Health Care

Senate endorses open meetings for OneCare

The Vermont Senate has endorsed S.4, the bill that would require the board of directors for the state’s largest health care organization to hold open meetings.

Senators gave preliminary approval to the bill unanimously on Thursday in a voice vote. The Senate is on track to pass the bill Friday.

S.4 affects accountable care organizations, which are administrative entities that represent doctors and agree to be financially at risk for the health of the doctors’ patients.

The bill largely affects OneCare Vermont, which is owned by the University of Vermont Medical Center and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. OneCare is in the process of merging with a similar, smaller accountable care organization.

OneCare’s board of directors would be required to hold open meetings whenever they are making a binding decision. A quorum of the board will still be allowed to meet as long as they don’t take action.

Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden, said the bill is meant to “clearly communicate the situations when they could go behind closed doors” which was not clear in Act 113, the ACO law that passed in 2016.

He described the bill like this: “It’s not technically the Open Meeting Law, but it acts in almost all regards just like it.”

The bill goes into effect Jan. 1.

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Erin Mansfield

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