April 27, 2003

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Ad Hoc Committee on Health System Reform Releases "White Paper"
The Association's Ad Hoc Committee on Health System Reform has completed a draft of its "White Paper" which calls for achieving universal healthcare coverage for all Maine citizens.
      The White Paper responds to a Resolution referred to the Executive Committee by the House of Delegates at the Sept., 2002 Annual Meeting.    The Committee was asked to consider further some of the more novel and complex issues presented in the Resolution.  The Executive Committee then appointed an Ad Hoc Committee on Health System Reform and charged it with writing a White Paper detailing the steps to be taken to achieve universal coverage in a manner consistent with the charge of building upon the existing system of public and private payors.

     The Paper sets forth 12 Principles upon which a system of universal coverage should be built and then proceeds in eight pages to lay out the details of such a plan.  The draft document is available from MMA by calling Diane McMahon at 622-3374 or via e-mail at dmcmahon@mainemed.com.

       Many thanks to the Committee members who participated in the discussion and research which lead to the Paper.  The Committee was chaired by MMA President-elect Maroulla Gleaton, M.D., of Augusta.

Ads Bring Malpractice Issue to Maine
     On Thursday, April 24th, a series of television advertisements began urging Maine citizens to call the offices of Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, asking them to vote against the federal tort reform bill currently pending before the U.S. Senate.  The ads are being run by two trial-lawyer funded organizations called USAction and the Center for Justice and Democracy.

     Two of the ads use what the organizations are called real-life stories.  In the ad that seems to be run most frequently, a woman describes an unnecessary mastectomy.  In the second ad,  a 2-year old boy dies from a lack of hydration.  The third ad attacks malpractice insurance companies for raising premiums to make up for investment losses.  All three ads urge viewers to contact their U.S. Senators and ask them to vote against the pending legislation which, among other things, establishes a cap on non-economic damages of $250,000.

     Several physicians have expressed concern about the ads.  In response,  both Medical Mutual Insurance Co. of Maine and MMA have written letters responding to the BDN piece.  In addition, members are urged to send their own communications to Senators Snowe and Collins urging support for the cap.    Senator Snowe can be reached by fax at 202-224-1946 and via e-mail at snowe.senate.gov.  Senator Collins can be reached via fax at 202-224-2693 and via e-mail at collins.senate.gov. [return to top]

Upcoming Vacancies on Board of Licensure in Medicine
      The Board of Licensure in Medicine will have two vacancies in June when Harry Bennert, M.D. and public member Harold Jones come off the Board at the expiration of their terms.  Dr. Bennert currently serves as Secretary of the Board.  Physician appointees to the Board must have been actively engaged in the practice of medicine in Maine for a continuous period of 5 years preceding their appointment to the Board.  Board terms are for 6 years.  Public members of the Board must not have any relationship to a physician or health care institution.

      Current physician members of the Board include the long-term chair of the Board Edward David, M.D., J.D., a neurologist;  Kim Gooch, M.D., an internist from Farmington; George "Joe" Dreyer, M.D.; a psychiatrist from Portland, Sheridan Oldham, M.D.; a general surgeon from Waterville; Gary Hatfield, an internist from Auburn and Dr. Bennert.  Appointments are made by the Governor.

      Physicians interested in being considered for an appointment to the Board should send a letter indicating interest and a current CV either directly to the Governor's office or to MMA which will forward the materials to the Governor.  The address for Governor John Baldacci is 1 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333.

       Any physician knowing of a qualified candidate for the public member position should forward the name to Gordon Smith at MMA.  Gordon is available at gsmith@mainemed.com.


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MMA Celebrates 150 Years TODAY
     On April 28, l853 an exceptional group of 27 physicians met at the Tontine Hotel in Brunswick to organize the Maine Medical Association.  Led by Isaac Lincoln, M.D., of Brunswick, these pioneers of Maine medicine adopted 7 articles of a Consitution and set a date for the FIrst Annual Meeting.

     Article 1 stated that the object of the Association was the promotion of medical science, and the regulation of the practice of medicine and surgery in the State. 

      A committee was selected to nominate three delegates to attend the Sixth Annual Meeting of the American Medical Association, to be held in May,  l853 in New York CIty.   A  committee was also chosen to submit a code of Medical Ethics, to be presented at the Annual Meeting, which was scheduled for the 1st Wednesday in June in Augusta.

      Today at noon, on the site of the former Tontine Hotel, a commemorative monument will be dedicated recognizing the 27 physicians who organized the Association, which has existed continually to this day.   This event begins the Sesquicentennial Year of the Association.  Several additional events are planned, culminating with a Sesquicentennial Gala in Portland on Saturday, November 8th.  Members interested in the activities should contact Susan Feener at MMA (sfeener@mainemed.com)  or George Bostwick, M.D. at 832-4318.  Speakers at today's event include Maroulla Gleaton, M.D., President-elect of the Association, Alroy Chow, M.D., Executive Committee member representing Lincoln and Sagadahoc Counties, George Bostwick, M.D., a former MMA President who is assisting with Sesquicentennial events, and Gordon Smith, Executive Vice President of the Association.  All members and other interested persons are welcome to attend. [return to top]

Governor Baldacci to Present Health Care Reform Package
     Maine Governor John Baldacci is expected to present his much anticipated health care reform package to the Maine Legislature this week.  The package of legislation, which the Governor has asked the Legislature to enact before the conclusion of the session in about a month, is expected to contain substantive provisions dealing with access, cost and quality.  Some of the provisions have been proposed by the Governor's volunteer Health Action Team, but several provisions are likely to come directly from the Governor and his Director of Health Policy and Finance Trish Riley.

