Journal of the Senate
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
The Senate was called to order by the President.
Devotional exercises were conducted by the Reverend Susan McKnight of Warren.
Committee Bill Introduced; Rules Suspended; Bill Committed
Senate committee bill of the following title was introduced, read the first time, and, under the rule, placed on the Calendar for notice tomorrow:
By the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs,
An act relating to having the cost of picking up and hauling milk paid by the purchaser.
Thereupon, pending entry of the bill on the Calendar for notice tomorrow, on motion of Senator Kittell, the rules were suspended and the bill was taken up for immediate consideration.
Thereupon, pending second reading of the bill, on motion of Senator Kittell, the bill was committed to the Committee on Agriculture.
Senate resolution of the following title was offered, read the first time and is as follows:
By Senators Collins, Kittell, Ayer and Giard,
S.R. 10. Senate resolution in opposition to the issuance of a certificate of need for a proposed ambulatory surgical center.
Whereas, 18 V.S.A. § 9431 provides that it is the policy of the state of Vermont that “all new health care projects be offered and developed in a manner which avoids unnecessary duplication and contains or reduces increases in the cost of delivering services,” and
Whereas, this law also requires that a new health care facility maintain and improve “the quality and access to health care services,” and
Whereas, a proposed ambulatory surgical center is included within the scope of this statutory directive, and therefore, the Commissioner of Banking, Insurance, Securities, and Health Care Administration (the Commissioner) is required to grant an ambulatory surgical center a certificate of need (CON) prior to the facility’s construction and offering of any medical services to the public, and
Whereas, the Commissioner will grant a CON only if the public policy objectives stated in 18 V.S.A. § 9431 are satisfied, and
Whereas, a proposal is pending before the Commissioner for the establishment of an ambulatory surgical center, and
Whereas, three area hospitals, Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Northwest Medical Center in St. Albans, and Porter Medical Center in Middlebury, have testified in this CON review process that they have sufficient capacity in their existing surgical suites to provide the same surgical care that the new organization is proposing, and that granting the CON would, contrary to law, be authorizing the duplication of existing medical services, and
Whereas, during a period of time when cost containment has been a major concern in the health care field, a proposed new surgical center would add in excess of $2 million in capital expenses to Vermont’s health care system, and
Whereas, the center is proposing an operating margin of 20–40 percent while, in contrast, Northwest Medical Center operates on a margin in the 6–8 percent range, and
Whereas, revenue-generating services that an ambulatory surgical center would provide are important for hospitals to offer in order that the hospitals are able to provide essential but money-losing services, including obstetrics, emergency rooms, wellness programs, and mental health support, and
Whereas, if the requested CON is granted to the proposed ambulatory surgical center, more ambulatory centers seeking to draw on hospitals’ revenue-generating medical services will emerge, and
Whereas, prospective patients should be concerned that a stand-alone ambulatory surgical center is not held to the same quality standards as a hospital, and
Whereas, the fact that health care regulations are applied less stringently to stand-alone ambulatory surgical centers than to hospitals affects both the quality of service and the cost for patients, and
Whereas, as a result of this lower regulatory burden, the proposed ambulatory surgical center will have an unfair competitive advantage over a hospital, and
Whereas, the granting of the center’s application would violate fundamental Vermont public policy pertaining to construction of new health care facilities, now therefore be it
Resolved by the Senate:
That the Senate of the State of Vermont expresses its opposition to the Commissioner of Banking, Insurance, Securities, and Health Care Administration granting a certificate of need for the construction and operation of a proposed ambulatory surgical center, and be it further
Resolved: That the Secretary of the Senate be directed to send a copy of this resolution to the Public Oversight Commission.
Thereupon, the President, in his discretion, treated the joint resolution as a bill and referred it to the Committee on Health and Welfare.
Bill Amended; Third Reading Ordered
Senator Sears, for the Committee on Judiciary, to which was referred Senate bill entitled:
An act relating to eliminating certain sunset provisions and extending the juvenile proceedings study committee.
Reported recommending that the bill be amended as follows by adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 4 to read as follows:
Sec. 4. EFFECTIVE DATE
This act shall take effect on passage.
And that when so amended the bill ought to pass.
Thereupon, the bill was read the second time by title only pursuant to Rule 43, the recommendation of amendment was agreed to, and pending the question, Shall the bill be read the third time?, Senator Sears moved to amend the bill in Sec. 2, by striking out the following: “the 2003 Adj. Sess. (2004)” and inserting in lieu thereof the following: 2003, which was agreed to.
Thereupon, third reading of the bill was ordered.
On motion of Senator Shumlin, the Senate adjourned until eleven o’clock and thirty minutes in the morning.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street