Within the past week, several VMS-supported bills have passed the Senate:
- S. 45 makes changes to Vermont Prescribed Products Gift Ban. As passed the Senate this morning, the bill will allow physicians and other clinicians to accept food paid for by a pharmaceutical company provided at a continuing education conference, as long as any accompanying content is CME-accredited or otherwise objective and free from industry influence. The bill will also exempt from reporting to the Vermont Attorney General the value of food generally available to all conference participants such as buffet meals, snacks and beverages. The bill received unanimous support (5-0) from the Senate Health & Welfare Committee last week. Thank you to all VMS members for sharing your stories of how Vermont’s gift ban has impacted you at CME conferences. The version of the bill that passed the Senate can be found here.
- S. 3 clarifies when mental health professionals, including psychiatrists, have a duty to disclose information concerning a client or patient. As discussed in last week’s Rounds, the current bill language largely places in state statute the same standard that has been in effect since a 1986 Vermont Supreme Court decision called Peck v. Counseling Service of Addison County. S. 3 passed the Senate this morning on a 26-0-4 roll call vote.
- S. 50 passed the Senate last week and will expand insurance coverage for telemedicine services. Current law limited the requirement for health insurers to cover telemedicine - other than primary care - to situations when the patient was located in a health care facility. This bill will expand coverage to telemedicine provided to patients who are not located in a facility and will include locations such as a medical office or the patient’s home, school or workplace. In addition, the bill expands the types of clinicians who are eligible for reimbursement for telemedicine services and will now include: all physicians, APRN, PAs, naturopaths, psychologists, social workers, alcohol and drug abuse counselors, clinical mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, psychoanalysts, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists and dieticians. The bill as passed the Senate can be found here.
VMS also participated in hearings on a number of other bills last week, as committees increase their pace of work before Town Meeting week and the traditional “crossover” period:
- VMS President Wendy Davis, MD, and staff Stephanie Winters testified in opposition to S. 71, a proposal to allow pharmacists to administer all vaccinations to children 7 or older. Under current law, pharmacists can administer vaccinations to adults over age 18.
- Rebecca Bell, MD, testified in favor of S.88, a bill that would raise the age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21.
- VMS testified as neutral but with comments on S.92, a bill that will allow pharmacists to substitute biological products deemed “interchangeable” by the FDA.