September 15, 2008

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Notes from MMA Executive Committee Meeting Sept. 5, 2008

The 28-member MMA Executive Committee met for its organizational meeting for the new year on Sept. 5 during the Association's Annual Session.  Members elected Jo Linder, M.D., an emergency physician from Falmouth as Chairman and elected Nancy Cummings, M.D. and Kenneth Christian, M.D. as at-large members of the seven member Operations Committee.  Dr. Cummings practices orthopedic surgery in Farmington and Dr. Christian is an emergency physician in Ellsworth and is Director of the Emergency Department at Maine Coast Memorial Hospital.

The Executive Committee will meet seven times between now and the Annual Session Sept. 11-13, 2009.  The Operations Committee will meet between meetings of the Executive Committee on an as-needed basis.

As part of the regular business meeting on Sept. 5, the committee took the following actions: 

  • Accepted a report from representatives of RBC Wealth Management on the current status of the Association's reserve accounts, including both MMA's operating account and the reserves associated with the Maine Medical Education Foundation.
  • Voted to recommend a $1,000 contribution from the Maine Medical Education Trust to the John Dalco Fund in memory of Thomas McDermott, M.D.  Dr. McDermott was a former chair of the Medical Professionals Health Committee and died tragically in a white water rafting accident in late August.
  • Accepted the resignation of Jay Raisen, M.D. as chair of the Committee on Membership and Member Benefits.  Dr. Raisen has recently re-located to North Dakota.  Kevin Flanigan, M.D. will resume chairmanship of this committee until a new chair is named.
  • Accepted the resignation of Kevin Flanigan, M.D. from the Executive Committee.  Dr. Flanigan's many contributions to MMA and his service on the Executive Committee was noted at the MMA Annual Banquet on Sept. 6.
  • Authorized an expenditure of up to $6,000 from the Maine Medical Education Trust (recommendation to Trustees) for preparation of a development plan for the Foundation.  A consultant has been retained to prepare the plan and to assist with its implementation.
  • Accepted a report from Paul Klainer, M.D. on the status of e-prescribing efforts in the state and the HealthInfoNet project.  Further discussion will occur at the meeting on Oct. 15.
  • Voted unanimously to oppose ballot question One repealing the wine, beer and soda taxes supporting improved health care access in the state.
  • Reviewed a first draft of the questions to be asked in an all-member survey to be sent to all members in October.

The Committee will meet next on Oct. 15, 2008 at 2:00pm at the Association offices in Manchester.

American Medical Association Contributes $40,000 to Health Coverage for Maine PAC

At its Board of Trustees meeting last week in Chicago, the American Medical Association approved a request from MMA to contribute to the campaign in opposition to Ballot Question One which would repeal the taxes on beer, wine and soda enacted to support improved health care coverage in the state.  The AMA will contribute $40,000 directly and also make available some important in-kind resources to assist in the effort to defeat the ballot question.

At the MMA Annual Session last week in Rockport, members voted overwhelmingly to oppose the ballot question.

The modest taxes, estimated to raise less than $17 million a year, were recommended by the Blue Ribbon Commission on Dirigo Health, chaired by then UNE President Sandra Featherman, PhD, and including Robert McAfee, M.D., Peter Toussaint, M.D. and MMA EVP Gordon Smith.

MMA and several other Maine organizations have organized Health Coverage for Maine, a political action committee established to mount a campaign against question one and to counter the millions of dollars being spent by the beer and wine and beverage interests to repeal the tax.

The tax amounts to approximately one penny on a glass of wine, three pennies for a bottle of beer and four pennies for a can of soda.  The health of Maine's children is worth more than a few pennies on beer, wine and soda.  When the changes in the individual market are considered, the repeal of the taxes could impact on the existing coverage for nearly 68,000 Mainers.

For more information, go to the website,  Physicians and others willing to join in the effort to defeat question one may also contact Gordon Smith at [return to top]

MMA Committee on Physician Quality to Meet this Thursday, Sept. 18

The MMA Committee on Physician Quality, chaired by President-elect David McDermott, M.D., MPH, will meet this coming Thursday, Sept. 18 at the Association offices in Manchester.  The meeting will be held from 4:00pm to 6:00pm.

The following items are on the agenda (not an exclusive list):

  • Review of Sept. 4 MMA/MHA Quality Improvement Symposium (members will discuss the possibility of future programs)
  • Update on the Voluntary Practice Assessment Initiative (VPAI)
  • Update on Quality Counts; governance and programming
  • Marketing of the office-based Quality Improvement Program
  • Programming and meeting schedule for 2009
  • Maine Quality Forum website

>Following Thursday's meeting, the committee will meet again on November 13, from 4:30pm to 6:30pm.

Any MMA members wishing to serve on the committee should contact Gordon Smith at or the committee staff Warene Eldridge at [return to top]

Watch for MMA Member Survey Coming Next Month

MMA has been selected as one of a handful of state medical societies to be offered a professional membership survey, asking for member opinion on the performance of MMA and on a variety of critical issues.  Similar surveys were conducted last year in the states of Illinois, Maryland, Tennessee and Connecticut.  In Maine, rather than a random sample of members being surveyed, all the members will receive the survey.  The cost of the survey is being born by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturer's Association which also has contributed four questions to the survey.

The survey will take only ten to fifteen minutes to complete and will be available on-line or in hard copy, as each member wishes.  It should be available by mid-October and will stay open for completion until the end of November.

