September 15, 2020


VMS Recognizes National Physician Suicide Day This Thursday

September 17th, 2020 is National Physician Suicide Awareness Day and VMS wants to recognize this day by committing to work to reduce and prevent suicide, and to address mental and behavioral health conditions among healthcare professionals. Annually, an approximate 400 physicians take their own lives and each suicide is a devastating loss with reverberating impact to family, friends, and colleagues as well as around 1 million patients per year. A number of national and local health care organizations are providing leadership on this sensitive issue and challenging all of us to break down stigma, open the conversation, recognize warning signs and learn to approach our colleagues who may be at risk. 

Here are some resources to help recognize National Physician Suicide Day:

    #NPSAday: Strive for wellness, reach out for help if you need it and care for your colleagues.


    VMS 2020 Collaborative Meeting Agenda Focused on Lessons Learned from the Intersections of COVID-19 and Health Equity 

    Register today for the virtual 2020 VMS Annual Meeting taking place on Saturday, November 7th, 2020. This year's meeting, which is held in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter, Vermont Academy of Family Physicians and the Vermont Psychiatric Association, will run from 9 am - 5 pm and include CME sessions on this meeting's theme of Educational Sessions on COVID 19 - Lessons Learned, Next Steps. Health Equity is a primary focus, with a session on "Ethical and Human Rights in a Pandemic," with Scott Allen , M.D., FACP, professor emeritus of medicine at the University of California, Riverside and co-founder of the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights at Brown University; a session on "Impacts of Delayed Care on Health Care Outcomes," with V. Fan Tait, M.D., FAAP, currently the chief medical officer of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP); and "Practicing Equity in Reproductive Health," with Marie-Elizabeth Ramas, MD, FAAFP, currently the medical director at the Gatehouse Treatment Center, Nashua. Click for more information and to register for the virtual 2020 VMS Annual Meeting.


    AHS Presents Update on Health Care Stabilization Grants

    Agency of Human Services (AHS) Secretary, Mike Smith, provided an update on the Health Care Provider Stabilization Grant process to the Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB) this week and announced that approximately $100 million will be approved for distribution in the first round of funding. The Stabilization Grant program, which was approved by the legislature in June 2020, created a needs-based application process aimed at distributing $275 million in federal CARES Act funds to health care providers experiencing losses and expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. AHS is providing two application cycles and is still in mid-review process for the first round of funding, which is designed to cover expenses between March 2020 and June 2020. 351 health care facilities and clinician practices applied for the first round of funding and Secretary Smith said that as of today $4.4 million has been approved for small provider practices, while approximately $65 million has been approved for 8 of the hospitals that applied for the funding. Springfield and Copley hospitals were not eligible for the funding, but the Agency is working with Porter Hospital to analyze their application to better determine their eligibility. The second round of funding will cover expenses and losses from March 2020 – September 15, 2020 and they expect to open the next application process in mid-October.


    Agreement Reached on Changes to OneCare Vermont’s Primary Care Payments

    As reported last week, OneCare Vermont announced this summer that it was making modifications to its payments made to primary care practices for the 2021 contract year. Primary care practices currently receive a $3.25 per member per month “Population Health Management” payment, in addition to fee for service rates, care coordination payments and the chance to earn distributions from a Value Based Incentive Fund. Starting with contract year 2021, OneCare Vermont announced that primary care practices would only receive $1.75 PMPM in Population Health Management payments, with the opportunity to receive up to $4.75 PMPM if the ACO network reaches budget targets at the end of the year. After hearing from independent primary care practices opposed this reduction, hearings in the legislature, and discussion in front of the Green Mountain Care Board last week, OneCare Vermont and HealthFirst independent practice association reached agreement that independent primary care practices will have the option to receive the full $3.25 per member per month (PMPM) for attributed lives on a monthly basis through 2021, with the understanding that $1.50 PMPM is considered at risk.


    Deadline for VMS Physician Executive Leadership Institute This Friday!

    The VMS Education & Research Foundation application period for its experiential Executive Leadership Institute is closing this Friday, September 18th. This foundational course will enhance and fine-tune the most important leadership skills and concepts for a statewide cohort of Vermont physicians and PAs.  the 40-hour, year-long course begins in November. Click here for more information for the 40-hour, year-long course, which begins in November, 2020.

    Dr. Fauci Calls Vermont a National Model, But Urges Continued Vigilance 

    Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, joined Gov. Phil Scott and Commissioner Mark Levine, M.D., during today's press conference. Click here to view his remarks and answers to Vermont reporter's COVID-19 questions. 

    NEW! Commissioner Call Update

    VMS weekly calls with Vermont Department of Health Commissioner, Mark Levine, M.D. are held each Thursday from 12:30-1:00 p.m. on ZOOM - click below for the virtual meeting address that will remain constant each week. 

