State Expands Investigation into Wait Times for Medical Appointments

Days after the Vermont Social Services Agency announced it would investigate wait times for medical appointments at state health agencies, other regulators are joining the fray, according to a press release released by the agency on Friday.

The Green Mountain Care Board, an independent organization that regulates healthcare systems, and the Department of Financial Regulation, which protects consumers and regulates industries, will join the investigation, according to the announcement. Ena Backus, director of health care reform at the Social Services Agency, is expected to lead and coordinate the effort.

In the press release, Mike Smith, secretary of the Social Services Agency, stressed the importance of timely access to medical appointments.

“We are not trying to punish organizations,” he said. “We really want to understand the challenges across the system and help identify ways to remove the barriers. “

Seven days earlier this week, some patients at the University of Vermont Medical Center, based in Burlington, the largest hospital in the University of Vermont Health Network, had been waiting for appointments with an outpatient specialist for weeks and sometimes months.

After the article was published on Wednesday, the State Social Services Agency said it would investigate wait times for medical appointments, although it did not mention the name of the center medical.

University of Vermont Health Network CEO John Brumsted on Wednesday attributed the wait times to pressures from the pandemic, including system-wide staff shortages. Brumsted is committed to addressing these issues, but said the healthcare system would need outside help from the state to fully address the issue.

The network welcomes an investigation, he said.

– Liora Engel Smith

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