Local hospital officials to talk about all-payer care, UVMHN affiliation

MIDDLEBURY — This coming Monday, the Addison County community will have the opportunity to engage the leaders who are steering the healthcare system on the local and state level.
Porter Medical Center President Dr. Fred Kniffin will be joined by Dr. John Brumsted, president and CEO of the UVM Health Network, to update the community on the progress they’ve made since the affiliation of the two health care institutions became effective in April. The community-wide Town Hall Meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 23, in the conference room at Middlebury Regional EMS off Porter Drive.
Six months ago, just after the affiliation was announced, the new affiliates presented a shared vision for the positive change that the relationship would bring about.
“A lot has happened” in six short months, says Porter Vice President for Public Relations Ron Hallman. “What we’re hoping to do on Monday is to give our community a six-month report on how we are doing on advancing all of those promises and delivering on the vision.”
That vision, Hallman explained, includes “access to care, clinical integration (which involves a new electronic medical record system), potential efficiencies and savings to Porter through shared services and scale, facilities improvements … and healthcare reform.”
The reform Hallman mentions refers to payment reform. Last fall, the Legislature signed on to pilot the “all-payer” model for five years. The UVM Health Network, including Porter, is going to be an integral participant in this trial.
All-payer turns the traditional payment system inside out. Doctors and hospitals sign up to manage their payments through an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) that allocates Medicare, Medicaid and other insurance money on a per-capita basis, rather than the standard “fee-for-service” reimbursement model. OneCare Vermont, the principal ACO in this pilot, is partially owned by the UVM Health Network.
Health providers are excited about all-payer because it encourages them to collaborate on their goals of keeping people healthy. Instead of being paid for prescribing medication and performing procedures, they are rewarded for helping patients stay healthy.
The all-payer transition has been in the works for the entirety of 2017. At the start of the new year, this experiment kicks into high gear, when the payment system goes live for a significant chunk of the network’s patient base.
A sea change is happening in Vermont healthcare, and Brumsted and Kniffin are at the helm. Monday’s conversation will proceed with about 50 minutes of remarks from the two executives, followed by an open Q & A. 
Hallman emphasizes the “golden opportunity” this event provides to the community “to come and hear directly from the leaders about how this important community resource is doing,” promising to “stay as long as people want” in order to “answer all the questions we can answer.”

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