August 18, 2020


Vermont PCPs Release Guidance for Personnel Returning to School

As Vermont prepares for students to return to in-person learning in September, parents, teachers and others are likely to ask primary care clinicians for advice regarding the safety of returning to school this fall. Given the complexity of decisions to return to school during the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty about the future, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to individual questions about whether a teacher or staff member should return to school this year. The Vermont Department of Health (VDH), the Vermont Medical Society (VMS), the Vermont Child Health Iimprovement Program (VCHIP), the American Academy of Pediatricians -VT Chapter has released this guidance to help support primary care clinicians with these difficult conversations, “Shared Decision-Making on Return-to-Work Decisions for School-Based Personnel."  Special appreciation goes to Tim Lahey, MD, MMSc, infectious diseases physician at UVMMC and professor of medicine at UVM’s Larner College of Medicine, for his assistance with this quidance. VDH has also released updated guidance on how schools can safely reopen this fall entitled, "Health and Safety Guidance on Reopening Schools Version 2 - August 2020 ." 


Governor Scott Releases Updated FY2021 Budget Recommendations

Tuesday of this week, Governor Scott released an updated Governor's Recommended Budget for the remaining three quarters of FY2021, which makes some cuts in spending but largely relies on a fiscal surplus from last year to fill the budget holes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In preparation for the return of the Vermont legislature from their summer recess on August 25, 2020, House and Senate Appropriations Committees are meeting this week to review the Governor's recommendations. The primary goal of the upcoming legislative session is to pass the full FY2021 budget, but some policy bills, including the marijuana commercialization bill, are also potentially on the table. Read the VMS mid-session 2020 Legislative Bulletin for the status of important health care issues lawmakers may tackle when they return. 


VDH Seeks Help Referring and Testing Patients for COVID-19

While Vermont continues to be a COVID-success story in many ways, the Health Department has heard some Vermont patients are being turned away by their primary care providers for COVID-19 tests and referrals. The Health Department is concerned that the pop-up testing sites alone cannot handle the demand for testing in Vermont and encourages clinicians to review the State testing plan. This plan outlines the different responsibilities and provides a uniform strategy to help Vermonters access testing statewide. A recent HAN includes a link for clinicians interested in ordering nasal swabs, and also includes information on reimbursement, including for counseling on COVID-19. The Health Department is calling on primary care providers to partner in this effort and to test or refer their symptomatic patients, and any asymptomatic patients who are in quarantine due to travel or close contact with a COVID-19 case. Read the full plan here.


2020 VMS Survey Seeks Feedback on Policy Resolutions for Annual Meeting 

Last week, the VMS sent all members a survey with the proposed 2020 VMS Policy Resolutions, seeking feedback and non-binding comments on the resolutions between August 13 and September 11, 2020. Each VMS member should have received an email with a unique link to submit comments via SurveyMonkey. 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. Click for more information and to register for the virtual 2020 VMS Annual Meeting. 


Physicians Foundation Releases Survey on Impact of COVID-19

The Physicians Foundation released its biennial Survey of America’s Physicians on August 18th, 2020, which articulates the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on physician practices and their patients across the nation. The Physicians Foundation also published America’s Health: Stories from Physicians on The Frontline, to increase understanding of physicians’ challenges in our current health care system and to create an anthology of physicians’ experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. For a complete breakdown of the survey and its results,


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.


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.


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.


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

VMS Launches 2020-2021 Third Thursday Webinar Series

Please join us Thursday, September 17th at 12 p.m. for the first webinar in the new VMS 2020-2021 Third Thursday Webinar Series, entitled MOUD Modifications in a COVID-19 World, with Tony Folland, from the Vermont State Opioid Treatment Authority (SOTA). MOUD is almost universally identified as a lifesaving intervention however COVID-19 has required practitioners to reconsider how to initiate care, monitor treatment responses, and modify treatment plans while minimizing face to face contact. We will discuss the regulatory and clinical opportunities and challenges, and lessons learned to date. Register here. 

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. 

AAMSE Webinar – The Impact of Racism on Medicine & Public Health

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. EST

Register here

VPQHC Upcoming Telehealth Events Click here for all upcoming events

OneCare–COVID Update & Impact on those with Respiratory Conditions (Dr. Levine)

Friday, September 11, 2020

2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. EST

Register here


Vermont Medical Society

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PO Box 1457

Montpelier, VT 05601

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