VLA Press Release | December 6, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 6, 2016
CONTACT:   Eric Avildsen, Executive Director
                      eavildsen@vtlegalaid.org
                      802-383-2240


Former State Representative Michael Fisher to Join Vermont Legal Aid as Chief Health Care Advocate 

Former state representative Michael Fisher will join Vermont Legal Aid as Vermont’s Chief Health Care Advocate on January 2. Fisher will lead the Office of the Health Care Advocate, which was established by the legislature in 1998 to assist Vermonters who have questions and problems with access to health care services and health insurance and to represent the health care interests of all Vermonters in the legislature and before state agencies.

Fisher was elected seven times to represent Addison-4 in the state legislature. He served in a variety of leadership roles including chairing the House Health Care Committee for three years and serving for six years as vice chair of the House Human Services Committee. Fisher played a key role in the passage of legislation that reduced Vermont’s uninsured rate from seven percent to three percent by establishing Vermont’s health insurance marketplace and expanding Medicaid. He also helped write and ultimately pass legislation that created the Green Mountain Care Board whose purpose is to reduce the rate of health care cost growth in Vermont while ensuring that the State maintains a high quality, accessible health care system.

Having worked as a community social work clinician for over 25 years, Fisher has direct knowledge of the multiple and complex health care and human service needs that many Vermont families face and the critical role the Office of the Health Care Advocate plays in assisting them.

“Mike brings a deep understanding of Vermont’s health care laws, the legislative process, and the numerous challenges that many struggling Vermonters face on a daily basis,” said Eric Avildsen, Executive Director of Vermont Legal Aid. “We are especially pleased to have someone with Mike’s experience during this time of great uncertainty for many Vermonters who are worried about losing the insurance they finally were able to obtain.”

“I look forward to being a strong, independent voice for Vermonters,” Fisher said. “This is a particularly interesting time to be involved in health care advocacy. I’m proud that Vermont has been a leader in expanding access to health care, yet we know that the cost of getting care is still too expensive for many.  As the state is poised again to lead the nation by implementing the All-Payer Model, we will evaluate critically the potential role of the private sector in payment and delivery reform, the intricacies of the model, and how to ensure that there is a transparent process where Vermonters are protected.”

The Office of the Health Care Advocate (HCA) helps Vermont consumers with a broad range of problems and questions related to health care services and health insurance. The HCA acts as a voice and advocate for consumers in health care policy matters before the Vermont legislature and government agencies that oversee insurance and health care programs. The Office of the Health Care Advocate is a project of Vermont Legal Aid.

Vermont Legal Aid (VLA) is a non-profit law firm that provides legal advice and services to individuals and families throughout Vermont who are facing a civil legal problem that threatens their rights, shelter, job, health, or well-being. VLA began serving clients in 1968.