March 30, 2021


VMS Celebrates Our Members on National Doctors' Day!

This year, like every year, VMS thanks and celebrates you for your compassion and dedication to the health and well-being of Vermonters. However this year, unlike every year, you have worked through a global pandemic and have had to face unrelenting challenges, unimaginable heartbreak and so much unknown.

Thank you is not enough, the gratitude we feel cannot be expressed by words. On this National Doctors’ Day please know how much we appreciate you and all that you have sacrificed. May this year ahead bring healing and hope.


Vermont Meets 200K Vaccinated Threshold, Updated Health Care Worker and Patient Testing Guidelines Released

Today, Mike Smith, Secretary of the Agency of Human Services, announced Vermont had reached its projected goal of having roughly 200,000 Vermonters receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of March. The Scott Administration continues to use the age-banding methodology to open up COVID-19 vaccination eligibility, with two additions announced in the press conference today:

  • Starting tomorrow, Wednesday, March 31st, caregivers for children who have high risk health conditions but are too young to be vaccinated will be able to register through the state registration system;
  • Starting on Thursday, April 1st, any Vermonter in the BIPOC community aged 16 and older will be eligible to register for their COVID vaccine. Dr. Levine said this was a data-driven decision, as currently Vermont's BIPOC COVID-19 vaccination rates lag behind their non-Hispanic white counterparts, at 22% vs. 35%.  Secretary Smith stated that incarcerated BIPOC individuals will also be eligible Thursday and with the current age-banding process all inmates should have received a first dose by April 19th and be fully vaccinated by May 13th.

The Vermont Department of Health today also released updated inpatient and outpatient testing guidance for staff – eliminating a requirement that health care providers be routinely tested for COVID-19 – and changing pre-procedure testing guidance for patients. The State also provided updated visitor guidance that will allow anyone fully vaccinated to visit patients in hospitals and health clinics. Individual hospitals can maintain more stringent visitation protocols. Click here for the VDH Inpatient and Outpatient COVID-19 Guidance and click here for the COVID-19 Hospital Visitor Guidance.

As a reminder, 1A eligible individuals – including health care personnel  - can now call the Vermont Department of Health Call Center at (802) 863-7240 get screened for eligibility for a vaccination appointment at any of the sites available on the State’s scheduling system (rather than needing a code from their local hospital). No passcode is needed at Kinney DrugsCVS or Walgreens.


Vermont Senate Prepares to Receive House-Approved FY22 Budget 

The Vermont House has passed H.439, the FY22 Budget, which as reported in the mid-session 2021 VMS Legislative Bulletin, includes approximately $2.2 million in state funding for the nursing and primary care physician scholarship programs for FY22 and FY23. The bill also includes funding for:

  • Health Equity Training Support - $200,000
  • Recovery Center increases - $300,000
  • DMH Mobile Crisis Units - $1.2 million
  • 2% Rate Increase for Designated Agency Providers$5 million 

Click here to read a summary of the House-passed FY22 Budget, which includes House spending priorities for the $650 million in American Rescue Plan Act dollars Vermont received from the latest federal COVID relief bill.

In other legislative actions, Governor Scott signed S.117, the health care regulatory flexibilities extension bill, into law on Monday, March 29th. With an immediate effective date, the bill makes permanent requirements for coverage of health care services delivered by audio-only telephone and patient consent is now required for audio-only telehealth services. VMS has a sample available here.  


Congress Takes Action to Extend Moratorium on Medicare Sequester 

Late last week, the Senate passed an agreement to extend a 2 percent Medicare sequester moratorium scheduled to expire on April 1. This legislation would extend the moratorium through December 31, 2021 and will need to be reconciled with a House-passed extension when Congress returns from their two-week Easter recess on April 13th.  House-passed legislation would have both extended the moratorium through the end of the pandemic and eliminated an additional 4 percent Medicare sequester scheduled to take effect on January 1. The House is expected to pass the Senate language when it returns from its recess. The American Medical Association reports that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is expected to hold off on processing April claims until the extension has been passed to avoid making reduced payments. Physician and other stakeholder groups affected by the upcoming 4% sequester scheduled for January 1 expect legislation to be considered later in the year to waive those cuts.


Recent COVID-19 Guidance and Resources:

VMS Weekly Zoom with Commissioner of Health, Thursdays at 12:30 pm


VMS Offers Facilitated Well-Being Gatherings to Vermont Practices

Supported by grant funding from the Physician Foundation, VMS is able to offer clinician well-being gatherings at Vermont practices this Spring. Gatherings can be hosted by individual practices or groups of practices that want to offer their clinical staff peer support during this stressful time. At the session, Lumunoswellbeing facilitators will provide an interactive experience of peer support; share ideas and resources for how groups of clinicians, practices, health systems or individuals can create a peer support structure moving forward; and provide additional tools and resources for clinician well-being. Program content and length can be tailored to your practice’s needs. For more information, see program flyer or contact  

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.

