January 2, 2006

 
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Jana Purrell, CPC, Named Director of Tri-State Coding Center
Jana Purrell, CPC, of Freeport has been named the Director of The Tri-State Coding Center, effective Jan. 1, 2006. MMA wishes the departing Director, Laurie Desjardins, all the best as she moves to Baker Newman and Noyes in Portland where she will work in the healthcare management consulting division of the firm.
Jana Purrell, CPC, has served in the position of Coding and Reimbursement Specialist for the Center for the past two and one-half years.  She has over twenty years experience in medical offices, management companies, hospital and emergency medicine settings, including both clinical and administrative roles.  Prior to joining the Coding Center, Jana worked for Maine Cardiology Associates for eleven years in the role of Business Office Manager.  She has also worked for Medical Management of NE as a practice billing consultant and was an office manager for a specialty practice.  She received her Certified Professional Coder Certification in l999, and her CPC Instructor Certification in 2001.

On January 1, 2006, Laurie Desjardins will join Baker, Newman and Noyes, a major regional CPA firm with offices in Portland, Maine and Manchester, N.H.  She will work in the healthcare management consulting division of the firm, which provides services throughout the Tri-state region.

"For the past five years, Laurie Desjardins has dedicated herself to creating a viable organization offering much needed educational and hands-on coding and reimbursement information and services to physicians and their staff," said Gordon Smith, Executive Vice President of the Maine Medical Association.   "While we are sorry to lose her from the Center, we wish her well in her new position," he added.  "We are delighted to have Jana Purrell assume the Director's position and have every confidence that the Coding Center will be able to continue to provide the high level of service that members have come to expect," noted Smith.

The Tri-State Coding Center will continue to operate under the leadership of Ms. Purrell.  She can continue to be reached at 1-888-889-6597.  Or visit the Center online at www.thecodingcenter.org.

The Coding Center Presents Major 2006 CPT and ICD-9 Changes Jan. 12, 2006
The Coding Center will present a coding round table conference call on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2006 on major 2006 changes in CPT and ICD-9.  The tele-conference will last two hours from 10:00am to noon and two CEU's are available for certified coders.

One phone call from your office and your entire staff can listen and participate.  The cost is $100 for Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont medical society member physicians and their staff, and $125 for non-members.  You should have 2006 CPT & ICD-9 books available during the call.

For a registration form to fax back, call the Maine Medical Association at 622-3374 (press 0 for assistance).

The instruction will be by Laurie Desjardins, CPC and Jana Purrell, CPC. [return to top]

Medicare Drug Coverage Begins; Last Day to Join Without Penalty May 15
The new Medicare drug benefit started yesterday, providing coverage to up to 240,000 Maine seniors eligible for the voluntary program.  A state help line has received so many calls that the hours have been extended twice. 

Of those seniors eligible nationally, fewer than 5% have enrolled, although seniors have until May 15, 2006 to enroll without additional financial penalty.  Despite the slow start, CMS Administrator Mark McClellan, M.D.,  said last week that the agency is on track for meeting its goal of enrolling between 28 million and 30 million beneficiaries by the end of 2006.

Most of those enrolled in Maine so far are low-income Medicare recipients who are also eligible for MaineCare.  Because Medicare is their primary insurer, the government assigned 67,000 of these individuals automatically to plans.  But because about a quarter of the individuals auto-enrolled ended up in plans that covered less than 60% of their drugs, the state stepped in and changed the enrollments to more appropriate plans for the individuals. These individuals pay no premium for the coverage, but are subject to minimal co-payments.

The state has also selected Medicare Drug Plans for some residents with higher incomes who are currently enrolled in the state Drugs for the Elderly and Disabled (DEL) program. 

Beginning today, patients who are enrolled but have not yet received their ID card, can still receive their medication at a pharmacy if they bring a letter of acknowledgment from the plan, their Medicare ID and/or Medicaid ID and a photo for identification purposes.

For seniors still seeking information on what plan might be best for them, they may call the Medicare 24-hour help line at 1-800-633-4227.  Mainers may also call the Maine Office of Elder Services at 1-800-262-2232.

