September 8, 2008

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MMA Completes 155th Annual Session

The Maine Medical Association completed its 155th Annual Session this past weekend at the Samoset Resort in Rockport.  Beginning with a Quality Improvement Symposium presented with the Maine Hospital Association on Thursday and closing with a Public Health Leadership Forum on the subject of childhoood obesity on Sunday, well over 350 members and guests attended some portion of the meeting.  On Saturday evening, out-going President William Strassberg, M.D. presented the President's gavel and medallion to Stephanie Lash, M.D., a Bangor neurologist.  The Mary Floyd Cushman, M.D. Humanitarian Award was presented to the Free Medical Clinic of Downeast Maine and accepted by A. Marshall Smith, M.D. on its behalf.  The Annual President's Award for Distinquished Service was presented to Robert Keller, M.D. of Belfast. 

David McDermott, M.D., MPH of Dover- Foxcroft was elected President-elect and Jo Linder, M.D. was selected by Executive Committee members as the new chair of the committee.

In his remarks to the membership on Saturday evening, Dr. Strassberg noted the leadership that the Association had exercised during the past 12 months and emphasized the efforts the Executive Committee had made to focus on professionalism and its relationship to quality improvement, patient safety, and ethics.  In her first address as President, Dr. Lash discussed her interest in addressing the growing epidemic of obesity and presented two examples of possible approaches to address the problem.  Dr. Lash also moderated the Public Health Leadership Forum on the same topic on Sunday morning.  The contents of both talks will be included in the Sept.-Oct. issue of Maine Medicine.

At the Association's General Membership meeting on Saturday morning, all nine Resolutions were adopted and the presented bylaw amendments passed.

At the open mike session, problems associated with appropriate hospital coverage and call responsibilities were presented, along with other subjects, including the Presidential election.

The meeting also featured 42 exhibits, including an exhibit of physician art and a unique display of Time-Life covers throughout the years that had featured topics of medicine. 

Saturday night's program also featured the presentation of 50-year pins to Russell Briggs, M.D., Edgar Caldwell, M.D., Noel Goodman, M.D., Norman Rosenbaum, M.D., Charles Smith, M.D., and Peter Webber, M.D.

The Association has held an annual meeting every year since the first meeting in 1853.  Next year's meeting will be held in Bar Harbor, Sept. 10-13, 2009.

MMA to Oppose Ballot Question One; Supports Retaining Beverage Taxes to Support Healthcare

At the recently completed Annual Session, the MMA membership voted overwhelmingly to oppose Question One on the November 4th ballot which would repeal the new funding mechanism for the Dirigo Health Program and improvements to the individual market adopted by the 123rd Legislature.  The law was objected to by state and national beverage industry interests which succeeded in acquiring the number of signatures required to place a repeal of the bill on the ballot. 

At the membership meeting, Resolution #2, calling for the Association to oppose the ballot question, engendered a fair amount of discussion on both sides but after discussion, the Resolution passed with only three members in opposition.

"The points brought out on both side were succinct and substantive but in the end, the members found the points in favor of opposing Question One more compelling," said Gordon Smith, MMA Executive Vice President following the vote.  "We will now work with other organizations making up the Health Coverage for Maine coalition which has been organized by health care and consumer groups such as the AARP, the SEIU, the Maine People's Alliance, and others.  We look forward to the campaign."

Also on Saturday, the Board of Trustees of the American Medical Association voted to contribute $40,000 to the campaign, at the request of MMA.  The Trustees agreed that the balllot question has nation-wide implications.

MMA members wishing to contribute to the campaign may send a check payable to Health Coverage for Maine to the Association at P.O. Box 190, Manchester, Maine 04351. [return to top]

Report on MMA Executive Committee Meeting, September 5, 2008

The 28-member MMA Executive Committee met on September 5th in connection with the Association's Annual Meeting.  Among the items on the agenda were the following:

  • A presentation on the Association's reserves, by RBC Wealth Management;

  • Preliminary discussion of the creation of a development plan for MMA, which would include a campaign to encourage planned giving by the members to the Maine Medical Education Trust;

  • Updates on the Voluntary Practice Assessment Initiative, the Chronic Pain project, and the anticipated contract with the state regarding academic detailing;

  • The Association's role in the upcoming campaign urging Maine voters to vote No on Question One;

  • A presentation and discussion with Paul Klainer, M.D. on the Association's role regarding technology and the member offices;

  • A review of the Association's successes during the second session of the 123rd Legislature, including a review of the proposed Board of Pharmacy Rules regarding dispensing of a limited set of medications.

The Committee will meet next on Wednesday, October 15, 2008 at the Association offices in Manchester. [return to top]

Watch for MMA Membership Survey Coming this Fall

With financial support provided by the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturer's Association (PhRMA), MMA will send a membership survey to each active member of the Association during the Fall.  The survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete and it is hoped that each member will take the time to share with us his or her views on a variety of subjects, including the use of technology in their practice and the level of participation in the various quality reporting programs, such as Medicare's PQRI.  Four questions will be included on behalf of PhRMA..

