April 20, 2021


Please Tell the Legislature to Make Primary Care a Vermont Priority NOW!

This week, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee will be presenting their health care funding recommendations to the Senate Appropriations Committee in order for them to complete the Senate draft of the FY22 Budget. With flush coffers from federal American Rescue Plan stimulus funds, the Committees are considering how to best invest additional dollars into Vermont's future. Please urge both Committees to increase the Medicaid RBRVS Fee Schedule to bring primary care codes to 105% of MedicareYou can also thank them for investing in the new primary care scholarship program in H.439

Action Alert: Please Urge the Senate Appropriations and Health and Welfare Committees to Increase Medicaid Rates for Primary CarePlease email these Committee members TODAY: 






Or, if these Committee members are your lawmakers, please consider calling them as they are currently receiving a high volume of email:  

  • Ann Cummings, D-Washington, (802) 223-6043
  • Ginny Lyons, D-Chittenden, (802) 863-6129
  • Cheryl Hooker, D-Rutland, (802) 353-7288
  • Josh Terenzini, R-Rutland, (802) 353-7749
  • Ruth Hardy, D-Addison, (802) 989-5278
  • Jane Kitchel, D-Caledonia, (802) 684-3482
  • Rich Westman, D-Lamoille, (802) 644-2297
  • Alice Nitka, D-Windsor, (802) 228-8432
  • Becca Balint, D-Windham, (802) 828-3806
  • Bobby Starr, D-Essex-Orleans, (802) 988-2877
  • Phillip Baruth, D-Chittenden, (802) 503-5266

As part of this effort, the VMS has launched our "Let's Make Primary Care a Vermont Priority" campaign. Will you share your story of why NOW is a critical time for Vermont to invest in the sustainability of primary care? Please contact Jill at jsudhoffguerin@vtmd.org for more information. 


40% of 16-29 Year Old Vermonters have Registered for COVID Vaccination

At the Administration’s press conference today, Deputy Secretary of the Agency of Human Services Jenney Samuelson announced that since opening registration this weekend, 47,000 individuals aged 16-29 – 40% of the age bracket – have already registered for their COVID-19 vaccination. She also stated that the gap between vaccination rates for the BIPOC population and non-Hispanic white population has started to close. Commissioner of Department of Financial Regulation Mike Pieciak stated that Vermont’s 7-day case rate of COVID is down 24%, led by a 33% decrease in younger age groups, and there is an “optimistic” picture for the weeks and months to come. Vermont’s positivity rate has gradually decreased to 1.5%.  Commissioner of Health Mark Levine says we can expect more news about the Johnson & Johnson “pause” by Friday afternoon as the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is meeting on Friday from 11 am – 5 pm. For full notes, click here.


Action Alert: Please Tell VT Lawmakers Not to Tax PPP Loans

Last week, in the final hours before the legislature passed out the latest State COVID relief bill, S.315, they included a provision in the bill to place a state income tax on Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for tax year 2021. In short, if your PPP loan was forgiven in 2021, or has yet to be forgiven, you would be taxed on the amount of your loan as if it was business income. In order to keep practice doors open, many health care offices accepted federal PPP loans and closely followed the conditions to qualify for 100% forgiveness from repayment, including exemption from any federal tax implications. Now, the legislature has decided to treat these relief funds as taxable income, despite the requirement that all of this funding be spent on payroll and other expenses. The Vermont Medical Society signed onto a Lake Champlain Chamber letter urging tax forgiveness for PPP loans for every business sector that has struggled to survive throughout the pandemic. Governor Scott let the legislation go into law without his signature, in part because he does not support the additional tax liability included in this business relief bill. Click to read the Governor's letter regarding legislature's adding tax to PPP in COVID Relief bill (S.315). Please tell the Vermont legislature to reverse this action and not to subject the federal PPP loans to State income tax! If you have a PPP loan, and do not want to be taxed on that loan in tax year 2021, we strongly suggest you reach out to your legislator to urge them to maintain tax forgiveness for these relief funds. 


Recent COVID-19 Guidance and Resources:

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


Small Businesses Will Save on Health Care Costs in 2022

The Vermont House and Senate have passed legislation that takes advantage of changes in federal health care insurance policy that could result in millions of savings in health care costs for Vermont small businesses. The American Rescue Plan Act 's (ARPA) expansion of premium subsidies for individuals purchasing their own health insurance on Vermont Health Connect opened up the opportunity for the separation of Vermont’s individual health insurance market from the small group health insurance market. This change will allow for small businesses purchasing in the exchange to be rated on their own, and not bear the responsibility to subsidize the individual market. Early estimates suggest this could result in as much as $17 million in savings. The bill is now in the Senate Finance Committee before heading to the full Senate for final concurrence with changes made by the House


HHS Clarifies Access to Free COVID-19 Vaccines

In response to concerns of access barriers some immigrants are facing regarding documentation requests prior to receiving COVID-19 vaccination, and individuals inappropriately being sent bills for COVID-19 vaccine fees, HRSA developed and has posted two fact sheets to help both patients and clinicians better understand their rights and responsibilities regarding access to COVID-19 vaccines. The COVID-19 vaccines are free to all individuals living in the United States and these resources will help to empower patients and educate providers on this fact.  The facts sheets note that if practices are seeking reimbursement from the HRSA COVID-19 Uninsured Program, providers are required to request certain information from the patient, including a Social Security Number and, if unavailable, a driver’s license/state ID number, solely to check if the patient has other health insurance. Patients are NOT required to provide this information.  Providers will still be reimbursed for eligible claims if they attest that they asked for this information, but it was not made available.


House Vote Delays 2% Medicare Sequester Pay Cut Until 2022

President Biden has signed into law a measure extending the 2% Medicare sequester moratorium that was set to expire April 1. The House of Representatives voted 384–38 in favor of the bill, already passed 90–2 in the Senate after Majority Leader Charles Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reached an agreement on the issue. More actions are needed to avoid a 4% Medicare cut triggered by budgeting rules. Read more from the AMA

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: 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


Scholarships for UVM Pain Management Conference for Healthcare Providers Caring for the Underserved

The Alliance to Advance Comprehensive Integrative Pain Management (AACIPM) is partnering with the Integrative Medicine for the Underserved (IM4US) and the University of Vermont Integrative Health to provide scholarships for healthcare clinicians who provide care for the underserved to attend the the UVM Integrative Pain Management Conference. Please click here to learn more. 


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 cvaneegh@med.uvm.edu

        April 2021 is National Donate Life Month

        Click here to learn more


        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. Program content and length can be tailored to your practice’s needs. For more information, see program flyer or contact jbarnard@vtmd.org.  

        COVID Support VT Mental Health Wellness Workshops Include Youth-Focused Discussion Groups

        Is the COVID-19 pandemic stressing you out? Join COVID Support VT to learn how others are coping and tips and tricks to feel better! COVID Support Vermont's "Healthy Vermonters Workshops" offer a wide spectrum of classes and discussions for young and old Vermonters alike who may be struggling to find balance during the pandemic. Click here for more information. 

        Best Practices for Equitable Health Care

        April 29th, 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 4 and/or learn more about each monthly activity click here. 

        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

        VPQHC Expands Health Equity Training Offerings Due to High Demand

        The Vermont Program for Quality Health Care (VPQHC) has expanded the free health equity training offerings that qualify health care professionals 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 is currently waitlisted through May. Click here to learn more. 

        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

        -- Unsubscribe --