April 6, 2021


Governor Scott Announces Reopening Plan; Full Reopening By July 4th

At today’s press conference, Governor Phil Scott laid out a plan for fully reopening the State, including for travel and events, by July 4th. The plan can be found here.  “Step 1” will take effect this Friday, April 9th.  Group A businesses (outdoor, low contact) will move to more universal reopening guidance and there will no longer be any quarantine requirement for travel, regardless of vaccination status.  Instead, unvaccinated individuals will need to test negative within three days of travel to or return to Vermont. By Step 3 on June 1, there will be no quarantine or testing requirement for travel and by July 4, there will no longer be limits on gathering sizes, mask or physical requirements, though masks will continue to be “encouraged.” Moving between steps will be based on meeting vaccination benchmarks, though administration officials stated that they think these benchmarks will be met and Vermonters can “make plans” based on this announcement, and that officials will also continue to look at positivity rates, hospitalizations and deaths. Officials also acknowledged the continued high level of positive tests, especially among younger Vermonters, and how that reinforces both the effectiveness of vaccines and need to double down on prevention efforts for the next few weeks while individuals get vaccinated.  A recent survey showed that Vermont could achieve one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, with 88% of those not yet eligible stating they would definitely or likely be vaccinated. 


Action Alert: Please Ask Your Senator to Support Prop 5! 

Last week, the Senate Rules Committee voted to put Proposition 5, the constitutional amendment creating a right to reproductive liberty, on the Senate notice calendar. In order for Proposition 5 to advance, it is required to be on notice for six legislative days before the entire Senate can vote on whether to advance this proposed constitutional amendment on the seventh day, Friday, April 9th. All constitutional amendments must be passed by the Vermont legislature in two consecutive bienniums, before going before Vermont voters as a referendum. Prop 5 passed the Senate and the House in 2019 and if it passes the Senate in 2021, will be taken up in the House in 2021 and 2022, before being placed on the ballot as a referendum in November of 2022. If passed, Prop 5 will create what would be known as "Article 22": Article 22. [Personal reproductive liberty] That an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course and shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means. In 2019, the VMS adopted policy supporting codifying protection for women's reproductive rights, including access to contraception and safe, legal abortion through Vermont law and/or a Vermont constitutional amendment. Please email your Senator and urge them to support Prop 5. Click here to identify your Senator and you will find their email address included in their bio. 


CMS Issues Temporary Claims Hold

In anticipation of possible Congressional action to extend the 2% sequester reduction suspension, CMS instructed all Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) to hold all claims with dates of service on or after 4/1/2021. The intention is that this claims hold will only be implemented for a short period and should not interrupt Medicare providers’ cash flow. This action is being implemented to minimize the volume of claims the MACs must reprocess if Congress extends the suspension; the MACs will automatically reprocess any claims paid with the reduction applied if necessary.


Recent COVID-19 Guidance and Resources:

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


VMS Responds to VDH on MAT Rule

Last week, the VMS submitted recommendations regarding both the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) proposed changes to the Medication-Assisted Therapy for Opioid Use Disorder Rule in Rule 21P004VMS recommended that  the rule require a full exam within three visits by the Office-Based Opioid Treatment prescriber, but not “prior to” prescribing.  VMS also recommend expanding the definition of eligible clinicians who can perform a psychosocial assessment required by existing rule to include primary care doctors and primary care advance practice providers.  VDH will be accepting public comments on the MAT Rule until Friday, April 9th, 2021. Please send any questions or suggestions on this rule change to Jill at jsudhoffguerin@vtmd.org

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


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


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 jsudhoffguerin@vtmd.org


Repayment of COVID-19 Accelerated and Advance Payments Began March 30, 2021

CMS issued information about repayment of COVID-19 accelerated and advance payments. If you requested these payments, learn how and when CMS will recoup them:

  • Identify payments we recovered
  • Prepare your billing staff

More Information:

        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.  

        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. They will discuss how the public health emergency has further exposed the shortcomings of the current fee-for-service payment structures and explore the opportunities to expand value-based-payments in Vermont's health care systems. 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 www.champlain.edu/localhistory for more information and to register for this free community event. 

        April 5-11th is National Public Health Week!

        Join the American Public Health Association for National Public Health Week 2021, which is completely virtual this year and includethe 2021 APHA Policy Action Institute, "Building Bridges: Creating Health" on April 8 and 9, which will bring policy to the forefront during NPHW. Click here for information on this week's events!

        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: kblindow@bistatepca.org 

        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. VPQHC has expanded the opportunity to participate in this training and is now offering dates throughout Spring 2021. 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

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