November 27, 2007

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AMA/Medical College of Wisconsin Announce Online Fellowship in Physician Ethics & Professionalism

The American Medical Association's Institute for Ethics & the Graduate Program in Bioethics at the Medical College of Wisconsin have introduced an online Fellowship in Physician Ethics & Professionalism.  MMA President William Strassberg, M.D. has identified physician professionalism as a key initiative of his Presidential year.  The MMA will share more about Dr. Strassberg's efforts in future editions of Maine Medicine Weekly Update.

The intent of the fellowship program is to provide a uniquely broad & thorough training program in medical ethics and physician professionalism.  The fellowship is tailored to individuals who are a part of an institution's ethics endeavors & who want to strengthen their background in this field.  It may be of interest to physicians who are members of an institutional ethics committee or ethics consultation team, an institutional review board or privacy board, or those individuals charged with teaching ethics & professionalism to students, residents, or staff.  The program's online format makes it easier to fit courses into even the busiest of schedules.

The program's leaders are Matthew K. Wynia, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.P., Director of the AMA's Institute of Ethics, and Arthur R. Derse, M.D., J.D., Director for Medical & Legal Affairs and Associate Director, Center for the Study of Bioethics, Medical College of Wisconsin.


  • Four 3-credit, master's-level online courses;
  • 4-day on-site visit to AMA headquarters in Chicago during the annual meeting in June;
  • Course work is conducted online, so you can work at times that are convenient for you - your computer is your classroom;
  • Fellowship courses are taught by expert faculty from the AMA & MCW;
  • By enrolling in 2 courses per semester you can complete the fellowship in just one year;
  • Earn graduate credits which may be transferable towards a master's degree in bioethics from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences of the Medical College of Wisconsin or to another accredited school;
  • Receive a certificate of completion;
  • Meet leaders in the field of bioethics & organized medicine;
  • Some courses may also offer CME credit;

Institute for Ethics, AMA, 515 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60610, (312) 464-5260, fax:  (312) 464-4613, e-mail:

Please visit for current information & application deadlines.

Barbara Bush Children's Hospital Pediatric Grand Rounds: Adolescents & STDs: How Are We Doing?

Margaret Zamboni, D.O. will present a talk entitled, Adolescents & STDs:  How Are We Doing? during the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital pediatric grand rounds on Thursday, December 20, 2007 from 9:00 - 10:00 am in the auditorium of the Dana Health Education Center.  All are welcome.

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Seminar on Health Insurance Reform in ME, MA, & VT in Portland on 12/6/07

The Center for Health Policy, Planning & Research at the University of New England is presenting State Approaches to Improving Healthcare Access - One Year Later at the UNE Westbrook College Campus, Eleanor de Wolfe Ludcke '26 Auditorium on Thursday, December 6, 2007 from 9:30 am - 3:30 pm.

This free seminar is a follow-up to a health care reform seminar sponsored by the CHPPR last year.  The seminar will feature health policy leaders from Maine, Massachusetts, & Vermont.  In addition to the CHPPR, the Maine Medical Association, Maine Osteopathic Association, Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Maine Health Access Foundation, Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, & Anthem BCBS also are sponsors of the event.

For more information & registration details, please visit
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AARP Medicare Forum Scheduled for Bangor on 12/6/07

AARP Maine has scheduled a Medicare Forum for Thursday, December 6, 2007 at the Spectacular Event Center, 395 Griffin Road, Bangor from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm.  The forum includes lunch. 

The speakers include national & local AARP staff & volunteers.  The discussion topics include:

  • Keeping Medicare premiums affordable;
  • Ensuring Medicare patients can see their doctors;
  • Helping low-income people get the benefits they need; &
  • Spending Medicare dollars wisely.
You may register for the forum, which is free, by calling 1-877-926-8300.

The AARP Maine staff have been very helpful in collaborating with the MMA in the effort to persuade Congress to address the Medicare physician pay cut scheduled for January 1, 2007.  In October, representatives of AARP & the MMA met with Senator Snowe's staff in Portland to discuss these issues.  Senator Snowe is a member of the Senate Finance Committee & will play a key role in this debate.

