July 13, 2021


Cannabis Control Board Holds First Youth Prevention Meeting

The State of Vermont is currently appointing remaining staff members in order to fully establish Vermont’s Cannabis Control Board (CCB). The CCB has begun educational meetings on topics related to implementing the laws and rules to regulate commercial cannabis sales in Vermont as passed in Act 164 in 2020. The Governor has named James Pepper as the Chair of the CCB and Brynn Hare as the Executive Director. Commissioner Mark Levine has been named to the Advisory Committee to weigh in on substance use prevention. Mr. Pepper has asked the Vermont Medical Society for information regarding youth prevention strategies, especially how to craft rules that will ensure that cannabis advertising is only visible to less than 15% of youth under the age of 21. Last Thursday, July 8th, the CCB met for the day to receive an introduction to youth prevention from some of Vermont’s leaders in substance use prevention, including Andrea Vallanti of UVM, staff from Prevention Works VT! and Holly Morehouse from Afterschool Vermont, along with a public health researcher from Nevada and cannabis advertising consultant. The VMS has been invited to future meetings of the CCB, along with Dr. Levine, to further discuss commercial cannabis rule-making that incorporates youth prevention strategies. Click here for the Cannabis Control Board website. Click here for the July 8th meeting materials.


CDC and FDA Release Joint Statement on Vaccine Boosters

The Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a joint statement on Friday, July 9th, stating that Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot at this time. They said that the FDA, CDC, and NIH are currently engaged in a science-based process aimed at determining when or if a COVID-19 vaccine booster might be necessary and that they are prepared to recommend booster doses if and when the science demonstrates that they are needed.  At the weekly press conference earlier today, Vermont Commissioner of Health Mark Levine repeated that data shows that all three approved vaccines work well to prevent COVID-19, including the Delta variant, and no boosters are currently needed, including for those who are immunocompromised or who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.  There are active studies regarding following Johnson & Johnson with an mRNA vaccine.  Vermont Secretary of Education Dan French also praised recent CDC K-12 school guidance for being comprehensive and flexible and stated that Vermont would be releasing school guidance in August, which will take into account current conditions in the State. While Vermont has seen a slight uptick in COVID-19 cases this week, the numbers remain in the single digits per day. Vermont's modeling data for the week can be found here and the unofficial notes from today's press conference can be read here.


Clinical Consultation on Managing Alzheimer’s Disease Available for Primary Care Clinicians

Vermont’s Alzheimer's Disease Hub and Spoke Work Group, in collaboration with the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living (DAIL), Vermont Department of Health (VDH), and others has announced the availability of the “Corner Consult with Dr. Pendlebury.” Dr. William Pendlebury (Co-Director UVMMC Memory Program) will be available on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month (June 2021 to May 2022) from 2:00-4:00 pm for ad hoc/informal consultation to discuss clinical issues concerning Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. These consultations can take the form of discussion of interesting or problematic clinical cases, pharmacologic treatment, or review of specific clinical or research topics. There will be no fee for these consultations, and the content is directed by the primary care provider requesting the consultation. Register here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/5080B4AACAE2FA6FC1-corner

Contact Mary.palumbo@med.uvm.edu for further information on these additional offerings beginning Sept 16, 2021:

  • An ECHO© series - Enhanced Diagnosis and Management of Dementia by the Primary Care Team. This series will include 9 sessions (1.5 hrs) from Sept 2021 to May 2022 @ 7:30-9 AM (co-sponsored by AHEC). Continuing Medical and Interprofessional Education credits will be available. Ten Vermont primary care teams (PCP, Nurse and Social Worker) will be sought to participate.  
  • An on demand Continuing Education session on Dementia Diagnosis, Treatment and Management for primary care providers (MD,NP, DO, PA) and their team members (SW, PT, RN, RD and others).


Reminder: Patients Must be Provided Translation and Interpretation Services

As has been widely reported in the media (see for example, articles here and here), the importance of providing timely, effective translation and interpretation services for patients with limited English proficiency or who are deaf or hard of hearing has been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  VMS members are reminded that patients have a legal right to translation and interpretation services at no charge. VMS was recently contacted by a patient whose physician practice was not willing to provide such services, which would be a violation of state and federal laws. Members can find more information about the legal right to services and services available in Vermont at the VMS website here.  Members can also contact Jessa Barnard at jbarnard@vtmd.org for more information. 


Vermont Medicaid Proposes Expanded Blood Pressure Monitor Coverage

Effective August 6, 2021, Vermont Medicaid (DVHA) is expanding hypertension diagnosis categories for beneficiaries to obtain a blood pressure monitor to include essential hypertension, benign hypertension, nonspecific hypertension, elevated blood pressure without the diagnosis of hypertension, hypertensive heart disease without heart failure, and pregnancy-related hypertension. Close monitoring of a beneficiary’s blood pressure will allow faster medical intervention and may reduce medications, doctor visits, and emergency department visits. Also effective August 6, 2021, DVHA will only cover the purchase of digital cuffs and no longer allow purchase of the manual sphygmomanometer/blood pressure apparatus with cuff and stethoscope. The public comment period on this proposed rule change runs from July 6, 2021 through August 5, 2021. Please send any comments or questions to Jill Sudhoff Guerin at jsudhoffguerin@vtmd.org.


