MONTPELIER — The newest member of the Green Mountain Care Board is no stranger to health care reform.
More than 20 years ago, Betty Rambur worked as chairwoman of the North Dakota Health Task Force, which set out to change the way residents of that state paid for health care and providers delivered it.
On Thursday, Gov. Peter Shumlin appointed Rambur to an open seat on the five-person board that has undertaken an almost identical mission in Vermont.
While efforts to curb the rising costs of health care by upending the status quo have struggled to gain steam in the past, Rambur said the landscape today is far more hospitable to the kinds of potentially disruptive innovations needed to rein in runaway costs.
“In that era, as a nation we knew that the system wasn’t going to be sustainable,” Rambur said Thursday. “But what’s different now is we have federal legislation, and things are happening federally, and I think there’s also a growing awareness on the part of the public that so many elements of the system don’t work.”
Rambur, a registered nurse and professor of nursing and health policy at the University of Vermont, takes over the seat previously held by Al Gobeille, who was named earlier this month to succeed the outgoing Anya Rader Wallack as chairman of the GMCB.
Rader Wallack, who said she left the post to spend more time at her home in Rhode Island, is now working as a consultant to the state on implementing a $45 million federal health care “innovation” grant.
“Betty brings two critical skills to the board. As a nurse she has the hands-on health care experience of those who deliver care in our hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices,” Shumlin said in a statement. “But she is also an expert in health policy, understanding the complex financing of care, as well as the special challenges of delivering health care in rural areas.”
Rambur said Vermont’s small size positions it well to succeed in its latest reform initiative.
“We are a nation with a paradox of overtreatment and undertreatment,” Rambur said. “And as a small state and a vibrant state, we really do have an opportunity to get it just right.”
The Green Mountain Care Board, a quasi-judicial body created by the Legislature in 2010, has the power to set hospital budgets, fix provider rates, and approve or deny premium increases sought by health insurance companies. The board will ultimately oversee the state’s transition to a publicly financed health care system, something Shumlin has said will happen in 2017.
According to a news release from the Shumlin administration, Rambur has served as a family nurse practitioner, physician assistant, health services researcher and nurse educator. She also served as founding dean of UVM’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences from 2002-2009, according to the release.
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