Vermont Medical Society - Rounds Newsletter
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Everything Vermont's physicians need to know this week

VMS urges members to ask the House Health Care Committee to take up gift ban bill (S.45)
The House Health Care Committee heard introductions to S. 45, as passed the Senate, last week.  The Committee is in the process of considering which bills to take up in the remaining weeks of the session and will want to know there is interest and support for bills they consider.   
S. 45 takes one small and reasonable step to decrease barriers clinicians face while attending CME conferences.  It will allow:  Drug and device manufactures to provide food to Vermont clinicians attending a medical conference, as long as any content accompanying the food is accredited for CME or is otherwise objective, free from industry control and does not promote specific products.  It does not allow: Clinicians to accept food during sessions that promote one type of drug or product, nor does it roll back any other provisions of Vermont’s Gift Ban law. 
Please contact members of the House Health Care Committee to ask them to take up and support S. 45.  Fid the committee list here. Please find the committee roster here.  

Marijuana legalization stalls in House
After gaining momentum prior to today's floor debate in the House, H.170 was sent to the House Committee on Human Services for further study due to a lack of votes.  Click here to track the progress of the bill.  

Tobacco 21 suffers setback in Senate
While initially projected to have enough support in the Senate, legislation raising the minimum legal age of access to tobacco to 21 has stalled in the Senate.  The legislation (S.88) has been order to “lie,” due in part to concerns that eliminating 18- to 20-years olds as tobacco consumers would hurt tax revenues. Please contact your senators and ask them to revive this important bill. 

In The News is a concise digest of health care news in Vermont and the nation.  VMS is not responsible for the content of the articles.


VTDIGGER: Senate endorses open meetings for OneCare

The Vermont Senate has endorsed S.4, the bill that would require the board of directors for the state’s largest health care organization to hold open meetings.  The bill largely affects OneCare Vermont, which is owned by the University of Vermont Medical Center and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. OneCare is in the process of merging with a similar, smaller accountable care organization.  OneCare’s board of directors will be required to hold open meetings whenever they are making a binding decision.  More » 

VPR: Bernie Sanders to introduce single-payer health care bill in U.S. Senate
Less than 24 hours after the disintegration of a Republican effort to repeal and replace the federal Affordable Care Act, Sen. Bernie Sanders told constituents at a town hall meeting in Hardwick Saturday that he’ll introduce a single-payer health care bill in Congress “within a couple of weeks.”  The announcement drew thunderous applause from the approximately 1,000 people in the Hazen Union High School gymnasium, where Sanders shared a stage with Sen. Patrick Leahy and Rep. Peter Welch.  Sanders told the audience that the defeat of the Republican health care bill demonstrates widespread dissatisfaction among Americans with GOP health care policies. And he says he thinks his “Medicare for all” bill will have strong appeal even among the red-state voters that put President Donald Trump in the White House.  More »


NY TIMES: Some lawmakers now look to bipartisanship on health care
The sudden death of legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act has created an opening for voices from both parties to press for fixes to the acknowledged problems in President Barack Obama’s signature health law, as lawmakers and some senior White House officials appealed for bipartisanship.  In the wake of the Republican failure to make good on the seven-year-old promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Trump and congressional leaders find themselves at a political crossroads.  They could sabotage the Affordable Care Act’s insurance markets, betting that Democrats would be blamed for collapsing coverage choices and spikes in insurance premiums and would then come to the negotiating table ready to toss the law and start fresh. Or they could work with Democratic lawmakers and moderate Republicans, who for years have discussed improvements to the Affordable Care Act, which, unlike many social welfare programs, has not been significantly updated or revised.  More »  

NY TIMES: Cholesterol-slashing drug can protect high-risk heart patients, study finds
The first rigorous test of an expensive new drug that radically lowers cholesterol levels found that it significantly reduced the chance that a high-risk patient would have a heart attack or stroke. These were men and women who had exhausted all other options.  The results of the study, which cost about $1 billion and was paid for by Amgen, the maker of the drug, were published on Friday in The New England Journal of Medicine and presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology.  More »  

NY TIMES: Popular prostate cancer therapy is short, intense and unproven
The rise of short-course radiation is an example of the evidentiary blind spots that bedevil the treatment of prostate cancer. It is second only to lung cancer in men, striking 180,000 patients a year. But treatments for lung cancer, and for other common cancers like those of the breast and colon, have been evaluated in randomized clinical trials more often than those for prostate cancer.  More »  

MODERN HEALTHCARE: CMS delays expansion of bundled payment programs
The CMS has delayed the expansion of a major bundled payment pilot, Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement, and the implementation of its bundled payment initiatives for cardiac care from July 1 to Oct. 1, 2017, according to an interim final rule posted to the Federal Register. It also delayed, for a second time, the effective date of a final rule laying out the implementation of CJR and other bundled payment programs, from March 21 to May 20, 2017.  The agency also delayed its Cardiac Rehabilitation Incentive Payment Model and is also weighing whether to push back implementation of all bundled payment initiatives even further, until 2018.  More » 

