March 2, 2021


Vermont Legislature is on Town Meeting Break, Preparing for Crossover Week

Vermont lawmakers are taking a break this week from their legislative work to turn their attention to their Town Meetings and local concerns. When they return to their legislative Zoom sessions, they have just one more week before the crossover deadline, which requires legislation to have passed out of the first chamber's policy committees by March 12th in order to continue to move this legislative session. Last week was jampacked with legislators working urgently to advance their priority bills to prepare for crossover week. The Senate Health and Welfare finally came to a compromise on extending insurance coverage for audio-only telehealth services, allowing the Department of Financial Regulation (DFR) to adopt rules regarding pay parity for these services until January 1, 2024. Thank you to many VMS members for your advocacy on this important issue. When the Senate Health and Welfare Committee reconvenes next week they are scheduled to take a vote on the COVID-19 emergency flexibility extension bill as a whole. The Senate Health and Welfare Committee is also supposed to vote on S.24, the bill to prohibit the sales of flavored tobacco. Please email the Committee to let them know flavored tobacco products, including menthol, are NOT cessation products, rather they are used to initiate young Vermonters, who become addicted to these deadly products. 

Members of the Committee can be reached at:

Other VMS Policy Priorities being considered include: 

  • S.30, a bill to prohibit the possession of firearms in hospitals is being considered in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Please let this Committee know firearms do not belong in health care settings! Committee emails:;;;; 
  • S.22, a bill regarding health care practitioners administering stem cell products not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, was amended, passed the Senate Health and Welfare Committee and advances for a full-Senate vote; 
  • S.25, a bill making changes to the cannabis commercialization bill, had a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee and may be voted out next week;
  • H.210, a bill to create a Vermont State Office of Health Equity and to require Continuing Medical Education focused on cultural competency, is on track to pass the House Health Care Committee next week. The VMS testified last week urging the Committee to work with Vermont's health care clinicians to strengthen health equity trainings while not mandating one set of training requirements for all clinicians.  

Vermont Opens Vaccination Registration for Teachers, School Staff and Corrections Officers Next Week

Vermont continues to make progress in being able to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to more and Vermonters as the supply of vaccines provided to our State begins to increase. Vermonters age 65 and older can now register for their vaccine and Vermonters 55 and older with high-risk health conditions (HRHC) will be able to register starting next week on March 8th. The VMS continues to work with AHS to determine the attestation process for Vermonters with HRHC who are seeking to register and receive the COVID-19 vaccine. AHS is currently drafting guidance to assist providers in this process, but the understanding is that the patient would self-attest during registration, and the appointment would be scheduled to leave time to verify the HRHC diagnosis automatically via VITL, and some sample number being verified by practices. VMS will continue to update members as this process develops. Today, Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith also announced that with the FDA issuing an Emergency Use Approval (EUA) for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine over the weekend, the State will soon begin to provide teachers, school staff and childcare providers the opportunity for a one-time dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be delivered on site at certain school locations. Teachers, school staff and childcare providers will also be able to register to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine through Walgreens starting next week on March 8th as well. The State is prioritizing teachers and educational staff to assist in the Scott Administration's priority to get Vermont students back to full in-person school 5-days a week for all Vermont students. The State reported the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact not only on student's academic performance, but also on their social and emotional well-being. 


Recent COVID-19 Guidance and Resources:

VMS Weekly Zoom with Commissioner of Health, Thursdays at 12:30 pm


VMS Wraps Up A Full Month of Advocacy Actions with a Congressional COVID-19 Town Hall

We hope you were able to join us last Thursday for our VMS Town Hall discussion with Representative Peter Welch, along with his health policy outreach staff Thifeen Deen, Pollaidh Major from Senator Patrick Leahy's office and Beth Stern from Senator Bernie Sander's Office. Representative Welch began by thanking the health care workers of Vermont and specifically praising Dr. Levine and the Scott Administration for their work to keep Vermonters educated during the year-long pandemic. Welch, along with the Congressional delegation staffers, discussed how the latest COVID-19 relief bill, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, would specifically benefit the health care system in Vermont. Click here for more information. Welch said the bill would pass the House, but he could not forecast success in the Senate.  Click here to view the recording. 

