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Governor embraces Vermont State Hospital futures master plan with $61.4 million in ARRA funds

first_imgGovernor Jim Douglas today announced his full support for both the Future’s Plan concept and the specific recommendations of the Department of Mental Health. The Governor also announced a funding plan that will allow these new facilities to open starting in 2012 and fully close the Vermont State Hospital by 2014.  The Governor proposes to appropriate any future extension of enhanced Medicaid matching funds (also known as FMAP) to fulfilling the plans outlined in the Future Group report.“Even in difficult financial times,” said Governor Douglas, “good ideas can move forward and be funded in a fiscally responsible manner.  It is fortuitous that the estimated amount of one-time enhanced ARRA funding matches up squarely with the need for one-time funding to build the Futures Plan.”Since 2005, the Futures Group and successive citizen committees, established by the Legislature, have considered alternatives to the physically and functionally obsolete Vermont State Hospital. The  Department of Mental Health recommends a community based model that includes a state operated 15-Bed Secure Residential Recovery Program in Waterbury and  forty-five (45) new intensive inpatient beds with 12 at Rutland Regional Medical Center and another 33 adjacent to the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in White River Junction in collaboration with Dartmouth Medical School. The estimated design and construction costs of this Plan are $61.4 million.The Future’s Plan is fully consistent with the Future Group’s recommendation that the new model-of-care address the concepts of integration of mental health with general health care, be based on the best practices, and reflect Vermont’s longstanding commitment to community-based care. A full description of the Futures Plan is attached.For months, there has been discussion in Washington about extending enhanced FMAP for six additional months from January 2011 through June 2011.  President Obama included this in his recent budget recommendation and the House of Representatives included it in the Jobs bill passed late last year.  If approved by Congress, this enhanced funding will bring between $55.5 million and $62 million in one-time ARRA funding to Vermont.  The Governor’s FY2011 Recommended Budget did not include this possible funding.In his Budget Address in January, the Governor stated:“I am not counting on additional federal assistance in my budget. But even if new aid does eventually come our way, we must recognize that federal recovery funds will not flow forever, nor should they. We must take responsibility for our own programs and begin to step down our funding levels gradually and responsibly. By starting now the difficult process of realigning human services spending within currently available resources, we will spare programs from devastating cuts when the federal spigot is inevitably turned off.”“Any additional funds from Washington must be used to transition to a more effective, efficient and affordable state government, while investing in one-time efforts to create jobs and grow our tax base.”“By using these enhanced one-time federal funds for a very important one-time human service need serving our most severely mentally ill neighbors, we can move quickly to honor our commitment to the mental health community,” said Governor Douglas. “This approach leaves the State more flexibility to fund important investments through the Capital Bill in future years including information technology improvements and deferred maintenance on state buildings.  But most importantly, it means that Vermonters can receive intensive psychiatric care in state-of-the-art community and inpatient programs. ”Source: Governor’s office. 2.18.2010last_img

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