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Shumlin scraps Medicaid change after one day

medicaid

MONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin said Friday he will scrap a $4.9 million budget-savings initiative he proposed just one day earlier that would have changed Medicaid eligibility requirements for pregnant women. Shumlin, who delivered his final budget address to the Legislature Thursday, had planed to raise the income level at which pregnant women qualify for the Medicaid from 138 percent of the federal poverty level to 213 percent. That equates to about $16,000 and $25,000, respectively. Women who no longer qualified for Medicaid under the governor’s proposal would have been eligible for subsidized health plans on Vermont Health Connect, the state’s online health insurance marketplace. A change in state law would be required, however, to allow pregnant women to enroll in a health plan outside of the open enrollment period. Continue Reading →

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Story & Video: Lawmakers divided over budget address

Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Staff Photo
House Minority Leader Don Turner, R-Milton, gives his response to Gov. Peter Shumlin's final budget address on Thursday in Montpelier.

MONTPELIER — Depending upon whom you ask, the proposals offered by Gov. Peter Shumlin during his final budget address are either steps to improve Medicaid and educational opportunities for children, or yet-another call for new taxes. Shumlin offered a number of ideas as he rolled out his final budget, such as new taxes for doctors and dentists to make up for the Medicaid funding shortfall, and and increased fees for mutual funds to offer savings accounts for every child born in Vermont. Sen. Majority leader Joe Benning, R-Caledonia, compared the speech to a host offering prizes on a game show. “I don’t think it should be anybody’s prerogative to stand at the podium like Bob Barker on ‘The Price is Right,’” said Benning, who took issue with the governor’s statement that last year’s rejection of an increase in the payroll tax resulted in federal matching funds being left on the table in Washington. “We have a wicked opiate problem in this state, and this legislature has a wicked addiction of its own, and that’s its enslavement to federal funding,” Benning said. Continue Reading →

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Shumlin seeks 3.1 percent boost in FY2017 budget, expansion of provider assessment

Gov. Peter Shumlin delivers the final budget address of his governorship inside the House chamber. (Times Argus/Jeb Wallace-Brodeur)

MONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin is looking to address a deficit in the state’s Medicaid program by expanding a tax on health care providers in the $1.537 billion 2017 fiscal year budget proposal he revealed Thursday. Shumlin, a Democrat who is not seeking re-election, delivered the final budget proposal of his tenure to lawmakers Thursday. His proposal, outlined in his 30-minute address inside the House Chamber, would boost spending by 3.1 percent over the current fiscal year — after mid-year adjustments are put in place. Shumlin touted his budget as responsible and necessary, noting he closed a projected $68 million gap between anticipated revenues and spending without the use of one-time funding for ongoing expenses for the first time since before the Great Recession. The 3.1 percent spending increase matches projected revenues, he said. Continue Reading →

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Budget adjustment goes to the House floor

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Mitzi Johnson speaks to the committee about the annual budget adjustment bill. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

MONTPELIER — The House Appropriations Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to advance the annual mid-year budget adjustment bill after settling on how to appropriate the final $450,000 in available revenue in a give-and-take between members. The adjustment to the current 2016 fiscal year budget addresses about $85 million in needs. The majority of that — $52.6 million — is in the state’s Medicaid program. The budget adjustment covers the state’s $22.9 million share of the Medicaid gap. “We’re funding the Medicaid caseload,” Chairwoman Mitzi Johnson, D-South Hero, said. Continue Reading →

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State officials not banking on windfall from Keurig sale

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MONTPELIER — The pending sale of Keurig Green Mountain is set to make a number of shareholders wealthy, but it also could deliver a significant windfall to the state’s coffers through the collection of capital gains taxes. The acquisition of Keurig, the Waterbury-based coffee giant, by JAB Holding Co. was announced in December, but is expected to close some time in the first quarter of 2016. The $13.9 billion transaction is an all cash deal and will pay shareholders $92 per share. Generally speaking, anyone earning income through a capital gain can exempt the first $5,000 in earnings, according to Tax Commissioner Mary Peterson. Continue Reading →

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Shumlin won’t rule out new revenue for Medicaid

Gov. Peter Shumlin discusses the state's Medicaid program in an interview Monday, Jan. 11, 2016. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

MONTPELIER — Outgoing Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin is not ruling out the possibility of raising new revenue to pay for the state’s Medicaid program when he delivers his annual budget address on Thursday. Shumlin, in an interview with the Rutland Herald and the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus Monday, promised to deliver a balanced budget for the 2017 fiscal year on Thursday. That means he must close a projected gap of $58.5 million that is largely driven by the Medicaid program. The Medicaid deficit in the upcoming fiscal year is projected to be about $53 million. That’s because the state expanded the program under the federal Affordable Care Act. Continue Reading →

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WATCH: Capitol Beat — Week 1 at the State House

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Vermont Press Burea chief Neal Goswami sits down with Senate Majority Leader Philip Baruth, D-Chittenden, to discuss the suspension of Franklin County Republican Sen. Norm McAllister. House Minority Leader Don Turner, R-Milton, also joins the program to discuss Gov. Peter Shumlin’s State of the State address. Continue Reading →

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Health care costs drive budget adjustment

Andy Pallito

MONTPELIER — Health care costs are are driving a proposed budget adjustment from the Governor’s Office to the tune of $70 million. The House Appropriations Committee spent Monday reviewing a proposal that would add an additional $88.9 million to the FY 2016 budget, with the lion’s share of the increase due to the state’s expansion of health care. Much of that will be covered by federal funding. “Of the 88.9 million, $70 million is for DVHA (Department of Vermont Health Access) or Medicaid,” said Andy Pallito, commissioner of the Department of Finance and Management. Since 2012, the state has made a concerted effort to provide health care for all Vermont residents. Continue Reading →

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Rebuilt Waterbury office complex officially opened

Gov. Peter Shumlin and other state and federal officials gather for the official reopening of the newly renovated Waterbury State Office Complex, heavily damaged by Tropical Storm Irene in August 2013. The roughly $130-million project will allow approximately 900 state employees to return, including the first batch later this month. (Times Argus/Stefan Hard)

WATERBURY — Gov. Peter Shumlin and other officials formally opened the rebuilt Waterbury State Office Complex that was destroyed more than four years ago by the floodwaters of Tropical Storm Irene. It was late August 2011 when the Winooski River spilled over its banks and devastated the town of Waterbury, including the state office complex. Work began in August 2013 to revamp the complex. On Monday, Shumlin and Congressman Peter Welch joined state and local officials to cut the ribbon on the new building. “All I can say is, we’ve come a long way, baby,” Shumlin said. Continue Reading →

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Story + Video: Shumlin says $8.4 million needed to boost child protection

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https://youtu.be/CLL6zC-3XfU

MONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin on Thursday laid out an $8.4 million plan to add 35 workers at the Department for Children and Families as well as an additional superior court judge and increased resources for the Defender General and State’s Attorneys Offices because of a growing demand for child protection services. Shumlin, speaking at a State House news conference, said the state’s child welfare system has struggled to keep pace with an influx of cases related to substance abuse, and opiate addiction in particular. The number of children in state custody has ballooned from 982 in September 2013 to 1,373 as of this past September. The increase, according to Shumlin, is largely driven by parents addicted to opiates. A DCF survey of cases found that 80 percent of cases involving children under the age of three were the result of opiate abuse. Continue Reading →

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