November 15, 2004

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HIPAA Security and Privacy Update Offers 3 Hours CME Wednesday Morning at MMA
The other HIPAA shoe is about to drop. Every HIPAA-covered physician and health care provider must have solid HIPAA security in place by April 21, 2005. HIPAA security expert Sari Greene of Sage Data Security and attorney Gordon Smith will present a Security and Privacy HIPAA Update at MMA this Wednesday (Nov. 17) morning from 9:00am to noon. Three CME credits are offered and the charge for all materials and the program is $75.00. Call MMA now to register as space is limited but a few slots are still available. (622-3374).
If privacy is the "what" of HIPAA, security is the "how."  The HIPAA security regulation mandates that physicians protect confidential information maintained, stored, sent or received in electronic format, including e-mail and other internet transmissions.  It does not include paper fax transmissions, but the HIPAA privacy rule does require that confidential information in paper form be kept secure.

If you need a HIPAA check-up or your staff needs its annual HIPAA privacy training, consider this week's program.  You will not be disappointed.

In addition to the essentials of the security rule, the program will feature a brief review of the HIPAA privacy regulations and a review of the first year's experience nationally with the rule.  There will be ample time for questions of both presenters and a HIPAA quiz will conclude the morning session.  There are about 10 spots left so call Chandra Leister at MMA today to save your spot (622-3374 or via e-mail at

This program may be offered at additional sites in the coming months.  If you would like to co-sponsor a presentation in your area, please call Chandra or Gordon Smith at MMA.

DirigoChoice at Over 1,000 Enrollees
At the Maine Quality Forum Advisory Committee meeting this past Friday, Dirigo Health officials presented an update on DirigoChoice enrollment.  As of Oct. 29,  applications had been received from over 600 entities representing over 1,000 potential insureds.  Twenty-seven applications were from small businesses and the remaining applications came from sole proprietors.  An additional 21 small businesses had applications in progress and over 4,000 quotes had been sent out from Anthem to self-insured individuals.

A major marketing campaign featuring print, TV and radio ads began earlier in the week and was expected to significantly increase interest in the subsidized plan. The marketing campaign will last four weeks. Dirigo staff is still hopeful that over 10,000 covered lives could be in the plan by the start date of Jan. 1, 2005.

On Tuesday, Nov. 30, MMA will present a one-half day, afternoon, program on the Dirigo Health Plan at the Dana Center in Portland. The program is intended to assist members and their staffs by focusing on the impact of Dirigo on physician practice and the office.   Representatives of  the Dirigo Health Agency, Anthem and Dirigo Board Chair Robert McAfee, M.D. will present at the conference.  Tarren Bragdon of the Maine Heritage Policy Institute will offer an alternative viewpoint.  Registration materials for the session are available from Chandra Leister at MMA (call 622-3374 or via e-mail at [return to top]

Updated Schedule for Commission to Study Maine's Hospitals
The Anti-Trust Subcommittee:  Monday, Nov. 15, 8:00am to 9:00am; Bureau of Medical Services, 442 Civic Center Dr., Augusta, room 3

The Administrative Streamlining Subcommittee; Monday, Nov. 15, 9:00am to 12:00pm; Bureau of Medical Services, 4421 Civic Center Dr., Augusta, room 3

The Certificate of Need, Rule 850 and Rule 120 Subcommittee; Monday, Nov. 15, 9:30am to 12:00pm; Conference Room 333 of Cross Office Building, Augusta

Full Commission; Monday, Nov. 22, 9:00am to noon: Location TBA.  At this meeting, Commission consultant Nancy Kane will make her final presentation and Katherine Pelletreau will present on, "Health Plans' comparative paid information for selected medical services in Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire."

Full Commission meeting, Monday, Nov. 29, 9:00am to 5:00pm.  Location TBD.  At this meeting, the Commission is expected to review and vote on chapters of the report.

Full Commission; Wednesday, Dec. 1, 9:00am to 5:00pm.  Location  TBA.  This meeting is intended to include the final votes on the language for the draft chapters.

Tentative Dates for Public Hearings

Portland - Thursday, Dec. 9, 9:00am - noon

Augusta - -Thursday, Dec. 9, 1:30pm - 4:30pm

Bangor - Monday, Dec. 13, 9:00am - noon

Tentative date for Final Meeting:  Monday, Dec. 20, time and location TBD.

Tentative date for release of report to legislature:  Jan. 4, 2005.


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State to Receive More Flu Vaccine, Issues Distribution Plan
As was noted in a special Maine Medicine Weekly Update e-mailed last Thursday, the Bureau of Health announced last week that it would be receiving between 150,000 and 160,000 doses of vaccine from the CDC, far exceeding the 80,000 doses originally expected when the shortage was first announced.

The state will distribute vaccine directly to:

  • Long-term care facilities at generally 80 percent of the facility's bed count
  • Pediatric providers who ordered from the Bureau at generally 24 percent of placed orders

The Bureau will distribute other available adult vaccine on a county by county basis, taking into account the vaccine that is already present in each region.  The priorities for receiving vaccine include;

  • Rural Health Centers
  • Federally Qualified Health Centers
  • Indian Health Centers
  • Local public health departments
  • other providers who previously ordered from the state
  • other providers who responded to Bureau surveys

In a discussion with Bureau Director Dora Ann Mills, M.D., MPH last week, Dr. Mills stated that it was likely that a private physician office which was not on the above list could still get some vaccine is they ordered via the provider hotline asap.  The phone number is 1-800-867-4775.

