Rep. Fisher tapped to lead health panel

LINCOLN — Speaker Shap Smith on Thursday announced the appointment of Rep. Michael Fisher, D-Lincoln, as the chair of the House Committee on Health Care. Rep. Fisher, the current vice chair of the committee, replaces former Rep. Mark Larson who resigned from the Legislature in August to become the Commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access. Rep. Sarah Copeland-Hanzas, D-Bradford, will become the committee’s vice chair.

“Mike has been a leader in the House for over a decade. His expertise in the field of health and human services is vast, and his enthusiasm to tackle the barriers to the access of quality affordable health care for Vermonters is unparalleled,” said Speaker Smith. “The Legislature made great strides last year and Mike’s leadership was crucial to those efforts. His leadership will be needed as we continue to move forward with health care reform.”

Fisher has been a member of the Legislature since 2001, representing the towns of Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton and Starksboro. He served as the vice chair of the House Committee on Human Services from 2007-2010 and as vice chair of the House Committee on Health Care during the 2011 session. Rep. Fisher works as a social worker in Addison County, having earned a masters degree in social work from the University of Vermont.

“I am excited to continue to advance our state’s health care reform efforts,” Fisher said. “Reducing health care costs and improving access to quality care is vital to the health and economic wellbeing of the state, and I am confident in the ability of the committee to dig into that work.”

Rep. Copeland-Hanzas has represented the towns of Bradford, Fairlee and West Fairlee since 2005. She has been a member of the House Committee on Health Care for the past five years, and has served as deputy assistant majority leader since 2009. Rep. Copeland-Hanzas is a small business owner, operating The Local Buzz Cafe in Bradford.

“The House Health Care Committee has led the way in health care reform over the past two years,” said Speaker Smith. “I am confident that Mike and Sarah will be a strong leadership team and look forward to seeing the progress of the committee.”

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