State employee medical plan premium rates announced, up 17.9 percent

first_imgThe annual open enrollment period for State employees to choose among medical plans begins November 1. Human Resources Commissioner Maribeth Spellman announced today that the plans will see a 17.9 percent premium increase in 2015 for active State employees and non-Medicare retirees, while Medicare retirees will see a decrease or very small increase (-2.3 percent or +1.0 percent) depending on their plan.The increase for active employees is driven primarily by significantly greater than expected high cost claims experience beginning in the 3rd quarter of 2013, which correlates with increased inpatient utilization, including hospital admissions and days spent in the hospital.Spellman noted that the spike in high cost claims began prior to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont (BCBSVT) taking over as administrator of the state’s medical plans. In 2014, the State selected BCBSVT to administer the medical plans, and Express Scripts and Northeast Delta Dental for its pharmacy and dental coverage. Although still higher than projections, the claims experience in recent quarters is not as high as the 3rd quarter spike of 2013.The Commissioner said that over the past two years, state employees have seen no rate increases and have had seven premium holidays worth $1,183 for a family in the most popular health plan. With the anticipated increase in premium rates for 2015, active state employee medical plans will be in line with the increases seen over the same 3 year period of time in comparable public employee plans, such as the Vermont teacher medical plans.Retiree rates are benefitting from pharmacy discounts offered through the Employer Group Waiver Plan (EGWP), the Commissioner said, which allows the State to utilize federal subsidies in providing pharmacy services. This new feature for 2015 was the result of collaboration between the State and employee groups.The State employee plan is self-insured and this rate increase is necessary to offset plan’s deficit and maintain solid financial footing.While Commissioner Spellman acknowledged that the premium increase for active employees is not welcome news, she appreciated the willingness of VSEA and VTA leadership to meet with her team recently to discuss the reasons for the increase and the wisdom of addressing the plan deficit in the near term.  She also noted that other aspects of the state employee plan have performed as expected, including new wellness programs. BCBSVT has been a strong partner in employee wellness initiatives, providing the State with $250,000 for expenditure on wellness initiatives. With these resources the State has developed a comprehensive Wellness Program – some highlights:So far this year, 2,958 employees have completed the personal health assessment, providing valuable insight into the actual health and mental health issues impacting employees and the guidance to tailor Wellness Program initiatives to tackle those issues;1,254 employees and retirees have received in person biometric screenings (blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol) to date.Source: State of Vermont 10.20.2014last_img read more

SO Vermont Arts & Living Magazine to celebrate 10th anniversary

first_imgVermont Business Magazine SO Vermont Arts & Living magazine announced today that it will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a special 10th Anniversary issue due out in January, 2018, featuring a gatefold of past covers that showcases the works of prominent artists in the region, which has become the magazine’s trademark.“We’ll take a look back at how the magazine started, and why, and where we are today,” said owner and publisher Lynn Barrett. We’re also announcing the SO Vermont Arts & Living Cultural Hero Award that will be give annually to the person or organization that has done the most to advance the arts and culture of Southern Vermont. Of course we’ll recognize our community partners, writers, designers, and everyone involved with the magazine. It’s hard to believe that 10 years have gone by. We’ve grown in terms of enhanced events, exhibitions, readership, content and social media. But, the start-up was a leap of faith.”Before moving to Vermont, Barrett specialized in marketing and public relations for CBS, other Fortune 500 companies and her own firm, Primetime Concepts in Manhattan. “Starting a publishing company was not on my list when I came here,” she says.Barrett’s first foray into the magazine business came in 2005 with the Andy Warhol exhibition at the Brattleboro Museum when the Brattleboro Reformer invited her to sell ads and help produce Andy Warhol, The Jon Gould Collection. “I’d never sold an ad in my life, but I was game.”She subsequently worked with the daily newspaper to produce and market other publications centered around the arts and the local economy, including “Southern Vermont Arts,” a glossy magazine that became the inspiration for her own publishing undertaking.“The idea to publish a magazine to promote the arts and lifestyle of not just Brattleboro, but all of Southern Vermont, seemed like the next logical move,” Barrett says. “Who else was going to promote Southern Vermont? The state’s tourism marketing was focused north of Rte 4.”She began publishing SO Vermont Arts & Living independently in 2008, bringing the same premise and mission to the new magazine, which she describes as “a postcard to the world about Southern Vermont.”The magazine focuses on the arts, culture, and lifestyle that chronicles the rural yet sophisticated world of Southern Vermont. It’s distributed in two Welcome Centers and throughout Southern Vermont and the neighboring towns along the borders of New York, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Target readers are residents and tourists who are drawn to cultural and lifestyle coverage and are looking for things to do in the region. “We reach them where they live and where they visit,” she says.The magazine’s departments focus on a specific niche of Vermont’s lifestyle including Personalities; Entrepreneurs; Spotlights on productions and openings (Museums, Art Galleries, Antiques, Theater, Dance, Music); Design Observed; Food & Wine; New and Notable and Calendar of Events. The magazine also offers editorial space in “Talk of the Arts” pages for cultural commentary.SO Vermont Arts & Living’s team is comprised of Jeff Potter, design; Martin Langeveld, website; Eric Pero, calendar listings; along with a host of seasoned professional writers, including Joyce Marcel, Jon Potter, Arlene Distler, Susan Smallheer, Meg Brazill, Kathleen Cox, Nicole Colson, Kevin O’Connor, and Marty Ramsburg—all experts on various aspects of the arts and its impact on the local economy and local culture.“While the magazine has evolved over the last 10 years, the editorial focus of the magazine remains true,” she says.Barrett says that the magazine wants to know: Who are we?  Why do we come here? Why do we stay? How do we live? How do we work? How are we inspired? How do we inspire others? What do we care about? How do we play? Whom do we turn to for advice, information, and expertise? How are we fulfilling our dreams? What do we want for the future?“These are the questions we try to answer,” she says.  ‘We love hearing from our readers and their stories. In fact, we want to hear from folks specifically about why they love Southern Vermont. And we want to know about their biggest challenges.”The magazine is “conducting a little kitchen research,” says Barrett, who can be reached at vermontartsliving@gmail.com(link sends e-mail).“With the world changing so fast, it’s not easy to predict what will happen next,” Barrett says, but she believes in the power of the magazine to help celebrate a region—and to get readers locally to perceive their own area as a special place with the capacity to capture visitors’ hearts, minds, and spirits.While many communities have turned to the arts to revitalize themselves and strengthen their economies, without a vehicle to promote the critical mass of activities, events, people, cultural experiences, and sense of place, many well intentioned efforts fall short of their full potential. Further, the lack of such a promotional tool diminishes all efforts to market the region as a vital, attractive destination. SO Vermont Arts & Living is that promotional tool that positively impacts the region,” she believes.And one editorial style decision reflects those values.“We believe in Southern Vermont with a capital S,” Barrett says. “Southern Vermont is not just an adjective. Southern Vermont is a destination.”Source: DUMMERSTON CENTER, VT—SO Vermont Arts & Living 11.16.2017,Yeslast_img read more