Update 3-23-20 from the Executive Director: COVID-19 and Home Health Care
Over the last two weeks, the VNAs of Vermont has been entirely focused on helping Vermont respond to COVID-19.
We helped launch a coalition of health care provider groups who are working closely together to obtain the state and regulatory flexibility providers need at this time. Our mutual goal is to eliminate all state and federal regulatory barriers to an effective response to the crisis.
The approach is multi-pronged. The Scott administration has already launched a variety of actions it can take without further legislative authority, the most significant of which are childcare for the health care workforce and financial assistance for the health care and long-term care systems. Some actions – like adding to the cadre of physicians and nurses allowed to care for Vermonters and expanding payment for telehealth – require legislative action. House and Senate leaders are working on an omnibus COVID-19 response bill (H.742) via teleconference to the extent allowed under law, with an aim to convene once – with social distancing in place - for a required in-person votes. That’s expected this week.
The coalition is turning its attention to a statewide federal waiver that would lift Medicare barriers, allowing a more flexible and effective response. There are several provisions related to home health that would allow agencies to enhance their already critical role – most notably relaxing the “homebound” requirement. That would allow more individuals to receive care at home, relieving pressure on the hospital system and further reducing the need for congregate settings like hospitals and nursing facilities.
During this time of great uncertainty, the VNAs of Vermont will do all we can to help members fulfill their commitments to their communities.
For more information about COVID-19 and home health care in Vermont, visit our resource page.
Jill Mazza Olson, Executive Director, VNAs of Vermont