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

Legislature returns to Montpelier today
The Vermont State Legislature convenes in Montpelier to begin the 2017-2018 Session today, Tuesday, January 4th.  The House and Senate both met today at 10 a.m.  Other highlights of the week include Governor Shumlin’s Farewell Address to a join assembly of the House and Senate at 2 pm. on Tuesday, and Governor Phil Scott’s Inaugural Message before a joint assembly on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.   The House and Senate are also expected to name Committee chairs and members this week. 
You can find the schedule for the Legislature here and bills as they become introduced here.  You can also find a full list of Committees here.   VMS staff will continue to use the Rounds and Legislative Bulletin to keep members up-to-date on healthcare related legislative activity throughout the session. 

VDH posts final Opioid and VPMS rules 
The Vermont Department of Health has posted the final Rule Governing the Prescribing of Opioids for Pain and Vermont Prescription Monitoring System Rule.  These rules will go into effect July 1, 2017.  VMS is working with the Department of Health and others to plan educational sessions for later this winter.   The rules can be found here:

A VMS summary of the rules can be found here

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: 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 FY2018 budget. More »

VTDIGGER: Year in review: Top health care stories of 2016
All-payer deal signed; New prescription drug laws; Vermont Health Connect; Hospital budget overages; Hospital CEO turnover; Medicaid spending explained. More » 

VTDIGGER: Opponents of mental health facility in Danby lawyer up
April Stein has long dreamed of opening a therapeutic residential community for young adults struggling with mental health issues. A graduate of Bennington College and the California School of Professional Psychology, Stein was one of the founders of a pioneering inpatient treatment program for 18- to 30-year-olds at the Menninger clinic in Houston. About 10 years ago Stein moved back to Vermont to take a position as director of psychological services at Bennington College.  but she had another motivation for returning to Vermont: She thought it would be the perfect backdrop for a residential community based on the model she helped develop in Houston — only this time in a rural setting. More »


NY TIMES: Hospitals in Safety Net Brace for Health Care Law’s Repeal
Jason Colston Sr. went to the emergency room at Temple University Hospital last month with his calf swollen to twice its normal size. A bacterial infection had entered his bloodstream, requiring him to spend nine days at Temple, where patients are overwhelmingly poor.  Mr. Colston, 36, had no insurance through his job at a 7-Eleven, but it turned out he was eligible for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Temple helped him enroll as soon as he was admitted, and Medicaid paid for his stay and continuing treatment.  Before the health law, the hospital had to absorb the cost of caring for many uninsured patients like Mr. Colston. Now, with President-elect Donald J. Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress vowing to dismantle the law, Temple and other hospitals serving the poor are bracing for harsh financial consequences that could have a serious effect on the care they provide. More »

WASHINGTON POST: Medical marijuana for kids: Often, no clear path, legally and practically
Across the country, thousands of children use medical marijuana for a range of ailments including intractable epilepsy, pain, anxiety and symptoms of multiple sclerosis. As the number of pediatric medical users grows, so do issues that confront parents, patients, doctors and policymakers. There are no federal laws specifically covering children’s use of medical marijuana, and state laws on the subject are a complex and sometimes contradictory patchwork. More »

NY TIMES: Job No. 1 for a New Congress? Undoing Obama’s Health Law
Congress often waits for a new president to take office before it gets down to business. This year, Republicans will drop that custom in their dash to scrap the Affordable Care Act.  Within hours of the new Congress convening on Tuesday, the House plans to adopt a package of rules to clear the way for repealing the health care law and replacing it with as-yet-unspecified measures meant to help people obtain insurance coverage.  Then, in the week of Jan. 9, according to a likely timetable sketched out by Representative Greg Walden, Republican of Oregon, the House will vote on a budget blueprint, which is expected to call for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. More »

WASHINGTON POST: Why don’t we treat our teeth as if they are part of our overall health?
My patient sat quietly in our urgent-care dental clinic. He had just been diagnosed with tongue cancer and would soon undergo radiation therapy. Before treatment, he needed all invasive dental treatments completed because radiation can take an enormous toll on the oral cavity, weakening the teeth and jawbone. My patient (I am not identifying him to protect his privacy) was unemployed, in his early 50s, with little income and a tough life. He worked odd jobs now and then. He was a smoker — three packs a day for more than 30 years — and a drinker, consuming a few cans of beer a day. His broken-down teeth seemed to bear testimony to years of neglect. He had medical insurance but no dental coverage. More »

WASHINGTON POST: A powerful new form of medical marijuana, without the high
Jackson Leyden had always been a healthy kid; he practiced taekwondo, and he played lacrosse and baseball. But in 2011, a few months after his eighth birthday, he began having seizures several times a day. Many were brief, a half-minute of staring into space, but he also had severe episodes in which he would collapse, sometimes injuring himself. Over the next two years, he was hospitalized about 50 times, and he missed much of fourth and fifth grade.  His parents took him to more than 20 doctors around the country, and he tried more than a dozen medications. Nothing worked. Two years ago, the Leydens were at the end of their rope. They decided to see whether marijuana might help. (Medical use of the drug is legal in the District, where they live, and the Leydens found a doctor willing to work with them.) In 2014, Jackson got his first dose of cannabis. 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. 

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 »

Physician Compare undergoes update and redesign
As part of its work to make health care quality information more transparent and understandable for consumers, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced that it is adding new quality data and other information to the Physician Compare website. More » 

Sign up for the new CMS Quality Payment Program listserv
The listserv will provide news and updates on new resources and website updates, upcoming milestones and deadlines, and CMS trainings and webinars. 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.

New England QIN-QIO launches new MACRA website
Do you need help navigating CMS’ quality payment program? Click here for help. Tools and info include a readiness assessment, the MIPS calculator, help desk, webinars and more. 

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

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