July 21, 2020


Please Provide Feedback: Do You Support a Statewide Mask Mandate? 

This VMS Council will be meeting this Wednesday evening to discuss whether to adopt a policy urging the State to mandate that all Vermonters wear masks or facial coverings while in public settings in order to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Currently, 28 states across the country have statewide mask mandates, including every New England state except for New Hampshire and Vermont. Please provide your feedback to jbarnard@vtmd.org on this member-proposed policy: 

RESOLVED, that the Vermont Medical Society strongly urges the State of Vermont to adopt a policy mandating all individuals who can medically tolerate the wearing of a face mask do so in public settings (e.g., public transportation, grocery stores, pharmacies or other retail stores, schools and employment settings).

We are also joining the Vermont Department of Health in their #MasksOnVT campaign. We invite you to provide us with a picture with your mask on, along with the reasons you wear a mask. We will feature you in the Rounds newsletter and on social media when you share your picture and reasons with jsudhoffguerin@vtmd.org


Health Care Provider Stabilization Grant Program Currently Accepting Applications 

Governor Phil Scott, the Agency of Human Services (AHS) and the Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA) launched the Vermont’s Health Care Provider Stabilization Grant Program last Friday, July 17th, 2020 and will be accepting online applications until August 15th, 2020. Vermont-based health care and human service provider organizations are eligible to receive stabilization grants through this Program. Program details, including the application and Frequently Asked Questions, can be located here. 

AHS and DVHA are hosting a webinar series this week on the Program.


Dept. of Financial Regulation Issues COVID Testing Coverage Bulletin

July 21st, 2020 the Department of Financial Regulation (DFR) issued Insurance Bulletin 214 to clarify when COVID-19 testing must be covered without cost-sharing under Emergency Rule H-2020-03-EThe bulletin states that clinical decisions regarding testing should be made by the patient's health care provider and may include testing of individuals with symptoms compatible with COVID-19, as well as asymptomatic individuals. All claims for FDA-authorized SARS-CoV-2 testing with the following procedure codes will process without cost-sharing:

  • COVID-19 tests: U0001, U0002, U0003, U0004, 87635
  • Antibody tests: 86318, 86328, 86769
  • Specimen collection: G2023, G2024

In addition, office and hospital charges associated with the encounter and date of service will process without member cost-sharing when one of the following diagnosis codes is the primary diagnosis on the claim:

  • Z03.818: Encounter for observation for suspected exposure to other biological agents ruled out (possible exposure to COVID-19);
  • Z11.59: Encounter for screening for other viral diseases (asymptomatic);

DFR also issued Insurance Bulletin 215 on July 21, 2020, authorizing the resumption of provider audits on August 3, 2020 to comply with CMS guidance. 


AMA 2020 Overdose Report Shows Spike in Deaths from Illicit Opioids

The AMA has released the AMA Opioid Task Force 2020 drug overdose report this week, which shows a dramatic increase in fatalities involving illicit opioids and indicates a sharp decrease in the use of prescription opioids. The AMA has also updated itsissue brief on increases in opioid-related mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as select 2020 research, including a new public policy statement from our colleagues at the American Society of Addiction Medicine regarding treatment of opioid use disorder in correctional settings. 


UVMMC COVID-19 Study Seeks Primary Care Respondents

Dr. Jessica Clifton and Dr. Benjamin Littenberg with the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont invite you to participate in a research study to help them better understand how Primary Care Professionals are being impacted by the current COVID-19 crisis. This study is for physicians, behavioral health providers, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, administrators, medical assistants, nurses, and other office staff. To begin the 5-minute survey or for more information, visit: https://redcap.med.uvm.edu/surveys/?s=KHHMP89E48


CARES Act Provider Relief Fund Extended to August 3, 2020

HHS has extended the deadline for eligible Medicaid and CHIP physicians and organizations to submit information and apply for funding from the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund from July 20 until August 3, 2020. HHS is distributing approximately $15 billion to eligible physicians who have not previously received a payment from the Provider Relief Fund. The payment amount will be at least 2 percent of reported gross revenue from patient care, and the final amount will be determined based on submitted data, including the number of Medicaid patients served. HHS has created a fact sheet explaining the application process and answering frequently asked questions.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has made HHS aware of an issue where physicians who primarily care for patients with Medicaid and CHIP coverage received a small amount of money from the automatic Medicare allotment in April because they only treat one or two patients with ESRD. They are ineligible to apply for this round of funding even if they rejected and returned the money. HHS has indicated they are working on a policy to address this issue.  The Vermont Department of Vermont Health Access (Vermont Medicaid) is also hearing that there has been very low utilization of the Provider Relief Fund. If you have further feedback about the process of applying or other barriers to accessing the program, please share that with jbarnard@vtmd.org.  


