February 20, 2024


Telehealth Reimbursement Passes House Health Care Committee 

Legislative committees are busy working towards a deadline this Friday for making budget recommendations to the appropriations committees and trying to advance policy bills before a March 15th “crossover” deadline. Last week, the House Health Care Committee passed a Committee bill that would provide payment parity for telehealth services. A VMS policy priority, this bill ends a 2026 sunset on providing the same reimbursement for audio-visual telehealth services as in-person services and requires audio-only services to be paid at parity as well. The VMS also continues to advocate for H.766, a bill aimed at streamlining prior authorizations, reducing step-therapy requirements and prohibiting payers from holding claims pre-payment. Despite push back from BCBSVT, which claims if the bill passes it will cost ratepayers $100 million, the bill has broad support from the House Health Care Committee and is expected to advance (see news coverage here) Other bills getting committee time include H. 289, aimed at making technology safer for kids (see news coverage here) and H. 612, addressing the medical and recreational cannabis markets (see news coverage here).  See a more comprehensive update on bills being followed by VMS here

Please Take Action: The Senate Health and Welfare Committee will be taking testimony on S.151, a bill aimed at increasing support for primary care and prevention. Please email the Committee to urge them to support this priority bill for the VMS which would:

  • Require commercial payers to increase the percent of health care dollars directed to primary care spending;
  • Set more predictable Medicaid payments for primary care services;
  • Require regular updates of the Workers’ Compensation fee schedule;
  • Allow minors to consent to prevention services for STIs; and
  • Update the insurance requirements for colorectal cancer screening.

Also, this Friday is the deadline for the House Health Care Committee to provide FY25 Budget recommendations to the House Appropriations Committee. Please reach out to House Health Care committee members to ask for their inclusion of a 4.6% increase for inflation in the Medicaid RBRVS fee schedule. Please contact them today!  Your message does not need to be technical – let them know the impact that decreasing Medicaid reimbursement has on your practice and ability to offer services to patients. 

Contact the committee today at:

LHoughton@leg.state.vt.us; fmcfaun@leg.state.vt.us; ablack@leg.state.vt.us; berbeco@leg.state.vt.us; mcarpenter@leg.state.vt.us; bcina@leg.state.vt.us; mcordes@leg.state.vt.us; ademar@leg.state.vt.us; lgoldman@leg.state.vt.us; apeterson@leg.state.vt.us;bfarlice-rubio@leg.state.vt.us; CNeal@leg.state.vt.us

Contact House Government Operations Committee Today – Eye Surgery is Serious!

The House Government Operations Committee has schedule testimony this Thursday on the report from the Office of Professional Regulation on optometry scope of practice released last fall.  See the OPR recommendations on page 37, which would allow optometrists to perform a number of surgical and laser procedures and injections if they have a “specialty endorsement license.”  To obtain an endorsement license they would only have had to perform the newly authorized procedures from 1-8 times on a live patient before being able to perform them independently.  Learn more at https://safevisionvt.org/. Jessica McNally, M.D. will be testifying on behalf of the Vermont Ophthalmological Society as well as the Vermont Medical Society.  There is also a bill (S.233) that has been referred to the Senate Health & Welfare Committee, so at this time the Government Operations Committee is just focused on hearing testimony on the report.

It is important that this committee hear from you.  Even if you have reached out before, please contact the House Government Operations Committee to express your concern about the report and the risk of any surgery, especially eye surgery!

Email the Committee: mmccarthy@leg.state.vt.us; mbirong@leg.state.vt.us; mhigley@leg.state.vt.us; lboyden@leg.state.vt.us; schase@leg.state.vt.us; LHango@leg.state.vt.us; JHooper@leg.state.vt.us; rhooper@leg.state.vt.us; mmorgan@leg.state.vt.us; mmrowicki@leg.state.vt.us; knugent@leg.state.vt.us; cevans@leg.state.vt.us; AHussey@leg.state.vt.us

Updates Finalized to 42 CFR Part 2, Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records Regulations

On February 8, 2024, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced a final rule modifying the Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Patient Records regulations, 42 CFR part 2.  Part of the goal of the new final rule was to more closely align Part 2 requirements with HIPAA to support care coordination and information sharing between care providers.  Some of the major changes included in the updated rule are that Part 2 now:

  • Allows a single consent for all future uses and disclosures for treatment, payment, and health care operations.
  • Allows HIPAA covered entities and business associates that receive records under this consent to redisclose the records in accordance with the HIPAA regulations.

See additional fact sheets regarding the rule from HHS, SAMHSA and Manatt.  The final rule can be downloaded at https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection/2024-02544/confidentiality-of-substance-use-disorder-patient-records. HHS will support implementation and enforcement of this new rule, including through resources developed by the SAMHSA-sponsored Center of Excellence for Protected Health Information  Entities subject to this regulation have two years after the date of the rule publication to come into compliance. OCR also plans to finalize changes to the HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practices to address uses and disclosures of protected health information that is also protected by Part 2 along with other changes to the Notice requirements, in an upcoming final rule modifying the HIPAA Privacy Rule.


Next Commissioner of Health Call is March 7, 2024

The Commissioner of Health, Mark Levine, MD, will hold his next Public Health Update with VMS Members on Thursday, March 7th at 12:30 pm. View notes from the February 1st 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.

Financial Education Series for March: Presented by Baystate Financials PLANWell
Each session will be held via zoom at 12:30 p.m. or 5:00 p.m.

SaveWell: Gaining Awareness and Setting Goals - March 12thWill help you understand your financial goals and the factors that will impact these goals.

InvestWell: Understanding How to Put Savings to Work - March 19th
Gain a clearer picture of how to grow a nest egg by investing it.

LiveWell: Protecting a Fulfulled Life and Retirement - March 26th
Protect your ability to make and save money by looking at how to utilize your assets to prepare for the uncertainties of life after work.

Click Here to Register


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. Learn more and register here.

Whole Person Care: Enhancing Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Treatment

June 14, 2024

Lake Morey, VT

Please mark your calendars for Friday June 14 when we will be hosting "Whole Person Care: Enhancing Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Treatment", an in-person conference at Lake Morey, VT.

This is a part of the Collaborative to Advance Mental Health Treatment and Substance Use Recovery for Everyone (or CARE Series).

Learn more here.

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


Vermont Medical Society

134 Main Street

Montpelier, VT 05602

-- Unsubscribe --