Secretary of State Deborah Markowitz today announced the publication of Municipal Law Basics, an easy-to-read handbook designed to help citizens better understand the basic laws that apply to Vermont s municipalities. Markowitz said, If you have ever wondered who oversees local government, or whether you are allowed to tape meetings of your selectboard, or whether citizens may petition the school board to change a policy, then Municipal Law Basics is a publication for you.Markowitz will be using the handbook during the upcoming Town Officers Education Conference series, sponsored by the UVM Extension Service. I receive many calls from people wanting to know how our cities and towns work, says Markowitz. Some of these callers are municipal officials who want to know where their responsibilities begin and end; some are members of the public who want to get involved and who need to know their rights as citizens or the mechanics of the process of governance. It is my hope that this booklet will be a useful resource for local officials and members of the public to help answer these important questions.Municipal Law Basics is available online at www.sec.state.vt.us/publications.html(link is external), or contact the Secretary of State s Office at 802-828-2363 to order a hard copy.
Doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical center in Tomah, Wisconsin, engaged in unsafe clinical practices while the hospital leadership created a culture of fear that compromised care and harmed the staff, according to a preliminary report released today. (Glantz, 3/10) The president’s visit comes two months after he was criticized by Congress and veterans groups for not talking with Arizona veterans during a visit to the state, where he previewed his housing policies. Some members of Congress slammed Obama because he drove right past the hospital without stopping during that visit. The scandal over the medical center’s delays in providing care for veterans, some of them struggling with cancer, suicidal thoughts and other issues, sparked an investigation. It led to revelations that the problem was not limited to the Phoenix facility and that similar lapses were seen at scores of VA facilities. (Thibodeaux and Nakamura, 3/10) The Washington Post: Obama To Visit VA Hospital In Phoenix, The Heart Of Last Summer’s Scandal The Associated Press: Obama To Visit Phoenix VA Hospital That Sparked Scandal Veterans who need to see a doctor often have to travel long distances – 40 miles or more – to get to a Department of Veterans Affairs facility. So last year, after scandals involving long wait times for vets, Congress tried to make getting care easier. The Veterans Choice Act gives veterans the option of using a doctor outside the VA system if VA facilities are more than 40 miles away, or there’s more than a 30-day wait for an appointment. (Walsh, 3/11) And from Wisconsin – President Barack Obama will visit the Arizona veterans’ hospital that prompted an overhaul of veterans’ health care and led to the resignation of the VA secretary, his first visit since reports of mismanagement surfaced nearly a year ago. (3/10) Arizona Republic: VA Crisis Slowly Changing Health-Care System For Veterans Obama To Visit Phoenix VA Hospital Where Scandal Began In related news, NPR examines how the Veterans Choice Act is working and the Arizona Republic takes a look at how the VA system’s culture may be changing. NPR: Veterans Choice Act Fails To Ease Travel Burdens For Vets In Need Of Care The Center for Investigative Reporting: Wisconsin VA’s Opiate Overprescription Harmed Patients, Report Finds This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. The Department of Veterans Affairs’ crisis in health care came to a head in April 2014 at a meeting of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., told his panel, “It appears as though there could be as many as 40 veterans whose deaths could be related to delays in care” within the Phoenix VA Health Care System. The Arizona Republic reported the news the next day, along with allegations by a key whistle-blower. The Republic had been investigating the matter since late 2013. (3/10)