By Sue Aranoff

Editor’s note: This commentary is by Susan Aranoff, senior planner and policy analyst for the Vermont Developmental Disabilities Council. The Council is a federally funded public board that supports the advocacy of people with developmental disabilities and their family members.

One of the most promising features of Vermont’s health care reform effort has been the commitment by policy makers, providers and payers to look beyond traditional clinical care in order to address the underlying causes of disease. Termed “the social determinants of health,” factors like early trauma, poverty and housing instability are now thought to have an even greater impact on your health status than visits to the doctor or hospital.

Therefore, it came as a surprise when the Green Mountain Care Board unanimously voted March 13 to approve amendments to OneCare Vermont’s 2018 budget. This decision reduces OneCare’s obligation to spend money on improving population health by over $3 million, or 20 percent. Was this just a temporary course correction or a change in direction?

As an advocacy group concerned for the needs of Vermonters with disabilities, this vote was one more piece of troubling news in an already confusing story. continue reading