Senate OKs Leahy’s Amendment To Delay Border-Crossing Requirements

first_imgSenate OKs Leahys AmendmentTo Delay Border-Crossing Requirements,As Leahy Also Beats Back BidTo Curb 1st Responder Grants To Smaller States Leahy says the lack of sufficientcoordination on the Pass Card (or Passport Card) system betweenDHS and State, and between the Bush Administration and the Government ofCanada, spells trouble for the system.  This has been shaping up asa bureaucratic nightmare that could clog our borders while making us even lesssecure, said Leahy.  We need to prod these agencies to cometo grips with these problems and fix them beforehand, not afterward. In the home stretch to the bills Senate passage Thursday evening,Leahy successfully led the effort to beat back an attempt to weaken the fundingformula he authored for first-responder grants his all-state minimumformula that has brought more than $65 million to Vermont in the last fouryears.  The Leahy grant formula, which he included in the USA PATRIOT Act of2001, assures that Vermont and other states receive basic grants for their firstresponder agencies the police, fire and rescue departments that areresponsible for homeland security and emergency preparedness.  The bid toweaken the Leahy formula lost in a vote of 34 to 66. The certification requirements in LeahysWHTI amendment require the two departments to:1.     Ensure that thetechnology for any Passport Card meets certain security standards andthat DHS and State agree on that technology.2.     Share the technologywith the governments of Canada and Mexico.3.     Justify the fee setfor the Passport Card.  4.     Develop analternative procedure for groups of children traveling across the border underadult supervision with parental consent. WASHINGTON (Thursday, July 13) Vermont Thursday scored twosignificant policy wins engineered by Sen. Patrick Leahy as the U.S. Senate passedthe annual homeland security budget bill. Install all necessary technological infrastructure at the ports of entry to process the cards and train U.S. agents at the border crossings in all aspects of the new technology. 6.     Make the PassportCard available for international land and sea travel between the United States and Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean and Bermuda.7.     Establish a unified implementationdate for all sea and land borders.  The bill also includes Leahys legislation to postpone andimprove implementation of the controversial Pass Card system for bordercrossings, which will require new identity cards and methods for crossing U.S. borders, including the Northern Border with Canada.  Leahy and Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) earlier had added tothe bill their amendment to delay implementation of the Pass Card system part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) — for 17 months, untilJune 1, 2009, and to require the Secretary of Homeland Security and theSecretary of State to certify to Congress that several standards are met beforethe program moves forward.  Leahy is a senior member of the Appropriations Committee and of itsHomeland Security Subcommittee, which handled the Senates work indrafting the annual appropriations bill for the Department of HomelandSecurity.  The bill now goes to conference with the House version of thebill, which does not include Leahys WHTI amendment but which does alsomaintain the Leahy formula for first-responder grants. # # # # #last_img read more

UVM College of Medicine names John Lunde, MD, Buttles Professor of Pathology

first_imgEdwin Bovill, M.D., professor and chair of pathology, has announced that John Lunde, M.D., associate professor of pathology and medicine, has been named the recipient of the Buttles Professorship in Pathology for 2009-2014. Established in 1984 to honor the late Ernest Hiram Buttles, M.D.’08, who served as chair of pathology and bacteriology from 1921 to 1946, the professorship recognizes a pathology faculty member for their commitment to and excellence in the teaching of pathology.Born in 1880 and raised in Brandon, Vt., Dr. Buttles received an undergraduate degree from the University of Vermont in 1901 and graduated second in the College of Medicine’s Class of 1908. According to Roy Korson, M.D., professor of pathology emeritus, Buttles was “best remembered as a teacher and model for clear thinking. His opinions were respected in the classroom as well as in his pathology practice.”Like Buttles, Lunde, who joined the UVM faculty in 1987, received both his undergraduate and medical degrees from UVM. Medical students have recognized him for his teaching excellence several times over the years. In 2007, the Class of 2009 presented Lunde with The Foundations Teaching Award, which recognizes clarity of lectures and overall outstanding teaching ability. He was also named Basic Science Teacher of the Year by the Class of 2000. Other awards he has received include the Golden Apple Award for best teacher with limited contact hours from the Classes of 1998 and 2000, as well as the Silver Stethoscope Award from the Class of 2007, given to teachers with few lecture hours, but who have made a substantial contribution to students’ education.Source: UVMlast_img read more