Vaccine was being shipped Nov. 8 and shipments were expected to continue into December.

Maine's Regional Resource Centers for public health emergency preparedness will distribute at least 1,500 doses of FluMist vaccine for healthy health care workers, mostly in hospitals.  [return to top]

Public Health Conference on SARS Outbreak: Dec. 7 in Augusta
A public health emergency preparedness conference titled: "It Could Happen Here;  Lessons Learned from the SARS Experience" will be held on Dec. 7, 2004 at the Augusta Civic Center from 8:30am to 4:00pm.

Co-sponsored by the Maine Center for Public Health and the Maine Bureau of Health, the conference will concentrate on questions related to the recent Canadian outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the public health emergency response to it.  Attendees will learn about the SARS epidemic and Toronto's response to the outbreak, hear presentations from Toronto and Maine public health leaders about lessons learned, plans in place to protect the Maine population and connect and reconnect with personnel involved at all levels and capacities of emergency preparedness and response.

For more information and to register, visit the Maine Center for Public Health website at:  The registration deadline is Nov. 19. [return to top]

Medical Malpractice Liability Reform Rejected in Two States, Passed in Nevada
Wyoming and Oregon voters narrowly rejected proposals to implement caps on non-economic damages in medical liability cases, but Nevada voters approved capping such awards at $350,000.  In Florida, voters supported limiting attorney's fees, but they also approved two proposals backed by trial lawyers.  Those would give the public more information about physicians' alleged mistakes, and revoke the licenses of physicians who make repeated errors.  The Florida Medical Association vowed to mount a court challenge to the two trial-lawyer initiated provisions. [return to top]

Medicare Reimbursement to Increase 1.5% in 2005
As announced by CMS in a final rule last week, physicians will receive higher reimbursement next year, due to a provision in the Medicare Modernization Act which canceled a planned 3.3 percent reimbursement reduction for 2005 and replaced it with a 1.5% increase.  In 2005, CMS projects that aggregate spending under the physician fee schedule will increase 4% to $55.3 billion, up from $53.1 billion in 2004.

CMS has also issued a final rule which implements a new "Welcome to Medicare Physical" for all new beneficiaries.  The exam gives physicians the opportunity to make an overall assessment of a patient's health, and provide counseling on nutrition and other steps to good health.  Medicare will also provide new coverage for screening cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  For more information, go to: [return to top]

MMA Legislative Committee Focuses on Liability Reform & MaineCare Rates
At the MMA Legislative Committee meeting on November 9, 2004, approximately 30 physicians from the Committee, the Coalition for Health Care Access & Liability Reform, and state specialty societies discussed the election results and the range of issues likely to face physicians and others in the medical community in the 122nd Maine Legislature.  Anticipating a 2006-07 biennial budget "structural gap" of approximately $733 million and further Dirigo health care reform initiatives, the Committee has elected to submit three bills for consideration during the next two years:

  • Medical liability reform.  The core of the bill will be a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice actions, but it may include other elements as well.
  • MaineCare reimbursement rates.  The bill will seek to increase Maine's Medicaid reimbursement rates for physicians and other individual practitioners to match Medicare rates.
  • Capital Investment Fund.  The bill will propose an extension of the July 1, 2007 sunset clause in the provision of the Dirigo Health legislation that sets aside 12.5% of the Capital Investment Fund, the annual limit on spending in the certificate-of-need program, for non-hospital projects.

The Legislative Committee will meet next on Tuesday, January 10, 2005 at the MMA office and will meet the second Tuesday of the month through May.  Any member interested in the Association's legislative advocacy activities is welcome.  Also, the Committee will hold conference calls on Wednesdays in weeks when the Committee does not meet in person.  For more information about the MMA's advocacy activities, please contact Andrew MacLean, Vice President & General Counsel, at [return to top]

Pharmacy Board Extends "PRN" Refill Limit to 15 Months
Last summer, the Maine Board of Pharmacy recodified all of its administrative rules.  During this process, the Board accepted a recommendation on the length of "PRN" prescriptions offered by the MMA as a result of a suggestion made by Lewis E. Phillips, M.D. of Bangor.  Board of Pharmacy Rule Chapter 19, Receipt and Handling of Prescription Drug Orders, Section 5 is entitled "PRN" Refills of Prescription Drug Orders.  It now states that "[a] pharmacist may fill a prescription drug order designated 'PRN' by the practitioner on an as-needed basis for a period no greater than 15 months from the date written."  Previously, the limit was 12 months. [return to top]

MeMGMA Presents "HiringRIGHT - Effective and Legal Interviewing and Hiring" and 122nd Legislature Preview, December 7, 2004
Maine Medical Group Management Association presents "HiringRIGHT - Effective and Legal Interviewing and Hiring & Preview of the 122nd Maine Legislature," Tuesday, December 7, 2004 at the Senator Inn in Augusta.

"No matter what business you are in, it's your Human Resources that determine your level of success as an organization. To be successful, you need the right people in the right positions. This workshop will enable you to structure and interviewing and selection system that will help you make the right hiring decisions and stay on the correct side of the law."

The program will feature speakers Jay Hotchkiss, CMC, SPHR, founder and President of John Jay & Co., and MMA's Andrew MacLean, JD, and will run from 8:30am -4:30pm.

For more information, contact Peter Allen at 1-800-640-0545. [return to top]

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