January 16, 2024


Big Idea Health Reform Policies in the Legislature This Week 

This is the first week of our 2024 "Vermont's Voices of Medicine" legislative breakfasts with the first VMS Advocacy coffee coming this Thursday, January 18th in the Statehouse cafeteria in Montpelier. The Legislature must have known we were coming, as they are working on a number of health care bills that include big idea health reform proposals including:

  • H.766 - A priority bill for the VMS, this bill includes improvements to insurance claims processing and also provides strategies to reduce and streamline prior authorization. The House Health Care Committee will be taking testimony on this bill this Thursday. 
  • H.721 - Chair of House Health Care, Lori Houghton, D-Essex, is leading this bill to gradually expand the income eligibility forMedicaid to 312% of the Federal Poverty Level by 2030 and to increase the age of eligibility for Dr. Dynasaur up to age 26. The bill includes an increase in Medicaid reimbursement for primary care, with a floor of 125% of Medicare. The bill also includes an expansion of eligibility for the Medicare Savings Program, which helps low-income Vermonters afford Medicare premiums and out of pocket costs.    
  • S.151 - This 2023 primary care bill had a hearing in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee last week and is a priority for the VMS, as it includes efforts to streamline prior authorizations, require commercial payers to increase spending on primary care and increase transparency in health care.
  • S.211 - Chair of the Senate Health and Welfare, Ginny Lyons, D-Chittenden, is leading on this bill that would transfer some Green Mountain Care Board duties to Agency of Human Services Director of Health Reform. This bill would also require insurers to participate in multi-payer alternative payment models and aims to streamline credentialing practices.
  • State Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Adjustment: The House Health Care Committee has begun considering requests from the Scott Administration to make mid-year adjustments to the current state budget to accommodate changes in Medicaid caseload and spending, provide a 4.5% inflationary increase to FQHCs and other changes.  VMS commented in opposition to a slight decrease in the Medicaid professional fee schedule that was effective Jan. 1 but is now focused on addressing the issue in the State Fiscal Year 2025 budget. 

The House Human Services Committee is scheduled to continue to work on S.18, the bill to end the sale of flavored tobacco, and there will also be several hearings this week regarding mental health, including alternative mental health programs and mental health in schools. Can't wait to see you on January 18th!  

VMSERF Announces Participants in 5th Leadership Course

The Vermont Medical Society Education and Research Foundation is pleased to announce that thirteen participants will be joining the 5th annual year-long Physician Executive Leadership Institute (PELI) beginning this February.  The participants represent physicians and PAs, come from all corners of the state and include primary care and specialists, and a wide range of practice settings.   The VMSERF Board will be welcoming them to their first meeting on February 1st.  Congratulations to the cohort!   

The course is made possible due to funding from the Physician Foundation and is run in partnership with the Dan Hanley Center for Health Leadership and Lumunos Wellbeing.

Meet our 2024 cohort:

  • Bronwyn Kenny, M.D., UVMMC, OB/GYN
  • Elizabeth Forbes, M.D., UVM Children’s Hospital, Pediatrics
  • Erin Duquette, M.D., SVMC, Emergency Medicine
  • John "Nez" Nesbitt, M.D., NVRH, Emergency Medicine
  • Joshua Kallen, M.D., NWMC, Radiology
  • Melissa Volansky, M.D., Maple Mountain Consortium, Family Medicine
  • Michael Vooris, PA, RRMC, Emergency Medicine
  • Monique Morneault, PA-C, UVMMC, Psychiatry
  • Nels Kloster, M.D., Vermont Practitioner Health Program, Psychiatry
  • Nikiruka Emeagwali, M.D., RRMC, Pulmonology/Critical Care
  • Rachel LaRocca, M.D., CVMC, Family Practice
  • Tiffini Lake, M.D., UVMMC, Interventional Pain

Clock is Ticking on Reversing Medicare Physician Payment Cuts

As you probably know, because of Congressional inaction at the end of the year, a new round of devastating Medicare physician payment cuts went into effect on Jan. 1. This 3.37% reduction comes after three years of consecutive cuts to Medicare services.

The American Medical Association is calling on Congress to reverse these devastating cuts. If this latest cut is left in place, physician Medicare payments will have been reduced by almost 10% in four years. This is simply unsustainable for our nation's physicians and the patients they serve.

Congress must take action now as they only have until Jan. 19 to avert a government shutdown and fund programs for the coming year.

The AMA urgently asks you to contact your members of Congress today and demand they reverse these cuts as part of the upcoming 2024 appropriations package. If not, the effects will be exacerbated in rural and underserved areas, which continue to face significant healthcare access challenges.

A recording is now available for a recent AMA webinar providing updates on Medicare funding and how to get involved.   Learn more here or contact jbarnard@vtmd.org for more information. 

Next Commissioner of Health Call is February 1, 2024

The Commissioner of Health, Mark Levine, MD, will hold his next Public Health Update with VMS Members on Thursday, February 1st at 12:30 pm. View notes from the January 4th call here.

Hear about the most pressing public health information affecting the state and nation and have the opportunity to submit questions to Dr. Levine who will answer them, time-permitting. You can join the zoom meetings here.


Salary Data & Contract Review Tips

Wednesday, January 24th, 12-1pm

VMS has recently partnered with Resolve to help connect members to physician contract review services and access to compensation data. Join Resolve CEO Kyle Claussen to learn tips about physician employment contracts.  How do you know what you are worth? What's in a normal contract? How do you know if you have leverage?  Kyle will address key contract provisions including:

  • Compensation
  • Call Coverage
  • Maternity Leave
  • Non-competes
  • Side Gigs
  • Intellectual Property
  • Private Equity Buy-outs

Bring your questions! Whether you are considering your first job after residency, thinking about a position change or just want to understand what is in your current contract, this webinar is for you.

Register in advance for this webinar here.

Kyle Claussen is the CEO of Resolve, an attorney and physician compensation and contract expert. He has spent the last decade advocating for physicians in their employment contracts. Kyle is married to an ophthalmologist, has 3 kids, and a dog.


35th Annual Eastern Winter Dermatology Conference

February 1-4, 2024

TopNotch Resort, Stowe, VT

The conference is designed to provide high-level continuing education for dermatologists and medical professionals specializing in dermatology, keeping them abreast of new and exciting findings in basic science, clinical dermatology and dermatologic therapy. Topics that will be covered include: Pediatric Dermatology; Clinical Pearls in Contact Dermatitis; Hair Loss; Lessons in Medicine: Nail Wisdom; and Memorable Skin Adventures from UVM Faculty.

Learn more and register here.

Hospital Medicine 2024

February 7-9, 2024

TopNotch Resort, Stowe, VT

The course will provide practical approaches to common problems in hospital medicine informed by experts and the latest evidence. The target audience is comprised of physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and nurses practicing Hospital Medicine. Some of the clinicians will also be engaged in education, research, quality improvement, and management. The audience may also include Hospital Medicine program administrators, resident physicians, and medical students with an interest in careers in Hospital Medicine. Topics include Congestive Heart Failure; Pain Management; Care of Transgender Patients in Hospital; and more.

Learn more and register here.

Future Health Best: Practices for Advancing Care

March 22, 2024

Virtual and In-Person Waltham, MA

This 2024 conference will focus on the nexus of climate change and its growing impact, AI and new technologies to diagnose and treat patients, and the evolving and expanding role of physicians in this rapidly changing health landscape.

View the event flyer here. Registration will open in January 2024.

For more information about offerings from UVM CMIE, visit here.


Vermont Medical Society

134 Main Street

Montpelier, VT 05602

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