     While the content of the package has been a closely guarded secret, the Governor did give some indications when he spoke at the Annual Meeting of the Maine Health Access Foundation this past week.  The Governor again called for the state to form its own non-profit health insurance company and signaled again a clear intention to strengthen the state's Certificate of Need (CON) process and to reinvigorate a health planning process.

      Next week's Maine Medicine Weekly Update and the MMA Political Pulse published on Fridays should contain as much explanation of the package of reforms as is available at that time. [return to top]

Legislature Poised to Ban Smoking in Bars
     The Maine Legislature appears poised to enact legislation banning smoking in bars, pool halls and all lounges.  L.D. 1346, An Act to Protect Workers from Secondhand Smoke and to Promote Worker Safety, introduced by Senator Karl Turner, has received a 21 to 1 Ought to Pass report and will be voted upon by the Legislature in the coming days.

     Under current law, smoking is banned in most types of establishments where the public is invited or allowed.  However, when the laws were passed bars and pool halls were exempted.  At a public hearing on the bill on April 7th, strong testimony was presented in favor of protecting the health of the employees of such establishments.  MMA, as a member of the Maine Coalition on Smoking or Health, presented testimony at the hearing in favor of the bills.  Following the Association's testimony, several employees, musicians and bar owners also testified in favor of the legislation.

     If enacted and signed into law by the Governor, Maine would become the fourth state to impose such a restriction.  The other states are Delaware and California. [return to top]

Maine Recruitment Center Presents Updated Results
     The Maine Recruitment Center presented updated results on recruitment to its Advisory Committee last Wednesday.  The Recruitment Center is a subsidiary of the Maine Hospital Association and has as its members 30 of Maine's hospitals.  The Center provides physician candidates with a confidential, one-stop center for job searches throughout Maine.  The service is also available, for a fee, to privately owned medical practices.

     As of April 2003, the Center had successfully placed 51 health care providers, the vast majority of them being physicians.  There are currently 118 vacancies for which candidates are being sought.

     At the meeting of the advisory committee, members heard a presentation on the current professional liability climate in Maine.  As the climate continues to deteriorate in other states, it is hoped by the recruiters that physicians in harder-pressed states can be enticed to look at vacancies in Maine.

       Physicians interested in more information may contact the Center at 1-800-546-4090 or via its website at www.themrc.com [return to top]

Maine Association of Health Plans Presents to Payor Liaison Committee
     Katherine Pelletreau, Executive DIrector of the Maine Association of Health Plans, spoke to members of MMA's Payor Liaison Committee last Wednesday evening, April 23rd.  The Association of Health Plans is the trade association made up of the major health plans still active in Maine, namely, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Maine, Aetna, Cigna and Harvard Pilgrim Health Plan.

     Ms. Pelletreau discussed the major activities of the Association including the Maine Childhood Immunization Program, the School Based Health Care Pilot Project, the Maine Health Data Organization Data Committee and the Health Plans Prescription Guide.  The Prescription Guide is now on its 3rd Edition and is distributed in partnership with MMA and the Maine Osteopathic Association.  It was suggested by Committee members that the Guide could be an even more valuable tool to physicians if it was updated on a regular basis through an on-line process.

        The Committee also heard updates from MMA staff on the activities of The Coding Center, legislative items involving managed care, class action litigation against the health plans, the HFMA/MGMA/MMA Physician Compensation and Productivity Survey and the activities of the Geographic Equity in Medicare Coalition.

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Two Locations Offered for Annual Physician Survival Programs
     This year's 12th Annual Physician Survival Seminar will be presented this year at two convenient locations.  The seminars will be presented on May 28th in Bangor (Spectacular Event Center) and on June 25th in South Portland (Marriott at Sable Oaks).  Both programs run from 8:30am to 4:00pm with registration beginning at 8:00am.

     This year's program is entitled, "Preparing Your Practice for Change" and features a number of presentations and break out sessions intended to provide Maine's medical practices with the information needed to operate a successful practice in an increasingly challenging environment.  Particular emphasis will be spent on the pressures coming from payors and employers to receive more data from medical practices at the same time that more data will already be available from the new all-claims database.

     Registration materials are available from Susan Feener at MMA.  You may contact Susan by calling 622-3374 or via e-mail at sfeener@mainemed.com. [return to top]

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For more information or to contact us directly, please visit www.mainemed.com l ©2003, Maine Medical Association