Vermont Medical Society adopts new resolutions, sets health care public policy priorities for 2013
The Vermont Medical Society has adopted policy resolutions that address a number of issues important to the state’s physicians, including the rising cost of care, medical liability reform, battling childhood obesity, and increasing usage of the Vermont Prescription Monitoring System. VMS members approved the resolutions during the organization’s 199th annual meeting held at Woodstock Inn in Woodstock, Vt.
“As physicians our overriding concern is that our patients have access to high-quality, affordable care,” said Norman Ward, M.D., VMS’ newly elected president. “Our membership strongly believes that the policy positions and concepts expressed in the resolutions we passed will help accomplish that goal.”
The resolutions will form the basis of the organization’s 2013 public policy efforts on behalf of its 2,000 physician members. The adopted resolutions were:
Physician Stewardship of Health Care – The resolution proposes, among other things, that VMS promote, and encourage Vermont specialty society chapters to endorse, Choosing Wisely, a new national effort that encourages physicians to identify five tests or procedures commonly used in their field whose necessity should be questioned and discussed. It is believed that VMS is only the second state medical society, after Colorado’s, to endorse the initiative. The resolution also calls to encourage using Choosing Wisely to develop comparisons between Vermont physicians and their peers regionally and nationally.
Cost of Medical Education – Citing the rising cost of undergraduate medical education as well as the oncoming shortage of physicians in Vermont, the resolution calls on VMS to work with various stakeholders, including the Green Mountain Care Board, Administration and General Assembly to address loan repayment and scholarship for medical education. Specific actions proposed by the resolution include evaluating the feasibility of changes to medical education in Vermont, increased loan repayment and support of innovative MD curriculum.
Collaboration Among Physicians and Other Health Care Professionals – Proposes that VMS work with the Administration, licensing authorities and professional associations to ensure passage of transparency legislation and/or regulations that require patients to be informed of health care professionals’ license type. Additionally, the resolution calls for VMS to work to increase inter-professional collaborative practice with other health care professionals and to seek an independent process to review scope of practice changes to ensure consistency with education and training.
Electronic Health Records (EHR) and the Physician/Patient Relationship – VMS will create an EHR working group to research the experience of Vermont physicians with respect to the impact of EHRs on their practices and report their findings to the VMS Council. The group will also propose recommendations for changes in the design, education and practical use of EHRs in order to increase their usefulness and reduce or eliminate any harm they do to the physician/patient relationship.
Medical Liability Reforms – Citing the Hsiao report indicating that the fear of lawsuits leads to defensive medical practices such as the ordering of additional tests, the resolution calls for VMS to urge the General Assembly to enact legislation modeled on liability reforms passed in Michigan and Massachusetts. Key components of those reforms include a six-month, pre-litigation resolution period with the sharing of all pertinent medical records by the patient, full disclosure by providers, and for statements of apology by providers to be inadmissible in court.
Reimbursement to Physicians for Providing Face-to-Face Care – The resolution calls on VMS to urge the General Assembly, Green Mountain Care Board and the Department of Vermont Health Access to adopt policies for all payers that reimburse physicians for non face-to-face care, such as consultations delivered via e-mail and phone.
Patient Incentives – Pointing to the change in health care from a “disease-centered model” toward a “patient-centered model” as well as rising costs and negative health impacts associated with unhealthy lifestyle choices, the resolution calls for greater personal responsibility by individuals in maintaining their own health and the use of health incentives to get and remain healthy.
Additionally, the resolution calls on the General Assembly to increase funding for preventative care, and:
- Eliminate sales of sugared drinks and candy from all public K-12 schools;
- Review current physical education requirements in the state’s public schools;
- Establish grants that encourage public schools to engage in innovative and creative childhood obesity prevention programs; and,
- Study the prevalence of “junk food” marketing directed toward children in Vermont and research and recommend potential methods of counteracting such marketing.
Use and Improvement of the Vermont Prescription Monitoring System – The resolution calls on VMS to support and encourage physicians to register and use the Vermont Prescription Monitoring System. Additionally, it calls for improvements to the system that will increase its use and effectiveness, including:
- Creating a process to enroll prescribers automatically at the time of license renewal;
- Reduce the time and administrative burdens on physicians using the system and increase integration with EHRs, streamlined user interfaces, and real-time reporting of filled prescriptions; and,
- Issuing public health alerts regarding diversion of controlled substances and about unusual prescribing in particular regions of the state.
Finally, the resolution states VMS’ opposition to requiring physicians to check the system each time they prescribe a controlled substance, instead the VMS will work with the Department of Health and Board of Medical Practice to develop appropriate guidelines for use of the system.
About the Vermont Medical Society: The Vermont Medical Society is the leading voice of physicians in the state and is dedicated to advancing the practice of medicine by advocating on behalf of Vermont’s doctors and the patients and communities they care for. The Society serves its 2,000 members through public policy advocacy on the state and federal levels, as well as by providing legal, administrative and educational support, producing a rich flow of news and information and offering member benefits that increase medical practice effectiveness and efficiency. For more information, visit www.VTMD.org.
Woodstock, Vt. (Oct. 27, 2012) – The Vermont Medical Society