MMA has placed on its website an initial listing of the psychiatric medications covered by each plan being offered in Maine.  This information, as well as information on all the other types of drugs,  will soon be available to download on a free basis through EPOCRATES.  The MMA website is at  www.mainemed.com.

 

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4.4% Reduction in Medicare Fees to Begin Jan 1, 2006
Despite both Houses of Congress supporting legislation that contained a freeze on physician reimbursement under Medicare, the failure of the Senate and House to pass identical bills has resulted in a delay in any legislative fix to the planned 4.4% reduction caused by the operation of the sustainable growth rate formula.  AMA Executive Vice President Michael Maves, M.D. talked with CMS Administrator Mark McClellan, M.D. in late December, asking that the reductions not be initiated, as the House is expected to act favorably on the fix once it returns to Washington on Jan. 31.  But Dr. McClellan stated that CMS was bound by law to implement the reductions.

It is possible that the reduction will be temporary and even perhaps restored retroactive to Jan. 1, 2006.  But rather than hold claims, physicians have been asked to submit claims on a timely basis.  It is hoped that once the legislation is enacted, CMS will pay the 4.4% difference retroactive to services provided on or after Jan. 1, without the necessity of re-filing of claims.

MMA will continue to inform members of the disposition of this important issue in this Weekly Update provided each Monday. [return to top]

Medical Practice Compliance: Does Your Practice Have a Plan?
Start the new year with a three hour CME program being offered Friday morning, Jan. 6, 2006 from 9:00am to noon entitled:  "Medical Practice Compliance:  Does Your Practice Have a Compliance Plan?"  The program, which will be held in the conference room at the MMA offices in Manchester, will feature three outstanding attorneys who will address different aspects of a compliance plan for a medical office.  Kenneth Lehman, Esq., Michael Cunniff,  Esq., and Assistant Attorney General Dennis Smith will team up to instruct attendees on what they need to know to have a first-class compliance plan in place.  The presenters will also discuss the consequences of having a plan, and the risks of not having one.

Attorney Lehman is familiar to most MMA members as he is a frequent presenter at MMA programs.  Attorney Cunniff was a DEA Special Agent for 27 years prior to practicing privately with Jay McCloskey and Thimi Mina.  Assistant Attorney General Smith represents both the Board of Medicine and the Board of Dental Licensure.

The cost of the program is only $60 which includes breakfast and course materials.  Call MMA now at 622-3374 (press 0) to save a seat.  The conference room accomodates only about 40 persons comfortably.

This program is the first 2006 program in our popular "First Fridays" series.  The Feb. program is Feb. 3, 2006 on the subject of the use of physician-specific data.  A detailed agenda of speakers and topics will be available shortly. [return to top]

Board of Licensure in Medicine Moves to New Location
In the Fall, the Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine moved, along with the Dental Board, the Osteopathic Board and the Nursing Board, to 161 Capitol St. in Augusta.  The mailing address remains the same at 137 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333-0137 and the phone and fax numbers remain unchanged at 207-287-3601 (phone) and 207-287-6590 (fax).

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Maine Legislature Convenes Jan. 4, 2006
The Maine Legislature convenes this Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2006 to begin its Second Regular Session.  The session has a statutory adjournment date of April 19, 2006.  Between these dates, the Legislature will consider hundreds of bills either held over from last session, allowed into the session by the 10-member Legislative Council or introduced by the Governor.

The MMA Legislative Committee, chaired once again by Katherine Pope, M.D., will meet monthly, beginning on Jan. 10, to discuss legislation of interest to physicians.  During weeks that the Committee doesn't meet, a conference call will be held at 7:00pm on Wednesday evenings.  Any interested MMA member is invited to join the Committee and to participate in the weekly calls.

As previously announced, the Physician's Day at the Legislature will be held on Thursday, March 2 and all physicians are encouraged to participate.

Physicians also have an opportunity to participate by serving as Physician of the Day when the Legislature is in general session.

To volunteer for any of these tasks, please contact Charyl Smith at MMA at 622-3374 or via e-mail to csmith@mainemed.com.

The Vice-Chair of the Legislative Committee is Samuel Solish, M.D. and the Committee is staffed by Andrew MacLean, Esq., with assistance from Charyl Smith. [return to top]

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