$36.4 million in business financing approved by VEDA

first_img-30- The Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) has approved $36.4 million in economic development financing assistance for a variety of large and small business projects. The financing support will leverage additional private investment, generating a total of $104.6 million in economic activity throughout Vermont.“VEDA is pleased to offer loan and other financing support to a number of commercial, renewable energy, small business, educational and agricultural initiatives,” said Jo Bradley, VEDA’s Chief Executive Officer. “These projects will bring jobs to Vermonters, and help stimulate Vermont’s economy.”Utilizing American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) federal stimulus funds, VEDA approved the following Recovery Zone Facility Bond issuance:· Green Mountain Power, Colchester – Green Mountain Power received final approval for $25 million in Recovery Zone Facility Bond (RZF) financing support from VEDA. The special facility bonds, which received preliminary approval from VEDA in January, utilize federal tax exemptions provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Green Mountain Power also received final Authority approval for an additional $5 million in taxable bonds to support expenditures planned for the following year. Green Mountain Power plans over the next two years to undertake numerous large capital projects throughout Chittenden, Addison, Caledonia, Washington, Windham, and Windsor counties. Projects include substation upgrades, renewable energy deployment, hydro-dam refurbishing, and reliability and transmission projects. Total project costs are anticipated to be $31.7 million in 2010, and an additional $46.6 million in capital expenditures in 2011. Green Mountain Power serves 122 Vermont communities across nine counties in the state. The electric utility employs 191 persons, a number expected to grow modestly within three years, due in part to these projects.Other bond financing approved by VEDA:· Vermont Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc., Brattleboro – Final approval was given for issuance of $3 million in tax-exempt industrial revenue bond financing to support the Vermont Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing’s extensive energy conservation upgrades at the Brattleboro campus, and their refinance of existing debt from prior renovations. Originally established in 1904 as the Austine School, the Vermont Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. now provides comprehensive educational and support services through several programs to deaf and hard of hearing children, adults, and families throughout Vermont and surrounding states. The school’s campus consists of multiple school and dormitory buildings on approximately 174 acres of land. The school employs 201 persons, a number expected to grow to 229 within three years of the project.Among the projects approved by VEDA to receive direct loan assistance:· Vermont Biomass Energy Company, Island Pond – Financing of $1.3 million was approved to the Vermont Biomass Energy Company to support the planned construction and operation of a wood pellet manufacturing facility in Island Pond. The $18.8 million project will convert the 80,000 square foot former Ethan Allen furniture manufacturing facility in Island Pond into a production plant. Community National Bank has approved a $10 million loan for the project, to be secured by a USDA Rural Development guarantee. In addition, the Township of Brighton will be submitting an application for $1 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for the project. Employment projections at the new manufacturing plant over three years are 34 jobs, with estimates that another 120 indirect jobs may be created as a result of the project.· Sugarsnap, Burlington – Financing of $75,000 was approved to support the expansion plans of Sugarsnap, a small fresh food farm and retail operation located on Riverside Avenue in Burlington. Opportunities Credit Union is also participating in the project, which will enable Sugarsnap to develop and outfit a production kitchen and office to serve additional retail locations planned within the next several years. Sugarsnap employs 7 persons, a number expected to grow to 21 within three years of the project.· Flex-A-Seal, Essex Junction – VEDA approved a $51,176 loan as part of a $127,939 machinery and equipment acquisition project at Flex-A-Seal, Inc.  The project will enable the company to grow their operations as producers and assemblers of different types of mechanical sealing products. Flex-A-Seal employs 54, a number expected to increase to 63 jobs within three years of the project.Through the Authority’s new Technology Loan Program, designed to assist smaller technology-related firms, VEDA approved $31,500 to Computer Care in Colchester to help the business expand their market area, purchase equipment, and hire additional employees.In addition, VEDA approved:· $1.2 million in financing to Vermont farmers through the Authority’s agricultural loan program, the Vermont Agricultural Credit Corporation (VACC); and· $719,396 to support small business development projects through the Vermont Small Business Loan Program.VEDA’s mission is to promote economic prosperity in Vermont by providing financial assistance to eligible businesses, including manufacturing, agricultural, and travel and tourism enterprises. Since its inception in 1974, VEDA has made financing commitments totaling over $1.5 billion. For more information about VEDA, visit www.veda.org(link is external) or call 802-828-5627.Source: VEDA. 3.9.2010last_img read more

Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Mayo Clinic join group to study quality and cost of health care

first_imgSix of the nation’s leading health care systems today announced a first-of-its-kind collaboration to improve health care quality while reducing costs.Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Cleveland Clinic, Denver Health, Geisinger Health System, Intermountain Healthcare, and Mayo Clinic will join The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice to share data on outcomes, quality, and costs across a range of common and costly conditions and treatments. The group will determine best practices for delivering care for these conditions and will rapidly disseminate actionable recommendations to providers and health systems across the United States. In addition to achieving better quality and outcomes, the Collaborative intends to improve the efficiency of standard clinical care delivery to reduce the per capita cost in these conditions and to keep costs in pace with the consumer price index.The Collaborative will initially focus on eight conditions and treatments for which costs have been increasing rapidly in recent years and for which there are wide variations in quality and outcomes across the country. The conditions and treatments will be: knee replacement, diabetes, heart failure, asthma, weight loss surgery, labor and delivery, spine surgery, and depression, which together amount to hundreds of billions of dollars in direct medical costs each year.‘Increasing the value of the health care we receive, by improving the measurable outcomes and reducing the cost for delivery, is the goal of accountable health care organizations,’ said Thomas A. Colacchio, MD, president of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health and a member of the executive committee of the new collaborative. ‘While a number of different collaborations between our institutions have been in place for some time, this particular initiative is an important step in generating and sharing quality and cost information at a sufficient level to more rapidly produce a significant impact on the lives of many patients as we work to achieve the healthiest population possible.’The six health care systems, with a combined patient population of more than 10 million people, will share data on outcomes and clinical protocols for the selected conditions and treatments to arrive at optimal care models which can then be implemented by many other health care systems. The Collaborative aims to see these best practices replicated across the country. The Dartmouth Institute will coordinate data sharing and analysis, and report results back to the Collaborative members to inform development of best practices. The Dartmouth Institute has twenty years of experience analyzing Medicare claims data and disseminating the findings. This same expertise will be applied to the work of the Collaborative.‘There is broad support from other health care systems across the country who want to participate in the work of the Collaborative,’ said Dr. James Weinstein, Director of The Dartmouth Institute. ‘It would be enormously valuable to have the broadest geographic and demographic representation in the sharing of outcomes and experience.’The Collaborative will first analyze Total Knee Replacement, a procedure that is performed more than 300,000 times a year in the U.S., with a cost that ranges on average from $16,000 to $24,000 per surgery. Simultaneously, Collaborative partners will build the metrics to study the care of the other selected conditions at their centers and arrive at best practices. Work to define best practices in diabetes and heart failure care will begin early in 2011.‘If we know that the treatment path for diabetes at one institution results in better clinical outcomes, higher patient satisfaction, and lower overall costs, then there is knowledge to be shared and replicated in other institutions’ said Dr. Robert Nesse, Chief Executive Officer of Mayo Clinic Health System and member of Mayo Clinic’s Board of Trustees. ‘We need to learn from each other and put systems in place that ensure that every patient gets the very best, most appropriate care, every time.’Developing models to reduce cost, while improving quality, is only part of the equation. An equally important goal is to impact the clinical care of patients across the country by disseminating these models quickly and working with providers and health systems to adapt them to local conditions. ‘In my view, the most critical piece of this initiative is the transfer of knowledge to other health systems,’ said Dr. Glenn Steele, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Geisinger Health System. ‘We need to aggressively implement a rapid learning network to disseminate our work and assist other systems in implementing these best practices, especially the highest cost systems.’Through The Dartmouth Institute, the Collaborative will also draw on the work of the Center for Health Care Delivery Science, established at Dartmouth College in May, 2010 and dedicated to research, education, collaboration, implementation, and public outreach to improve health and health care for patients, their families, providers, and populations.Source: Dartmouth-Hitchcock. 12.15.2010###last_img read more