MMA values the opinions of its members and we hope each member will take the time to complete the survey and let your professional association know your opinion. [return to top]

Maine Quality Forum Meeting Highlights - Friday, September 12th

Dirigo staff provided a brief update on Dirigo and announced the three new Dirigo Board members:  Joseph Bruno, Sara Gagne-Holmes and MaryAnn Ringle, as well as provided a brief overview of “Question One” on the ballot regarding the tax increase in beer, wine and syrup beverages.  The referendum campaigns have begun on both sides of the issue and the Dirigo Board will await the outcome of the results and proceed accordingly.

 A preview of the updated MQF website consisting of the hospital comparison data, collected by Chapter 270, which makes information on the quality of care in Maine hospitals more accessible to people who use and provide health care in Maine was provided at the meeting.  The Web site has two sections:

The Maine Hospital Quality Snapshots present simple metrics on how hospitals care for patients with specific clinical conditions. It contains:

  • Performance Meters of each hospital's performance on different measures of healthcare quality
  • Data Tables with all the data for each hospital on all measures of healthcare quality

The Methods and Advice section includes:

  • Methods on how the measures were developed and how they are presented on this Web site
  • Advice to Users on how to use this information to become more informed and make better decisions when choosing a hospital

Dr. Keller and Dr. Cutler briefly outlined and discussed MQF’s three priorities: 

1)     Hospital Acquired Infection – the North and South Collaborative efforts are very effective and will continue to proceed, 2) variation of data – continuing to clean up the data in the all payor claims database, and 3) The Primary Care Medical Home (PCMH) pilot workgroup has been established and the MQF has contracted with Dr. Lisa Letourneau to lead this initiative.  A primary care payment reform workgroup has also been established, as this is a critical component of the PCMH initiative.

It was also announced that the critical access collaborative is going well with MeHaF awarding additional grants per hospital for implementation of the second phase of the project. 

 The next meeting of the MQF is scheduled for November 14, 2008. [return to top]

Maine Chapter AAP Announces Fall Conference, November 15

The Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics presents "Cutting Edge Pediatrics: Practical Hard Core Medicine for the Maine Pediatrician," November 15, 2008 at Eastern Maine Medical Center

Conference Information
This conference is intended for newborn and pediatric clinicians. Based on survey responses from MAAP members, we have developed an educational program that will focus on hard core medicine pediatric topics presented in a lecture style format with some case presentations that will allow the clinician to take the information back to their practice and implement it immediately.

At the end of the conference, attendees will be able to:

  • Understand current treatments for autism and identify screening tools
  • Understand current approaches to infants with hyperbilirubinemia
  • Understand effects of maternal substance abuse to an infant and identify ways to manage neonatal
  • withdrawal symptoms
  • Understand the most current issues and treatments related to pediatric nephrology
  • Identify the most current issues in pediatric pharmacology
  • Understand what is new in Celiac disorders
  • Identify evidence-based integrative medicine treatments for children
  • Understand the controversies related to currently recommended immunizations
  • Understand the presenting signs and symptoms of status epliepticus, appreciate the higher importance of stopping the seizures quickly, and identify the proper sequence and timing of drugs to control status epilepticus in children
  • Understand how to diagnose and treat knee pain in children
  • Understand how to diagnose and identify the current management modalities for bronchiolitis

For more information, or to register, click here [pdf]

[return to top]

Sixth Annual Maine Benzodiazepine Study Group Conference, November 10-11

The 2008 International Symposium on Pharmaceuticals in the Home and Environment:  Catalysts for Change

November 10-11, 2008
Wyndham Portland Airport Hotel
South Portland, ME

(Representing the official venue for the Sixth Annual Maine Benzodiazepine Study Group Conference and the Fifth Annual Unused Drug Return Conference)

This conference is designed for health care professionals, policy makers, law enforcement personnel, environmentalists, substance abuse professionals, and others concerned with the human and environmental impact of prescription drugs on individuals, families, and communities.

This year's conference will be the gathering place for disseminating the latest trend data available on prescription drug use and abuse.  It will also showcase the rapidly expanding number of innovative demonstrations throughout the United States and beyond that promote responsible, effective, efficient, and safe prescribing, usage, return and disposal practices.

Leading authorities from federal and state government, industry, and community health care across the United States and beyond will be presenting the latest information on cutting edge research, policy, and programming addressing:

  • Drug  diversion, fraud, prevention, and abuse 
  • New drug-related developments at the federal and state level 
  • Innovative national and international prescription drug return and disposal programs 
  • The environmental and health impacts of drug waste 
  • Medication management and prescribing 
  • And much, much more!

Plus, hear the latest developments on the Athens Declaration - an international declaration addressing unused consumer medications signed by the vote of attendees at the 2nd International Conference on the Environment held in Athens, Greece.

* * * * *

To view the advance program and register:  Go to [ ]

To reserve exhibit table space:  Go to [ ]

To submit a film to be considered for showing:  Go to  [ ] [return to top]

SOP Hearings End

On Tuesday, Superintendent of Insurance Mila Kauffman held the final five-hour hearing of the year to determine the potential value of the next Savings Offset Payment.

Attorneys for the Dirigo Health Agency and Consumers for Affordable Health Care argued that Dirigo had saved the state $149 million in health care costs in the most recent period, $120 million of it associated with hospitals controlling cost increases.  Attorneys for the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, the Maine Association of Health Plans, Anthem, and the Maine Auto Dealers Trust all argued that the amount of savings was significantly less than $149 million.

By law the SOP may not exceed a 4 percent surcharge on all paid medical claims in the state, which would cap the amount that could be raised at about $80 million if the Superintendent approves the full amount.

This year’s SOP kicks in only if the peoples veto of the tax increase on beer, wine, soda, and flavored water is successful in November.

Kauffman has until September 23 to make her decision on the amount of savings. [return to top]

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