September 29, 2020


Legislature Adjourns Historic 2020 Session Without Fanfare

After a prolonged 2020 legislative session marked by emergency, pandemic-related legislation and virtual decision-making, Vermont lawmakers officially adjourned the 2020 session this past Friday. Perhaps it is easier to come to agreement over ZOOM calls or perhaps lawmakers ready to begin campaigning had little time for disagreement, as the final FY21 budget passed quickly, with very little bickering. The VMS is celebrating the passage of H.607, a bill to create scholarship programs for primary care physicians and nurses. The bill was sent to the Governor’s desk today and he has 5 days to sign the legislation. The VMS will publish a final 2020 Legislative Bulletin shortly to provide a comprehensive update on all health-related policy for 2020, but until then here is the status of some priority bills:

  • S.54, the marijuana commercialization bill, passed both chambers and has not been sent to the Governor's desk yet. Please tell Governor Scott to VETO S.54 because it does not retain the full ban on advertising or invest $6 million in comprehensive, statewide youth prevention strategies.
  • H.663, passed both chambers and awaits being sent to the Governor's desk. The bill now directs each school district to make condoms available to all students in its secondary schools free of charge; a requirement to provide feminine hygiene products in schools was not ultimately included in the bill. 
  • S.220, the bill that expands prescribing authority to pharmacists for specific medications passed both chambers and awaits being sent to the Governor.
  • S.119, a bill aimed at setting statewide standards for law enforcement who use deadly force passed both chambers and heads to the Governor’s desk.

    Attend VMS Membership Meeting on Nov. 7th to Shape VMS Position on Health Care Reform

    On September 16th, the Vermont Medical Society Council met and reviewed two policy resolutions that will be presented at the 2020 VMS Annual Business Meeting on Saturday, November 7th from 8:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.  Both resolutions lay out VMS’ position on health care reform. One states VMS should support a national, single payer health program; the second reaffirms VMS' position in support of universal coverage. All VMS members received a survey soliciting feedback and non-binding comments on the resolutions previous to this month's Council meeting. The comments were extremely helpful in shaping the VMC Council discussion and informing the Council's recommendation to support both the 2020 Draft Resolutions:

    1. Single-payer, National Health Program
    2. Health Reform Principles; Universal Coverage

    Please click for the 2020 VMS Member Survey results to review the member comments on each resolution. Voting on these resolutions will only take place during the 2020 VMS Annual Business Meeting for VMS members who virtually participate in the meeting. Please register for the virtual 207th Annual Meeting today. 


    Vermont Pediatrician Named to AMA Cannabis Task Force

    The American Medical Association (AMA) voted at its Interim Meeting last November to establish a Cannabis Task Force to evaluate and disseminate relevant, scientific evidence to health care professionals and the public. The vote came after discussion about confusion on the part of health care clinicians how to deal with the issue given that many states have legalized the use of marijuana, yet it remains illegal on the federal level. Vermont pediatrician Jill Rinehart, MD, FAAP, was appointed to the Task Force as the representative for the Vermont Medical Society. Twenty other national specialty and state medical societies are also represented. The group is scheduled to have its first meeting this October.


    Green Mountain Care Board Reconsiders Hospital Budget Requests

    In a first for the Green Mountain Care Board, the Board reconsidered its hospital budget decisions, initially made two weeks ago.  The reconsideration came at the request of the University of Vermont Health Network.   Network President and CEO John Brumsted, MD, asked the Board to reconsider setting two different commercial insurance rates for hospitals – one standard commercial rate and one special, “time-limited” rate due to COVID-19.  The Network also objected to decreases to Porter Hospital’s commercial insurance rate and net patient revenue, arguing the initial budget request was necessary to allow support for Helen Day nursing home.  In a nearly three hour meeting this afternoon, the Board deliberated regarding the reconsideration and agreed to “un-bifurcate” the commercial rates set for not only UVM Health Network hospitals but for any hospital that was granted two separate rates, and also to increase the allowable “net patient revenue” for Porter Hospital from 1.8% to 2.75%. 

    NEW! 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. 

