Hospitals, state board battle over spending increase

Although Massachusetts just signed into law a sweeping bill to control healthcare price increases, its neighbor to the north has quietly been doing the same thing for more than a year now, reported Vermont Public Radio.

That state's Green Mountain Care Board was brought to life in May 2011, and now it is poised to dictate annual budgets for the state's hospitals, the article noted.

Vermont's 14 hospitals are seeking budget increases of about 7 percent for the coming year. However, the board wants to keep costs at around 3.75 percent, and it's likely not to budge, according to VTDigger.org.

"We have a responsibility to hold down costs. So we'll be looking at all of these requests with an eye toward how we can stay within that target, because we don't think Vermonters can afford more than that," Anya Rader Wallack, Green Mountain Care's chairperson, told VPR. She noted that some flexibility will be provided if the hospitals can show they're investing money in initiatives that will keep prices down in the future.

The annual cost growth for hospitals averaged more than 10 percent between 2000 and 2009, with budgets doubling over that period of time, according to VTDigger.org.

The board will hold a hearing on the matter later on this month and issue rulings in September.

For more:
- read the VPR article
- here's the Vermont Digger article

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