October 6, 2020


VMS Top 3 Legislative Successes in 2020

The Vermont legislature adjourned on September 25th, which is a historically late adjournment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have prepared our final VMS 2020 Legislative Bulletin to provide a comprehensive update on all 2020 health care legislation.

For VMS, 2020 was like no other legislative session, in terms of the need to quickly put in place health care policies to address the pandemic’s impact on Vermont's entire health care system. These demands have required VMS to advocate more than ever in coordination with broad group of health care stakeholders and to work collaboratively with lawmakers, State Agencies, Departments and the Governor's Office.  VMS would like to highlight 3 top 2020 legislative successes, which would not be possible without the advocacy and support of our members:

1. Passed & extended critical emergency flexibilities and funding to respond to COVID-19 in Vermont (Act 140/H. 960)

  • coverage for audio-only telehealth services;
  • deeming licensing for out of state providers providing services via telehealth or in a Vermont facility;
  • temporary licensing for retired health care professionals; and
  • waiving HIPAA requirements for telehealth platform and VT consent, if not practical.
  • Plus creating a $275 million health care provider stabilization fund (Act 136/H. 965)

2. Strengthened Vermont's primary care workforce

  • Physician assistant licensure modernization bill (Act 123/S.128)
  • Primary care scholarship bill (H. 607)

3. Improved practice environment (Act 140/H. 960)

  • Requires all health insurers to have prior authorization "gold card" program
  • Requires regulators to streamline prior authorizations

For our complete 2020 VMS Legislative Bulletin click here.


    VMS 2020 Annual Meeting Virtual Agenda Includes World-Class Speakers

    When we decided to make the 2020 VMS Annual Meeting a virtual event, it was mostly to keep our members and our families safe from the coronavirus, but the virtual nature of the meeting also created an amazing opportunity to get some health care rockstars as this year's speakers. This year's meeting, which is held in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter, Vermont Academy of Family Physicians and the Vermont Psychiatric Association, will run from 9 am - 5 pm and include afternoon sessions on this meeting's theme of Educational Sessions on COVID 19 - Lessons Learned, Next Steps. Health Equity is a primary focus of our meeting and includes these sessions:

    • 12:45 to 1:45: Practicing Equity in Reproductive Healthcare with Speaker: Marie-Elizabeth Ramas, M.D., FAAFP, is currently the medical director at the Gatehouse Treatment Center, Nashua and Clinical Assistant Professor of Community and Family Medicine at the Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine. 
    • 1:45 to 2:30: Impacts of Delayed Care on Health Care Outcomes with Speaker:  V. Fan Tait, M.D., FAAP, is a pediatric neurologist and currently the Chief Medical Officer at the American Academy of Pediatrics.
    • 2:45 to 3:45: Ethical & Human Rights in a Pandemic - Risks from the Spread of COVID-19 in ICE Detention Centers & Congregate Living Facilities with Scott Allen, M.D., FACP, professor emeritus of medicine at the University of California, Riverside and co-founder of the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights at Brown University. 
    • 3:45 to 4:45: What Does the Next Year in Healthcare Look Like in Vermont? with Speakers: Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health, Mark Levine, M.D., Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, Michael Schirling and Commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation, Michael Pieciak

    Register today for the virtual 2020 VMS Annual Meeting taking place on Saturday, November 7th, 2020


    Update on Pediatric Vaccine Administration by Pharmacists

    On August 19, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced itsThird Amendment to Declaration Under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act for Medical Countermeasures Against COVID–19. The Declaration preempts state law and authorizes licensed pharmacists to order and administer, and pharmacy interns to administer, all vaccines recommended by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and approved or licensed by the FDA, to children ages 3 to 18 during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Pediatric vaccines were not otherwise allowed to be administered by pharmacists in Vermont.

    The Vermont Office of Professional Regulation has issued emergency guidance that was sent to all pharmacists in the state with including a handout for parents/patients. The Office of Professional Regulation and Board of Pharmacy have expressed that there are factors which may limit the uptake of pharmacists providing pediatric immunizations in Vermont, such as the requirement to participate in the Vermont Vaccine Registry. Lack of reimbursement for the administration of vaccines to pharmacists by Vermont Medicaid may be another barrier to implementation. For more information contact swinters@vtmd.org 


    Administration Provides Update on PPE Supply, Flu Vaccine Uptake

    The Scott Administration’s bi-weekly press conference today provided an update on several issues being closely watched by VMS and the State’s health care clinicians. The Administration is working to continue to build a 60 day on-hand supply plus an additional 60 day reserve of personal protective equipment (PPE). The State is has met the base target of a 60 day supply of most items, except for N95 masks, surgical gowns and nitrile gloves. Overall, 3.4 million items of PPE have been delivered to the health care system and other community service providers such as childcare, state testing sites, school nurses, mass transit, polling locations and the Department of Corrections. The State has also received 83 out of a goal of 120 ventilators. None are currently in use. As a reminder, VMS lists suppliers and discounts for PPE here. Commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation Michael Pieciak also presented his regular modeling update, which shows a continued low COVID 19 case rate in Vermont, including only very modest predicted increases in cases through October and November. Cases among children in Vermont were lower in September compared to July and August, despite school reopening. The State has set a goal of increasing flu vaccine administration by 20% for 2020 and is so far 21% above where we were last year at this time, including a 50% increase year-to-date for children under 18.   

