2021 VMS Survey Seeking Feedback on Policy Resolutions for Annual Meeting
Earlier today, VMS members were sent a survey soliciting comments on the proposed 2021 Policy Resolutions. This year, the resolutions propose action-oriented solutions to address pediatric mental health needs, coverage for audio-only telehealth, prioritizing primary care and support for access to home health services. All members are encouraged to provide feedback and non-binding comments on the resolutions between August 10th and September 7th, 2021. Each VMS member should have received an email with a unique link to submit comments via SurveyMonkey. If you did not receive a link, comments can also be emailed to email@example.com. Please note: the comments DO NOT REPRESENT A VOTE on the resolutions and feedback is in comment format only. Members will be required to share their name on comments. Voting on the policy resolutions will take place during the live, in-person and virtual VMS Member Business Meeting, Saturday, November 6th from 9am – 12pm. Only those registered and attending the 2021 VMS Annual Meeting will be able to vote on the resolutions. Comments submitted via the online system will be shared with the VMS Council at the Council Meeting on September 15th, 2021 and may inform amendments or the discussion on the resolutions. Comments will also be available (with names and email removed) to the membership. Click for more information and to register for the virtual 2021 VMS Annual Meeting.
GMCB Requires BCBSVT and MVP to Lower Premiums for Small Group and Individual Plans for 2022
Last week the Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB) issued decisions requiring Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont (BCBSVT) and MVP Health Plan (MVP) to lower the premiums they sought to charge both Vermont individuals and families and Vermont small businesses for health insurance in 2022. This year’s filings were significantly impacted by the “unmerging” of the individual and small group health insurance markets for 2022, which the Vermont legislature enacted in 2021 to take advantage of enhanced subsidies available to individuals under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Unmerging the markets had the effect of lowering small group premiums and increasing individual premiums, with the enhanced subsidies offsetting the increased premiums in the individual market. ARPA expands eligibility for federal premium tax credits in 2022, making them available to individuals with incomes above 400% of the federal poverty level and increasing the amount available to individuals at lower income levels.
For small group plans the GMCB reduced BCBSVT’s rate request to -6.7% and reduced MVP’s rate request to 0.8%. For the full press release click here.
For individuals and family plans the GMCB reduced BCBSVT’s proposed rates to 4.7% on average and reduced MVP's proposed rates to 12.7% on average. For the full press release click here.
Cannabis Control Board Names Advisory Committee
Last week, the Cannabis Control Board (CCB) announced the appointees who will make up the 14-member Advisory committee required by Act 164 (2020) and Act 62 (2021) and charged with helping to support the Board’s work as it begins the process of building a legal cannabis marketplace in Vermont. The members represent diverse areas of expertise in order to provide input on issues of social justice, public health, public safety, criminal justice reform, business, medical cannabis, municipal law, and regulatory issues in the creation of Vermont’s cannabis market. Shayla Livingston, formerly of the Vermont Department of Health, now at the Department of Mental Health, has been appointed by the Governor as the member with expertise in public health and Commissioner of Health Dr. Mark Levine has been named as the designee of the Substance Misuse Prevention Council. For the full Advisory Committee click here.__________________________________________________________________________
Mildred Reardon Medical Student Scholarship Open for Applications
Do you dream of becoming a Vermont doctor? See below to apply for a $10,000 scholarship for a rising 3rd year student committed to practicing medicine in Vermont. The Vermont Medical Society’s Education and Research Foundation (VMSERF) is now accepting applications for the Mildred Reardon scholarship, which awards $10,000 to a University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine third year student committed to practicing medicine in Vermont. The scholarship is made to a student interested in any specialty, with a preference for specialties in high need in Vermont. The scholarship is tuition-linked and is paid directly to the College of Medicine towards tuition. The scholarship award is given as part of the VMS Annual Meeting Awards Banquet, which will be held at Topnotch in Stowe on November 5th, 2021. Click here for more information and details on applying for the scholarship.
Governor Scott Announces COVID Vaccine Mandate for Some State Staff
During the Governor’s press conference today Governor Scott
said that Vermont will require staff that work at specific facilities including
prisons, the Vermont Veteran’s Home, and the Vermont State Psychiatric Hospital
to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. The governor distinguished this
mandate from general business and said, “we have an obligation to protect the
most vulnerable that are under our care.” Click
here to read the VTDigger article. Despite Vermont seeing an increase in
cases due to the more contagious delta variant over the last few weeks, Dr.
Mark Levine and Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith emphasized that
with 85.1% of eligible Vermonters receiving at least one dose of the vaccine
and over 75.4% of eligible Vermonters fully vaccinated, Vermont is well
positioned to get through the delta surge with less severe outcomes.
Commissioner Pieciak said international data and data from southern U.S. states
has shown that the delta variant usually maintains increased momentum for about
5 weeks and then gradually declines, with the surge lasting about 8-9 weeks.
Vermont continues to have the lowest case rates, hospitalizations and deaths in
the country and leads the nation in vaccination rates. The rise in cases in
Vermont and regionally is largely in the unvaccinated population and only
approximately 2% of vaccinated people in Vermont have gotten the virus.
Secretary Smith urged the remaining 80,000 eligible Vermonters who have not
initiated their COVID-19 vaccination process to take advantage of the numerous
opportunities available to receive a shot. He also said that currently Vermont
has robust testing capability and should be able to meet all testing demands.
Anecdotally, the VMS has heard that getting test results has slowed to an
average of a 3-5 day turn around. During the press conference today,
Commissioner Levine stopped short of recomending required masking indoors, but rather said
everyone needs to determine their own comfort level as masks are an effective
VDH - HAN - August 9, 2021 - SARS-CoV-2 Monoclonal Antibodies for Post-Exposure Prophylaxis
VDH HAN - July 29, 2021 - Tickborne Diseases: Updates and Resources
DFR Modeling Report - August 10, 2021