AARP has offered a few minutes on the agenda for a MMA representative to speak about the likely impact of the scheduled pay cut on physician practices.  If you are available & interested in participating in the forum, please contact Andrew MacLean, Acting EVP, at or 622-3374, ext. 214.  The MMA can provide you with talking points for the event.
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Maine Equal Justice Offers Medicare Part D Training for Physician Office Staff

Affordable prescription drug coverage for low-income Medicare beneficiaries is possible.  Maine Equal Justice offers a training, from 1.5 to 3 hours, depending on your practice's needs, about the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit & associated subsidy programs for low-income seniors & disabled adults in Maine.  The training also provides an overview of Medicare, MaineCare, the Medicare Savings Program (MSP), & the Low Cost Drugs for the Elderly & Disabled (DEL) benefit, focusing on how these programs coordinate with one another & with Part D.

If you've been wondering . . .

  • What is the difference between QMB, SLMB, & QI?
  • What is the latest income eligibility numbers for the Medicare Savings Program (MSP)?
  • How are MSP & the Low Cost Drugs for the Elderly & Disabled (DEL) benefit different after nearly all DEL members were automatically enrolled in MSP in April?
  • What drugs aren't covered by Part D?  Is there another program that covers these excluded drugs?
  • Who is eligible for Medicare, including Medicare Part D, & how do they enroll?
  • How & when can someone change their Part D  prescription drug plan?
  • What are options for someone whose drug is not on their Part D prescription drug plan formulary?
  • What is the State "Wrap" & how is it related to Part D costs?
  • If someone has QMB, is that as good as full-benefit MaineCare?
  • Is signing up for the Low-Income Subsidy (LIS), or Extra Help, just as good as signing up for MSP?
  • Who can help me with my questions about these programs?  Who can help my patients?
. . . then call Maine Equal Justice to schedule a training!

Maine Equal Justice typically schedules trainings for groups of 8 or more.  If the group is smaller, they will coordinate a joint training with a nearby organization.

Maine Equal Justice is a non-profit organization that provides legal & policy analysis in order to give low-income Maine people an effective voice on issues they care about.  The Maine Equal Justice staff offers trainings on various public benefits programs so that agency staff & advocates can understand these important & complex programs.  The Medicare Part D training is offered by Jack Comart, Esq., Litigation Director, & Janine Corbett, MSW, Training & Policy Specialist.

Please contact Janine Corbett, MSW, at 626-7058, ext. 207 or to schedule a training.

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Judiciary Committee Schedules Public Hearing on Medical Liability Bills Held Over from First Regular Session

The Legislature's Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary has scheduled public hearings on the following medical liability bills held over from the First Regular Session of the 123rd Legislature on Thursday, December 6, 2007 at 10:00 am.

  • LD 367, An Act to Protect Emergency Room Personnel from Civil Liability (Rep. MacDonald, D-Boothbay);
  • LD 469, An Act to Disseminate "Lessons Learned" from Medical Injury Claims (Sen. Bowman, D-York);
  • LD 608, An Act to Extend the Statute of Limitations for Certain Medical Malpractice Cases (Sen. Rotundo, D-Androscoggin);
  • LD 684, An Act to Permit Medical Providers an Opportunity to Express Regret for a Medical Error (Sen. Mills, R-Somerset);
  • LD 857, Resolve, to Create a Medical Malpractice Study Group (Sen. Marrache, M.D., D-Kennebec); &
  • LD 1271, An Act to Establish Health Care Practitioner Immunity for Consulting Physicians in Critical Specialties or Subspecialties (Rep. Walker, M.D., R-Lincolnville).
The hearing will take place in the Judiciary Committee room, Room 438 of the State House.

You can find the text of these bills by using the LD# search feature on the Legislature's home page:

You can find the members of the Judiciary Committee on the web at:

The Committee chairs have made it clear to representatives of health care practitioners & providers, as well as representatives of the trial bar, that neither the Judiciary Committee nor the legislative leadership intends to move forward with legislation that alters the status quo or advances the interests of either side in the medical liability debate.  However, the Committee must give the public an opportunity to be heard.  The MMA will coordinate with the Maine Hospital Association, the Maine Osteopathic Association, & Medical Mutual Insurance Company of Maine in our approach to this public hearing. 

