March 12, 2024


Legislators Return to Montpelier for an Action-Packed Week

Vermont lawmakers return from a week in their home district for Town Meeting Day for an action-packed week in the Statehouse, as policy bills must advance out of the committees of jurisdiction by this Friday. House and Senate Health Care Committees continue to work to advance health reform legislation and last Thursday the House Health Care Committee passed H.766, a priority bill for the VMS, which will reduce prior authorizations, step therapy and prepayment claims edits by payers. The bill will be heard in front of the full House this week and is expected to pass. Please reach out to the House Health Care Committee to thank them for their unanimous vote in favor of the bill!

Here is the latest action on other bills we are following this week:

  • Please Take Action to Support Primary Care: The Senate Health and Welfare Committee needs to hear support for sections of S.151 that aim to strengthen primary care and prevention that VMS testified in favor of last week. Please email the Committee and urge them to support the primary care provisions of the bill, including:
    • Expanding coverage for colorectal screening. Removing a fixed age from the requirement that payers provide no-cost colorectal cancer screening. Current state statue only requires screenings to be covered beginning at age 50, while United States Preventive Services Task Force Recommendations support beginning screening at age 45.
    • Minor consent to STI prevention. VMS strongly supports moving from state statute that allows minors to consent only to STI treatment - after contracting an STI - to allowing minors to consent to STI prevention. There are now a number of effective preventive measures for STIs.
    • Study on required primary care spend in Vermont. Given the need to align Vermont’s goals on primary care spending with potential participation in the AHEAD Model, VMS supports moving forward with next steps in setting a statewide all-payer primary care spend target and methodology.
    • Senate Health and Welfare Committee email addresses:;;;; and
  • Please Take Action: S.18, the bill to end the sale of flavored tobacco was amended and passed by the House Ways and Means Committee by a vote of 7-5 last week. The full House is scheduled to vote on this bill on Wednesday of this week! Please email your lawmaker and ask them to vote YES! on this bill and prevent the next generation of Vermonters addicted to nicotine. Click here to find your lawmaker's email address.
  • Sunscreen in Schools: S.187, the Senate Health And Welfare Committee voted unanimously to support the American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter priority bill allowing students with parental permission to apply sunscreen in schools.
  • Vermont Data Privacy Act: H.121: The House Commerce Committee will be taking testimony all week on this bill, including from the VMS, which has submitted joint testimony urging for HIPAA compliant entities to be provided exemptions. 
  • Cannabis Medical Program: H.612, the cannabis bill, passed the House Government Operations Committee last week and the bill will be heard in the House Ways and Means Committee this week. The bill retains THC potency limits and creates a medical endorsement program that will require rulemaking. Click here for VMS testimony.
  • Medicaid Expansion: H.721, the House Health Care Committee is scheduled to vote out the latest draft of this bill this week, which requires the Agency of Human Services to deliver a feasibility study on expanding Medicaid eligibility by 2030. The study includes technical analysis on provider reimbursement. This bill also includes a provision to expand the Medicare Savings Program. 

Keep Contacting Your Legislators – Eye Surgery is Serious!

The House Government Operations Committee continues to consider whether to take action on a report from the Office of Professional Regulation recommending expanding optometry scope of practice to including certain surgery and laser procedures.  The Committee will be taking more testimony following the “crossover” deadline of March 15th.  

It is important that the House Government Operations Committee and key House Health Care Committee Members continue to hear from those concerned about safe eye surgery! 

Please email:

  • House Committee on Government Operations:;;;;;;;;;;;
  • House Committee on Health Care Leadership:;

Talking points:

  • The training outlined in the report does not adequately protect patient safety.
    • Risking damage to one of our most sensitive organs – these are highly intricate procedures.
    • Inadequate training requirements.
    • Inadequate supervised training on live patients.
    • Patients are already confused about the difference between optometrists and ophthalmologists and won’t be able to make informed decisions
  • Will not solve any issues. Expanding scope will not increase access or lower costs.
    • OPR did not find any current access issues that this will address.
    • Already access issues with getting primary eye care with optometry – this will only add to that.
    • There is not an access issue with urgent advanced procedures and ophthalmologists - Current wait times for ophthalmology are clinically appropriate.
    • OPR did not find that this will decrease costs.
For more Information:

Updates on Change Healthcare Electronic Functions

Late last week, Change Healthcare provided an estimated timeline for the restoration of its systems and services. They now expect key system functionality to be restored and available on the following timelines:

  • Pharmacy services: Electronic prescribing is now fully functional with claim submission and payment transmission also available. They have taken action to make sure patients can access their medicines in the meantime, including Optum Rx pharmacies sending members their medications based on the date needed.
  • Payments platform: Electronic payment functionality will be available for connection beginning March 15.
  • Medical claims: They expect to begin testing and reestablishing connectivity to the claims network and software on March 18, restoring service through that week.

For updates and more information, including information regarding Optum’s Temporary Funding Assistance Program, visit: and

Updates are also available from individual payers, including:

See also additional resources from the American Medical Association.   Please note, some payers are hearing about an increase in fraudulent activity in the wake of the CHC cybersecurity incident. Practices are receiving calls from people posing as “insurers” asking for patient medical records, credit card numbers, and other requests for sensitive information. If there are any concerns or doubts please contact customer service or provider relations for the relevant payer prior to providing any information.

