New England briefs

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Vermont officials outline bid for new health care system

Gov. Peter Shumlin and other senior state officials are going ahead with plans to ask for changes to federal rules in order to create a new system for paying health care providers.

The state is asking for changes to federal Medicaid and Medicare rules to enable it to institute something called an "all-payer model." The aim is to get away from health providers being paid for individual visits and procedures, and instead give them a set budget with the goal of keeping a certain population healthy.

Shumlin and other officials say they think they can stop health care costs from outpacing growth in the general economy. They say set health care budgets make sense at a time when chronic disease treatment represents the bulk of health care.

Vermont December unemployment drops one tenth of a percent

The Vermont Department of Labor says the state's unemployment rate dropped one tenth of one percent last month to 3.6 percent.

The December rate compared to a November rate of 3.7 percent and a rate of 4.1 percent in December 2014.

Despite the decrease in the rate, Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan says the lack of snow affected the number of jobs in the state because people who had been hired in the leisure and hospitality sector were laid off when the snow didn't arrive as expected.

Noonan says that situation is turning around, and many of those laid off workers are back on the job.

Unemployment in the state's 17 labor markets ranged from 2.3 percent in White River Junction to 5.6 percent in Derby.

Vermont conservation commission collecting success stories

The Association of Vermont Conservation Commissions is collecting conservation success stories from across the state.

The stories that are being complied on the association's website are showing that Vermont's grassroots conservation efforts are working.

Association board member Jens Hilke says the board is hoping the success stories will serve as examples for others to follow.

Hilke says amazing conservation work is happening at the local level in Vermont. It's hoped the success stories will serve as a resource for other groups.

One of the success stories on the website is the conservation of Zack Woods Pond and the surrounding 400 acres in Hyde Park, which was accepted into the Green River Reservoir State Park.

Lawmakers trying to open State House to weekend visitors

New Hampshire lawmakers are trying to open the State House in downtown Concord to weekend visitors.

Republican Rep. Robert Haefner of Hudson filed a bill that would let the Legislature broker an agreement with a private entity to run tours of the building on some Saturdays during the summer and fall.

The building is open to the public on weekdays during business hours.

A similar proposal was rejected last year over security concerns. This bill would require any agreement between lawmakers and private entities to address security and bathroom usage plans.

Final deals would need a sign-off from the joint committee on legislative facilities.

The bill, which has some bipartisan support, has its first public hearing on Wednesday.

– The Associated Press


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