February 22nd, 2022


Please Take Action Now: Urge Lawmakers to Invest in Primary Care and to Vote No on Expanding Optometrist Scope of Practice

This is going to be a very busy week for lawmakers, as it is the week before Town Meeting week, when historically lawmakers would "go home" to their districts. Currently, only House members have been meeting in-person, but we expect that after Town Meeting week both the House and Senate will be back under the golden dome. When lawmakers return it will be "crossover" week. Crossover is the deadline for bills to have passed out of their Committees of jurisdiction in order for the proposal to advance this session. Over the next week, please urge these lawmakers to take these actions:

  • Ask the Senate Health & Welfare Committee to Pass S.244, the Primary Care bill. Please tell the Committee how these significant investments are needed now to support primary care:
  • Pay Parity for Audio-only Telehealth Services
  • Increase Primary Care Spend to 12 percent of Total Health Care Spend
  • Increase Medicaid Reimbursement Rates for Primary Care Services
  • Create the position of Chief Clinical Officer for Primary Care at the Green Mountain Care Board 
  • Expand Blueprint for Health payments
  • Please send to these Senators: acummings@leg.state.vt.us; RHardy@leg.state.vt.us; chooker@leg.state.vt.us; vlyons@leg.state.vt.us; jterenzini@leg.state.vt.us
    • Contact Senators on S.158 to Protect Eye Safety This week please continue to contact all Senators to express your concern with S.158 and how it will affect patient safety. They need to hear from you AND your patients! Please direct patients wanting to get involved to the Safe Surgery Coalition website, which will provide them with talking points and a direct message to their local Senator(s). Given the risk to public safety the Vermont Ophthalmological Society, joined by the Vermont Medical Society, are strongly opposed to S.158. We urge you to contact the Vermont Senate TODAY and to urge your patients as well: bbalint@leg.state.vt.us; pbaruth@leg.state.vt.us; pbaruth@uvm.edu; jbenning@leg.state.vt.us; cbray@leg.state.vt.us; rbrock@leg.state.vt.us; bcampion@leg.state.vt.us; tchittenden@leg.state.vt.us; AClarkson@leg.state.vt.us; bcollamore@leg.state.vt.us; acummings@leg.state.vt.us; RHardy@leg.state.vt.us; chooker@leg.state.vt.us; ringalls@leg.state.vt.us; jkitchel@leg.state.vt.us; vlyons@leg.state.vt.us; mmacdonald@leg.state.vt.us; rmccormack@leg.state.vt.us; anitka@leg.state.vt.us; CParent@leg.state.vt.us; CPearson@leg.state.vt.us; APerchlik@leg.state.vt.us; apollina@leg.state.vt.us; kram@leg.state.vt.us; rsears@leg.state.vt.us; msirotkin@leg.state.vt.us; rstarr@leg.state.vt.us; jterenzini@leg.state.vt.us; rawestman@gmail.com; jwhite@leg.state.vt.us

          House Health Care Committee Identifies Workforce Priorities

          Last Friday, the House Health Care Committee drafted a memo for the House Commerce Committee of draft health care workforce priorities they have identified to incorporated into the legislature's broader workforce bill, H.703. These workforce priorities include: 

          • GMCB and DFR to reduce administrative burdens by streamlining prior authorizations
          • Ensuring the medical student primary care scholarship is fully funded 
          • Adding nurse educator funding
          • Funding nursing pipeline programs
          • Adding to the nursing scholarship program and loan repayment
          • GMCB to review hospital salary spread and what hospitals invest in workforce
          • Adding mental health support specialist funding
          • OPR to review mental health and substance abuse clinician licensing
          • Improved collection of health care workforce data

          The House Commerce Committee will be working this week to complete its work on the workforce proposal.

          Please Attend VMS Congressional Town Hall March 3rd 

          We invite you to VMS’ virtual Congressional Town Hall with members of our Vermont delegation or their staff on March 3rd from 12:30-1:30pm. This meeting will occur at the same time as our Commissioner Call and include time for questions. Join with the zoom link here. In an effort to include more questions we are asking you to send them ahead of time.  We look forward to you joining us for a discussion with the offices of Rep. Peter Welch, Senator Patrick Leahy and Senator Bernie Sanders. 

                  Governor Vetoes S.30 - a Bill Prohibiting Firearms in Hospitals and Closing the “Charleston Loophole”

                  On February 22, Governor Phil Scott returned without signature and vetoed S.30.  In the letter he sent to the General Assembly explaining his decision he noted that he is open to a discussion about improving existing law to address the so-called “Charleston Loophole.” This refers to a provision in federal law that provides automatic approval to someone who is buying a gun if a federal background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (also known as NICS) doesn’t produce a “red light” (i.e., reporting they are ineligible) within three business days.  Governor Scott believes going from three to effectively 30 days to process the background check is excessive and unreasonable. Instead, he believes a 7-business day limit is reasonable and has stated there is time this session to work with the legislature to address these differencesYou can view Governor Scott’s letter in its entirety here. To view a complete list of action on bills passed during the 2022 legislative session, click here.