    NEW! Once a month, VMS has a guest speaker during this call time, as the Commissioner has a conflict. On September 17th, please join with the regular call login information at 12:00 p.m. for the VMS Thursday webinar, MOUD Modifications in a COVID-19 World.

    Join Zoom Meeting -

    Meeting ID: 867 2625 3105 / Password: 540684

    Dial In: 1 646 876 9923 / Meeting ID: 867 2625 3105 / Password: 540684


    Reminder: VMS Continues to Offer Members PPE Purchasing Options

    The VMS continues to advocate for PPE purchasing options through all channels and want to remind you to check our website for discount group purchasing options that are available to Vermont practices. This week we have added Reynolds & Sons to the list, as well as a list of procurement contracts the State of Vermont has in place for cleaning products, face shields, and hand sanitizer. Vermont practices can contact the same vendors and request state contract pricing.


    AAP VT and VDH Offer Grants for Flu Vaccination Expansion

    The American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter, in collaboration with the Department of Health’s Immunization Program, is providing funding to support expanded influenza vaccination by healthcare practitioners or organizations. In an effort to decrease the incidence of respiratory disease throughout the state of Vermont, healthcare practitioners are encouraged to offer expanded services to increase influenza coverage, including, but not limited to, longer hours or designated flu hours, off-site clinics, or additional staffing.

    Health Care Practices/Organizations may retrospectively receive $1000 per clinic held (up to $5000 total). Applications will be reviewed on receipt and funds will be distributed upon project completion and receipt of final project report. Applications must be received by October 23rd, 2020.  Flu Clinics will ideally be held before the end of the year, but must be completed by March 31, 2021. If would like to apply for the grant, please complete this application and email back to me at


    Medicare E/M Office Visit Changes Effective Jan 2021

    Medicare’s major modifications to coding, documentation, and payment of evaluation and management (E/M) services for office visits will move forward as planned on January 1, 2021.The American Medical Association (AMA) has developed an extensive online library of resources to assist with the transition, which includes the following titles:


    Submit Your Health Policy Questions to VT Digger Candidate Forums 

    VT Digger is holding two candidate debates for the lieutenant governor’s and governor’s races. The events will be broadcast live, in person and adhering to social distancing measures, and the public is invited to view the events via VTDigger’s livestream. 

    The lieutenant governor forum, featuring Republican candidate Scott Milne and Democratic candidate Molly Gray, will be held 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24. The gubernatorial forum with incumbent Republican Phil Scott and his Democratic/Progressive challenger David Zuckerman, will be held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29. 

    Anne Galloway of VTDigger, will moderate and candidates will respond to reader questions gathered in advance of the debate. Each candidate will be allowed to ask two questions of their rival. Responses are 2 minutes, with a 1 minute rebuttal. Please consider submitting your health care policy questions below!

    Submit your questions here for the lieutenant governor candidates.

    Submit your questions here for the gubernatorial candidates.


      VMS September Webinar This Thursday at Noon!

      Please join us Thursday, September 17th at 12 p.m. for the first webinar in the new VMS 2020-2021 Third Thursday Webinar Series, entitled, MOUD Modifications in a COVID-19 World, with Tony Folland, from the Vermont State Opioid Treatment Authority (SOTA). MOUD is almost universally identified as a lifesaving intervention however COVID-19 has required practitioners to reconsider how to initiate care, monitor treatment responses, and modify treatment plans while minimizing face to face contact. We will discuss the regulatory and clinical opportunities and challenges, and lessons learned to date.

      Please Note: This webinar will replace this week's VMS call with Commissioner Mark Levine. You do not need to register for this webinar - simply use the ZOOM call-in info for the Thursday Commissioner call to logon. 

      Join Zoom Meeting -

      Meeting ID: 867 2625 3105 / Password: 540684

      Dial In: 1 646 876 9923 / Meeting ID: 867 2625 3105 / Password: 540684

      RME Collaborative’s 2020 Rural Health Clinical Congress

      Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020

      9 a.m. EST

      An interactive, multi-topic, complimentary CME/CE conference held in conjunction with National Rural Health Day, designed for primary care providers who care for patients in rural and underserved areas. Click here to learn more and register 

      SCOPE of Pain CME

      The Vermont Board of Medical Practice is pleased to announce it will again partner with the Boston University School of Medicine to present an online version of the award-winning SCOPE of Pain CME course. “SCOPE” stands for Safer/Competent Opioid Prescribing Education and satisfies Vermont's requirement for all healthcare professionals who register with the DEA to prescribe controlled substances to earn at least two hours of CME on opioid prescribing. 

      Wednesday, September 23, 2020

      6:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. EST

      Register here


      Vermont Medical Society

      134 Main Street

      PO Box 1457

      Montpelier, VT 05601

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