May 11, 2021


Please Join us for the VMS May 2021 Webinar: What You Have Missed in Compliance!

Next Thursday, May 20, 2021 from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm VMS will host our May webinar "What You Have Missed in Compliance!" with presenters Anne Cramer and Shireen Hart. After a year of enormous disruption and change, this program will educate you on areas of critical federal and state regulatory changes for physician practices in 2021, including:

  • New informed consent requirements for audio-only telehealth
  • New information blocking rules
  • Vaccine mandates
  • Employment law changes

Bring your questions for top health care law experts! Click here to register. 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.


VMS Member Survey: Tell Us How We Can Support You Best!

We need to hear from you! What policy issues are most impacting you and your patients right now? Surviving COVID downturns in patient volume? Patient mental health needs? After taking last year off due to the pandemic, VMS is back with our annual member survey. Our advocacy is only as strong as the information our members provide us! Please take 5 minutes to fill out a new streamlined survey that will help shape VMS 2021-2022 priorities. Last week, every VMS member was emailed a unique survey link from SurveyMonkey. You will have until May 27th to complete the anonymous survey and will receive two reminders.  If you have not received a link to the survey please email Elizabeth Alessi at for assistance.  Thank you for helping VMS serve you!


ARPA Federal Guidance Throws FY22 Budget Into Flux

Today, as the Vermont Legislature’s Budget Conference Committee began their work to finalize differences between the House and Senate versions of the FY22 Budget, they learned that the U.S. Treasury had released guidance on how States can use funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. The legislature has already proposed allocating a large portion of Vermont’s ARPA funds within the budget, including in a number of places to replace general fund state dollars. It will take some time to analyze this new Treasury guidance and assess if adjustments to the FY22 Budget are necessary. There is some chance this could delay the legislature’s May 22nd projected adjournment date. Governor Phil Scott has also indicated he is considering vetoing the FY22 Budget if the legislature chooses not to work cooperatively with the Administration on this “once in a lifetime opportunity” to make long-term improvements to the State’s infrastructure and other priorities Scott has for Vermont, rather than spending on ongoing programmatic needs. While waiting for budget analyses, policy committees continue to work to bring 2021 legislation to a close. The VMS is following a number of legislative proposals this week, including:

  • S.3, the forensic mental health system bill, had a hearing in the House Appropriations Committee, but the funding for this bill was inadvertently left out of the Senate version of the budget. The Committee is expected to vote on whether to include funding in the final budget compromise tomorrow. 
  • S.22, a bill aimed at ensuring patients have accurate information regarding risks and FDA-approval status of stem cells administered outside of clinical trials, is expected to be voted out of the House Health Care Committee before adjournment and advance to the House Floor.  
  • S.25, a bill making modifications to Vermont’s tax and regulate commercial sales of recreational marijuana, is expected to be voted on the House floor and return to the Senate this week.
  • Children’s mental health – the House Health Care is working on a letter to be sent to the Agency of Human Services with immediate, short-term and long-term expectations regarding children in need of mental health care not being subjected to long emergency department wait times.

Vaccine Administration Opening to Primary Care Practices; More Adolescents

The Vermont Department of Health has announced a pilot to begin COVID-19 vaccination at primary care sites beyond the currently enrolled Federally Qualified Health Centers, beginning mid-May, approximately May 19th. Initially this will be a pilot with a few independent primary care practices that have been selected by VDH, but VDH expects to partner with an increasing number of primary care sites as vaccine supply increases and sign ups at mass vaccination sites slow. Initially primary care practices will receive Moderna and VDH will work with practices on issues of storage and delivery. Each site/practice that is interested in administering COVID-19 vaccines will need to be enrolled in the COVID 19 vaccine program.  For more information on enrolling, administration and storage requirements, go to: VMS will keep practices informed as availability increases.

The State and pediatricians are also gearing up for more adolescent vaccination with an expected announcement this week that children ages 12 to 15 are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine. The FDA announced the shot’s authorization for younger teens late Monday, and the CDC plans to convene the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP) on Wednesday to discuss recommendations for its use. The State is ready to open enrollment to this age group on Thursday, assuming a positive recommendation from ACIP. 12-15 year old children will register using the same state and pharmacy registration systems as adults and are able to receive vaccines from existing public and pharmacy vaccination sites that administer Pfizer, as well as school-based clinics being planned in over 40 schools. The American Academy of Pediatrics-Vermont Chapter is planning community education events in many areas of the state to educate parents about the vaccine. More information on these events will be released soon. 


Recent COVID-19 Guidance and Resources:

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


CMS to Require Vaccination Education, Offering, and Reporting by Long Term Care Facilities

As part of the ongoing response to address the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services has issued a rule that will require long-term care facilities, and residential facilities serving clients with intellectual disabilities, to educate and offer the COVID-19 vaccine to residents, clients, and staff. The rule also requires LTC facilities to report weekly COVID-19 vaccination status data for both residents and staff to the CDC National Healthcare Safety Network. As data becomes available, CMS will post facility-specific vaccination status information reported to the NHSN for viewing by facilities, stakeholders, and the public on CMS’ COVID-19 Nursing Home Data website.

More Information: Interim final rule; COVID-19 Vaccine Immunization Requirements for Residents and Staff.


