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

This week at the Vermont Statehouse
Vermont Medical Society staff continue to monitor and participate in a number of committee activities at the Statehouse this week.  Today, VMS staff will provide an overview of the Society’s priorities to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin taking testimony on S.3, An Act Relating to a Mental Health Professional’s Duty to Warn, on Wednesday morning and on Friday, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee will be discussing S.14, VMS’ bill to expand the Vermont Practitioner Health Program.

Click here to view a summary of health-care related legislation that has been introduced in both the Vermont House and Senate. 

Please contact VMS' Jessa Barnard for additional information on these other legislative issues.    

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: Another member leaving Green Mountain Care Board

Betty Rambur, a nurse practitioner, said she will leave her seat on the Green Mountain Care Board effective Jan. 15 to take a job in Rhode Island and be closer to her family.  Her departure will leave just three people sitting on the five-person board, which is responsible for regulating health insurance prices and hospital budgets. Al Gobeille, the former board chair who also managed the board’s staff, left Thursday to run the Agency of Human Services.    Betty Rambur is leaving her seat on the Green Mountain Care Board. Rambur’s departure will also mean there are no health care providers left on the board for the time being. She was the last one remaining after Dr. Allan Ramsay, a family doctor, decided not to seek reappointment at the end of September.  More »

TIMES ARGUS: State OKs $3.5M BCBS settlement
State officials have agreed to pay Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont $3.5 million to close out the insurer’s line of business through the state’s online insurance marketplace in 2015.  The additional payment to Blue Cross comes after a months-long reconciliation process that was required to help settle discrepancies within the billing and enrollment system of Vermont Health Connect, the state’s online health insurance exchange set up through the federal Affordable Care Act. The agreement between the state and Blue Cross was finalized late last year by the administration of former Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin, who left office last week as Republican Gov. Phil Scott was sworn in.  More »

ADDISON COUNTY INDEPENDENT: Fisher to lead health care advocacy for Vermont Legal Aid
Former state Rep. Mike Fisher returned to the Vermont Statehouse this month.  The Lincoln Democrat did not go to reclaim an Addison-4 House seat, but as Vermont Legal Aid’s chief health care advocate.  It’s a new job that will see Fisher lead VLA’s Office of the Health Care Advocate, established by the 1998 Legislature to help Vermonters with questions and problems accessing health care services and insurance, and to represent the health care interests of all Vermonters in Montpelier.  More »

BURLINGTON FREE PRESS: Patients struggle with long waits at UVM Medical Center
Last August, Sue Schermerhorn's active lifestyle ended when she developed a pain in her neck that didn't go away. The 72-year-old retiree lives with her husband on a small farm in Charlotte where she rode horses, walked three miles daily and gardened.  After two months, Schermerhorn was still suffering, so [her doctor] referred her to the University of Vermont Medical Center's Spine Program. Schermerhorn called for an appointment and was told the first available slot was on Feb. 17, three months out.  More »

VTDIGGER: UVM Health Network seeks $112.4 million records system
The University of Vermont Health Network is asking for permission from state regulators to spend $112.4 million on a new system for electronic medical records.  The network filed an application for a permit, called a certificate of need, with the Green Mountain Care Board on Jan. 3. The board will hold a court-like process to determine whether to let the network set up the system.  The application proposes to use a single type of software across all of the network’s doctors offices and four of its hospitals: the UVM Medical Center in Burlington; Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin; Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh, New York; and Elizabethtown Community Hospital in Elizabethtown, New York.  More » 


NEW YORK TIMES: Senate takes major step toward repealing health care law
Senate Republicans took their first major step toward repealing the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, approving a budget blueprint that would allow them to gut the health care law without the threat of a Democratic filibuster.  The vote was 51 to 48. During the roll call, Democrats staged a highly unusual protest on the Senate floor to express their dismay and anger at the prospect that millions of Americans could lose health insurance coverage.  More »

WASHINGTON POST: Anxious lawmakers to GOP leaders: What’s the plan to replace Obamacare?
House Republican leaders attempted to quell concerns of a skittish rank and file before a key vote Friday to begin unwinding the Affordable Care Act.  The assurances came after lawmakers across the GOP’s ideological divides sounded anxious notes this week about advancing legislation that would repeal Obamacare without firm plans for its replacement.  “We just want more specifics,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said Wednesday. “We need to know what we’re going to replace it with.” Meadows said he was personally undecided on his vote Friday and that other caucus members were leaning toward no.  More »

USA TODAY: Trump: Obamacare replacement will follow health chief confirmation
Legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act will be ready within a week — or possibly an hour — of the confirmation of his nominee for Health and Human Services secretary, President-elect Donald Trump said Wednesday.  Trump, in a long-awaited press conference, didn't say what plan will be proposed or how quickly Congress could come together to support it.  More »

NEW YORK TIMES: When patients leave ‘Against Medical Advice’
My pager vibrated against my waist. My patient wanted to leave A.M.A. — Against Medical Advice. “Please assess,” the page ended.  A.M.A. is a term we use in the hospital when patients wish to leave before the doctor who is treating them considers them ready for discharge. Any patient who understands the risks and benefits of forgoing medical care can leave A.M.A. at any time. Nevertheless, health professionals often stigmatize such patients, labeling them as “noncompliant,” “ungrateful” or “unwilling to accept appropriate medical care.”  As I walked into my patient’s room, she lay in bed, tearful. She was only in her 50s but looked much older, her walker propped at the side of her bed. Her heart valves were not functioning properly, causing her to be short of breath and her legs to swell. She said immediately, “I’m sorry, doctor. I just need to go home.”  More »

THE HILL: Trump health pick vows to sell off stocks to avoid conflicts
Donald Trump's pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services will sell off his healthcare investments after facing scrutiny over his stock trades.  Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), in a letter to the HHS ethics office, vowed to divest his interests in 43 companies within 90 days if confirmed by the Senate.  Price has investments in healthcare companies like insurer Aetna and pharmaceutical corporation Pfizer, but he also said he would divest from other companies like Verizon and Amazon.  "With regard to each of these entities, I will not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter that to my knowledge has a direct and predictable effect on the financial interests of the entity until I have divested it, unless I first obtain a written waiver," Price wrote.  Price also said he would resign as a delegate for the American Medical Association if confirmed.  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. 

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 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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