Congress Lessens but Does not Stop 2024 Medicare Fee Schedule Cut

Congress has failed to stop in its entirety a pay cut that will threaten Medicare patients’ access to high-quality physician care.

In a federal budget deal struck to continue operating the government, the House of Representatives and Senate have voted to reduce by about half—1.68%— the 3.37% across-the-board physician pay cut that took effect in January.  President Biden signed the bill on Saturday. The new pay rate starts March 9.

The cut comes on top of last year’s 2% Medicare physician pay reduction, and the new payment rate is not retroactive.

“While we appreciate the challenges Congress confronted when drafting the current 2024 appropriations package, we are extremely disappointed that about half of the 2024 Medicare physician payment cuts will be allowed to continue,” said AMA President Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH.


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.– Note: the start of these sessions have been moved a week later

SaveWell: Gaining Awareness and Setting Goals - March 19th

Will help you understand your financial goals and the factors that will impact these goals.

InvestWell: Understanding How to Put Savings to Work - March 26th
Gain a clearer picture of how to grow a nest egg by investing it.

LiveWell: Protecting a Fulfulled Life and Retirement - April 2nd
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

Commissioner Call Held March 7th; Next Call is April 4, 2024

The Commissioner of Health, Mark Levine, MD, held his most recent VMS member call on March 7th.  Notes from the call are here. Commissioner Levine highlighted recent changes in COVID isolation policy as well as new booster recommendations for adults over 65.

He will hold his next Public Health Update with VMS Members on Thursday, April 4th at 12:30 pm. You can join the zoom meetings here.

VMS Board Seeking Resolution Feedback by March 27th

The VMS Board is seeking member feedback on a policy resolution related to:

  • Support for Expanded Coverage for Obesity Treatment

The full text of the Resolution is available here.

You should have received a survey link specific to you on Wednesday, February 28th. If you did not receive your survey link or have any questions or concerns with completing the survey, please contact

The survey will be open for member comment between February 28, 2024 and March 27, 2024. The resolutions will be discussed together with the feedback received from members by the VMS Board at its April 10th Board Meeting. If you would like to join this meeting via Zoom, please contact Birdie Pauley at

Survey: Integrating Gender-Affirming Care into Primary Care

Throughout Vermont, transgender and gender-diverse people look to primary care providers for inclusive, respectful, affirming healthcare. We’d like to learn more about the care that PCPs currently provide for transgender patients, barriers that they encounter, and what resources they would find helpful to meet these patients’ needs.

We would like to hear from all physicians, NPs, and PAs providing primary care for adults and/or youth in Vermont. If you currently see few or no transgender patients, we are especially interested in hearing from you!

Please click here to take the survey:

The survey is open until Friday, March 22, and takes about 10 minutes to complete. Respondents will be entered into a raffle for one of twenty $20 Amazon gift cards.

This project is based at The Fenway Institute and is led by Eli Goldberg, MD, a family physician raised and trained in Vermont who is currently doing a fellowship in LGBTQIA+ Health. Questions? Please email Eli Goldberg:



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.

2024 Vascular and Cardiac Forum

April 1, 2024

In-Person South Burlington, VT

The vascular and cardiac forum this year will provide primary care, internal medicine, urgent care, and physical therapy providers with education about a variety of vascular and cardiac conditions. The objectives are to improve accuracy and timeliness of the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions, and efficiently use expert consultation in a value-based environment.

Registration Information, full agenda and accreditation details can be found here.

18th Annual Vermont Geriatrics Conference

April 16, 2024

In-Person South Burlington, VT

Please join us for the 18th Annual Vermont Geriatrics Conference. The conference is designed to equip nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, physicians, physician assistants, social workers and other healthcare professionals with practical and innovative approaches to the medical care of older adults.

Registration Information, full agenda and accreditation details can be found here.

Diabetes 2024: Updates on Management and Treatment

May 3, 2024

In-Person South Burlington, VT

This conference is designed to equip primary care clinicians with updated knowledge on issues related to outpatient management of patients with diabetes. Specific topics to be addressed at this year’s conference include Lipid-Lowering Therapies to Reduce Cardiovascular Disease, Basal Insulin Use, Insulin Titration, MASLD (Liver Disease) and more.

Registration Information, full agenda and accreditation details can be found here.

The 50th Annual Family Medicine Course

June 4th-June 7th, 2024

In-Person South Burlington, VT

This intensive four-day program for family physicians, advance practice providers, nurses, and other primary care professionals will focus on current issues in the practice of Family Medicine, with special attention to new contributions. An optional, pre-conference full-day workshop on Mastering Early Goals of Care Conversations will also be offered. Conference emphasis is on practical, clinically applicable diagnostic and management issues in primary care. This conference will be presented in-person and virtually; participants may choose to join via a mixture of in-person and remote attendance. This conference is also anticipated to overlap with the Burlington Jazz Festival, taking place June 5-9, 2024.

Registration Information, full agenda and accreditation details can be found 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

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