August 25, 2020


The Legislature Returns from Recess this Week and Resumes Work on VMS Priorities

Unlike most Augusts, when lawmakers are typically focused on their campaigns, the Vermont legislature has returned from their summer recess today to complete the 2020 session. Lawmakers are meeting virtually to better understand the fiscal impacts of COVID-19, to pass a FY2021 budget for the remaining three quarters of 2021 and to determine how best to spend the remainder of the $1.25 billion in federal Coronavirus Relief Funds. Although the extended session was scheduled specifically to work on the budget, lawmakers are also working on policy initiatives and priorities from before the COVID-19 shutdown, including these bills:

S.220 – the House Government Operations Committee took testimony today from stakeholders including VMS on the expansion of pharmacy prescribing authority. Click here for VMS testimony.

S.288 – the Senate Finance Committee has asked VMS to testify Thursday on the bill that would ban sales of flavored tobacco products.

H.607 – the bill that would create a rural primary care physician scholarship program is scheduled for a hearing on Wednesday in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. Please urge these Senators to support this bill: ; ; ; ;;;;;;

To learn more about the status of important health care issues lawmakers may tackle this session read the VMS mid-session 2020 Legislative Bulletin.


Take Action: Please Urge Conference Committee to Prioritize Prevention in Marijuana Commercialization Bill

S.54, Vermont's marijuana commercialization bill, is currently in Conference Committee. The Senate members have proposed removing critical public health protections that were included in the House-passed version. The Vermont Medical Society (VMS) and American Academy of Pediatrics, Vermont Chapter (AAPVT) remain opposed to the creation of any non-medical commercial system for retail sales of marijuana because of the negative health impacts on the Vermont population, especially youth and young adults. Please tell the Committee that if a commercialized system for the sale of cannabis is going to be enacted into law, it MUST retain the prevention strategies and corresponding funding that the House added to S. 54 to protect public health, including:

  • NO cap on prevention funding
  • NO mass marketing
  • A limit on THC and flavored cannabis products
  • Health warnings created by the Department of Health
  • Primary enforcement of the use of seat belts
  • Medical marijuana registry maintained under the Department of Public Safety
  • Allowing towns the right to opt-in to sales

For more information click for this fact sheet.

Please contact Conference Committee members TODAY:;;;;


AHS Reports on the Health Care Provider Stabilization Program

The House Health Care Committee started the resumption of the 2020 legislative session with an update from the Agency of Human Services (AHS) on the status of the Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) the Agency was allocated before the legislature went on recess. AHS reported that in total they received $500 million in funding, which included $275 million for the Health Care Provider Stabilization Grant Program. The Committee focused their questions on the Stabilization Program, which received 343 applications from eligible providers in the first application period, which was designed to cover COVID-related losses and expenses incurred from March to June. The Agency said applicants represented a wide array of provider groups, with dentists being the largest group who applied. AHS stated they are confident there will be a second round of funding with the application period opening in October 2020.


2020 VMS Still Seeking Your Feedback on Policy Resolutions for Annual Meeting 

All VMS members were sent a survey with the proposed 2020 VMS Policy Resolutions, as we are seeking feedback and non-binding comments on the resolutions until September 11, 2020. Members should have received 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. Click for more information and to register for the virtual 2020 VMS Annual Meeting.


DVHA Changes PDL for Medication Assisted Treatment 

The Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA) has made an immediate change to the Preferred Drug List (PDL) and as of August 21, 2020 generic buprenorphine/naloxone combination tablets are now considered preferred and will be co-preferred with Suboxone film. To align with the Suboxone film criteria, prior authorizations are not required for the combination tablets unless the maximum daily dose exceeds 16mg. If you wish to switch your patients from Suboxone® films to buprenorphine/naloxone tablets, a new prescription must be written, as the Buprenorphine/naloxone tablets are not a generic formulation of Suboxone films and cannot be automatically substituted. Non-preferred formulations of buprenorphine do require a prior authorization submission and include generic buprenorphine/naloxone films, generic buprenorphine tablets, Zubsolv®, and Bunavail®. For questions, please contact the Change Healthcare Pharmacy Help Desk at 1-844-679-5362 or email to


DVHA Releases New FAQ for Hazard Pay Grant Program Application 

DVHA released a new FAQ for the Front-Line Employees Hazard Pay Grant Program application portal. This program is for employers who are eligible for a lump sum grant award to distribute hazard pay to their eligible employees. The link to the application portal is here. $28 million of CARES funds has been allocated for this program and funding will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you have questions after reviewing the guidance documents, please use the online question submission form.


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

134 Main Street

PO Box 1457

Montpelier, VT 05601

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