Thank you for raising your voice to urge Vermont lawmakers to support the American Heart Association’s advocacy priorities. The legislative session ended on May 12th with great news on a number of our critical policy efforts.
Please take a moment to thank legislators for passing legislation to fund postpartum care, early childhood education, tobacco prevention, and universal school meals. We accomplished so much with your help!
- Expanding Medicaid postpartum health care: The legislature passed language instructing the Agency of Human Services to seek to amend Vermont’s Medicaid plan to extend Medicaid coverage from 60 days to 12 months postpartum. Lawmakers also included $950,000 to cover the cost in the state budget. Timely postpartum visits provide an opportunity to address chronic and pregnancy-related health conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension; mental health status, including postpartum depression; and substance use disorders.
- Early Care and Education: Working with statewide partners including Let’s Grow Kids and numerous childcare organizations, we were able to secure two significant funding sources for early childhood education. Lawmakers included $6 million for workforce stability for early childhood education providers to address emergent and existent circumstances following the COVID pandemic. They also included an additional $4.9 million, to fund greater access to childcare via CCFAP (childcare financial assistance program.)
- Universal School Meals: Joining the good work of our friends at Hunger Free VT, we were able to pass, the Universal School Meals Act funded with $29 million from the Education Fund to provide breakfast and lunch at no cost to Vermont students. The legislation also requires the Agency of Education to report to the legislature in January the status of the program and participation by school and grade. It also instructs the Joint Fiscal Office to look at long-term sources of funding for the program including a possible sugary beverage tax.
- Additional Tobacco Cessation and Control Funding: Lawmakers included an additional $1 million in funding in the budget to target youth vaping and cessation emphasizing collaboration between substance use disorder and tobacco prevention efforts. In Vermont, 28% of high school students use tobacco products. More than 1 in 4 Vermont high school students now use e-cigarettes.
Thank you for your help in making this legislative session a success!
Tina and Rebecca
Your VT Advocacy Team