April 19th, 2022


The FY23 Budget, Workforce and Health Reform to Dominate the Legislative Week

With the FY23 Budget on the Senate floor this week, the legislature is on pace to adjourn May 6th, which is a full week earlier than usual. The VMS Policy team continues to watch H.703, the workforce development bill as the Senate Economic Development Committee has indicated they may direct significant loan repayment funding to the AHEC primary care loan repayment program. The House Health Care Committee continues to seek a compromise on S.285, the health reform bill that includes further developing hospital value-based payments and an examination of expanded payments to the Blueprint for Health. The Senate Judiciary Committee passed an amended version of H.548, the miscellaneous cannabis bill, that eliminates the THC potency caps of 30% potency for cannabis flower and 60% potency for cannabis concentrates. The VMS Policy team expects the amended version of the cannabis bill to pass the Senate floor this week, but we are working with the House Government Operations Committee to oppose the removal of the THC caps. Please email the Committee to ask these members to support the House-passed version, which kept the THC potency caps to help provide better protection for public health: 

scopelandhanzas@leg.state.vt.us; JGannon@leg.state.vt.us;

rlaclair@leg.state.vt.us; panthony@leg.state.vt.us; hcolston@leg.state.vt.us;

mhigley@leg.state.vt.us; slefebvre@leg.state.vt.us; rhooper@leg.state.vt.us;

mmccarthy@leg.state.vt.us; mmrowicki@leg.state.vt.us; tvyhovsky@leg.state.vt.us

Administration Weekly Press Conference COVID-19 Updates

Commissioner of Health Mark Levine, MD, led the weekly update on COVID-19 and stated cases in Vermont and New England have increased over the last week, although the pace of those increases is slower than during the rapid surges at the beginning of the Omicron wave. Vermont’s confirmed COVID-19 cases grew from a seven-day average of 201 to 256 per day, an increase of 27%. Vermonters in the hospital for the virus also increased this week, with 40 being in the hospital as of today, although hospitalizations remain well below peak numbers.  Dr. Levine stated that Vermont is still in a similar position as past weeks, continuing to watch and monitor for severe impacts of the BA.2 variant.  While the modeling forecast is currently unclear, he expects cases may start to come down in the next few weeks.  Recommendations continue to be the same – that everyone stay home when sick, test with any symptoms, and individuals at higher risk continue to consider wearing a mask and that older and high risk individuals should be prepared to seek out treatment right away if they test positive.  Dr. Levine also referenced the recent court case striking down the federal mask mandate for public transportation and said the decision was based on legal and procedural factors, not public health data, and it is still recommended to wear a mask on public transportation.  Full notes from the press conference can be found here.

Vermont Health Care Coalition Releases Response to Tennessee Conviction of Nurse RaDonda Vaught

The recent conviction of a nurse who self-reported a medical error will have a chilling effect on the culture of safety in health care we have worked so hard to build in Vermont. We call nurses and providers health care heroes, but they are human. We support them as they go to work, sometimes under conditions of great personal risk to themselves, to care for Vermonters every single day. Criminalizing that care when something goes wrong is not the answer. 

Vermont has worked for decades to establish a strong health care culture of safety that is based on demonstrated science. It is critical that nurses and all health care providers are encouraged to report any and all errors that may harm patients in order that system failures can be understood and addressed and ultimately, prevented in the future. Criminalizing health care errors will contribute to a culture of silence that will ultimately harm more patients and cause more strain on providers.


Office of the Health Care Advocate 

University of Vermont Health Network 

Vermont American College of Nurse-Midwives 

Vermont Association of Adult Day Services

Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems 

Vermont Association of Nurse Anesthetists

Vermont Care Partners

Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (VFNHP)

Vermont Health Care Association

Vermont Medical Society 

Vermont Program for Quality in Health Care 

Vermont Society of Health-System Pharmacists

VNAs of Vermont 


Extension of the Public Health Emergency

Last Wednesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Becerra extended the Public Health Emergency determination for an additional 90 days, effective April 16th. This is the ninth such extension since the original declaration.

