This Week's VMS 2021 Advocacy Month Action: Race and Health Equity Webinar
In honor of Black History Month, please join the VMS this Thursday, February 18, 2020 from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm for our VMS February webinar on "Race and Health Equity." Please join Dr. Becca Bell, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter, for a discussion on the task force created by the AAP Vermont Chapter on race and health equity. The task force has focused onguidance and resources for practices working towards creating a culturally safe medical home and promoting anti-racism and for families experiencing racism. This session will discuss AAP-VT’s process to support pediatricians, families and other child health providers. To register click here. To see the entire VMS Thursday Webinar series for 2020/2021 click here. Note: This webinar will take place at the same time VMS is hosting our scheduled Commissioner Call.
This webinar is the third action in the VMS' 2021 Advocacy Month and we want to thank everyone who was able to participate in last week's VMS Virtual Advocacy Training. The advocacy training was well-attended and focused on crafting and delivering your own advocacy message. We were joined by Vermont's legislative leaders: Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint, House Speaker Jill Krowinski, Senate Minority Leader Randy Brock and House Minority Leader Patti McCoy and then all took part in a peer-led workshop using real-life 2021 legislative proposals to form our policy "asks." Click here for the 2021 VMS Advocacy Toolkit for simple tools to help you craft cogent, effective communications and go here to see all of the VMS 2021 Advocacy Month actions.
Action Alert: Please Make Physician Scholarships a Budget Priority this Legislative Session
This Friday is the deadline for the House Health Care Committee to make recommendations to the House Appropriations Committee on the top health care initiatives that should be included in this year's FY22 Budget. Today, VMS Executive Director Jessa Barnard is testifying to urge the Committee to prioritize the Primary Care Physician Scholarship program to receive on-going funding, as this is a critical step in addressing Vermont's primary care workforce shortage. Please email the Committee to let them know that the ongoing funding of these scholarships will result, at a very minimum, in 10 more primary care physicians practicing in Vermont at any given time, which will have a considerable impact on the health and wellbeing of Vermonters in rural areas of the state. Please click here to read VMS' testimony.
House Health Care Committee members’ email addresses:
email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; LHoughton@leg.state.vt.us;
email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org;
Other VMS Policy Priorities being considered this week include:
- S.22, a bill regarding health care practitioners administering stem cell products not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, will be heard in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee this Friday and Jessa Barnard will testify in support;
- S.24, the bill to prohibit the sales of flavored tobacco, will have a comprehensive hearing in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee and a supporting press conference on Wednesday, Feb. 17th. VMS and AAP VT member, L.E. Faricy, M.D., will testify;
- S.25, a bill making changes to the cannabis commercialization bill that was passed in 2020, was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning. The Committee is working on language to ensure that the 30% of excise tax revenue allocated to prevention is directed to substance misuse prevention activities and to clarify restrictions on advertising in statute;
- H.210, a bill to create a Vermont State Office of Health Equity and to require Continuing Medical Education focused on cultural competency will be heard in the House Health Care Committee;
- COVID-19 emergency flexibilities, legislation to extend regulatory flexibilities that are set to end March 31, 2021, is being considered by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. The current proposal would extend most regulatory flexibilities, such as those licensing out-of-state health care professionals, until March 31, 2022. The bill may also be a vehicle to extend insurance coverage of audio-only telehealth services. Please read below on how we need your help advocating for this extended coverage!
Debate on Coverage for Audio-Only Health Services Moves to Senate – Your Help Needed
Last week, the House Health Care Committee finished recommendations on continuing insurance coverage for audio-only telehealth services. Thanks to advocacy from many VMS members, the House Health Care Committee is recommending covering all medically necessary, clinically appropriate health care services through audio-only telehealth at the same reimbursement rate as in-person services. While not formally voted on by the House, the recommendations are now being considered in the Senate Health & Welfare Committee for possible addition to a bill on COVID-19 regulatory flexibilities. If you did not yet reach out to the House Health Care Committee, please reach out to members of the Senate Health & Welfare Committee this week! Your advocacy is making a difference and legislators need to continue to hear how coverage of audio-only services helps provide access to care for your patients.
Members of the Committee can be reached at: VLyons@leg.state.vt.us; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; JTerenzini@leg.state.vt.us
Legislature Proposes Changes to Act 39: Seeking Feedback
S.74, a bill that would make changes to Act 39, Vermont's Medical Aid in Dying legislation, was introduced in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee this morning. Advocates argue that COVID-19 has made the Act 39 in-person requirements for seeking aid-in-dying medication onerous, particularly for those who are in pain or have difficulty with mobility and/or transport. Vermont is the only state that has in-person requirements for aid in dying and advocates argue that the required provider-patient consultations could be done through telemedicine. The bill would eliminate these current requirements:
- that both of the patient’s two oral requests to receive aid in dying needs to be in the physical presence of their doctor;
- that a physical examination needs to be done to determine if the patient is suffering from a terminal condition;
- that the prescribing physician must wait 48 hrs before prescribing the aid-in-dying medication.
The bill would also provide immunity for all parties who are acting in good faith in accordance with the law. Currently, only physicians are explicitly provided protection from criminal liability or professional disciplinary action. Please provide any feedback on these suggested changes to Act 39 to Jill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recent COVID-19 Guidance and Resources:
VMS Weekly Zoom with Commissioner of Health, Thursdays at 12:30 pm
Please Ask Congress to support the “Medicare Sequester COVID Moratorium Act”
H.R. 315, the “Medicare Sequester COVID Moratorium Act” would continue the current Medicare sequester moratorium for the duration of this public health emergency. This congressional fix is necessary to avoid the Medicare payment sequester from taking effect March 31, 2021 and from triggering a devastating financial impact on physician practices across the country. Contact your congressional leaders today to ask them to support this bill.