Letter, Opinion

Vote to take care of your neighbors

Dear Editor,

Our centuries-old Vermont tradition of Town Meeting Day is just days away. This year, perhaps the presidential primary on that same day is getting most of the attention, but remember that other important business will happen on Super Tuesday.

Throughout the state, Vermonters will vote on their school and town budgets. Some will vote by Australian ballot. Others will wade through budget items on paper copies of town reports in school auditoriums, defending their priorities to their neighbors using Robert’s Rules and aided by the dry humor of a moderator.

This year, I’m on the ballot myself, running for a seat on the new unified school district board in my community. Whichever forum is used for your city or town, please participate!

One of the items that will likely appear in your town’s budget will be an allocation for your local home health agency. It may appear as part of a social services line. It may be on a list of non-mandated appropriations, all of which will be put to a vote together. In my town, it gets its own article— No. 11. Every town report is different. What’s the same across the state is the need for towns to support their local home health organizations.

Most of the home health and hospice services our member agencies provide are to people covered by Medicare or Medicaid, both government programs. Long-term care – help with bathing, dressing and meals at home – is covered only by Medicaid.

It’s not unusual for home health agencies to spend more on the care of the people in their communities than they receive in payment for those services.  To balance their budgets, they rely on fundraising and appropriations from their local cities and towns.

Home health care has come far since the early 20th century, when the first home health agency received town funding in Vermont. Our members still provide nursing care to people who have left the hospital. They still provide long-term care to Vermonters who want to remain at home as long as possible. But today’s home health includes maternal-child health, rehabilitation of many kinds and telemedicine that allows for constant monitoring and care for complex conditions. Our members provide care to clients at all stages of life.

On this Town Meeting Day, please show your support for your local home health agency!

Jill Mazza Olson,

Executive director, VNAs of Vermont

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