Looking Ahead: A Home Health and Hospice Preview of the 2024 Legislative Session

The holiday season marks a unique time on the VNAs of Vermont calendar. The end of the year provides an opportunity to look back and reflect on a year full of ups and downs for home health and hospice care, in Vermont and nationally. The year-end also inspires us to look ahead to the opportunities and challenges 2024 may bring, as we prepare for the start of the 2024 legislative session.

2023 has been a year of highs and lows. Thanks to the support of the Scott administration and the legislature, the home health provider tax was eliminated, removing a challenging fiscal burden on the agencies who care for our family members, friends and neighbors 365 days a year.

However, 2023 also brought significant Medicare cuts that threaten access to care for Vermonters, and the home health community experienced the tragic and senseless loss of Joyce Grayson, a home health nurse who was murdered during a patient visit in Connecticut.

Nationally, violence against health care workers is on the rise. In 2024 VNAs of Vermont will be asking the legislature for a commonsense policy change that will give home health agencies more flexibility to protect employees.

Safety is a top priority for our member agencies. Everyday home health and hospice workers face uncertainty when they enter unknown environments to care for the Vermonters who depend on them. No person should have to place themselves at risk while providing compassionate health care to our communities.

We will also be calling upon the legislature to ensure that Medicaid rates for vital services are more in line with the actual costs of care. Chronic underfunding, substantial Medicare cuts, a workforce crisis, and rising costs of care have created an unsustainable fiscal reality for Vermont’s home health and hospice system.

Specifically, we are supporting full implementation of the increases for home-based Choices for Care services outlined in the February 15, 2023 DVHA rate study and for skilled home health rates to be brought in line with Medicare rates, as is already the case for other provider groups.

We need the legislature to invest in stabilizing the home health and hospice system to preserve access to the supports Vermonters rely on to heal or age at home.

I want to wish you a happy holidays and hope you are able to spend it with the people you love.

Jill Mazza Olson
Executive Director

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