Senate Backs Smaller State Hospital

03/01/12 7:34AM By John Dillon

The state Senate has responded to concerns raised by Governor Peter Shumlin and has limited the size of the proposed new state hospital.

Earlier in the session, the House passed legislation for a 25-bed facility designed in part to replace the Waterbury hospital that was flooded during Tropical Storm Irene.

Washington Democrat Progressive Senator Anthony Pollina argued that larger hospital with 25 beds was needed to care for people with mental illness.

(Pollina) "I think we need to have a strong community based mental health system without a doubt. But I also know we need a facility that's large enough to meet the need of those patients. It also has to be large enough to be able to attract and maintain the staff."

But the Shumlin Administration warned that the federal government would not reimburse the state for patients cared for in a hospital that was larger than 16 beds.

Senate President John Campbell said the Senate could be making a costly mistake if it voted for a larger hospital. Campbell said the state risks losing $10 million a year if it built a 25-bed facility.

(Campbell) "Medicaid, they will not pay for their 60 percent of the split. It's a 60-40 split. Therefore the state of Vermont will be responsible for the operational costs on an annual basis."

The amendment to increase the size of the hospital failed on a 19 to 10 vote. And the bill received final approval.

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