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

Senate Judiciary Committee votes to make changes to the Medical Marijuana program
Friday the Senate Judiciary unanimously approved S.16 and sent the legislation to the full Senate for its consideration. The bill makes numerous changes to the state’s medical marijuana program, including the addition of post-traumatic stress disorder, Crohn’s disease and Parkinson’s disease to the list of debilitating medical conditions of diseases or medical conditions. As introduced, the legislation required that all physicians (MDs and DOs) take one hour of continuing medical education every two years specifically devoted to the Medical Marijuana Registry. Following VMS’ testimony in opposition to the new CME requirement, the provision was deleted from S.16. The bill also eliminates the requirement that the patient’s application for registration to the Department Public Safety be notarized and it increases the number of potential dispensaries from four to eight. For the text of S.16, click here

Senate committee approves expansion of Vermont Practitioner Health Program 
Last week, the Senate Health & Welfare Committee voted unanimously to support S. 45, a bill that will allow the Vermont Practitioner Health Program (VPHP) to expand from only serving participants with “chemical dependency” to serving participants with any impaired ability to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety due to mental conditions, physical illness or conditions or substance use disorder.  VMS requested the bill, and it was also supported by the Vermont Board of Medical Practice, Vermont Podiatric Medical Association and Physician Assistant Academy of Vermont.  The bill heads to the Senate Floor this week.  The full text 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: Maple Leaf closure leaves doctors, state scrambling to help patients

The decision to cease operating drug treatment programs at one of the state’s key centers has left doctors and state officials scrambling to help patients left in the lurch.  Close to 160 opioid-dependent patients receiving buprenorphine and counseling through Maple Leaf Associates outpatient services, known as the Bridge program, will now need to make other arrangements to continue their medication and therapy.  More »

SEVEN DAYS: Bill seeks information on why Vermonters take their lives
Ten members of the Vermont House have introduced a bill intended to get to the root of why people take their own lives.  H.184 would require the Department of Mental Health to issue a report to the Legislature every year describing why suicides happen and recommending ways to prevent them.
SEVEN DAYS: Vermont Health Department: 2016 Was a Record Year for Opiate Deaths
More people died of opiate overdoses in Vermont in 2016 than any other year, according to a Health Department report released Wednesday. The preliminary report shows that 105 people died from opiate overdoses, up from 75 in 2015.  More » 

VTDIGGER: State enters $93 million “pilot” program for Medicaid care
Gov. Phil Scott has announced that the state is moving forward with the next steps to set up the all-payer health care model started by his predecessor two years ago.  Scott said Wednesday that the state has entered into a contract with the accountable care organization known as OneCare Vermont to have its doctors look after 30,000 Medicaid patients.  The contract will pay OneCare, which is jointly owned by the University of Vermont Medical Center and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, monthly fees totaling $93 million in calendar year 2017.  More »


NY TIMES: Republicans, Aiming to Kill Health Law, Also Work to Shore It Up
After denouncing the Affordable Care Act as an abomination for seven years, Republicans in Congress, working with the Trump administration, are urgently seeking ways to shore up health insurance marketplaces created by the law.  The administration is poised to issue a proposed regulation to try to stabilize insurance markets, and House Republicans are drafting legislation with a similar purpose. The regulation and the bills are intended to hold down insurance premiums and to lure insurers back into the public marketplaces from which they have withdrawn in the past couple of years.  More »

MODERN HEALTHCARE: Trump's travel ban sows uncertainty for healthcare and medicine
Physician and scientists say Trump's travel restrictions targeting seven Muslim-majority countries could undermine the flow of immigrants the U.S. relies on to fill vital positions and maintain its edge in biomedical innovation.  Few U.S. industries have benefited more from immigration than healthcare, where foreign-born individuals accounted for 16% of its more than 14 million workers in 2015, according to figures provided by the Institute for Immigration Research at George Mason.  More » 

WASHINGTON POST: More than 350 organizations write Trump to endorse current vaccines’ safety
More than 350 organizations, including leading U.S. medical, advocacy and professional organizations, have sent a letter to President Trump expressing their “unequivocal support for the safety of vaccines.”  The effort, organized by the American Academy of Pediatrics, reflects the growing alarm among a wide array of groups over Trump’s embrace of discredited claims about vaccine safety.  More » 

KAISER HEALTH NEWS: New federal rules will require home health agencies to do much more for patients
Home health agencies will be required to become more responsive to patients and their caregivers under the first major overhaul of rules governing these organizations in almost 30 years.  The federal regulations, published last month, specify the conditions under which 12,600 home health agencies can participate in Medicare and Medicaid, serving more than 5 million seniors and younger adults with disabilities through these government programs.  Home health agencies also will be expected to coordinate all the services that patients receive and ensure that treatment regimens are explained clearly and in a timely fashion.  More » 

NY TIMES: Judge, citing harm to customers, blocks $48 billion Anthem-Cigna merger
A federal judge on Wednesday blocked a proposed $48 billion merger of Anthem and Cigna, derailing another effort by top health insurers to reshape the industry by combining.  The ruling, by Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, came two weeks after another federal judge blocked a proposed $37 billion merger between Aetna and Humana on antitrust grounds.  More » 

NY TIMES: Tom Price is confirmed as Health Secretary
The Senate early Friday approved the nomination of Representative Tom Price to be secretary of health and human services, putting him in charge of President Trump’s efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.  By a vote of 52 to 47, the Senate confirmed Mr. Price, Republican of Georgia, after a debate that focused as much on his ethics and investments as on his views on health policy.  More » 

Wednesday Webinar
What’s New in Fraud and Abuse & Recoupment 
Feb. 15th, 12 noon to 1 p.m.
Register here

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. 

New discount offered to VMS Members
Baystate Financial is a leading provider of personal financial planning service in New England. As a VMS endorsed provider, Baystate Financial excited to offer its financial planning services to VMS members. Click here to learn more about special discounts for VMS members and how financial planning can help you build a secure financial future. 

Check out the new QPP blog: QIN-telligence
Want to stay on top of the Quality Payment Program (QPP), enacted by MACRA? The New England QIN-QIO’s regional team – consisting of boots-on-the ground, state-based team members – offers you monthly musings about the QPP. Along with our team members, we feature articles from subject-matter experts and thought leaders nationwide. Visit QIN-telligence here.

Webinar: Case Law Update 2017
In this webinar sponsored by Coverys and taking place Feb. 15 from 2 to 3 p.m., presenter John West, JD, MHA, DFASHRM, CPHRM, will present current cases in healthcare, including cases involving EMTALA and informed consent.  Additionally, cases involving medical malpractice and protecting confidentiality will be discussed.  This conference will present a basic level of information. It is intended for participants who are just beginning to think about this topic.  This webinar is applicable for physicians, nurses, risk managers, quality managers, patient safety officers, performance improvement staff members, administrators, pharmacists, legal counsel, front-line staff members, and any other interested parties.  For more information or to register, click 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  

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

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