January 9, 2024


Take Action: End the Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products in Vermont

The House Human Services Committee is starting testimony this week on S.18, a bill to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products in Vermont.  

We need your help! The committee is starting with testimony from industry and then will hear from supporters next week. Big Tobacco is going to tell the committee that S.18 will hurt Vermont businesses and that adults should be able to use flavors if they want to. But, 68% of Vermont voters support this bill and nearly 80% say it’s more important to eliminate flavored tobacco products from store shelves than it is to protect retail sales (read more here).

Kids age 12-17 are the highest users of menthol cigarettes, and 54% of youth smokers start by using menthol (read more here) See recent commentary highlighting the need for this law by VMS Member, L.E. Faricy, MD. 

We need to end the sale of flavored tobacco products - including menthol - so kids never start on these highly addictive and deadly products. Other states, including our neighbors in Massachusetts, have done this successfully.

 Please email members of the House Human Services Committee this week urging them to support S.18:

twood@leg.state.vt.us; jbrumsted@leg.state.vt.us; ADonahue@leg.state.vt.us; rgarofano@leg.state.vt.us; jgregoire@leg.state.vt.us; nhyman@leg.state.vt.us; jmcgill@leg.state.vt.us; DNoyes@leg.state.vt.us; kpajala@leg.state.vt.us; tsmall@leg.state.vt.us; DWhitman@leg.state.vt.us.

High Action Expected for the Second Week of 2024 Legislative Session 

Lawmakers have only been back one week and already things are kicking into high action. The House Health Care Committee is planning a hearing regarding BCBSVT's claims edit policy, which has delayed payment and required clinical documentation be submitted for a large number of claims and the House Human Services Committee is scheduled to take up S.18, the bill to end the sale of flavored tobacco. (Please see above) The House Government Operations Committee will be taking up H.612, a new cannabis bill, discussed further below, on Friday. Senate Finance will be holding an introduction on Thursday on S.164, a bill to provide obesity treatment coverage. The Governor is also expected to hold a press conference on housing efforts this week and the VMS will be monitoring all. 

VMS Kicks of Legislative Breakfast Servies with Virtual Advocacy Training this Thursday at 6 pm

Please join the VMS Policy team for our virtual 2024 Advocacy Training on January 11th at 6pm. Your voice can make an impact! Come learn about health care legislation likely to advance in 2024, and how you can become an advocate to improve Vermont's practice environment. Our virtual training will provide you with all of the information you need to attend one or all of our "Vermont's Voices of Medicine" legislative breakfasts being held on select Thursday mornings throughout the upcoming legislative session. We will work off of the VMS toolkit to help you craft an effective advocacy message. Click here for the VMS Advocacy ToolkitClick here to view more information about the legislative breakfasts and to register.  The first breakfast is being held on Thursday, January 18th from 7:30-9 am at the Statehouse in Montpelier and is open to all VMS members. 

Click here to join the Zoom training: https://us02webzoom.us/j/89596651145?pwd-LzgzTThGoEtrQ0Qrc09SeDd4YVNOQTO9

Meeting ID: 895 9665 1145 

Passcode: 964364

VMS and Specialty Societies Submit Comments on Proposed Cannabis Sales Expansions

The physician and physician assistant members of the Vermont Medical Society (VMS), the Vermont Psychiatric Association (VPA), the American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter (AAPVT) and the Vermont Academy of Family Physicians (VTAFP) submitted comments last week to the Cannabis Control Board (CCB) in response to recommendations included in the CCB’s Draft Report to the Vermont Legislature.  The CCB recommendations include:

  • modifying the process for adding new qualifying conditions to the Medical Cannabis Registry;
  • creating a medical endorsement for adult-use retail establishments that would allow patients to utilize them tax free;
  • expanding access to medical products and services through adding ulcerative colitis to the list of qualifying conditions and extending the length of time a renewal with the registry lasts;
  • removing the potency cap for THC, either for all adults or just those on the registry; and
  • improving patient and provider education about cannabis.

Many of these recommendations stem from the fact that fewer patients are using medical dispensaries now that there are adult-sales dispensaries, and the medical dispensaries are struggling to remain in business.  The chair of the House Government Operations Committee has introduced legislation,  H. 612, that includes a number of these recommendations, including eliminating THC caps on cannabis flower and solid and liquid concentrates.  VMS strongly opposes the elimination of THC caps.  For more information contact Jill Sudhoff Guerin at jsudhoffguerin@vtmd.org.

Vermont Eye Physicians Raise Alarm About Safety Risks of Lowering Standards for Performing Invasive Eye Surgery

As the Vermont Legislature convened last Wednesday, the Vermont Ophthalmological Society (VOS) released a press release raising the alarm about an expected push from the optometry lobby to allow optometrists to perform sensitive and complicated eye surgeries. “Eye surgery should only be performed by trained eye surgeons who have attended medical school and completed a nationally accredited residency program, honing our surgical skills under supervision for at least eight years,” said Jessica McNally, M.D. an experienced Vermont eye surgeon and president of the Vermont Ophthalmological Society. Read the full press release here and for more information about getting involved with the effort contact Stephanie Winters at swinters@vtmd.org.

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.


VITL Seeks Board Members from Community Practices

VITL, the legislatively designated operator of the Vermont Health Information Exchange, is currently recruiting candidates to join its Board of Directors.  While all interest is welcome, VITL is especially seeking representatives of stakeholder groups that are currently underrepresented on the Board, including community health centers and practices, mental health providers, long term care facilities, allied health professions, and individuals familiar with national health IT policy.  The Board meets for 2 hours every other month. For more information, visit the VITL website. 

Onboarding New Graduate PAs and NPs

Onboarding new graduate physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) has become a popular topic due to current issues with provider shortages and financial deficiencies in our healthcare systems.  A recent podcast for the Journal of the American Academy of PAs discusses onboarding experiences of PAs and NPs in primary care. Listen to the Podcast.

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.


Emergency Medicine Update

January 16-19, 2024

The Lodge at Spruce Peak, Stowe, VT

This event will discuss a variety of timely, practical issues that are encountered in the emergency department on a daily basis. Lectures will be engaging, sometimes controversial, and present the audience with examples of both successes and failures in emergency medicine. Changes don’t always equal advances and advancement doesn’t always mean change. At the end of the program, participants should be able to distinguish between advancement and change in the emergency department in a relaxed, family-oriented environment where learning does equal fun!

Learn more and register here.

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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