Hospitals join to take big health overhaul step

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 18, 2013 at 3:34 pm •  Published: January 18, 2013

The announcement by Burlington-based Fletcher Allen, a teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Vermont College of Medicine, and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, the hospital affiliated with Dartmouth's Geisel Medical School, was welcomed by Gov. Peter Shumlin, who said it squared with his push for a streamlined, universal health care system to serve all Vermonters, who are to have government-backed health insurance by 2017.

"The success of health care reform depends on transforming into a more effective, efficient health care system," Shumlin said in a statement. "We need our health care providers to lead this effort. The OneCare ACO is a great example of how health care providers can step up to the challenge, and government can support them."

But when hospital executives Brumsted and Todd Moore, a Fletcher Allen vice president who will serve as CEO of OneCare, unveiled their plans to a Vermont Senate Committee, they got some tough questions from lawmakers.

Some members of the committee wanted to know whether any of the cost savings it's hoped the ACO will achieve will go back to patients in the form of lower health care premiums or co-pays. Others questioned whether the statewide reach would lead to a health care monopoly in Vermont.

Brumsted and Dr. John Butterly, executive medical director at Dartmouth, said both their institutions are non-profits that are always trying to provide the most affordable care they can.