                        VMS – LumunosWellBeing Partner to Offer No Cost Well-Being Workshops

                        VMS realizes our members are under more personal and professional stress then ever as we pass the two-year mark of responding to COVID-19.  VMS is continuing our partnership with Doug Wysockey-Johnson of LumunosWellBeing to offer no-cost clinician wellbeing workshops at up to 10 Vermont medical staffs/practices over 2022. There are 5 slots available this spring.  New topics for 2022 include A Clinician’s Guide to Recovering from the COVID Marathon and A Realistic Look at ‘Work-Home Balance’ for Clinicians. See the full list and additional details here.  Members can contact jbarnard@vtmd.org or doug@lumunos.org for more information or to schedule a workshop. 

                              Administration COVID-19 Updates

                              The Scott Administration held it’s weekly press conference today and both Governor Scott and Commissioner of Health Mark Levine, MD, emphasized that Vermont’s COVID-19 metrics continue to improve.  Vermont is averaging 220 cases over the last 7 days, a decrease of 28% over the last 7 days and down 88% from the Omicron peak.  New hospital admissions are stable and there was a 33% decrease in the 7-day ICU average over the past week.  Commissioner Levine addressed the BA2 variant – it has now been found in 47 states including VT – though there is no definitive information yet on the severity and transmissibility of the variant.   The abridged DFR Modeling Report is available here (the full report will be available tomorrow) and notes from the press conference can be found hereThe Administration has not yet announced if it will hold a press conference next Tuesday due to falling on Town Meeting Day. To view the notes from the call on February 17th with Commissioner of Health, Dr. Mark Levine, please click here


                              Join us every 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month from 12:30pm to 1pm as Commissioner of Health, Mark Levine provides us with the most pressing COVID-19 information affecting the state and nation. You will have the opportunity to submit questions to Dr. Levine who will answer them, time-permitting.

                              You can join the zoom meetings beginning in January here or add to your calendar by following this link and clicking download (you will then need to open the downloaded file and click save to add to your calendar).

                              AMA STEPS ForwardTM Webinar: No One Should Care Alone: Creating Processes for Intentional Professional Connection

                              February 24th, 11am CST

                              Dr. Mark Greenawald launched the nationally acclaimed PeerRxMed program (www.PeerRxMed.org) last year to help healthcare professionals support each other as they move away from distress and toward thriving. The tag line for the PeerRxMed program is "No One Cares Alone," which captures Dr. Greenawald’s mission in his work toward advancing professional well-being. Join the AMA at 11 a.m. CST on Feb. 24 to revisit Dr. Greenawald's webinar, “No One Should Care Alone: Creating Processes for Intentional Professional Connection.” A live Q&A session with Dr. Greenawald will follow the presentation.

                              Register here.

                              Updated Guidance for Clinicians on COVID-19 Vaccines 

                              February 24th, 2pm EST

                              During this COCA Call, CDC experts will present:

                              • Updated recommendations on COVID-19 vaccines for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised,
                              • Simplified recommendations for vaccination following receipt of passive antibody therapy, and
                              • Summarized recommendations for COVID-19 vaccination by age group.
                              There will be a web on-demand version of the call available after the live event.

                               Register here.

                              Project ECHO: Aging, Community, and Equity (PEACE)

                              2nd Wednesday of Every Month from February to September

                              12pm to 1:30pm, EST

                              Project ECHO® (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is an evidence-based method developed by researchers at the University of New Mexico. During teleECHO™ sessions, expert mentors share their expertise across a virtual network via case-based learning.

                              In this Older Adult ECHO program, we will explore:       

                              • Pandemic-related social isolation
                              • Methods to support formal & informal caregivers
                              • Impacts of the pandemic on cognitive decline
                              • Effects of isolation on physical & mental health
                              • Solutions for rural communities

                              Intended audience: Medical, mental health, and community social service individuals working to support older adults in rural settings of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Northern New York

                              Register here.

                              The 27th Annual Vermont Perspectives in Anesthesia Conference

                              March 2nd - March 4th, ET

                              Drs. Matt Fisher and Bob Williams invite you to join them for this year’s Live VIRTUAL Conference, with practical reviews and timely informative clinical updates on a variety of topics of current interest in Anesthesia. Registered participants will have access to On-Demand Recordings to view and claim credit for any sessions that are missed during the live conference - for up to 12 months following the conference.

                              Topics: The Difficult Airway, Obstructive Breathing Patterns in the PACU, Perioperative EEG, Patients with Opioid Use Disorder, NORA emergencies, Non-Cardiac Surgery: Myocardial Injury and Preoperative Assessment, The Value of Women on Teams, The Anesthesia Department on the Other Side of COVID, and more!

                              For registration information, full agenda & accreditation details, click here.

                              Questions: Contact Michele Morin at: Michele.Morin@med.uvm.edu or 802-922-3594


                              Vermont Medical Society

                              134 Main Street

                              Montpelier, VT 05602

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