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

Paul Harrington announces retirement from VMS
Vermont Medical Society Executive Vice President Paul Harrington has announced his retirement from the state’s largest statewide physician organization, effective at the end of this year. 

“It has been an extraordinary honor and privilege to have served the Society and its dedicated members for 15 years,” said Harrington.  “I will always be grateful for the counsel and support Vermont’s doctors have provided in helping me and my colleagues carry out our work on behalf of the state’s physicians and the people they care for.” 

Harrington has led VMS since 2002, guiding the organization’s public policy efforts during the administrations of four governors and three presidents.  Advocating on behalf of physicians and their patients, Harrington used his vast knowledge of the health care system to influence a number of major health care reform efforts, including the creation of Catamount Health Plan, Blueprint for Health, Vermont Health Connect, and Green Mountain Care Board, as well as Vermont’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  

The Society has retained the services of Gallagher, Flynn & Company, LLP of South Burlington to conduct a nationwide search for Harrington’s replacement. More » 

Testimony Sought on Universal Primary Care 
The Senate Health & Welfare Committee is seeking physician testimony tomorrow (Wednesday, April 5) regarding a proposal to create a system of universal primary care for all Vermonters.  Specifically, the Committee is interested in hearing how the proposal could change the bottom line for primary care practices, how it could affect the amount of paperwork for practices and whether either of the above would serve as a recruiting incentive for primary care.  More » 

VMS submits comments on Board of Medical Practice Rules
As detailed in prior editions of the Rounds, the Board of Medical Practice has released draft rules (summarized by VMS here) that update all of the rules for licensing physicians, physician assistants, podiatrists, anesthesiologist assistants and radiologist assistants, and address the discipline procedures for those professions.  Yesterday, VMS staff provided comment at the public hearing regarding the rules and submitted formal written comments to the Board and Department of Health.   VMS’s comments contain both technical suggestions as well as several areas of more substantive feedback to the Board.  More »

Member feedback sought: Board of Medical Practice move to Office of Professional Regulation
The Senate Government Operations Committee is in the process of reviewing the role of the Office of Professional Regulation (OPR) and considering whether all professionals licensed in Vermont should be moved under the umbrella of OPR.  OPR has consistently testified to the Committee that it would lead to efficiencies and less duplication of services if all licensing was done under their auspices.  VMS plans to state that the Board’s ability to protect the public through its licensing and disciplinary functions can best be assured by maintaining oversight authority by the Vermont Department of Health, for a number of reasons

As the conversation between the Board, OPR and the Senate Government Operations Committee continues, VMS staff is interested in any additional feedback from members regarding moving the Board to the Office of Professional Regulation.   Please contact Jessa Barnard at

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.


VT DIGGER: Not dead shouldn’t be the end goal

The closure was supposed to be temporary. Within weeks, however, Vermont’s oldest residential drug rehab program had imploded, taking down an affiliated outpatient program and leaving recovering addicts in the lurch and state officials scrambling to pick up the pieces.  Maple Leaf Treatment Center in Underhill was a crucial component of Vermont’s drug treatment system. Its 41 inpatient beds — in close proximity to Burlington — accounted for 30 percent of the beds statewide.  Maple Leaf’s closure earlier this year coincided with reports that opiate overdose deaths in Vermont spiked by 38 percent in 2016, from a total of 75 to 104, according to Health Department figures.  More »  

VT DIGGER: Scott: Vermont Health Connect exit plan likely by year’s end
Gov. Phil Scott said Wednesday his administration is working on a plan to move away from Vermont Health Connect, the state’s online health insurance marketplace.  Scott would not give any details, but he said he hopes to propose an alternative before the 2018 legislative session.  Vermont Health Connect serves about 200,000 people. The overwhelming majority use the system to sign up for Medicaid subsidies or direct benefits. About 30,000 people who don’t have employer insurance use the exchange to buy commercial health coverage.  Scott said he thinks there are ways to make it easier for Medicaid customers to sign up.  More »  

VT DIGGER: Medical community split on easing of drug company gift ban
Some Vermont doctors are pushing back against a bill in the House that would scale back the state’s landmark law banning pharmaceutical companies from giving certain gifts to health care providers.  The bill, S.45, would allow doctors and other providers to eat food paid for by pharmaceutical companies, as long as the food is offered to many people in the context of a large conference and is not advertising a specific drug or device.  Currently, health care providers are prohibited from eating such food — or accepting virtually any gift from pharmaceutical companies other than drug samples or academic literature — because of a gift ban the Legislature passed in 2009 that was widely considered the toughest in the nation.  More »  

CONCORD MONITOR: New Hampshire Medicaid match among nation’s lowest
Now that the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act is off the table, New Hampshire and other states will get to keep their expanded Medicaid programs – at least for now.  Even though that outcome is being welcomed by health care providers, the fact remains that New Hampshire’s current Medicaid reimbursement rates are some of the worst in the nation.  More »  


WASHINGTON POST: Are right-to-try laws a last hope for dying patients — or a false hope?  
Back home, when Pence was Indiana’s governor, Jordan McLinn and his battle with Duchenne muscular dystrophy had helped inspire passage of a state “right-to-try” law intended to give the desperately ill access to medications not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Thirty-three states have passed such laws, which ostensibly allow patients to take experimental medicines outside of clinical ¬trials and without FDA oversight as long as the therapies have undergone preliminary safety testing. Many of the remaining states are considering such bills or are expected to do so.  And now, for the first time, federal legislation is gaining traction.  More » 

KAISER HEALTH NEWS: ‘Pre-Hospice’ Saves Money By Keeping People At Home Near The End Of Life
Most aging people would choose to stay home in their last years of life. But for many, it doesn’t work out: They go in and out of hospitals, getting treated for flare-ups of various chronic illnesses. It’s a massive problem that costs the health care system billions of dollars and has galvanized health providers, hospital administrators and policymakers to search for solutions.  Sharp HealthCare, the San Diego health system where Chinchar receives care, has devised a way to fulfill his wishes and reduce costs at the same time. It’s a pre-hospice program called Transitions, designed to give elderly patients the care they want at home and keep them out of the hospital.  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

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. 

Female physicians sought for gender bias study
Female physicians are invited to participate in a research study titled Creation and Validation of the Unconscious Gender Bias Index, conducted by Drs. Amy Diehl of Shippensburg University, Leanne Dzubinski of Biola University, and Amber Stephenson of Clarkson University.  This study will extend the research of Diehl and Dzubinski to identify and understand barriers to women’s advancement in the workplace.  To participate, click here. Please complete the survey prior to April 28th and contact Dr. Stephenson at with any questions.   

Save the date: Vermont Ethics Network Spring Palliative Care Conference
The Vermont Ethics Network, in partnership with the Palliative Care and Pain Management Task Force, is pleased to present: Perspectives at End-of-Life:  Suffering, Consciousness & the Power of A Patient’s Narrative on May 22, 2017 ,at the Lake Morey Resort and Conference Center in Fairlee, VT.  The conference will explore the importance of learning the patient’s story and integrating different faith beliefs and traditions into the care needs of seriously ill and dying patients.  For more information, visit or view the save the date flier

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

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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