December 1, 2020


VMS December Webinar: A Crisis in Vermont: Gun Violence and Suicide

Please join us on Thursday, December 17, 2020 from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm for our VMS December webinar. Vermont's suicide rates are higher than the national average in most age groups and people in Vermont are more likely to take their lives with a gunRebecca Bell, M.D., Pediatric Critical Care physician at UVMMC and President of the American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter, and Thomas Delaney, PhD, UVM Larner College of Medicine Assistant Professor, will discuss firearm violence and suicide rates and the work that’s being done to positively impact Vermont's trends. Over the last few years, Dr. Bell has consistently testified in support of gun violence prevention policies in the Vermont legislature and says, "Impulsivity plays a factor in suicide attempts and is an especially prominent component in adolescent suicide attempts. A quarter of survivors of nearly lethal suicide spent less than 5 minutes between the decision to attempt suicide and the actual attempt." According to a report that Delaney presented in 2018, Vermont’s suicide rate increased 30 percent more rapidly than the rest of the country between 2004 and 2017 and firearms are involved in approximately 59 percent of suicide deaths in the State.  

To register click here. To see the entire VMS Thursday Webinar series for 2020/2021 click here. 


CMS Announces Comprehensive Strategy to Enhance Hospital Capacity Amid COVID-19 Surge

Last week, while states across the country continued to grapple with an alarming surge of hospitalizations due to a sharp increase of coronavirus cases, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced comprehensive steps they have authorized to increase the capacity of the American health care system to provide care to patients outside traditional hospital settings. These flexibilities include allowances for safe hospital care for eligible patients in their homes and updated staffing flexibility designed to allow ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) to provide greater inpatient care when needed. Please see below for more information:

Commissioner Call Update - This week! Chris Finley, the Immunization Program Manager at the Vermont Department of Health, will join us to discuss Vermont's COVID Immunization Prioritization plan.  

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. 

Once a month, VMS will feature a guest speaker during this call time, as the Commissioner has a conflict. The speaker will discuss clinical protocols and best practices during the State of Emergency.

Join Zoom Meeting -

Meeting ID: 867 2625 3105 / Password: 540684

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

Are Your Patients Covered for 2021? Open Enrollment Ends December 15th! 

The Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA) has joined 15 other states and the District of Columbia in a national #GetCovered2021 campaign to encourage Vermonters to enroll for health insurance coverage for 2021 before December 15, 2020.  The partnership between these states and providers, individuals, and consumer advocacy organizations is focused on promoting the Get Covered 2021 campaign to help people stay safe during the pandemic and to ensure access to quality health care when people need it.  Please find more information about this national effort here. Please go to VT Health Connect here.


CMS Reminder: December 31, 2020 Deadline for MIPS Exception Applications

Due to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, CMS will be using its Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstances policy to allow MIPS eligible clinicians, groups, and virtual groups to submit an application requesting reweighting of one or more MIPS performance categories to 0% for the 2020 performance year. There are two exception applications available to clinicians in PY2020:


Home Health Services – Ordering Providers

Vermont Medicaid is making changes to allow additional provider types to order Home Health Services. These changes are a result of the Federal CARES Act in response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. These are permanent changes that are not limited to the duration of the public health emergency. The change would allow physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and clinical nurse specialists to order home health services in addition to physicians. This change applies to the following services provided by a home health agency: part time or intermittent nursing services; home health aide services; and physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech language pathology services. Global Commitment Register (GCR) proposed policy 20-063: Home Health Services - Ordering Providers is open for public comment through December 18, 2020. Comments or questions can be sent to  


E/M Office Visit Changes Effective Jan 2021

Effective January 1, 2021, CMS has adopted major modifications to coding, documentation, and payment of evaluation and management (E/M) services for office visit CPT codes (99201-99215). This includes the elimination of code 99201. We encourage you to read about the changes and what they mean for your practice. The American Medical Association (AMA) has developed an extensive online library of resources to assist with the transition, which includes the following titles:


      Registration Open: Bi-State’s Clinical Quality Symposium

      Bi-State Primary Care Association’s 2020 Clinical Quality Symposium, “Interprofessional Collaboration for Better Clinical Outcomes,” connects the three pillars of health - primary medical, mental health, and oral health care services. The Symposium’s keynote speaker, Benjamin Anderson, will walk us through the myriad ways health care systems can and do break down in siloed systems, with a harrowing example from his own life. For the agenda and registration click here. 

      The Impact of Telehealth on Health Equity from the Perspective of Large Healthcare Systems during the COVID-19 Pandemic

      Tuesday, December 08, 2020

      2:00–3:00 P.M. ET

      Please click on the Zoom link below to join:


      Vermont Medical Society

      134 Main Street

      PO Box 1457

      Montpelier, VT 05601

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