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.


Assessment of Clinical Skills for Medical Licensure: Feedback Sought by July 24

On March 13, 2020, the USMLE program suspended administration of the Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) test Examination due to the COVID-19 outbreak and need to social distance given the unique, human-to-human delivery mode of this exam. The USMLE parent organizations (Federation of State Medical Boards and National Board of Medical Examiners) are committed to providing the state medical boards with a valid, standardized measurement of clinical skills. Background information is available on the USMLE website https://www.usmle.org/RevitalizeCS.  The VMS and state medical societies have been asked to share our perspective on the prior USMLE Step 2 CS exam, and how clinical skills would be ideally assessed for licensure going forward.  Please send any feedback to Jessa Barnard at jbarnard@vtmd.org to be incorporated into comments to the NBME.

Reminder:  VMS Offers Prescription Assistance Program to Vermonters

As a reminder to our members, VMS offers a prescription assistance program through the Vermont Rx Card to any resident of Vermont. This card will provide you and your patients with prescription medication savings of up to 75% at more than 56,000 pharmacies across the country including Hannaford, Kinney Drugs, Osco, Walgreens, Walmart and more. Please click here for the Vermont Rx Card.


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

VMS weekly calls with Vermont Department of Health Commissioner, Mark Levine, M.D. have now moved to Thursday from 12:30-1:00 p.m.  These calls have also moved to 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

SAVE THE DATE - Vermont Medical Society 207th Annual Meeting and Collaborative Educational Meeting

The 2020 VMS Annual Meeting will be held on Saturday, November 7th, as a virtual-only event. The collaborative meeting, held with AAPVT Chapter, VTAFP and VPA will continue with educational sessions focused on lessons learned from the pandemic so far and areas for improvement - health equity, planning, and collaboration. More details to follow.

VMSERF Online Silent Auction

To help VMSERF support fellow members and peers during this challenging year, Vermont Medical Society President Cathy Schneider, M.D., and President-elect Simha Ravven, M.D., are spearheading a silent auction. Your generous donations will be directed to the Vermont Medical Society Education and Research Foundation (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.

Do you have an item, skill, or activity you’d be willing to donate to the silent online auction? Creativity is encouraged! If you would like to donate, please complete this form by September 14th.

Donations will be directed to the VMSERF and distributed by the VMSERF Board based on need. The silent auction will take place online on 32Auctions between October 28th and November 4th. The winning bidder and the donator will be notified shortly after and connected to organize shipping or transfer of the item. If you have any questions, please contact Elizabeth Alessi at ealessi@vtmd.org

University of Vermont Project ECHO: Children’s Mental Health

Beyond the Basics: Clinical Pearls and Case Based Learning for PCPs

August 2020-June 2017

This UVM Project ECHO program aims to highlight best practices and evidence-based care for treating a variety of challenges in the area of children’s mental health. The program will identify strategies, best practices, screening tools, resources, clinical pearls, and emerging topics in this field. The intended audience is a cohort of individuals or practice teams, including pediatric, family medicine, social work, and behavioral health providers throughout Vermont. This program is offered at no-cost to participants through a grant from the Vermont Department of Health, and with support from the Vermont Department of Mental Health. Participants can receive CME credits for each learning session attended. Please click here for more info. Please click here to register.

VPQHC Upcoming Telehealth Events Click here for all upcoming events

Telehealth Virtual Office Hours are now offered only on Wednesdays from 12 pm - 1 pm. The Wednesday office hour session will be supported by Dr. Mark McGee, current President of Alpine Telehealth. Contact telehealth@vpqhc.org  


Vermont Medical Society

134 Main Street

PO Box 1457

Montpelier, VT 05601

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