Increasing Medicaid payments tops Vermont Democrats' healthcare agenda

January 06, 2015

Vermont House Speaker Shap Smith (D) says his top healthcare priority for the 2015 legislative session is increasing Medicaid payments to providers. The program underpays doctors and hospitals by between 37% and 51%, depending on how it's calculated, according to the Green Mountain Care Board. Vermont has tried to address the problem but it must take substantive action, or the problem will persist, Smith said. Doing so would "likely" require new revenue, he added. Smith said he hopes to move forward to achieve some of the same goals as a single-payer program, such as ensuring access to affordable care. Smith said he also wants to look for ways to reduce the out-of-pocket costs for people receiving subsidized health insurance through the state's exchange. Rep. Bill Lippert (D), the newly appointed chair of the House Health Care Committee, said he supports increasing Medicaid payments, but would also like to address affordability in healthcare. After two decades on the House Judiciary Committee, and nearly a decade as its chair, Smith tapped Lippert to run the Health Care Committee. Gov. Shumlin's budget is expected outline how, and to what extent, he plans to increase Medicaid payments.
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