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

Opioid prescribing and VPMS rules finalized, will go into effect July 1 
On Thursday, Dec. 1, the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (LCAR) approved the Department of Health’s Opioid and Vermont Prescription Monitoring System proposed rules.  The Department will need to integrate final changes discussed before the Committee before a clean version of the final rule is available and adopted. 

The Vermont Medical Society was involved in negotiating final changes to the rule up until the LCAR meeting and testified before LCAR that the organization appreciates the Department’s work to modify the rule to address implementation concerns voiced by Vermont physicians.   Of major note, the Department has agreed that the rules will not go into effect until July 1, 2017, allowing six months for implementation.  Other recent changes agreed to by the Department are to allow written discharge summaries to meet the requirement for transferring care after prescribing opioids for acute pain and exempting the need to query VPMS if ten or fewer pills, or the equivalent, are prescribed. More »

Deadline for informal review of potential PQRS penalties extended to Dec. 7
Physicians who want to contest potential payment penalties associated with the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) and/or the Value Modifier (VM) now have until December 7 to file a request for an informal review of their data.  Previously, the deadline to request a review was November 30 but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced yesterday that the deadline will be extended to Dec. 7. More »

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: Shumlin touts health exchange as best argument for Obamacare

Gov. Peter Shumlin said Tuesday that Vermont Health Connect is working as well as it possibly can and the majority of users are not experiencing problems.  The governor used the status update on Vermont Health Connect to defend the federal Affordable Care Act that created it. He said it would be “a disaster” for Vermont if President-elect Donald Trump dismantled the law, as he promised during the campaign. More » 

VPR: For Some Vermonters Suffering From Hepatitis C, Life-Saving Cure Is Out Of Reach
Health advocates are challenging a Vermont Medicaid policy that has restricted curative treatment for hepatitis C only to patients with advanced liver problems. And while state officials say they’re open to changing the policy, they say offering treatment to all low-income Vermonters could cost taxpayers as much as $25 million over two years. More »  


Washington Post: Getting rid of Obamacare may take longer than Trump plans
President-elect Donald Trump and congressional Republicans promised during the campaign to quickly repeal and replace President Obama’s signature health-care law if they controlled Washington.  Now GOP lawmakers are predicting it could take years to fulfill that pledge.  Republican leaders in the House and Senate on Tuesday began emphasizing that even if Congress moves quickly on a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it will take time to ease people out of its programs and replace it with their long-promised alternative. More »

Modern Healthcare: CMS' star ratings for hospitals linked to social, economic factors
The CMS' hospital quality star ratings have been strongly criticized by industry stakeholders and Congress as unfairly tarnishing the reputations of hospitals in low-income communities.   A new study reinforces the concerns, concluding that a hospital's rating is heavily influenced by its location's socio-economic conditions. More »  

NY Times: FDA agrees to new trials for ecstasy as relief for PTSD patients
After three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, C. J. Hardin wound up hiding from the world in a backwoods cabin in North Carolina. Divorced, alcoholic and at times suicidal, he had tried almost all the accepted treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder: psychotherapy, group therapy and nearly a dozen different medications.  Then, in 2013, he joined a small drug trial testing whether PTSD could be treated with MDMA, the illegal party drug better known as Ecstasy.  “It changed my life,” he said in a recent interview in the bright, airy living room of the suburban ranch house here, where he now lives while going to college and working as an airplane mechanic. More »

Washington Post: Daily mile’ craze in Britain hopes to tackle national obesity crisis
Torriano primary school in north London doesn’t have lush green grounds or an outdoor running track or a leafy campus quad.  But on most days, its students do something that is being replicated in schools across the country: They put down their pencils, step into the great outdoors and run a mile.  Every day, tens of thousands of school children across Britain — in addition to regular physical-education classes — run, jog or walk a mile under a voluntary scheme dubbed the “daily mile.”  This running craze adopted by schools up and down the country comes amid an obesity crisis in Britain. More »  

NY Times: Hallucinogen Eases Depression in Cancer Patients, Studies Find
On a summer morning in 2013, Octavian Mihai entered a softly lit room furnished with a small statue of Buddha, a box of tissues and a single red rose. From an earthenware chalice, he swallowed a capsule of psilocybin, an ingredient found in hallucinogenic mushrooms.  Psilocybin has been illegal in the United States for more than 40 years. But Mr. Mihai, who had just finished treatment for Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, was participating in a study looking at whether the drug can reduce anxiety and depression in cancer patients. More »  

Wednesday Webinar
Dec. 7
12 noon to 1 p.m.
Employment contracts, and info for residents and fellows (Contract review, negotiation, student loan debt, 403(b) matching plans and more)
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 »

Wednesday Webinar
Feb. 15th
12 noon to 1 p.m.
What’s new in fraud and abuse & recoupment
More »

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

MMS CME courses available 
VMS members are eligible to register for Massachusetts Medical Society CME courses.  If you have any questions about the registration or the login process, please contact the MMS Continuing Education Department at (800) 322-2303, ext 7306, or via email at

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 © 2016 Vermont Medical Society, All rights reserved.

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