CMS Opens IDR Portal for Out-of-network Claims Under the No Surprises Act

Last Friday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced its opening of the Independent Dispute Resolution (IDR) portal which allows providers to initiate the IDR process under the No Surprises Act.  For those claims for which the open negotiations period expired prior to the portal opening, providers now have 15 business days, until May 6th, to initiate the IDR process.  For claims currently in the open negotiations period, the standard timelines will apply (i.e. the IDR process must be initiated within 4 business days of the open negotiations period ending).  The IDR portal can be accessed here.

Additional information and resources:

  • CMS resources on the No Surprises Act are available here.
  • CMS webinar held earlier this week to walk stakeholders through the IDR process.
  • CMS released guidance for disputing parties earlier this week.
  • CMS also released revised guidance to IDR entities detailing the IDR process and requiring the arbiters to consider a series of factors when making a payment determination without giving undue weight to the plan’s median in-network rate or Qualifying Payment Amount (QPA).
  • The AMA recently released a toolkit outlining the payment process. (It will be updated shortly with the newly released IDR information.)
  • Additional AMA resources, letters, and litigation updates on the No Surprises Act available here.
  • Sign up for an AMA webinar on the out-of-network payment process under the No Surprises Act here. The webinar will take place on April 21st at 11:30am CT.


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).

No Cost Well-Being Workshops

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 3 remaining 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. 

Clinician Information Sessions: New 2022 DNR/COLST Form

April 26, May 11, May 26, 2022, 12pm to 1:15pm


On June 1, 2022, the Vermont Department of Health will be launching a new and improved DNR/COLST form for use across the state. Join the Vermont Ethics Network's Executive Director & Clinical Ethicist, Cindy Bruzzese, MPA, MSB, HEC-C, to learn about the new Vermont DNR/COLST form and review best practices for completing medical orders.

Register here.

CMS’ 2022 Merit-based Incentive Payment System Overview Webinar

April 26, 1pm to 2:30pm


The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is hosting a Quality Payment Program (QPP) webinar on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. ET. This presentation will provide an overview of the requirements for the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) for the 2022 performance year.

During the webinar, CMS subject matter experts will provide information on ways to participate in MIPS in 2022, including:

  • MIPS eligibility requirements
  • Participation requirements for traditional MIPS
  • Requirements for participation in MIPS via the APM Performance Pathway (APP)

Additionally, CMS will answer questions from attendees at the end of the webinar, as time permits.

Register here.

3rd Annual Teaching Cannabis Awareness and Prevention 2022 

April 27 - 28, 2022, 8am to 12:45pm (PST)


The 3rd Annual Teaching Cannabis Awareness & Prevention Conference: A Focus on the Triangulum of Cannabis, Tobacco, and Vaping is a 2 day virtual conference will be held on April 27th, 2022 & April 28th, 2022 from 8am-12:30pm PST. Registration for this conference is $125. To view the conference schedule and speakers at a glance, please click here.

Registration information can be found here.

The UVM Medical Center Cardiovascular/Vascular Forum

May 2, 2022

In-Person and Virtual Option

Course Director Dr. Matt Alef invites Primary Care, internal medicine, and urgent care providers to attend virtually or in-person at the Delta-Marriott, South Burlington, VT to learn more about cardiovascular and vascular disease, including additional POCUS skills for evaluation. The objective is to improve accuracy of appropriate and timely cardiovascular disease treatment and efficiently use expert consultation in a value-based environment.

TOPICS include: SAVR vs TAVR, vascular nurse wounds, aortic dissections, POCUS hands-on workshop, echocardiography and more.

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

The Upstanders, An Indieflix Film About Cyberbullying

May 4, 2022, 6pm to 7:30pm

The Upstanders explores all sides of cyberbullying, from bully to victim, bystanders, and family members. Social media’s power means that bullying is now a 24/7 phenomenon, where even changing schools and phone numbers, or deleting accounts cannot stop the cycle. COVID has increased the incidence of cyberbullying by 70%. Changing human behavior and connection is the key, and this is what the film addresses.

