31st Annual Meeting Recap

by Lisa Ventriss, President

The 31st Annual Membership Meeting featured a healthy menu of Roundtable business, education on current affairs, networking, and generous hospitality from Stoweflake Resort & Spa. Members ratified the election of directors Mark Crow and Don George to their first three-year term, and ratified the re-election of directors Tom Dee, Mark Foley, Walter Frame, Judy O’Connell, and Mike Walsh.

Other notable elements included the insightful and nuanced legislative outlook from John Hollar, Downs Rachlin Martin, who, among other things, observed the divergent views about the role of government shared by Governor Scott and House Speaker Johnson and the anticipatory struggles over property taxes, education funding, and paid family leave.  Tax experts Stephen Trenholm and Rick Wolfish from Gallagher, Flynn & Co. provided an overview of key provisions contained within the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, all of which conveyed complexity and uncertainty around the changes that will take affect with 2018 filings.

The highlight of the afternoon was the presentation by Roundtable members on the current challenges and opportunities in Vermont’s health care industry. The panel included Jill Berry Bowen, Northwestern Vermont Medical Center; John Brumsted, MD, University of Vermont Health Network; Tom Dee, Southwestern Vermont Health Care; Don George, BCBSVT; and Matthew Houde, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.

Each presenter delivered a unique message about the ways in which their institution is leading and remaining relevant through a transformational period in the industry: Berry Bowen addressed the issue of prevention – “keeping healthy people healthy” – through the RiseVT initiative, which began in Franklin and Grand Isle counties and is now being scaled statewide via sponsorship of OneCare Vermont. Brumsted addressed the systems approach to health care reform, which he said, should be able to deliver services at or below the cost of inflation. He indicated that the UVMHN commercial rate increase was .72% in 2018 and has been below inflation for the last few years. Dee addressed the economic development role that SVHC is playing in partnership with other business and community leaders, saying that “H” is no longer just for health care; health care is buying homes, “Healthy Homes”. They are helping to create a vibrant economy to support people, which can only happen in partnership with others. George addressed the impacts of aging on health care costs and the “myths” of aging. Namely, that aging affects lifestyle and health status (no, those effects happen earlier in life); and, it is inevitable that we’re going to use more services (no, only if you let your health status decline). He encouraged healthy behaviors by creating social environments (including work places) that will improve performances, drive economic engines and improve lives. And, Houde spoke to the ways in which this NH border health care institution and co-founder of OneCare Vermont, is a major economic engine and service provider to Vermonters.

Thank you to all who attended and contributed your voice to a successful meeting.