If you would like to provide testimony on any of these bills, either in person or in writing, please contact Andrew MacLean, Acting EVP, at or 622-3374, ext. 214.
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New CBO Report on Costs Cites Comparative Effectiveness Research as Means to Slow Cost Increases

On November 13, 2007, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report entitled, The Long-Term Outlook for Health Care Spending concluding that health care spending will be a growing & unsustainable portion of our economy requiring us to identify new cost control measures, such as comparative effectiveness research. 

Without action, the report says that total health care spending will rise from 16% of GDP in 2007 to 25% in 2025, 37% in 2050, & 29% in 2082.  Federal spending on the Medicare & Medicaid programs will increase from 4% of GDP in 2007 to 7% in 2025, 12% in 2050, & 19% in 2082. 

The CBO report cites the adoption of new medical technologies & services as the principal factor driving health care costs.

The report is available on the web at:

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Advisory Council on Health Systems Development Seeks Input for New Cost Containment Role

As a result of L.D. 1849, An Act to Protect Consumers from Rising Health Care Costs (P.L. 2007, Chapter 441), enacted during the First Regular Session of the 123rd Maine Legislature, the Dirigo Advisory Council on Health Systems Development has expanded membership & an expanded role in health care cost containment in Maine. 

The Council has set aside some time during its meetings of Friday, November 30, 2007 & Friday, December 14, 2007 to hear from health care organizations about cost containment initiatives.  The Council has asked groups to address 3 questions:

  1. As you review the Data Book & Summary from McKinsey are there specific questions or concerns you have about the data?  If you have those, please provide specific data to clarify or correct the Data Book's content & to provide its source.
  2. Please name 3 activities or actions that the Advisory Council on Health Systems Development could recommend to reduce the growth of health care costs in Maine which can be implemented here & which will have a statewide effect in the short term (activities that could be implemented soon & show results in 2 years) & for the longer term. 
  3. Please describe any effective cost containment measures you are currently undertaking & the evidence that documents those cost savings for initiatives that could be replicable statewide.

If you have thoughts in response to these questions, please contact Andrew MacLean, Acting EVP, at or 622-3374, ext. 214. 

You can find the Data Book & McKinsey summary on the Dirigo Health Agency web site under "Quick Links:"

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Senate Finance Committee May Pursue 2-Year Medicare SGR Fix

Following a Senate Finance Committee meeting on November 13, 2007, Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) said that he is trying to persuade members to support a 2-year Medicare payment increase for physicians for 2008 & 2009 because it would be less expensive than doing 2 1-year fixes.  The Finance Committee was working on this & other Medicare policy issues during the meeting. 

On November 8, 2007, the House Small Business Subcommittee on Regulation, Health Care & Trade held a hearing on the elimination of the Medicare SGR formula for physician reimbursement.  The hearing was held to discuss the impact of the impending Medicare payment cuts on small practices.  Rep. Michael C. Burgess (R-TX), an OB/GYN, was the lead witness who has been working with the AMA on this issue & has sponsored a series of bills to address the problem.  He was followed by representatives of the American Osteopathic Association, the American College of Physicians, & the American Optometric Association. 

The 10.1% reduction in Medicare payments to physicians is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2007, unless Congress acts.
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MMA Operations, Executive, & Legislative Committees Schedule Meetings

The MMA's Operations Committee will meet by conference call this evening at 7:00 pm.  The Operations Committee has oversight of the daily business of the MMA & is composed of President William Strassberg, M.D., President-Elect Stephanie Lash, M.D., Immediate Past President Kevin Flanigan, M.D., Executive Committee Chair David McDermott, M.D., Jo Linder, M.D., & Nancy Cummings, M.D.

The last Executive Committee meeting of 2007 is scheduled for 2:00 pm on Wednesday, December 5, 2007.  The Executive Committee provides governance & policy oversight of the MMA for the general membership. 

The Legislative Committee, Chaired by Katherine Pope, M.D., will hold a brief organizational meeting for the coming legislative session following the Executive Committee meeting at 5:30 pm.  Any member is welcome to attend. 

For more information about these committees & their activities, please contact Andrew MacLean, Acting EVP, at or 622-3374, ext. 214.
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