August 11, 2020


VMS' Mid-Session 2020 Legislative Bulletin

The VMS Policy team has prepared this mid-session 2020 VMS Legislative Bulletin to provide you with the status of 2020 State legislation covering topics including the COVID-19 emergency, health reform, insurance regulation, public health, scope of practice, mental health, and regulating the practice of medicine. Typically, the VMS Legislative Bulletin is published in mid-March, directly after Town Meeting week, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed the entire timeline and trajectory of the 2020 legislative session and therefore our reporting. The Vermont legislature returns from their summer recess on August 25, 2020. Read the VMS mid-session 2020 Legislative Bulletin for the status of important health care issues lawmakers will tackle when they return. 


CMS Releases 2021 Physician Fee Schedule Proposed Rule

On August 3, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule that includes updates to payment policies, payment rates, and quality provisions for services furnished under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) effective on or after January 1, 2021. At the same time, the Administration issued an Executive Order on Improving Rural and Telehealth Access. The American Medical Association has begun an in-depth review of the 1355-page rule and the Executive Order and click here for the summary. Notably, adjustments made to evaluation and management coding and payment policies, plus other changes, will produce an 11 percent cut in the fee schedule conversion factor to maintain budget neutrality.  AMA staff are also reviewing the 2021 Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System and Ambulatory Surgical Center proposed rule, which was released last week.


Medicare Moving Forward with Planned E/M Office Visit Changes for Jan 2021

Major modifications are coming to the coding, documentation, and payment of evaluation and management (E/M) services for office visits as Medicare has signaled its intention to implement finalized guidelines and payment rates as planned on January 1, 2021. Last week’s release of the proposed 2021 Medicare physician payment schedule (see related article) reconfirmed the Jan 1 implementation date announced last November by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Key elements of the E/M office visit overhaul include:

  • Eliminating history and physical exam as elements for code selection. While significant to both visit time and medical decision-making, these elements alone should not determine a visit’s code level.
  • Allowing physicians to choose whether their documentation is based on medical decision-making (MDM) or total time. This builds on the movement to better recognize the work involved in non-face-to-face services like care coordination.
  • Modifying MDM criteria to move away from simply adding up tasks to focus on tasks that affect the management of a patient’s condition.

The American Medical Association has developed an extensive online library of easy to use resources, which include the following titles:


Provider Relief Fund Accepting Phase 2 Applications Until August 28, 2020

On July 31, 2020, the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that certain Medicare providers would be given another opportunity to receive additional Provider Relief Fund payments . These are providers who previously missed the June 3, 2020 deadline to apply for additional funding, including many Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and dental providers with low Medicare revenues. In addition, certain providers who experienced a change in ownership, making them previously ineligible for Phase 1 funding, will also be given an opportunity to apply for financial relief.

Starting today, these eligible providers may now submit their application for possible funds by August 28, 2020 at 11:59 EST. Click for the HHS Provider Relief Fund FAQs. Click here to register for an Provider Relief Fund webex to learn more on August 13, 2020 at 3pm EST.


Hazard Pay Grant Program Application Online Portal - Open Now

The Front-Line Employees Hazard Pay Grant Program application portal opened Tuesday August 4th. Employers who are eligible applicants may submit applications for a lump sum grant award to distribute hazard pay to their eligible employees. The link to the application portal is here. As a reminder, funding will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis so employers are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Hazard Pay Program Guidance and Application Instructions, including the required Summary Report of Eligible Employees are located here. If you have questions after reviewing the guidance documents, please use the online question submission form and AHS staff will respond as quickly as possible.


Applications for Provider Stabilization Grant Program Due August 15

The Agency of Human Services (AHS) is currently accepting applications for the Health Care Provider Stabilization Grant Program through August 15, 2020. This Program been made available to the State of Vermont through the Federal Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) and eligible health care and human service providers may use the application to seek grant funding for both COVID-19-related lost revenue and COVID-19-specific incurred expenses. For more information please review the guidance documents available on the Department of Vermont Health Access website, including FAQs and links to informational webinars. 