    NEW! Once a month, VMS has a guest speaker during this call time, as the Commissioner has a conflict. On September 17th, please join with the regular call login information at 12:00 p.m. for the VMS Thursday webinar, MOUD Modifications in a COVID-19 World.

    Join Zoom Meeting -

    Meeting ID: 867 2625 3105 / Password: 540684

    Dial In: 1 646 876 9923 / Meeting ID: 867 2625 3105 / Password: 540684


    Interprofessional Consultations Store and Forward

    Effective July 1, 2020, Vermont Medicaid announced continued coverage and reimbursement for HCPCS G2010 and new coverage and reimbursement for interprofessional consultations when performed through store and forward technology (i.e. provider to provider store and forward CPT codes 99451 & 99452). Thus, providers are reminded that the allowed modifier for CPT codes 99451 & 99452 is modifier GQ (i.e. “through an asynchronous telecommunications system”).


    Medicare E/M Office Visit Changes Effective Jan 2021

    Medicare’s major modifications to coding, documentation, and payment of evaluation and management (E/M) services for office visits will move forward as planned on January 1, 2021.The American Medical Association (AMA) has developed an extensive online library of resources to assist with the transition, which includes the following titles:


    Equipment Available to Patients Needing Telehealth Connections – Apply by October 5, 2020

    The Vermont Program for Quality Health Care (VPQHC) launched their  Connectivity Care Package Pilot Program  (CCP) this week. The program uses Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) to provide health care practices and facilities with digital equipment and training to help connect their patients to telehealth services. Eligible practices will receive free Apple ipads to distribute to their patients who need them for telehealth purposes, along with digital literacy resources and wifi boosters if necessary. The deadline to apply for the program is Monday, October 5th, 2020. For the application please email


        VMS October Webinar: "What We Learned From the Birchwood COVID-19 Outbreak."

        Please join us Thursday, October 15th at 12 p.m. with speakers: Bob Gramling MD, D.Sc, Michael Lamantia MD, MPH,Tim Lahey MD, MMSc for their webinar on "What We Learned From the Birchwood COVID-19 Outbreak." This presentation will explore the anatomy of a COVID-19 outbreak at a Vermont nursing home and reflect on lessons learned from the heroic multi-disciplinary community response. Register Here!  Click to see all of the webinars in the new VMS 2020-2021 Third Thursday Webinar Series.

        *Unfortunately, this presentation does not satisfy the CME palliative care licensing requirements. 

        Cyber Security Training for Healthcare Providers

        Wednesday, September 30, 2020

        9:30 a.m. - 12:30 pm EST

        Linn Freedman, Esq. of Robinson + Cole, and Huw O.L. Read from Norwich University, will offer key insights into health data cybersecurity and practical tips to make your data more secure. This training will also include IT experts from New Hampshire and Vermont. Register here

        Save the Date: VEN's Fall Palliative Care VIRTUAL Conference, "Informed Consent: More Than A Piece of Paper"

        Saturday, Nov. 9, 2020

        8:15 a.m. - 4:15pm EST

        Unpacking the ethical, legal and practical considerations of obtaining informed consent in complex clinical situations and at end-of-life with plenary talks by Thaddeus Mason Pope, JD, PhD and Guy Matal, MD. Click here to learn more and registration coming soon 

        RME Collaborative’s 2020 Rural Health Clinical Congress

        Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020

        9 a.m. EST

        An interactive, multi-topic, complimentary CME/CE conference held in conjunction with National Rural Health Day, designed for primary care providers who care for patients in rural and underserved areas. Click here to learn more and register 

        IN THE NEWS

        Vermont News

        OneCare Vermont announces their providers earned $11.3 m. in Medicare Shared Savings, 91.88% Quality and $2.24 m. in incentive bonuses. Click here for the full story. 

        National News

        The AMA thanked all who signed-on to a letter opposing H.R. 884 / S. 2772, the “Medicare Mental Health Access Act,” which would change the definition of “physician” under the Medicare program to include clinical psychologists. They sent the letter to Congress today. Click here for the full story.


        Vermont Medical Society

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        PO Box 1457

        Montpelier, VT 05601

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