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 Medicare. You 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 Care. Please email these Committee members TODAY:
email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; JTerenzini@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;
email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com;
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.