2020 VMS Survey Seeking Feedback on Policy Resolutions for Annual Meeting 

VMS members are being sent a survey this Thursday with the proposed 2020 VMS Policy Resolutions.  All members are encouraged to provide feedback and non-binding comments on the resolutions between August 13 and September 11, 2020. Each VMS member should receive an email with a unique link to submit comments via SurveyMonkey. If you do not receive a link, comments can also be emailed to 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, virtual VMS Member Business Meeting, Saturday, November 7th from 8:30 am – 10:30 am.  Only those registered and virtually attending the 2020 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 16, 2020 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 2020 VMS Annual Meeting. 



Health Connect Special Enrollment Deadline this Friday, August 14th

August 14, 2020 is the deadline for uninsured Vermonters to use the COVID-19 special enrollment period to sign up for a qualified health plan. Those who have insurance now but whose circumstances change in the future will be able to enroll when needed. Open enrollment for 2021 begins on November 1, 2020. Vermonters can apply for and enroll in Medicaid at any time. Vermonters should visit: or call 855-899-9600 Monday-Friday 8:00 am – 4:30 pm.


Apply Today! VMS Physician Executive Leadership Institute Accepting Applications

Perhaps never before have physicians and PAs been asked to step up and skillfully lead rapid change than they have throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Every clinician has brought her or his leadership and management styles and skills to the forefront to ensure the best outcomes for Vermont patients. The VMS Education & Research Foundation is pleased to announce it is now accepting applications for its experiential Executive Leadership Institute, which will enhance and fine-tune the most important leadership skills and concepts for a statewide cohort of Vermont physicians and PAs. Applications will be accepted through September 18th, and the 40-hour, year-long course begins in November. Click here for more information.


Interested in Volunteering for a COVID-19 Prevention Clinical Study?

The CoVPN Volunteer Clinical Study has created a Screening Registry and is seeking potential volunteers who want to take part in current or future COVID-19 prevention clinical trials. You must be 18 years or older to participate. Participation involves completing a short online survey that includes some personal questions. Your participation is voluntary.

Masks On Vermont

VMS applauds our healthcare partners who are creating COVID-19 resources. 

The Vermont Department of Health has information to help prevent COVID-19 transmission and click here for VDH posters to promote the Masks On Vermont campaign.  

Community Health Centers of Burlington (CHCB), UVMMC and UVM Health Network - Home Health & Hospice have resources and social media materials as well. 


VMS Call with VDH Commissioner Levine Thursdays at 12:30-1:00 PM

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. 

Join Zoom Meeting -

Meeting ID: 867 2625 3105 / Password: 540684

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

VMSERF Online Silent Auction

Do you have an item, skill, or activity you’d be willing to donate to the Vermont Medical Society Education and Research Foundation (VMSERF) silent online auction? Help VMS President Cathy Schneider, M.D., and President-elect Simha Ravven, M.D., support fellow members during this challenging year through a silent auction. Your creative and generous donations will be directed to VMSERF, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit sponsored by the Vermont Medical Society, and organized to support charitable, educational and scientific activities in the field of health. If you would like to donate, please complete this form by September 14th. The auction will take place online on 32Auctions between October 28th and November 4th. PIease contact Elizabeth Alessi with questions at

Register Today for the 2020 VMS Collaborative Virtual Meeting - Nov. 7, 2020

Held In collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter, Vermont Academy of Family Physicians and the Vermont Psychiatric Association. 

Please join us for the 2020 VMS Annual Meeting, as collaboration with our colleagues and peers is more valuable than ever during this incredibly challenging year. Register here, as the this year's Collaborative Meeting is sure to be different than any other VMS meeting to date. To start, this year's meeting will be held virtually (short commute) and the schedule has been significantly reduced to one day. Even though we won't be there in-person, the 207th VMS Annual Meeting will provide ample opportunities for meaningful policy work, engaging CME sessions and spontaneous laughter and fun. Click to learn more and register today. 

Vermont Suicide Prevention Symposium 2020 "Bringing Resiliency into Focus"

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Register here

VPQHC Upcoming Telehealth Events Click here for all upcoming events

APHA Webinar: Returning to K-12 Education — Using Science to Keep Children, Teachers and Staff Safe

Wednesday, August 12th, from 5:00 - 6:30 pm

Click here for the APHA COVID-19 Conversations series


Vermont Medical Society

134 Main Street

PO Box 1457

Montpelier, VT 05601

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