The Care Board’s Balancing Act

August 10, 2017

The Green Mountain Care Board made two decisions this week that, taken together, affect health insurance premiums for every customer on Vermont Health Connect. On Wednesday, the board declared that MVP Health Care could raise premiums by an average of 3.5 percent, and on Thursday, they capped Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont’s increases at 9.2 percent.

Regulators set both rates lower than insurers had requested, but many consumers, advocates, and even members of the Green Mountain Care Board have said that these rates don't go far enough towards making health insurance more affordable for Vermonters. VTDigger’s health care reporter Erin Mansfield explains.

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Returning to Coventry

August 3, 2017

Cynthia Diaz, the now-former clerk and treasurer in Coventry, admitted in civil court this week to destroying a thumb drive containing records of the town’s finances. Diaz still has not faced criminal charges over town officials' suspicions that she embezzled roughly $1.4 million in public funds.

Reporter Dan Schwartz posted his last dispatch from the Northeast Kingdom town this week. In it, he describes how the Selectboard's Scott Morley fought to get control of town functions out of Diaz's hands. Still, Morley and others wonder why numerous investigators have not been able to build a case against her. On this week's podcast, Dan tells us what he's learned since we last spoke about the town.

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Repeal Debate Redux

July 27, 2017

Since returning from the July 4th recess, Senate Republicans have continued to push for a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Last week, faltering support for their repeal-and-replace measure, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, left observers wondering if the bill was doomed.

A dramatic vote to proceed on debating the proposal earlier this week has touched off days of tension in Washington. On this week's podcast, VTDigger's Elizabeth Hewitt calls from a Capitol Hill phone booth to tell us how the Senate discussion has evolved.

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Inside the McAllister Trial

July 20, 2017

Norm McAllister, a former state senator from Franklin County, has continually maintained that his relationships with three women who accused him of sexual assault and prostitution were consensual. But over the past two years, those accusers — and state prosecutors — have told a different story.

McAllister’s weeklong trial on one accuser’s charges came to a conclusion Friday night with a mixed verdict that left neither side satisfied. VTDigger’s Morgan True and Seven Days’ Mark Davis were both in the room. In this week’s podcast, they take us behind the scenes at the courthouse in St. Albans where jurors decided on McAllister’s case.

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The Trump Budget Threat

July 13, 2017

While new information regarding Russian government involvement in President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign dominated national news this week, VTDigger’s Washington, D.C. reporting has focused on a different story from the Trump White House.

Multiple budget proposals released by the Trump administration this spring have provided a revealing look into the president’s funding priorities. If Congress approves a budget that looks anything like these blueprints, federally funded programs in Vermont could see major cuts.

On this week's podcast, Jasper Craven, who reported from Washington, D.C. for the first six months of this year, explains the key provisions.

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Obamacare Repeal and Vermont

July 6, 2017

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the Senate would delay its vote on legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Next week, legislators return to Washington to resume discussion of a health care proposal that could have a major impact on Vermont.

VTDigger health care reporter Erin Mansfield explains how the ACA has impacted the state and what health care in Vermont might look like if the law is repealed.

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Jane Sanders and Burlington College Explained

June 29, 2017

Last week, VTDigger reported that Jane Sanders, the wife of Sen. Bernie Sanders, has hired attorneys to represent her in a Justice Department probe of a land deal she orchestrated as president of Burlington College. Records obtained by VTDigger in April confirmed that the investigation was taking place.

This week's podcast features two stories about Sanders’ leadership at the school. Morgan True talks about the land deal that has brought federal investigators to the now-defunct college's campus. Plus, Jasper Craven breaks down an arrangement Sanders made with a woodworking school run by her daughter that has raised questions in recent months.

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An Epidemic Evolves

June 22, 2017

The number of opiate overdoses in Vermont has increased every year since 2014, and preliminary numbers from the first quarter of 2017 indicate that the state is on track to break another record this year. This week, Morgan True describes a recent initiative to help high-risk individuals through coordination between law enforcement, social service agencies and others. Plus, Elizabeth Hewitt tracks the rise of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that accounts for an increasing number of accidental overdoses every year.

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Special Session Preview

June 15, 2017

Last month, Vermont's legislators did what they do every year: they passed a budget bill and adjourned. But this year, they did so knowing that Gov. Phil Scott would veto that budget because it did not address his proposal to make changes to teachers’ health care negotiations. The special legislative session to finalize a resolution to the standoff begins next Wednesday.

Erin Mansfield, VTDigger's health care reporter, joins Tiffany Pache, our education reporter, for an overview of next week's action.

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Coventry’s Missing Money

June 8, 2017

About 1,000 people live in the Northeast Kingdom town of Coventry. About $1.4 million may be missing from the town's bank accounts.

Six independent auditors have identified financial gaps under the watch of Coventry's longtime treasurer, Cynthia Diaz. After thirteen years, she may finally be forced out of office this week.

VTDigger's Dan Schwartz discusses what we know about Diaz, and Editor Anne Galloway talks about what we still hope to find out from public records.

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