AMA Telehealth Immersion Program – No Cost Trainings Available

The Telehealth Immersion Programpart of the STEPS Forward Innovation Academy, is the American Medical Association (AMA)’s newest offering to guide physicians, practices, and health systems in optimizing and sustaining telehealth at their organizations.  Using the Telehealth Initiative as a framework, the Telehealth Immersion Program will provide foundational information surrounding the telehealth landscape and offer deep dives into aspects of telehealth including, but not limited to, clinical use cases, integration with other healthcare technologies, the impact of telehealth related to elements of the quadruple aim, how to successfully scale and sustain telehealth in practice, and virtual care expansion opportunities. Through a series of curated webinars, interactive peer-to-peer learning sessions, virtual discussions, boot-camps, and on-demand resources, the Telehealth Immersion Program offers a comprehensive curriculum and enhanced experience navigating the world of telehealth alongside peers nationwide. This program is mission driven and available to physicians, practices, and health systems at no-cost. Visit the Telehealth Immersion Program website for more information and to sign up for available sessions. Registration is now open for the following topics: measuring the value of virtual careclinical case study: telehealth for mental and behavioral healthhealthcare technology & the human connection, and implementing innovative solutions with an equity lens. Additional sessions will continually be added. Please visit our website regularly for updates.  

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


Green Mountain Care Board Vacancy – Health Professionals Encouraged to Apply

With a vacancy expected in September 2021 at the expiration of Board member Maureen Usifer’s term, VMS is strongly encouraging health care professionals to apply for an open seat on the Green Mountain Care Board. The opening has not yet been posted, however a job description for prior openings can be found here. The annual salary for a board member is currently $107,000 and Board members can be part-time and have outside work. Board members may practice medicine and be a non-management employee of a hospital or other health care facility, but would be required to recuse themselves from any Board matters which involve their employer. Candidates need not resign these positions prior to accepting a position. Candidates who apply will first be reviewed by a Nominating Committee; qualified candidates are then forwarded to the Governor, who makes Board appointments with the consent of the Senate. More information on the nomination process can be found here. If you have questions or want to suggest candidates, please contact Jill at 


AMA Wants to Hear From You as Medicare Begins Advance Payment Recoupment

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently began automatic recoupment of COVID-19 Accelerated and Advance Payments, which were an advance of up to three months of Medicare payments to help physician practices keep the lights on early in the COVID-19 pandemic. The American Medical Association (AMA) and the Federation of State Medical Societies strongly advocated for improved repayment terms, which Congress and CMS adopted in 2020. Under the revised repayment terms, physicians should be aware that:

  • These funds are loans that are required to be repaid.
  • Repayment begins one year from when the Medicare advance payment is received, rather than 120 days under the original terms.
  • The per claim recoupment amount was reduced from 100% to 25% for the first 11 months, and then 50% for an additional six months.
  • If there is an outstanding balance after the 17-month recoupment time frame, the Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) will issue a demand letter requiring repayment subject to an interest rate of 4%, a decrease from the original interest rate of 10.25%.
  • Physicians may repay the Medicare advance payment in full at any time by contacting their MAC.

The AMA is very interested in feedback about recoupment of the Medicare advance payments. Please share your feedback with Jessa Barnard at and we will forward to the AMA. 

For more information about the programs established by the federal government to help physician practices offset the financial impact of COVID-19, access these AMA resources

National Government Services has also developed a Part B COVID-19 Accelerated and Advanced Payment, Repayment and Recoupment Process YouTube Video to address common questions. 


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


          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  

          Lyme Disease Updates and New Educational Tools for Clinicians

          Thursday, May 20, 2021


          Presenters will review updates in Lyme disease epidemiology, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention and share new educational tools for both healthcare providers and their patients. This call does not require prior registration. Go to this Zoom link to participate. 

          VCP 2021 Webinar Series: May 27: Collaborative Documentation with Kids and Families Northwestern Counseling and Support Services Children, Youth, and Family Services clinicians share practical advice and lessons learned on using Collaborative Documentation as a clinical intervention to improve engagement with children, youth, and families. Register here.

          June 25: How to Help Your Older Clients Improve their Sleep CSAC Medical Director Dr. Joe Lasek will provide information and strategies for assessing and promoting better sleep for your older clients, including pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions for insomnia in the elderly. Register here.

          More details on these webinars are available at the VCP Events and Trainings site.

          Child Psychiatry and Family Medicine – Two Virtual Conferences in June from UVM

          14th Annual Child Psychiatry in Primary Care Conference – June 4 (virtual) 8:00-4:30pm

          Dr. David Rettew invites you to attend this year’s virtual conference on: Post-COVID Mental Health for children, School Violence Threat assessments, Integrated Care, The Science of Praising (and Overpraising) and more. Register here.

          Family Medicine Review Course – June 8-11 (virtual) two full days plus two half days

          Dr. Anya Koutras invites you to attend this year’s virtual conference beginning on Tuesday afternoon, June 8. Sessions cover a wide-range of topics including, among many others: anxiety disorders, liver disease, cardiac testing, neuropathy, opiates, hospice care, racism and health inequities, adolescents on the gender spectrum, Type 2 diabetes, and musculoskeletal telemedicine. See the entire program at the event webpage.

          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. Register here.

          Special Enrollment Period Now Until August 15th, 2021

          Due to the COVID-19 emergency, Vermont Health Connect has opened a Special Enrollment Period through August 15, 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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