This Town Hall was the fourth action in the VMS' 2021 Advocacy Month and we want to thank everyone who was able to participate in all of our VMS 2021 Advocacy Month actions. 


Vermont Board of Medical Practice Warns of Rise in Scams Targeting Medical Professionals

The Vermont Board of Medical Practice has issued a notice regarding an increase in scams targeting medical professionals currently occurring in our region of the country. Law enforcement agencies in the region report medical professionals being contacted by unknown individuals claiming to be on the medical board, DEA agents or FBI agents. In several reported cases, the scammers claimed that the professionals' medical licenses or prescribing permits had been compromised and were being used by criminals in drug trafficking schemes. Victims were then directed to wire money to foreign bank accounts, in some cases with a claim that the money would be returned within three days. The Board (and other government agencies) will never contact you by telephone, text or email to demand money, account information or protected personal information in this way. Likewise, no legitimate regulator or law enforcement agent will force you to respond immediately and without opportunity to confirm their identity. If you receive such a call, the Board recommends the following:

  • Ask the caller to provide you his or her name and the telephone number of the Board office (or other agency) so that you can call back.
  • Do not provide any personal financial or identifying information. 
  • If you think it may be a legitimate call, get the number of the agency yourself and call the office.
  • Report the incident to the local FBI Field Office. Licensees in Vermont should call the FBI Field Office in Albany, NY at (518) 465-7551. For other states check online at:

When someone contacts you and claims they are a Board of Medical Practice employee, you may call the Board of Medical Practice office to verify their staff is trying to reach you. Their office is open from 7:45AM - 4:30PM eastern time, Monday - Friday: (802) 657-4220 or you may email:  

Commissioner Call Update | 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.

Once a month, VMS will feature a guest speaker during this call time, as the Commissioner has a conflict. The speaker will discuss clinical protocols and best practices during the State of Emergency.

Join Zoom Meeting:

Meeting ID: 867 2625 3105 / Password: 540684

Dial In: 1 646 876 9923 / Meeting ID: 867 2625 3105 / Password: 540684

Mental Health and Wellness Supports Free for Vermonters in Need

We have all been stretched thin by the COVID-19 pandemic and many Vermonters are in need of mental and wellness support. COVID-19 is a FEMA grant funded program through Vermont Care Partners and the Vermont Department of Health that can offer your Vermont patients free services and resources to help people cope with the pandemic through education, emotional support and connections to community services that promote resilience, empowerment and recovery. Click here to learn more


DVHA Seeking Three Members for Medicaid Clinical Review Board

The Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA) is seeking three new members to participate in the Governor-appointed Clinical Utilization Review Board (CURB). CURB members take part in examining existing medical services, emerging technologies, and relevant evidence-based clinical practice guidelines and make recommendations to the Department regarding coverage and appropriate medical necessity of services in the State's Medicaid programs. Public meetings are held every two months from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month and during the Governor’s ordered State of Emergency meetings are being held remotely. The application process is completed online and can be found at Additional information about the CURB such as meeting dates, agenda, and minutes can be found at Dr. Scott Strenio, Chief Medical Officer for DVHA and the State’s liaison to the Clinical Utilization Review Board can be contacted with additional questions via email at


VPQHC Launches Health Equity Training Starting in March

The Vermont Program for Quality Health Care (VPQHC) is offering free health equity training for health care clinicians that will qualify for 3 CME credits, entitled, "Structural Competence and Cultural Humility to Address Disparities and Inequities." This training is being provided by Dr. Maria Mercedes Avila, PhD, MSW, MED and will focus on increased awareness of biases, increased knowledge of cultural and linguistic competencies and increased knowledge of the link between racial inequities and health outcomes. This training is being offered on three different dates throughout Spring 2021. Click here to learn more. 


Applications Open for Medical Justice in Advocacy Fellowship

The AMA and the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine announced the inaugural Medical Justice in Advocacy fellowship aiming to advance equity and remove barriers to optimal health for marginalized people and communities. This collaborative educational initiative is open to eligible physicians and residents with a demonstrated interest in health equity and advocacy. Selected participants will receive a stipend of $15,000 and will be eligible for up to 28 CME credit hours. The deadline to submit applications is March 31, 2021. Learn more.