Vermont Medicaid Proposes Coverage for Percutaneous Transcatheter Closure

Effective August 1, 2021, the Vermont Medicaid program proposes to add coverage for CPT Code 33340 - Percutaneous transcatheter closure of the left atrial appendage for physician reimbursement. Atrial fibrillation is a common condition associated with an increased risk of stroke. Percutaneous closure of the left atrial appendage is considered an alternative treatment to traditional treatments that rely on anticoagulation, which carries a small risk of serious bleeding.  Please send any comments or questions to Jill Sudhoff Guerin at jsudhoffguerin@vtmd.org.


Drug Utilization Review Board is Currently Seeking Board Members

The Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA) manages  the publicly-funded benefit programs for the State of Vermont including the pharmacy benefit programs and oversees the activities of the DUR Board. The DURB is composed of prescribers and pharmacists that meet approximately every six weeks with a total of seven meetings per year. Materials for the meeting are sent via email ahead of time to allow DUR Board members to review before the meeting. The agenda typically consists of:

  • Drug utilization review and analyses
  • Review of new drugs, new indications and dosage forms
  • Therapeutic class review including recently published treatment guidelines and best practices that may influence clinical criteria
  • Safety information
  • Drug information pertinent to managing the drug benefit programs of DVHA

You can find the DURB description, meeting schedule and location, meeting agenda’s, meeting minutes, current members, and contact information on their website at Drug Utilization Review Board | Department of Vermont Health Access

Please reach out to Lisa Hurteau if interested: Lisa.Hurteau@Vermont.gov.


HHS Opens Provider Relief Fund Reporting Portal

The Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Reporting Portal is now open for providers who need to report on the use of funds in Reporting Period 1. All recipients of PRF payments must comply with the reporting requirements described in the Terms and Conditions. Providers who received funds between April 10, 2020 and June 30, 2020 are required to report during Reporting Period 1 and have until September 30, 2021 to submit their information via the Portal. HRSA is committed to supporting the providers who have received PRF payments in completing their reporting requirements successfully.

Providers can review the updated Reporting Requirements Notice (June 11) to enter the PRF Reporting Portal. Portal registration is the first required step (if not already completed).


New Summer Schedule! Commissioner Call Update | VMS calls with Vermont Department of Health Commissioner, Mark Levine, M.D. will be held on specific Thursdays from 12:30-1:00 p.m. throughout the summer. These calls are on ZOOM - click below for the virtual meeting address that will remain constant each week.

Summer dates will be: July 22nd; August 5 & 19th; September 2 & 16th.  
Click here for an online schedule.

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

Call for VMS Leadership Award Nominations & Resolutions For the 208th VMS Annual  Meeting - Nov. 5 & 6

Please join the VMS, in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter, Vermont Academy of Family Physicians and the Vermont Psychiatric Association for the 2021 VMS Annual & Collaborative Meeting on November 5 and 6th, 2021 at the Topnotch Resort in Stowe, VT!  This year's event will feature both in-person and virtual options to participate and will pack a lot into a shorter time span. 

The Vermont Medical Society is currently seeking nominations for its Annual Leadership Awards and will be accepting nominations until July 30, 2021. To view the award categories and criteria click hereVMS is also looking for your input on 2021 Policy Resolutions to be considered by the membership at the VMS Annual Business Meeting on November 6th. Submit your resolution idea here.

For more details on the meeting click here.  Make sure to save the date and book your room today with the VMS room block. Call Topnotch at 1.800.451.8686

24th Women’s Health and Cancer Conference: Friday, October 1, 2021 – Save the date: the UVM Cancer Center will once again bring together health care professionals, patients, survivors, caregivers and the general public for this event which is aimed at empowering and supporting individuals and communities with knowledge about cancer prevention, detection, treatment and survivorship. Registration will be available in June. For more information click here. 

Sponsored jointly bythe Mayo Clinic,
Stanford University and the American Medical Association

American Conference
on Physician Health
October 7- 9, 2021

Achieving the quadruple aim: Resilient systems in times of crisis.” Joint scientific conference that promotes scientific research and discourse on health system infrastructure, and the actionable steps organizations like yours can take to improve physician well-being.

  • Registration rates: Available through Thursday, Sept. 23.
  • To register for conference and view agenda, visit the ACPH 2021 homepage.

AMA STEPS Forward offers a collection of engaging and interactive educational toolkits that are practical, actionable “how-to” guides to transform and improve your practice.

AMA Steps Forward Webinar Series

  • July 15 (12:30 - 1:30)
    Integrating organizational actions toward patient safety and clinician well-being. Register Here
  • July 20 (12:00 - 1:00)
    Promising practices to support physician well-being during COVID-19: A case study from EvergreenHealth. Register Here
  • August 10 (1:00 - 2:00)
    Implementing innovative solutions with an equity lens. Register Here

    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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