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

Business begins at Statehouse
After a week focused largely on ceremony and organization, the business of the Vermont legislature gets underway this week.  
Last week House and Senate committee chairs and members were named and this week committees will begin to meet regularly, largely receiving updates from agencies and staff on their areas of jurisdiction.  The House Appropriations Committee will being considering the FY2017 Governor’s Proposed Budget Adjustment, including the Agency of Human Services, the Green Mountain Care Board and the Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA).  

You can find committee meetings and agendas here, while bills ready for introduction continue to be published here.  VMS has already been actively supporting several pieces of legislation, including S.3, An Act Relating to Mental Health Professionals’ Duty to Warn, and S.14, An Act Relating to Expanding the Vermont Practitioner Recovery Network.  For more information, contact Jessa Barnard

Leadership training survey: Member input sought
VMS is assessing what physician leadership trainings and activities would be of interest and benefit to our members in 2017.  We are asking all members to please take a moment to fill out this brief survey regarding physician leadership CME topics, locations and timing.  One of the survey respondents will be randomly chosen to receive a 50-percent discount off of their registration for a 2017 program (please provide email address in order to win). 
Please note, only fill out this survey if you did NOT participate in a Vermont Physician Leaders Initiative training program through the VMS Education & Research Foundation in 2016.  If you HAVE participated in a training, we have already circulated a more specific survey via email for you to complete.  

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.


VERMONTBIZ: Scott names Mark Levine Health Commissioner

Wednesday, Governor-elect Phil Scott announced more extended cabinet appointments. Mark A Levine, MD, has been named Commissioner of Health. Before joining the Governors-elect’s Administration, Levine was a Professor of Health Medicine at the University of Vermont, the Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education and Designated Institutional Official at the College of Medicine and the UVM Medical Center. Levine also served as the Vice Chair for Education in the Department of Medicine. Levine obtained his BA in Biology from the University of Connecticut and received his MD from the University of Rochester. At the nexus of Levine’s clinical, education, public health and advocacy efforts, is his heightened interest in improving health at the population level.  More »

VTDIGGER: 2017 Legislative preview: Medicaid, mental health and Vermont Health Connect 
When lawmakers begin the legislative session Wednesday, they will be dealing with many of the perennial issues that stem from the ever-rising cost of health care.  The Joint Fiscal Office projects that lower-than-expected Medicaid funding from the federal government will be a factor in an estimated $55 million to $75 million gap in the upcoming fiscal year 2018 budget.  Specifically, the Legislature will need to begin planning for long-term changes in its mental health care system because in 2021 it will start losing Medicaid as a funding source for the Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital in Berlin, the Brattleboro Retreat and several substance abuse treatment centers.  More » 

VERMONTBIZ: Brattleboro Memorial Hospital plans $22 million Modernization Project 
Brattleboro Memorial Hospital (BMH) has submitted to the Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB) a Certificate of Need (CON) application for a Modernization Project. The project includes the construction of a four story building to house replacement for the three existing operating rooms and support areas, two floors for medical offices, and expansion of cardiopulmonary rehabilitation services. The project also includes upgrading the hospital’s power plant.  More » 

VALLEY NEWS: D-H Hospital Hit With 1% Medicare Penalty
Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital will be penalized by having its Medicare reimbursements cut by 1 percent during the current fiscal year under a program that aims to reduce injuries and illnesses acquired in hospitals.  Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s flagship hospital ranked in the lowest quartile, or 25 percent, of U.S. hospitals in Medicare’s computation of the rate at which patients suffered certain infections as well as blood clots, bed sores and falls, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  The Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program is one of several Medicare programs aimed at improving quality and reducing costs. In fact, Mary Hitchcock scored well over a five-year period under another of those programs that looked at a different aspect of quality of care.  The penalty related to infections and injuries could result in about a $1.4 million reduction in D-H’s annual revenue, according to health system spokesman Rick Adams. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, Mary Hitchcock and its clinic system posted total revenue of about $1.5 billion, according to its audited financial statement.  More »


NY TIMES: After Obama, Some Health Reforms May Prove Lasting
The Affordable Care Act is in extreme peril, and Mr. Obama will meet with congressional Democrats at the Capitol on Wednesday to try to devise a strategy that can stave off the quick-strike repeal of the health law that Republicans plan for the opening months of the Trump administration.  But the transformation of American health care that has occurred over the last eight years — touching every aspect of the system, down to a knee replacement in the nation’s heartland — has a momentum that could prove impossible to stop.  Expanding insurance coverage to more than 20 million Americans is among Mr. Obama’s proudest accomplishments, but the changes he has pushed go deeper. They have had an impact on every level of care — from what happens during checkups and surgery to how doctors and hospitals are paid, how their results are measured and how they work together.  More »

WASHINGTON POST: More evidence that we need to stop sitting so much — especially men
In a study published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers looked at the amount of time 4,486 men and 1,845 women spent sitting during work, school and at home. They examined obesity among participants, ages 20 to 79, by measuring the size of their waistlines and percentage of body fat. No matter the metric, the more men sat, the likelier they were to be obese.  More » 

KEISER HEALTH NEWS: Leading Republicans See A Costly Malpractice Crisis — Experts Don’t
As top Republicans see it, a medical malpractice crisis is threatening U.S. health care: Frivolous lawsuits are driving up malpractice insurance premiums and forcing physicians out of business. Doctors and hospitals live in fear of litigation, ordering excessive tests and treatments that make health care unaffordable for Americans.  That’s why Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Tom Price, tapped to be the nation’s top health official by President-elect Donald Trump, are vowing to make tort reform a key part of their replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act.  But, according to researchers and industry experts, the reality doesn’t match the GOP rhetoric. They say the nation’s medical malpractice insurance industry is running smoothly and the last crisis dates back more than a decade.  More »

THE HILL: Doctors group warns against loss of coverage from ObamaCare repeal
The country’s leading doctors group is urging Republicans to take steps to ensure that people do not lose their health insurance once ObamaCare is repealed.  The American Medical Association (AMA), wrote a letter to congressional leaders on Tuesday calling for the gains in coverage from ObamaCare, which has expanded insurance to 20 million people, to be preserved.   “In considering opportunities to make coverage more affordable and accessible to all Americans, it is essential that gains in the number of Americans with health insurance coverage be maintained,” AMA CEO Dr. James Madara wrote leaders in both parties.  More »  

Wednesday Webinar
Jan. 18th
12 noon to 1 p.m.
Update on the Quality Payment Program: What you need to know to be successful
More »

Running on Empty?
Jan. 25
12 noon to 1 p.m.
MMS course: Physicians' path to enjoying life and medicine
More »

2017 Council Meetings

- Wednesday, Feb. 15, 7-8:30 p.m., GoToMeeting or conference Call
- 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

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

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  

Vermont Medicaid Launches Women’s Health Initiative  
The Blueprint for Health, a program of the Agency of Human Services (AHS), has announced that they are launching the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI).  The WHI will work to ensure women’s health providers have the resources they need to help women be well, avoid unintended pregnancies, and build thriving families. More »

Vermont Practitioner Health Program is available to help
Are you or one of your colleague’s struggling with substance abuse issues? The VMS-administered Vermont Practitioner Health Program (VPHP) can help.  Click here for more information, or if you’d like to have VPHP present at a local staff meeting.


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

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