Weaving together personal stories of teenagers and their families, as well as teachers and brain-scientists, The Upstanders shows the importance of empathy and resilience to transforming attitudes and action, and highlights new laws and established programs that are already reducing bullying in schools and communities. It shows that everyone is needed to eradicate cyberbullying, and gives bystanders the confidence and tools to become ‘Upstanders’, and help change the narrative. To view the trailer, please visit their website.

This film screening and panel discussion is hosted in partnership with Champlain Community Services. This event is part of The Marna and Stephen Wise Tulin Spring Community Education Series presented by the Howard Center. Read more about the series here.

Register here.

Northern New England Society of Addiction Medicine 2022 Scientific Session and Business Meeting

May 7, 2022, 8am to 4:15pm


Join NNESAM for presentations including Telehealth the New Normal, Opioid Risk in Recovery Residences, and more on May 7th for a maximum of 6 AMA PRA category 1 credits. The business meeting will be held from 8am to 9am followed by the scientific meeting from 9am to 4:15pm.

To register and view the complete brochure with the schedule of events, click here.

How Can We Make Vermont More Welcoming and Inclusive for Our Diverse Community?

May 18, 2022, 6pm to 7:30pm

Vermont is one of the least diverse states in the nation. With that as our starting point, how can Vermont attract more people with diverse backgrounds and help them find community so they decide to stay? Join a panel of professionals working to promote diversity and equity in area businesses and institutions to hear about lessons they’ve learned in the workplace, and how those lessons can be applied to make the Green Mountain State more welcoming and inclusive.

This event is part of The Marna and Stephen Wise Tulin Spring Community Education Series presented by the Howard Center. Read more about the series here.

Register here.

Caring for Adolescents and Young Adults with Disordered Eating: A Multidisciplinary Training

May 23, 2022, 9am to 4:00pm


Learn how to apply a multi-disciplinary approach to caring for adolescents and young adults with disordered eating, identify best practices for case conceptualization, assessment, and intervention to apply, and more with presenters from the UVMMC Eating Disorder Consultation Clinic, The Adams Center, UVM, and panelists from the field. View the full flyer with the learning objectives and agenda here.

Register here.

The 48th Annual Family Medicine Review Course

June 7-10, 2022

In-Person and Virtual

Course Director Dr. Anya Koutras invites you to this intensive four-day program for family physicians and other primary care professionals. The program will focus on current issues in the practice of Family Medicine, with special attention to new contributions. Attendees will have a choice between in-person at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Burlington, VT and virtual participation. This conference coincides with the Discover Jazz Festival and makes it a great time to bring the family for a visit to Burlington. TOPICS include: genomics testing, Parkinson’s disease, hypothyroidism, headache management, valvular heart disease, type-2 diabetes, HPV disease, bipolar disease, endometrial cancer, LARC, skin biopsies, end of life care, knee exam, substance use disorder, gender-affirming care, geriatric psychiatry, urgent care cases

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

Vermont Medical Society Annual and Collaborative Meeting

November 4th and 5th, 2022

The 209th VMS Annual Meeting will be held on November 4th and 5th in person at Topnotch Resort, Stowe, VT, with virtual options. The weekend will be filled with educational content, time to spend with colleagues, policy-setting meetings, and the opportunity to honor physicians and other health care leaders across the state. VMS’ Annual Meeting, hosted in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter, the Vermont Academy of Family Physicians and the Vermont Psychiatric Association, is a celebration of the unwavering commitment Vermont clinicians have to their practice and to the deep connection VMS members have with each other.

To view more information or submit nominees for 2022 leadership awards, please click here. Registration information will be shared in the future.

UVM will have more primary care conferences in Fall 2022. Sign-up to get updates via email for topics that are of interest here.


Vermont Medical Society

134 Main Street

Montpelier, VT 05602

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