June 25, 2020


Senate Committee Includes $275 million in Federal Funds in Health Care Stabilization Grant Program

Thank you to our VMS members who reached out to the Vermont Senate on H. 965. Due to your advocacy, the bill now appropriates $275 million in CARES Act federal funds to the Health Care Provider Stabilization Grant Program. The Senate Appropriations Committee simplified the Grant Program to provide maximum flexibility for AHS to create a needs-based application process for a broad range of health care facilities and providers. The bill is expected to be debated in front of the full Senate later this afternoon and then differences with the House will have to be resolvedThe Agency of Human Services (AHS) has also already provided approximately $50 million in funds to health care practitioners through the DVHA Retainer program.


Constitutionality of High-Capacity Magazine Ban Heard in VT Supreme Court

This past Tuesday, the Vermont Supreme Court heard arguments regarding a challenge of the constitutionality of Vermont's ban on high-capacity magazines, which became state law in 2018. Attorney Bridget Asay, representing organizations that submitted an amicus brief in the case, including the Vermont Medical Society and gun control advocacy groups, also argued Tuesday before the high court in support of the constitutionality of the provision. To read the VT Digger article, click here.


AMA Releases Updated Prior Authorization Physician Survey

Recently updated survey data (PDF) of practicing physicians nationwide indicate that prior authorization continues to interfere with patient care and can lead to adverse clinical consequences. The survey results also reflect the limited progress (PDF) that health plans have made toward implementing each of five key areas of prior authorization reform.  VMS has been using these results to advocate for retaining the provisions of H. 960 that address prior authorization reform, including requiring all health plans by January 2022 to have a “gold card” pilot program that exempts from or streamlines prior authorization requirements for a subset of participating health care providers.


Legislature Plans to Begin Summer Recess Tomorrow

Vermont lawmakers are working furiously to advance necessary legislation and committee priority bills in anticipation of the legislature beginning their summer recess on Friday. They plan toreturn in mid-August to work on a FY21 Budget for the 2nd-4th quarters of the year. Currently, legislators are laser focused on finalizing appropriating federal Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) and on negotiating any differences that remain between the House and the Senate on the FY21 First Quarter Budget. Legislation receiving action this week includes:

  • H. 960, a miscellaneous health care provision bill, passed the Senate and heads back to the House for concurrence. The bill includes VMS-supported sections addressing prior authorization – including requiring all payers to have “gold card” pilot programs. The bill also extends a number of COVID-related licensing and regulatory flexibilities beyond the State of Emergency. Most of these provisions are extended to March 31, 2021 when the legislature will be back in session. 
  • H.572, a bill that adds a licensed substance use disorder practitioner, a mental health prescribing expert and a licensed social worker to the Maternal Mortality Review Panel passed the Senate and goes back to the House for concurrence.  

Vermont Medical Society Extends Deadline for 2020 Award Nominations

The 2020 VMS Annual Meeting will be held on Saturday, November 7th, as a virtual-only event. VMS is currently soliciting 2020 Physician Leader Award Nominations, as this year more than ever, is the time to recognize those heroes who are making a difference in the lives of Vermont patients and in the health of our State.  Please consider nominating individuals for:

  • Distinguished Service Award
  • Physician of the Year Award
  • Physician Award for Community Service
  • Citizen of the Year Award
  • Founders’ Award

The VMS Committee on Awards has extended the deadline and will now be accepting nominations for these awards until July 10th. Click HERE to complete an awards nomination. Please let Stephanie Winters know if you have any questions or suggestions by emailing swinters@vtmd.org. Click here to learn more about the 207th Annual Meeting.


VMS Foundation Now Accepting Applications for Physician Executive Leadership Institute

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.


Recently Updated COVID-19 Helpful Links:


    Questions for VDH? VMS Hosts Weekly COVID-19 CALLS With VDH

    Tuesdays 12:15-12:45 pm

    Please join VMS, for a Weekly COVID-19 update from 12:15-12:45 pm hosted by Vermont Department of Health (VDH) Commissioner Mark Levine to update Vermont's clinicians on the latest state information and protocols.

    Join Skype Meeting

    Join by phone: Dial-in number: +1 (802) 552-8456

    Conference ID: 993815551


    Medicaid Proposed Rule Would Expand Store and Forward Reimbursement for Interprofessional Consultations

    The Agency of Human Services has released proposed rule GCR 20-075: Provider to Provider Store and Forward Coverage Expansion: Interprofessional Consultations, whichwould continue to provide reimbursement for remote evaluation of stored images and video (HCPCS G2010) and starting July 1, 2020 would expand coverage and reimbursement for interprofessional consultations (CPT codes 99451 & 99452). Please send comments or concerns to Jill Sudhoff Guerin at jsudhoffguerin@vtmd.org by June 26, 2021 to inform VMS comments on this proposal.


    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. 


    Time to Tackle Hard Questions on Root Causes of Health Inequities

    From the way physicians are trained to how they understand the structural effects of racism, changes are overdue, says expert panel convened by the AMA. Read more from the AMA.


    VMS Webinar on New Health Care Laws for 2020 Postponed!

    The last webinar in Vermont's 2019/2020 series regarding new Vermont health care laws that passed during the 2020 session has been postponed because the legislature will not adjourn until late September. Please check the VMS Rounds and the website for the new date. 

    Petrie-Flom Center from Harvard Law School: Advance Care Planning in the Age of COVID: Lessons Learned and Policy Implications

    July 8th, 2020


    To learn more and register click here. For other upcoming events at the the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics at Harvard Law School click here.

    VPQHC Upcoming Telehealth Events Click here for all upcoming events

    Telehealth Virtual Office Hours on Wednesdays from 12 pm - 1 pm and Thursdays from 8-9 am. 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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