) is the portal for Medicaid qualification/access.

What income level qualifies you for Medicaid as your primary insurance coverage? <138% Federal Poverty Level: family of 4 = $33,465; family of 2 = $21,983

What income level qualifies you for Medicaid subsidies for purchasing private insurance on the Exchange? <300% of Federal Poverty Level: family of 4 = $72,750; family of 2 = $47,790

Each state designs and operates its own program within federal guidelines.

In addition to providing all federally mandated health services, VT’s Medicaid program also provides all optional health services including dental, Rx, hospice, optometry, occupational therapy.


Please stay in touch: [email protected], 828-2228 (State House) 496-7667 (home).


Rep. Maxine Grad
Washington-7: Duxbury, Fayston, Moretown, Waitsfield, Warren

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