June 30, 2020


Legislature Recesses Until August; Approves $275 million for Vermont Health Care Providers

The Vermont legislature recessed last Friday, after they appropriated approximately $600 million in CARES Act federal funds for COVID-related relief spending. The state received $1.25 billion in relief funding that must be appropriated and spent by December 30, 2020. Due to the consistent advocacy of VMS members, lawmakers passed a $334 million health care relief package that includes a $275 million appropriation for the Health Care Provider Stabilization Grant Program. Vermont lawmakers are scheduled to return to session on August 25th, 2020 and will be juggling 2020 campaigning responsibilities along with finalizing the FY21 Budget for the 2nd-4th quarters of the year. The VMS will be publishing a mid-session legislative bulletin, but in the meantime, here are the health care policies that passed last week and some they will take up when they return from recess:

  • H. 965, includes: $275 million in grants for the health care sector, including hospitals, independent doctors, dentists, mental health providers, rural health clinics, federally qualified health centers, medical labs and pharmacies – to be administered by the Agency of Human Services via an application process based on need It also includes $28 million in Hazard Pay for staff who earn an hourly base wage of $25 or less (lump sum grant to employer of $2000 or $1200).  
  • H.966, includes funding to allow Vermont providers to apply for assistance on behalf of a patient for a line extension so that the patient can receive telehealth. The bill also allocates $800,000 for Connectivity Care Packages,” which will help provide equipment to help patients access telehealth services.
  • H. 960, extends a number of health care professional licensing changes and health care regulatory changes through March/July of 2021, including:
    • Relaxing insurance credentialing requirements (through end of state or federal emergency)
    • coverage for audio-only telehealth services (through June 30)
    • deeming licensing for out of state providers providing services via telehealth or in a Vermont facility (through March 31)
    • temporary licensing for retired health care professionals (through March 31)
    • waiving HIPAA requirements for telehealth platform and VT consent, if not practical (through March 31)
    • creation of workgroup to examine long-term coverage for audio-only telehealth services
    • includes requirement for all health insurers to have prior authorization “Gold Card” pilot by 2022
  • H.607, a bill to fund primary care scholarships, passed the House, and awaits action in the Senate when lawmakers return in August. 
  • S.54, the bill that aims to create a commercial system for marijuana sales, has been assigned to a conference committee to work out difference between the versions of the bill that have passed the House and Senate; this work may pick up again in August.

    AMA Advocates for Exemption for J-1 and H-1B Physicians and Families

    Last Friday, the AMA sent a letter to urge Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to expand entry to the U.S. for International Medical Graduate (IMG) physicians with J-1 and H-1B visas and their families. The letter was in response to Trump’s June 22nd Executive Order blocking entry of “aliens” who create a risk to the U.S. Labor Market. Currently, there is an exemption for physicians, which the AMA argues is too narrow, as it is only for physicians providing medical care directly to individuals who have contracted COVID-19 and are currently hospitalized or who are involved with medical research to help the United States combat COVID-19. If this Executive Order impacts your practice please let VMS know. Here is a link to all of the recent actions the AMA has been engaged in to allow for easier entry for IMGs.


    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


      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. 


      Green Mountain Care Board Creates New APM Webpage

      The Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB) has reorganized their All-Payer ACO Model webpage to increase transparency and provide more robust information on the Vermont’s All-Payer ACO Model (APM). The GMCB has also created a new brief summary of the model and an FAQ document aimed at helping the public understand the model. The GMCB has cancelled their Board meeting for Wednesday, July 1st. Click here for the GMCB Board Meeting schedule for July. 


      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.

      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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