Vermont regulators deny 10% rate hike for 2 hospitals
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont regulators have rejected a 10% mid-year rate increase for two hospitals, including the state’s largest, that administrators sought to cover what they called historic 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 approved a rate increase of 2.5% for the UVM Medical Center and 2.7% for Central Vermont in a 3-2 vote on Friday, Vermont Public Radio reported.
John Brumsted, president and CEO of the UVM Health Network, said the reduced rate hikes will not cover the medical system’s expenses.
“The Green Mountain Care Board’s decisions on mid-year budget adjustment requests from the University of Vermont Medical Center and Central Vermont Medical Center, after multiple years of denying hospitals the budget increases necessary to ensure access to services and invest in facilities, have put at risk major portions of Vermont’s not-for-profit, community-based health care safety net,” Brumsted said in a written statement.
UVM Health Network says inflation has pushed up prices on everything from medicine to surgical equipment while the ongoing labor shortage has hospitals paying higher wages to traveling nurses and full-time staff, the news station reported.
Green Mountain Care Board Chairman Kevin Mullin said before Friday’s vote that the Vermont health care system is becoming unaffordable and unsustainable, and that he believes hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers around the country are feeling the same pressures.
“I don’t think that this solves the problem. But it recognizes the shoes that the people at UVM are in now, given the nature of the pressures that have been put on each and every one of our hospitals around the state,” he said.
Board member Tom Pelham voted against the increases, saying permitting hospitals to come in mid-year to raise rates goes against what the board is supposed to be doing to control health care costs.
Insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont also was opposed to rate hikes.
“Hospitals must be held accountable for meeting their annual budgets,” Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont spokesperson Sara Teachout said in response to the vote. “They need to balance both cost pressures and expenses along with all of Vermont’s employers and families.”
Last month the board rejected Rutland Regional Medical Center’s request for a 9% rate increase.
This story has been corrected to show that the board rejected another hospital rate increase request in March, not April.