New Information Blocking Rules Take Effect April 5 – Resources Available

New federal “information blocking” rules go into effect on April 5. To help organizations prepare, eight prominent industry groups have pooled their efforts to launch the Information Blocking Resource Center, a free online resource packed with helpful guidelines and documents.  Physician practices might want to start by reviewing American Medical Association resources such as What Is Information Blocking? and How Do I Comply with Info Blocking and Where do I Start? Physicians can experience info blocking when trying to access patient records from other providers, connecting their electronic health record (EHR) systems to local health information exchanges (HIEs), migrating from one EHR to another, and linking their EHRs with a clinical data registry. Patients can also experience info blocking when trying to access their medical records or when sending their records to another provider. Under the new rule, for nearly all electronic health information requests, physicians must respond and release patients’ medical records unless an appropriate exception can be identified and used. Vermont Information Technology Leaders (VITL) staff are available to talk with providers and health care organizations about both the ONC and CMS rule requirements that take effect this spring. Reach out to Maurine Gilbert at


        VMS March 2021 Webinar: Practicing in a Pandemic: A Panel Discussion with

        Speakers: Trey Dobson MD, Matthew Prohaska MD, FAAOS, Wendy Davis MD, Katie Marvin MD.

        Please join four Vermont physicians, Thursday March 18th from 12pm-1pm, to discuss their work during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they have gained new insight and perspective along the way. This panel will bring forth on-the-ground experience and allow for in-depth discussion on relevant topics for frontline providers.

        • Lessons in Leadership & Communication Garnered During the Pandemic: Dr. Dobson discusses how to motivate and inspire staff which results in better outcomes. 
        • Adapting Orthopaedic Care to The COVID World with Dr. Prohaska: Although the medical environment changed due to COVID-19, hips and knees continued to cause pain and dysfunction requiring adaptations at every level, including same day joint replacements.
        • VCHIP & Pediatric Community Perspective: Dr. Davis will discuss the VCHIP collaborative work on disseminating timely information during a pandemic.
        • Primary Care & Telehealth: Dr. Marvin will present a firsthand account of the effect of the pandemic on primary care and the way in which telehealth was utilized during the pandemic.
        To register click here. To see the entire VMS Thursday Webinar series for 2020/2021 click here. This webinar will take place at the same time VMS is hosting our scheduled Commissioner Call. 

        Teaching the Use of HIT to Support Relationship-Based Care

        March 5, 2021

        The 4th session of "The Patient and the Practitioner in the Age of Technology: Promoting Healing Relationships" virtual series will explore explore some of the innovative methods educators have found to teach practitioners at different stages of their careers to incorporate HIT in support of relationship-based care. Earn 2 AMA approved CME credits. Register here. 

        2021 Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit Goes Virtual

        April 5th-8th 2021

        The Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit, the largest and most influential annual conference addressing the opioid and addiction crisis, is taking place online April 5-8. With overdoses increasing at alarming rates, this is a critical year for stakeholders to convene and discuss what is working in prevention and treatment. The virtual conference will feature four days of live education led by multi-disciplinary experts from across the nation. On-Demand access for 60 days will be available for the 75+ Sessions with live Q&A. Register now.

        Special Enrollment Period from Feb. 16-May 14th, 2021

        Due to the COVID-19 emergency, Vermont Health Connect has opened a Special Enrollment Period from February 16 through May 14 2021. During this time, any uninsured Vermonter can sign up for a qualified health plan through Vermont Health Connect. Qualified families can also get financial help paying for coverage. Please call us 1-855-899-9600 to learn more.

        "Perspectives on Connection, Compassion and Belonging"

        Howard Center 4th Annual Conference

        March 30, 2021


        Howard Center’s annual conference is designed for a broad audience, including mental health and healthcare providers, educators, clients and families, representatives of state and local government, law enforcement, the judiciary, and the general public. Click here for more information and to register. 


        Vermont Medical Society

        134 Main Street

        Montpelier, VT 05602

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