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


UVMMC Seeks Primary Care Practice for Opioid Prescribing Study

The Office of Primary Care at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont is inviting Northern New England Primary Care practices to participate in a research study that supports their quality improvement projects on better opioid prescribing and chronic pain management. Stipend of $10,000 for each practice. Starts April 2022 if approved. Contact: Principal Investigator Connie van Eeghen Dr.P.H. MHSA at


VDH Proposes Changes to MAT Rule: Hearing on April 2nd

The Vermont Department of Health proposed Rule 21P004 on March 3, 2021, which would amend the Medication-Assisted-Treatment (MAT) Rule to:

  1. Remove all patient load limits that are determined at the federal level and change periodically;
  2. Require providers with 100 clients to submit to the Department for review a continuity of care checklist to ensure they have an adequate plan for the continued care of their patients should there be an issue with a practitioner's ability to provide services; and
  3. Update terms, references, and formatting. 

For the proposed rule amendments click here. There will be a virtual hearing at 10:00 am on Friday, April 2nd. Please send any questions or suggestions on this rule change to Jill at


DVHA Proposes Changes to Rules Regarding Non-Physicians Ordering Home Health, Etc.

The Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA) has proposed changes to update Medicaid coverage requirements for home health services, durable medical equipment and medical supplies. These rules are being amended to allow non-physician providers working within their scope of practice to order and conduct the face-to-face visit as required by Medicare. There will be a virtual hearing on the rules listed below on April 7th at 12:00 pm. Please send any questions or suggestions on this rule change to Jill at


VPQHC Launches Health Equity Training Starting in March

The Vermont Program for Quality Health Care (VPQHC) is offering free health equity training for health care clinicians that will qualify for 3 CME credits, entitled, "Structural Competence and Cultural Humility to Address Disparities and Inequities." This training is being provided by Dr. Maria Mercedes Avila, PhD, MSW, MED and will focus on increased awareness of biases, increased knowledge of cultural and linguistic competencies and increased knowledge of the link between racial inequities and health outcomes. This training is being offered on three different dates throughout Spring 2021. Click here to learn more. 


Is Your Office Prepared? Information Blocking Rules Go Into Effect April 5 – Resources Available

Vermont Information Technology Leaders (VITL) is available to walk practices through the key requirements of new Federal rules implementing provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act: Interoperability, Information Blocking, and the ONC Health IT Certification Program, aimed at enhancing interoperability in health care and providing patients with easier access to and control of their health data. The rules go into effect on April 5th.  A recorded webinar, slides, and an overview document about the 21st Century Cures Act that includes an Information Blocking preparation checklist are available at this page on the VITL website. Individual consulting is also available and is currently free of charge. Reach out to Maurine Gilbert at to learn more.


        VMS April 2021 Webinar: Vermont Health Care Reform with OneCare VT

        Please join us on Thursday, April 15, 2021 from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm for our VMS April webinar on "Vermont Health Care Reform." Join webinar hosts Vicki Loner, CEO, OneCare Vermont and Dr. Norman Ward, CMO, OneCare Vermont. During the public health emergency, the predominant payment system of Fee For Service in our country caused disruption and challenges to all aspects of the health care community. OneCare Vermont will review some of the lessons learned, describe the actions its providers implemented, and discuss how we can use our current federal demonstration to advance the current payment and delivery system efforts. To register click here. To see the entire VMS Thursday Webinar series for 2020/2021 click here. This webinar will take place at the same time VMS is hosting our scheduled Commissioner Call.

        Maladies & Medicines: Opioids in the Queen City

        April 7, 2021, 7:00-8:30 p.m.

        Champlain College (virtual)

        What lessons can we learn about the opioid epidemic by looking at it through a historical lens? Champlain College's eighth annual Local History Event will feature two historians' research on opium, morphine, and opioid addiction in nineteenth-century Burlington. I Visit for more information and to register for this free community event. 

        Reducing Implicit Bias in Health Care: Moving Toward Equal Treatment

        April 8th, 1:00 - 3:00 PM

        Join Northern Vermont AHEC for the third session of a 5-part virtual series, Quality Care is Equitable Care: The Case for Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Health Caretargeting Vermont health care practitioners and partners. To register for Session 3 and/or learn more about each monthly activity click here. 

        Bi-State Offers Virtual Diabetes Care Training on Thursday, April 8th, 2021 from 2-3pm. 

         "Making Sense out of Sensors: A Review of Considerations for Use of Continuous Glucose Sensors," Donna Hunt, RRMC Diabetes Program. Please contact Kaylana Blindow to register at: 

        April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

        Friday, April 29th 8:00 am -12:15pm

        Dr. James Metz and Dr. Lewis First invite you to register for the UVM “Recognizing and Responding to Child Maltreatment - Promoting Child Abuse Awareness in VT (Virtual Conference)."  This conference will help you to recognize sentinel injuries, sexual abuse and neglect. Participants will learn about the mental health implications of trauma and abuse and will learn strategies for effective reporting. Click here to register

        Special Enrollment Period from Feb. 16-May 14th, 2021

        Due to the COVID-19 emergency, Vermont Health Connect has opened a Special Enrollment Period from February 16 through May 14 2021. During this time, any uninsured Vermonter can sign up for a qualified health plan through Vermont Health Connect. Qualified families can also get financial help paying for coverage. Please call us 1-855-899-9600 to learn more.


        Vermont Medical Society

        134 Main Street

        Montpelier, VT 05602

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