Vermont approves state's 3rd ASC but restricts its specialties

The Green Mountain Care Board, a Vermont regulatory body, has approved the state's third ASC while restricting the specialties it can offer, Seven Days reported March 17.

If completed, the Collaborative Surgery Center would be a 9,000-square-foot, $5 million ASC with four operating rooms in Colchester, the report said. But after the state board restricted its offerings to orthopedics, ENT, urology and dental, the project's owners are trying to determine if it's still economically feasible.

The board's members said the decision to restrict Collaborative's offerings was based on concern for both its ability to offer more services and for its profitability, the report said.

"We are concerned that, given its limited staff and facility size, [the center] will be stretched too thin if it seeks to broaden its scope," the majority opinion said. It included more than 24 other conditions the ASC must meet.

Vermont has only two ASCs statewide, meaning it has the worst per-capita rate in the nation since Becker's started measuring the statistic. States with ASC-restricting certificate of need laws tend to have fewer ASCs per capita than those without them. Presence of CON laws had the strongest correlation to low per-capita rates among a handful of measures Becker's evaluated in a 2021 report.

According to the Green Mountain Care Board's governing statute, one of its core purposes is to reduce the per-capita growth of health service expenditures across all payers in Vermont, without compromising access and quality. ASCs are consistently shown to save payers money, improve access and meet quality standards.

The Green Mountain Surgery Center in Colchester, one of Vermont's two existing ASCs, saved the state's health system an estimated $5.3 million in fiscal 2020, Seven Days said.

"We invite [the center] to request the ability to host procedures and surgeries in additional specialties as soon as it can demonstrate a need beyond its general preference for flexibility," the regulators wrote in the decision.

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