    Calling all Clinicians That Care About the Climate! Patient Sign-on Letter Due October 12, 2020

    This is an open call for health care clinicians to ask your patients (America's voters) to choose leaders who will act on climate to protect health. To learn more about this campaign, click here. 

    NEW! Commissioner Call Update

    VMS weekly calls with Vermont Department of Health Commissioner, Mark Levine, M.D. are held each Thursday from 12:30-1:00 p.m. on ZOOM - click below for the virtual meeting address that will remain constant each week. 

    NEW! Once a month, VMS has a guest speaker during this call time, as the Commissioner has a conflict. Join VMS on Thursday, October 22nd using the Zoom link below for a 2020 Legislative Update with Jessa, Steph and Jill

    Join Zoom Meeting -https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86726253105?pwd=VkVuNTJ1ZFQ2R3diSVdqdlJ2ZG4yQT09

    Meeting ID: 867 2625 3105 / Password: 540684

    Dial In: 1 646 876 9923 / Meeting ID: 867 2625 3105 / Password: 540684


    VPQHC Connectivity Pilot Application Extended to October 9, 2020

    The Vermont Program for Quality Health Care (VPQHC) has launched their  Connectivity Care Package Pilot Program (CCP). The program uses Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) to provide health care practices and facilities with digital equipment and training to help connect their patients to telehealth services. Eligible practices will receive free Apple ipads to distribute to their patients who need them for telehealth purposes, along with digital literacy resources and wifi boosters if necessary. The deadline to apply for the program is now Friday, October 9th, 2020. All interested practices need to take the brief CCP Pilot Program Eligibility Survey by October 9, 2020. 


    Interprofessional Consultations Store and Forward

    Effective July 1, 2020, Vermont Medicaid announced continued coverage and reimbursement for HCPCS G2010 and new coverage and reimbursement for interprofessional consultations when performed through store and forward technology (i.e. provider to provider store and forward CPT codes 99451 & 99452). Thus, providers are reminded that the allowed modifier for CPT codes 99451 & 99452 is modifier GQ (i.e. “through an asynchronous telecommunications system”).


    Medicare E/M Office Visit Changes Effective Jan 2021

    Medicare’s major modifications to coding, documentation, and payment of evaluation and management (E/M) services for office visits will move forward as planned on January 1, 2021.The American Medical Association (AMA) has developed an extensive online library of resources to assist with the transition, which includes the following titles:


        VMS October Webinar: "What We Learned From the Birchwood COVID-19 Outbreak."

        Please join us Thursday, October 15th at 12 p.m. with speakers: Bob Gramling MD, D.Sc, Michael Lamantia MD, MPH,Tim Lahey MD, MMSc for their webinar on "What We Learned From the Birchwood COVID-19 Outbreak." This presentation will explore the anatomy of a COVID-19 outbreak at a Vermont nursing home and reflect on lessons learned from the heroic multi-disciplinary community response. Register Here!  Click to see all of the webinars in the new VMS 2020-2021 Third Thursday Webinar Series.

        *Unfortunately, this presentation does not satisfy the CME palliative care licensing requirements. 

        REV2020 Conference: Power to Renew will take place virtually with sessions throughout the fall:

        • October 21: Connectivity, featuring FERC Commissioner Richard Glick

        • November 18: Resilience, featuring Kelly Speakes-Backman, CEO of the US Energy Storage Association

        • December 2: Moving Forward, featuring Secretary Kathleen Theoharides, Massachusetts Executive Office on Energy and Environment

        • December 9: Equity, featuring Coreina Chan, Rocky Mountain Institute

        Click here for more information and registration.

        Save the Date: VEN's Fall Palliative Care VIRTUAL Conference, "Informed Consent: More Than A Piece of Paper"

        Saturday, Nov. 9, 2020

        8:15 a.m. - 4:15pm EST

        Unpacking the ethical, legal and practical considerations of obtaining informed consent in complex clinical situations and at end-of-life with plenary talks by Thaddeus Mason Pope, JD, PhD and Guy Matal, MD. Click here to learn more and registration coming soon 

        RME Collaborative’s 2020 Rural Health Clinical Congress

        Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020

        9 a.m. EST

        An interactive, multi-topic, complimentary CME/CE conference held in conjunction with National Rural Health Day, designed for primary care providers who care for patients in rural and underserved areas. Click here to learn more and register 


        Vermont Medical Society

        134 Main Street

        PO Box 1457

        Montpelier, VT 05601

        -- Unsubscribe --