This Thursday: VMS Hosts First COVID-19 Clinical Conversation
Please join us this Thursday, September 16th from 12-30-1:00 pm for the first of our new "COVID-19 Clinical Conversations." We will be joined by Meredith Plimpton and Margaret Robinson to discuss COVID-19 vaccine boosters, EUA approval for COVID-19 vaccines for 2-11 yrs old and Dr. Rebecca Bell will highlight the current strategies in bringing students back to school safely.
Please check our Thursday schedule, where we alternate between a VMS hosted conversation with Commissioner Levine and our new COVID-19 Clinical Conversations; where we will host local experts to answer your clinical questions regarding relevant COVID-19 issues facing Vermont health care clinicians on the other listed Thursdays from 12:30 – 1:00pm. These conversations will be designed to cover the most pressing COVID-related issues during the time period surrounding each discussion. Please reach out to Stephanie Winters at email@example.com to share topics you think we should cover.
HHS Announces $25.5 Billion in COVID-19 Provider Funding
The Biden administration announced last Friday that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), is making $25.5 billion in new funding available for health care providers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. More details can be found HERE.
Important to note:
For more information visit: https://www.hrsa.gov/provider-relief/future-payments.
- Eligibility is based on documented lost revenues and changes in operating expenses from July 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021
- HRSA will reimburse a higher percentage of lost revenues and expenses for smaller providers as compared to larger providers.
- HRSA will provide "bonus" payments based on the amount of services they provide to Medicaid, CHIP, and Medicare patients
- HHS is also announcing today a final 60-day grace period to help providers come into compliance with their PRF Reporting requirements if they fail to meet the deadline on September 30, 2021, for the first PRF Reporting Time Period. While the deadlines to use funds and the Reporting Time Period will not change, HHS will not initiate collection activities or similar enforcement actions for noncompliant providers during this grace period.
Meeting Notice: Vermont All-Payer Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Model Agreement
The Vermont Agency of Human Services (AHS) will hold a virtual town hall meeting to discuss plans for seeking a one-year extension of the All-Payer ACO Model Agreement which is effective January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2022. The State is not seeking to add any additional services such as Medicaid home- and community-based services, mental health services, and substance use disorder services to the All-Payer Financial Target Services which are subject to growth targets. Additional forums about improving alignment between the delivery and financing of these services with services provided through the ACO will be discussed.
Meeting Date and Time:
Thursday, September 23rd from 11 AM – 12:30 PM
Click here to join the meeting
Or call in (audio only)
+1 802-828-7667,,47532049# United States, Montpelier
Phone Conference ID: 475 320 49#
White House Releases Vaccine Mandate for Health Care Facilities, Updated COVID-19 Action Plan
The Biden-Harris Administration announced last Thursday that it will require COVID-19 vaccination of staff within all Medicare and Medicaid-certified facilities to protect both them and patients from the virus and its more contagious Delta variant. Facilities across the country should make efforts now to get health care staff vaccinated to make sure they are in compliance when the rule takes effect. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), announced that emergency regulations requiring vaccinations for nursing home workers will be expanded to include hospitals, dialysis facilities, ambulatory surgical settings, and home health agencies, among others, as a condition for participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The decision was based on the continued and growing spread of the virus in health care settings, especially in parts of the U.S. with higher incidence of COVID-19. CMS is developing an Interim Final Rule with Comment Period that will be issued in October. Facilities are urged to use all available resources to support employee vaccinations, including employee education and clinics, as they work to meet new federal requirements.
Other elements of the COVID-19 Action Plan include:
- Requiring All Employers with 100+ Employees to Ensure their Workers are Vaccinated or Tested Weekly
- Requiring Employers to Provide Paid Time Off to Get Vaccinated
- Calling on All States to Adopt Vaccine Requirements for All School Employees
- Calling on Large Entertainment Venues to Require Proof of Vaccination or Testing for Entry
- Getting Students and School Staff Tested Regularly
- Providing Every Resource to the FDA to Support Timely Review of Vaccines for Individuals Under the Age of 12
- Making At-Home Tests More Affordable
- Expanding Free, Pharmacy Testing
CDC Releases HAN Warning of Adverse Reactions to Delta-8 THC Products
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published a health advisory Tuesday, September 14th, warning clinicians of an increase in adverse reactions to cannabis products that contain delta-8 THC. According to the HAN, delta-8 THC products are increasingly appearing in both marijuana and hemp marketplaces and are also available online. Delta-8 THC products are sometimes marketed as “weed light” or “diet weed," although the health impacts of these products are largely unknown. Delta-8 THC products may also have the potential to be confused with hemp or CBD products that are not intoxicating, therefore consumers who use these products may therefore experience unexpected or increased THC intoxication. In Vermont, the Cannabis Control Board (CCB) has been holding a series of Advisory sub-committee meetings, in order to advance the rule-making outlined in Act 164. The public health subcommittee, which is made up of Commissioner Mark Levine, Tim Wessel (filmmaker) and Ingrid Jonas (retired State Police Officer), has met twice in one week and is currently focused on how best to design warning labels for cannabis products in Vermont. For the overview of the public health sub-committee's work click here. These meetings are open to the public and currently held in-person. To provide public comment on the work of the sub-committee or the CCB in general click here.
Governor's Press Conference: Both Good and Bad News
The Governor’s press conference today contained both good and cautionary news for Vermonters. In the good news, Vermont has seen for the first time since June “negative case growth,” or a decrease in cases week-over-week. On the cautionary side, cases among children who are too young to be vaccinated remain high compared to the case rate among older Vermonters and the hospitalization rate continues to increase. On average, 71% of recent hospitalizations have been among the unvaccinated. Other updates include:
- The Department of Education will be releasing more detailed contact tracing guidance for schools soon (to help address positive cases in cafeterias, recess, busses and more). It will be posted to the DOE website.
- The State continues to add more contact tracing staff/capacity.
- The Agency of Human Services is committed to increasing testing capacity in a community if there is an outbreak, however Vermonters are strongly encouraged to schedule a testing appointment vs walking-in to help manage testing capacity and wait times. (VMS has heard that testing capacity has been an issue and will continue to be in touch with AHS on this topic).
- The State is ready to administer boosters, but is waiting for approval and guidance from the federal level.
- The State and UVM are partnering on a study of outcomes for those who have contracted COVID 19 – 2500 Vermonters have been randomly selected and might hear from researchers.
Transcripts of the Governor’s comments each week can now be found here and modeling reports can be found on the DFR website.
National Physician Suicide Awareness Day – Sept. 17
On behalf of the Physicians Foundation, Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation and #FirstRespondersFirst, we invite you to help prevent physician suicide by learning the signs, starting the conversations, understanding the underlying barriers and sharing the resources that can help those in distress seek mental health care.
Remember, the VMS Practitioner Health Program Medical Director, Joe Lasak, MD is available to direct any physician or PA in Vermont to resources. The VPHP Confidential phone number is: 802-223-0400. More resources are also listed at: https://vtmd.org/wellness-resources