MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) – Vermont regulators have rejected a 10% midyear rate hike for two hospitals, including the state’s largest, that administrators were trying to cover so-called historical inflationary pressures. Regulators instead approved much smaller increases for the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington and Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin.
The Green Mountain Care Board on Friday approved a rate increase of 2.5% for UVM Medical Center and 2.7% for Central Vermont by a vote of 3-2, Vermont Public Radio reported.
John Brumsted, president and CEO of UVM Health Network, said the slack rate hikes would not cover the medical system’s expenses.
“The Green Mountain Care Board’s mid-year budget adjustment requests from the University of Vermont Medical Center and Central Vermont Medical Center after several years of denying hospitals the budget increases needed to maintain access to services and facilities Investing is eroding large parts of Vermont’s not-for-profit, community-based health care safety net,” Brumsted said in a written statement.
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Inflation has pushed up prices for everything from medicines to surgical equipment, according to UVM Health Network, while ongoing labor shortages are causing hospitals to pay higher wages to traveling nurses and full-time staff, the news channel reported.
Kevin Mullin, chief executive officer of Green Mountain Care, said ahead of Friday’s vote that Vermont’s healthcare system is becoming prohibitive and unsustainable and that he believes hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare providers across the country are feeling the same pressure.
“I don’t think that solves the problem. But it recognizes the shoes that the people at UVM are in now, given the type of pressure that has been placed on each and every one of our hospitals across the state,” he said.
Board member Tom Pelham voted against the increases, saying allowing hospitals to come in mid-year to raise rates goes against what the board is supposed to be doing to control healthcare costs.
Vermont insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield also opposed rate hikes.
“Hospitals must be held accountable for meeting their annual budgets,” said Sara Teachout, spokeswoman for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont, in response to the vote. “You need to balance both cost pressures and expenses along with all of Vermont’s employers and families.”
Last month, the board denied Rutland Regional Medical Center’s request for a 9 percent increase.
This story has been corrected to show that the board rejected another request for a hospital rate hike in March, not April.
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