US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has brought together Obama administration officials, Vermont state lawmakers and the state Department of Mental Health commissioner to discuss federal funding for the Vermont State Hospital. Restoring the hospital’s certification could yield $10 million or more a year in federal reimbursements for the facility that the state now spends more than $20 million annually to operate and maintain.The state hospital in Waterbury first lost its federal certification in 2003, regained it in 2004, but lost it again in 2005. The lack of certification makes the facility ineligible to claim Medicare or Medicaid reimbursements that could cover more than half of the hospital’s costs.In July, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, citing concerns about supervision of a single patient, again denied certification for Vermont’s only state-run mental hospital. The decision followed an unannounced visit by investigators to the 54-bed psychiatric hospital.While federal investigators have cited lapses, the hospital was certified in 2008 by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals, an independent, not-for-profit organization which accredits and certifies more than 15,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States.“The quality of patient care must be our top priority, but the state and Vermont taxpayers deserve a reasonable process for correcting problems and restoring the hospital’s certification,” Sanders said. “In these difficult financial times, it is unfair to Vermont taxpayers that the state is losing out on $10 million a year in federal reimbursements.”Sanders convened the meeting of representatives from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Commissioner Michael Hartman of the Vermont Department of Mental Health, and state Sens. Susan Bartlett (D-Lamoille) and Diane Snelling (R-Chittenden).“We are on the same page and they gave us a path forward,” Sanders said afterward.Sen. Bernie Sanders meets in his U.S. Senate office in Washington, D.C., with (L to R) Cynthia Mann, director of Medicaid and State Operations for the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Commissioner Michael Hartman of the Vermont Department of Mental Health, and Angela Brice-Smith, deputy director of surveys and certification for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Photo by Frank Fey for the U.S. SenateSource: Sanders’ office. WASHINGTON, October 20, 2009
In preparation for the total eclipse, I read “American Eclipse: A Nation’s Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World,” by David Baron. I highly recommend this read if you are a history and/or science nerd. It details the total solar eclipse of 1878 that swept the wild west and even what Denver was like around that time. It had just enough science in it that I knew what I was looking up at when the moon started making its way across the sun.“For three glorious minutes, I felt transported to another planet, indeed to a higher plane of reality, as my consciousness departed the earth and I gaped at an alien sky … I felt something I had never experienced before — a visceral connection to the universe …” -David BaronWe spent the weekend getting to know Greyrocks Reservoir in Wyoming in preparation for the big show on Monday morning. We set up camp Friday morning along the shore of the reservoir and began the waiting game. Greyrocks Reservoir sits just north of Wheatland, Wyoming, solidly inside the line of totality. It touted unbearable heat during the day, and gloriously breezy, perfectly temperature evenings. We slept with the van doors open and let the nighttime air relax us to sleep. Mornings were spent staring into the endless blue sky wondering how everything would change.Saturday and Sunday were filled with friends and family slowly filtering in, setting up tents and ez ups, sharing food, drinks, and excitement for Monday morning. We cooled off in the reservoir and let the dogs run around in the mud. We put our chairs in a circle and talked about how it felt not as crowded as we expected and like we had our own little plot of beachfront property. It was like any old ordinary camping trip, but with a major celestial event happening at the end. If you like the gear we’re reppin’, or what we’re wearing, check out some of the sponsors that make this tour possible: La Sportiva, Crazy Creek, National Geographic, RovR Products, Sea to Summit, Mountain House, LifeStraw, and Lowe Alpine. I’m sure every other article about the eclipse tells you you shouldn’t miss it. This one is no different. It exceeded our expectations. This world is a huge, incredible place, and magic still exists, even if it’s scientific magic. Standing under the dark sun with a handful of friends and family is life marker. I will never forget the feeling I had as the moon finally moved fully over the sun, and the world went dark in the middle of the day. Witnessing the moon slowly blot out the sun, and stars appear in the sky during daylight hours, is a once in a lifetime experience. The crickets chirped and the horizon line glowed pink and orange. The corona around the black hole where the sun used to be shimmered with an otherworldly gleam. Everyone I was with screamed with joy and nervousness. For three minutes of totality during the eclipse, the world was a completely unfamiliar place, even though we had made that campsite home for the past three days.