MD program is about helping our farmers survive

In response to Ms. Downes letter to the editor about the Milk with Dignity Program, I participated in the rally because I support initiatives that bring together farm workers, farmers, corporate buyers and consumers to secure dignified working conditions for migrant workers. The Milk with Dignity Program(MD) enlists the resources of food industry leaders to provide a premium to Participating Farms that comply with the labor standards in the MD Code of Conduct and Appendices. That means MORE money per hundred weight for farmers’ milk. This premium helps to offset farms’ costs of compliance while supporting best practices for workers like dignified wages and working hours, equal opportunity, adequate housing, and employee safety and health. As workers declared when signing their agreement with Ben & Jerry’s two years ago, Milk with Dignity is bringing about “a new day in dairy; a new day for human rights.”

Business involvement in the MD program is a win for customers, workers and especially the farmers whose milk prices are otherwise controlled by a complex national formula. I would like to be able to buy dairy products from farms that belong Milk with Dignity Program therefore implore Hannaford to join Ben & Jerry’s as participants. Please let Hannaford know how you feel, too.

Cindy Weed


How OneCare

has helped NEK

Improving health and access to care for all Vermonters, within the context of developing a sustainable economic cost-management (containment) model, has been the modus operandi linked in multiple attempts to innovate the health care delivery system in the state. The all-payer model which brings together Medicare, Medicaid, commercial, and self-funded insurance organizations, has been an another example of innovative thinking that connects multiple payor and provider communities to ensure access to highly coordinated, evidence-based, and data-supported, high quality of care.Northeast Kingdom Human Services (NKHS) strongly supports the goals of the all-payer model waiver and works closely with OneCare Vermont to achieve them. NKHS is Northeast Kingdom’s designated agency, which provides comprehensive mental health, substance use, and intellectual and developmental disability services.

OneCare Vermont, Vermont’s only accountable care organization (ACO), has been a strong community partner and leader in driving system change and improvement through innovation, information exchange, investment, and care coordination. Its goal of shifting focus from the fee-for-service, volume-driven methodology, to supporting preventative, value-based approach, is a clear recognition of the need for an alternative management of the scarce resources and data-sharing. For instance, through its robust care navigator tool, OneCare Vermont has significantly influenced and increased care coordination between primary care providers, hospitals, and NKHS. This has further allowed NKHS clinicians timely access to information about patients reporting to the emergency department, information to which our organization would otherwise have no access.

Together, with OneCare Vermont, NKHS continuous building more efficacious and robust communication tools and stronger relationships with our community partners which have led to a better understanding of the holistic health needs of our “high risk” clients, that our organizations may, collectively, serve. NKHS’s ability to coordinate care with Island Pond Health Care underscores that point. Furthermore, recognizing the importance of community access to mental health and substance use services, OneCare Vermont and NKHS are partnering to embed mental health clinicians in the emergency departments of two critical-access hospitals in the Northeast Kingdom.

With a sharp focus on cost containment coupled with financial incentives, and the sharing of best practices across the horizontal and vertical health care spectrum, OneCare Vermont continuous to offer significant value in the ever-changing Vermont health care landscape. With its eyes on the future, NKHS looks forward to a continued, successful partnership and collaboration with OneCare Vermont as it expands its investment in our community-based organization to ensure health, prosperity, and well-being of the individuals and families we serve in the Northeast Kingdom.

Tomasz L. Jankowski, of Newport, is president & CEO of Northeast Kingdom Human Services. He represents designated agencies on the OneCare Vermont Board of Managers.

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