WASHINGTON POST: In new report, doctors urge more exercise for pregnant women
Old health advice often dies hard. This is particularly true — perhaps dangerously so — of historic advice for pregnant women, according to a new Viewpoint published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  Most adults remember the traditional guidelines for expectant mothers. Get as much rest as possible during your pregnancy, even prolonged bed rest if complications arise. At the same time, “eat for two” — you and your developing child. According to the new report, however, “these misguided recommendations” have “evolved into a major contributor to the worldwide obesity epidemic.”  More »  

KAISER HEALTH NEWS: Trump’s promise to rein in drug prices could open floodgate to importation laws
With prescription drug prices soaring and President Donald Trump vowing to take action, an old idea is gaining fresh traction: allowing Americans to buy medicines from foreign pharmacies at far lower prices. A new bill in Congress to allow the practice would modify previous safety standards and remove a barrier that proved insurmountable in past attempts to enable progress.  More »  

2017 Council Meetings
- Saturday, April 8, 9-11 a.m., Best Western, Waterbury
- Wednesday, Sept. 13, 7-8:30 p.m., GoToMeeting or conference call
- Sunday, Nov. 5, 9-11:30 a.m., Woodstock Inn, Woodstock, VT

Stepping forward together: Advancing equity and cultural competency to improve population health
March 27-28
Burlington Sheraton
More info here.  

Pastore Financial Group Complementary Financial Planning Webinars
Mid-career physicians
April 8, 12 noon to 1 p.m. and 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.
More info here

VMS Free Webinar Series: 
Responding to Medical Practice Board Complaints
April 19, 12 noon to 1 p.m. 
More info here

Lyme disease and Zika in Vermont update
April 29, 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Equinox Village, Manchester Center
CME’s & CEU’s available
More info at or or (802) 885-2126, ext. 205 

2017 Annual Meeting
November 3-4, 2017
Woodstock Inn
Woodstock, Vt. 

Gov. Scott invites members to summit on substance use disorders in the workforce
Gov. Phil Scott and Vermont State Colleges System Chancellor Jeb Spaulding have invited VMS members to participate in the Governor’s Summit on Vermont’s Substance Use Disorder Workforce.  
The Summit will take place on Monday, April 17, 2017, at Vermont Technical College in Randolph.  The purpose of the event is to bring treatment professionals together with higher education leaders and state regulators to tackle this growing workforce challenge in Vermont:  how can we better attract, educate, retain and support top quality substance use disorder treatment professionals.

For more information, including registration, here.

Join the AMA for a MACRA/QPP webinar
The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), represents the most significant change in Medicare physician payment policy in over 25 years. Last fall, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released final policies on implementation of MACRA’s Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and alternative payment models (APMs). Collectively, these programs are part of what CMS now calls the Quality Payment Program (QPP).

Physicians have the opportunity to pick their pace of participation during the 2017 QPP transition year. During the 2017 transition year, physicians only need to report 1 quality measure for 1 patient, 1 Improvement Activity or all of the required Advancing Care Information (ACI) measures to avoid a negative payment adjustment in 2019. While the performance year is 2017, physicians will not receive their payment adjustment until 2 years later.

Taking steps now to prepare for 2017 and beyond can ease the transition for your practice and position you to earn financial rewards for the high-value care you provide.  This webinar will help physicians and medical society staff understand both MIPS and APMs.  Please join the AMA to learn what needs to be done to prepare and succeed.

The 90-minute webinar will take place April 20th at 7 p.m. EDT.  Register here

2017 LUNG FORCE Expo May 9th
The American Lung Association’s second annual LUNG FORCE Expo will be held May 9 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in South Burlington.  The Expo is designed for patients, caregivers and healthcare providers to learn more about the latest trends, resources and research surrounding lung cancer, COPD and asthma.

Grow your lung health knowledge with presentations on:

  • New Methods to Motivate and Help Hard-Core Smokers Quit
  • IPF and Palliative Care
  • Insights into the Asthma - COPD Overlap Syndrome
  • Lung Cancer Screening: 2017 Update
  • Patient-and-Family Centered-Care

Register here, or for more information contact Alex Crimmin at or by phone at (802) 876-6861.

CME: Breaking Through Physician Stress & Burnout to be offered April 20-22 in Maine 
Maine Medical Educational Trust and DocExecutive are offering a 3-day residential CME (47 Category 1 credits) in New Gloucester, Maine, called “Breaking Through Physician Stress & Burnout.”  The workshop is designed to provide a relaxing, stress-free environment through which the latest research for improving mental health and replacing emotionally imbalanced behaviors with healthy alternatives will be translated into personal action planning. More info at  

Challenges to Professionalism in a Time of Change
Presented by the Maine Medical Association
June 17th, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
Sheraton Hotel, Portsmouth, NH
Info here

© Vermont Medical Society 2016
(802) 223-7898
Copyright © 2017 Vermont Medical Society, All rights reserved.

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