The answers will be compared to the results of similar surveys completed in Illinois, Connecticut, Maryland, and Tennessee.

Several questions will request the member's opinion on the effectiveness of MMA in a variety of areas including advocacy.  The Association's effectiveness will be compared to that of the AMA, the national medical specialty societies, and state medical specialty societies.

The survey can be completed on-line or in hard copy.

Any questions regarding the membership survey should be directed to Gordon Smith at 622-3374, ext. 212 or via e-mail to gsmith [return to top]

MMA-MHA Quality Improvement Symposium a Big Success

The Quality Improvement Symposium of Thursday, September 4, 2008 at the Samoset attracted nearly 150 registrants with representation from more than 25 different hospitals in the state.  The featured speaker was Elliott Fisher, M.D., MPH from Dartmouth who presented two talks and conducted a break-out session as well.  Robert Keller, M.D. gave the luncheon talk, highlighting the history and future of variation analysis in the state.  Governor John Baldacci provided concluding remarks as did AMA immediate past board chair Edward Langston, M.D., R.Ph.  Dr. Langston is a family physician from Lafayette, Indiana.

The program was supported financially by the Maine Quality Forum, Quality Counts, and the Aligning Forces for Quality program.  The program was put together by the MMA Committee on Physician Quality and the MHA Quality Council.

Copies of most of the power point presentations are available to MMA members through contacting the Association's office at 622-3374.  Also check the MMA website for updates at

  [return to top]

MMA Public Health Forum on Childhood Obesity Creates Insights & Discussion

Childhood Obesity - What's a clinician to do? was the central theme of MMA's First Annual Public Health Forum, held in conjunction with the 155th Annual Session of the Maine Medical Association.  Dr. Victoria Rogers, Dr. Robert Holmberg, Dr. David McDermott, Dr. Charles Danielson, and Dr. Stephanie Lash encouraged MMA members to use the strategies they presented to become more engaged with their patients to provide consistent evidence-based prevention messages to all families, and to become more involved in school and community advocacy activities.  The "Let's Go" kit was highlighted for office-based use and is available at no cost to physicians at  If you have questions or need additional information, don't hesitate to contact Kellie Miller, Director of Public Health Policy at 207-622-3374, ext 229 or [return to top]

SAVE THE DATE: National E-prescribing Conference Sponsored by CMS & Industry Partners

October 6-7, 2008

Sheraton Boston Hotel

Boston, Massachusetts


Attention Health Care Professionals and Stakeholders:

Be part of a groundbreaking opportunity!  Find out how to earn incentives from Medicare, learn how e-prescribing can work for your business, and get answers to your questions about privacy, security, and risk management.

There is no registration fee, but space is limited, so register early.  For more information or to register, go to  [return to top]

AMA Offers 2007 PQRI Survey

Are you interested in the 2007 Medicare Physician Quality Reporting Initiative?  If so, the AMA needs your help!  It has prepared a brief, confidential online survey that will take only 10-15 minutes to complete.  Information gathered from the survey process will allow the AMA and other medical specialty and state organizations to effectively advocate for changes in the PQRI.

Take Action!  The MMA and the AMA look forward to reviewing physicians' comments regarding their 2007 PQRI participation.  Visit [return to top]

National Quality Forum Recommends Physician Practices to Adopt Health IT to Improve Quality & Prevent Errors

The National Quality Forum (NQF) steering committee on health information technology on August 28, 2008dop recommended adoption of a number of technologies to improve clinical care and reduce medical errors, including:

  • electronic prescribing systems that provide doctors - as they are writing scripts for a patient - with drug interaction and dosing alerts as well as cost comparisons of various effective medications;
  • electronic care management systems able to identify specific patients in need of care, track laboratory results, and assist clinicians in providing evidence-based care according to national guidelines, using automatic alerts and reminders;
  • electronic quality registries that increase care coordination by tracking patients in need of care throughout the delivery system and giving feedback to providers as well as assisting data collection on the safety and effectiveness of care for quality improvement efforts; and
  • interoperable electronic health record (EHR) systems that are able to provide all clinicians in a medical office with instant access to the office's electronic patient records, and that eventually can receive clinical data such as external laboratory results and insert them directly into patients' EHRs.

You can find more information on the NQF recommendations on the web at: [return to top]

Census Bureau Reports Decrease in Uninsured, but More Have Public Coverage

In a report issued on August 26, 2008, the U.S. Census Bureau finds that the number of uninsured in this country decreased by 1.3 million from 2006 to 2007, but it attributed the decrease primarily to government-sponsored coverage.  The Census Bureau prepares an annual report on income, poverty, and health insurance.  This report finds that the number of uninsured Americans dropped from 47 million in 2006 to 45.7 million in 2007 - from 15.8% to 15.3% of the population.  The report, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States:  2007, found a drop in employer-sponsored coverage from 59.7% to 59.3% and an increase in government coverage from 27% to 27.8% during this same period.

The report is available on the web at: [return to top]

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