December 12, 2023


Medicare Payment Fix Update: New Bill Just Introduced

As you know, the VMS, AMA and other state and national medical societies have been sounding the alarms that physicians are facing yet another in a series of looming Medicare payment cuts, this time to the tune of 3.37% starting in January 2024.  

With all the Congressional gridlock in Washington, DC the outcome looked bleak – until a bi-partisan group of legislators led by Rep. Greg Murphy, MD (R-NC) introduced H.R. 6683 the "Preserving Seniors' Access to Physicians Act." The legislation, if enacted, would completely eliminate the scheduled 3.37% physician payment cut.

Please contact the Vermont Congressional Delegation today and urge them to fix the flawed Medicare physician payment system by supporting H.R. 6683.  If Congress includes this critical legislation as part of the 2024 appropriations package, a potentially disastrous situation for Medicare patients and their physicians could be avoided, but time is running out.  

Congress only has until January 19th to act, avoid a government shutdown and fund programs for the coming year. Please take action now.

The looming 3.37% reduction comes after three years of consecutive cuts to Medicare services. If Congress does not act now, Medicare payments will have been cut by almost 10% in four years, which is simply unsustainable for our nation's physicians. In fact, due to these past cuts and the potential for additional Medicare cuts, physician practices and integrated systems of care have and will continue to eliminate services.

Tomorrow: Webinar on the Appropriate Use of Modifier 25 and 29

Wednesday, December 13th from 12pm to 1pm

This webinar will assist clinicians and office or billing staff in understanding the usage of modifiers 25 and 29. Integrity Advantage experts will dive into the definitions and demonstrate scenarios for the correct application of the modifiers. Those who attend will learn:

  • The current procedural terminology descriptions of modifier 25 and 29
  • The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) guidelines associated with each modifier
  • Situations that are appropriate for, and those that to not require, the appending of the modifiers
  • Helpful tips and resources for ensuring proper coding

Register here.

VMS Advocacy Training January 11th at 6pm

Attend our Advocacy Training on January 11th and learn about health care legislation likely to advance in 2024 and how you can advocate for policies that will 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 2024 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 Toolkit

Click here to join the Zoom training:

Meeting ID: 895 9665 1145 

Passcode: 964364


Open Enrollment Deadline - Sign up by Dec 15 for Health Plan Starting Jan 1

The first deadline of Open Enrollment in Vermont Health Connect plans is coming soon. Vermonters must enroll or make changes by December 15 to get a health plan starting on January 1, 2024.

What does this mean?

  • Any eligible Vermonter can enroll with Vermont Health Connect (VHC) for the coming year.
  • Any existing VHC customer can change plans if they find a new plan with a lower deductible or better benefit coverage.

Find a plan and check for financial help

Communication toolkit to build awareness among your patients about the significant financial help available through Vermont Health Connect and the important application deadlines.

December Vermont Vaccine Program Update

The December Vermont Immunization Program newsletter is now available. The newsletter includes important updates regarding RSV products; news regarding additional Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine supply to be able to meet practice needs; and reminders about Tdap vaccine being required for 7th grade entry and the importance of incorporating this vaccine into well child visits. All past editions of the Vermont Vaccine Program (VVP) Update are on the Immunization Program Website. You can also subscribe to receive messages directly. 

BCBSVT Doula Pilot Still Enrolling Patients

Blue Cross VT just crossed the halfway mark of our Health Equity Doula Pilot, serving 30 individuals from birthing populations that historically have experienced high rates of severe maternal morbidity. The goal of this pilot is two-fold: to help address maternal health inequities and ensure that mental health supports are engaged when perinatal depression is indicated. To garner broad representation, the pilot is open to:

  • 20 spots (15 spots remain available) for Black, Asian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, Indigenous, Hispanic people or refugees
  • 10 spots (now filled) for White people with high “Resource Utilization Band” score (4 or 5), or those who meet one of these criteria:
  • Previous low birth weight
  • Previous cesarean
  • Previous traumatic birth
  • Maternal health or social risk factors
  • Social Determinants of Health

Members will receive reimbursement up to $1,000 for doula support through the Blue Cross VT Better Beginnings Program. The doula’s focus will be member-driven depending on individual needs. These may include providing perinatal supports including referral to mental health services, perinatal mentorship, creating an individualized care plan, assistance with health system service navigation, prenatal visits, labor, delivery, and post-partum visits. Studies show that doulas may reduce perinatal stress and can mitigate adverse birthing outcomes related to the social determinants of health.

Blue Cross VT members who are in the eligible population can contact Better Beginnings at (800) 247-2583 to enroll in the pilot. 

Submit Rays of Kindness Nominations

As Vermonters, we take pride in illuminating the path of compassion and community spirit.  Governor Scott is eager to highlight these rays of hope, acknowledging the unsung heroes who make a positive difference in our communities.  To bring these stories to the forefront and showcase the incredible acts of kindness, selfless service, and goodwill taking place throughout Vermont, you’re invited to submit a nomination to the “Lights the Way: Rays of Kindness” recognition:

No act of kindness or service is too small to be celebrated. Whether it's a neighbor lending a hand, a community project making a difference, or an individual going above and beyond to help others, please consider submitting nominations.

Next Commissioner of Health Call Thursday, January 4, 2024 - December 7th Call Cancelled

The Commissioner of Health, Mark Levine, MD, will hold his next Public Health Update with VMS Members on Thursday, January 4th at 12:30 pm. There will be no call on December 7, 2023.

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.

Commissioner Levine last joined the VMS for a public health update on November 2nd. You can find the notes here.


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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