April 6, 2009

 
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MMA to Co-host "Listening Session" with Senator Olympia Snowe

On Tuesday morning, MMA and the Maine Hospital Association with host a "listening session" with U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe in order to give various stakeholders in the national health reform debate an opportunity to share thoughts with the Senator before hearings begin later this month.  The two hour session will be held at Portland City Hall in the State of Maine room from 9:30am to 11:30am.

As an influential member of the Senate Finance Committee, one of two committees having primary jurisdiction over Medicare and Medicaid, Senator Snowe is expected to play a leading role in the upcoming debate on national health care reform. The Senator will be accompanied by William Pewin, PhD, MPH, who is her primary health staffer.  Organizations invited to participate in the session and present their organization's position on reform include business organizations (Maine Chamber of Commerce and NFIB), consumer groups (Consumers for Affordable Health Care, AARP, Maine People's Alliance, Maine Children's Alliance, Maine Equal Justice), health associations (MMA, MHA, Maine Primary Care Association, Maine Osteopathic Association and Downeast Association of PA's), Policy institutes ( such as Maine Heritage Policy Center and Maine Center for Economic Policy) and Maine Medical Center, Mercy Hospital and Martin's Point Health Care.  Also participating will be the major voluntary health organizations (Heart, Lung and Cancer), some major employers (Hannaford and Maine Health Management Coalition), insurers (Harvard-Pilgrim and the Maine Association of Health Plans), some unions (SEIU), the USM School of Nursing and the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine.  The Governor's Office of Health Policy and Finance and the Bureau of Insurance will also participate, as will Quality Counts and the Maine Quality Forum. 

The following day, Wednesday, April 8, the Senator herself with host a similar event in Bangor at Husson College.  MMA President Stephanie Lash, M.D. will represent the Association in Bangor.  Jo Linder, M.D., chair of the MMA Executive Committee will represent MMA at the Portland event.

The Portland event will be hosted by Gordon Smith, MMA EVP and Mary Mayhew, Vice President of the Maine Hospital Association.

While open to the public and the media, space is limited and the invited organizations were limited in order to hold the participants to a number that would facilitate discussion.

Political Pulse: Legislative Highlights of the Week

BIENNIAL BUDGET

 The Appropriations Committee continued caucuses and work sessions on the FY 2010-2011 biennial budget (L.D. 353) with no definitive action on the hospital reimbursement items in the recommendations of the HHS Committee.

HHS COMMITTEE REJECTS BILL REQUIRING UNIQUE INFORMED CONSENT STANDARDS FOR VACCINES

Last week, the HHS Committee considered and rejected L.D. 819, An Act to Encourage Transparency in Disclosing the Ingredients in Vaccinations for Children to Parents and Guardians.  The bill, the latest from those in the anti-vaccine movement, was offered by Rep. Andrea Boland (D-Sanford) and was supported by Pamela Gerry, a "holistic nurse" from Sanford and a young mother who claimed that her two un-vaccinated children were as healthy as her one vaccinated child.  The Maine CDC, the MMA, and the Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics all opposed the bill.

Senator Elizabeth Schneider (D-Penobscot), sponsor of L.D. 768, An Act to Improve the Dental Health of Children by Making Fluoride Treatments More Available, came to the public hearing before the HHS Committee and asked it to kill the bill based upon a letter submitted by the MMA and the Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics describing what the Maine CDC and other medical and public health organizations are doing to ensure children have the opportunity for adequate fluoridation.

The Committee decided to kill L.D. 424, Resolve, Directing the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services To Adopt Rules Requiring a Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis Booster Vaccination in School-age Children and L.D. 881, Resolve, to Ensure the Health of Maine Children by Requiring a Certain Vaccination (dealing with meningococcal meningitis), but will direct a letter to Maine CDC Director Dora Mills, M.D., M.P.H. asking her to convene a stakeholder group to look for ways to improve the immunization situation in the state.

The Committee also addressed another bill on smoking in public places.  Members took public testimony and recommended passage of L.D. 820, An Act to Limit Smoking in Outdoor Dining Areas.  MMA Executive Committee Chair and Health Policy Partners of Maine Chair Jo Linder, M.D. was among those speaking in favor of the bill.  The sponsor of L.D. 820 was former MMA lobbyist Joan F. Cohen, Esq., a first-term member of the Maine House representing part of Portland as a Democrat.

BRED COMMITTEE HEARS BILL ON OPTOMETRIC SCOPE OF PRACTICE

On Tuesday, March 31, 2009, the Business, Research & Economic Development Committee held a public hearing on L.D. 683, An Act to Promote Cost-Effective and Broad-based Vision Care for Maine Citizens by Clarifying the Scope of Prescription Authority by an Optometrist,  a bill that has been in negotiation between the societies of ophthalmology and optometry for months.  By a work session on Friday, the parties were close to a negotiated settlement on the bill.  A key element of the bill for the optometrists is a new contact lense being developed by Johnson & Johnson that can deliver certain prescription medications.

INSURANCE COMMITTEE HEARS BILLS ON ORAL CANCER CHEMOTHERAPY & TELEMEDICINE

Last week, the Insurance & Financial Services Committee heard L.D. 1040, An Act Relating to Health Benefit Plan Coverage of Chemotherapy, a bill to require coverage of oral chemotherapy drugs on par with IV drugs delivered in a physician's office.  The MMA supported the bill, but the Committee killed it during a work session on Friday.  The Committee also heard L.D. 1073, An Act to Provide for Insurance Coverage of Telemedicine Services, a bill supported by the MMA, though with some reservations about the drafting.  The Committee seems inclined to move forward with this bill.

TAX COMMITTEE HEARS DEMOCRATS' TAX REFORM PROPOSAL

On Thursday afternoon, the Taxation Committee held a lengthy public hearing on L.D. 1088, An Act to Modernize the Tax Laws and Provide Over $75,000,000 to Residents of the State in Tax Relief.  The bill has divided the state's business organizations with some supporting and some opposing it.  The MMA is monitoring the bill to ensure that the sales tax is not extended to medical services.

NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE HEARS SERIES OF BILLS ON ENVIRONMENTAL MERCURY

Finally, last week the Natural Resources Committee held a public hearing on the following four bills deaing with mercury in the environment:

  • L.D. 973, An Act to Provide for the Safe Collection and Recycling of Mercury-containing Lighting
  • L.D. 986, An Act to Protect the Public Health and the Environment by Prohibiting the Sale of Wheel Weights Containing Lead or Mercury
  • L.D. 1026, An Act Concerning Mercury-added Button Cell Batteries 
  • L.D. 1042, An Act to Continue to Reduce Mercury Use and Emissions

The MMA Public Health Committee is monitoring these bills.



 



 



 



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MAAP Spring Conference, May 2-3: "Alternative and Complementary Pediatric Medicine"

It's not too late to register for the MAAP Spring Conference!  The early-bird conference rates apply until April 10th and the hotel has said they will continue to honor the conference rates for rooms.

Alternative and Complementary Pediatric Medicine

May 2-3, 2009

Sunday River, Bethel ME

We have a great lineup of qualified speakers on the best evidence-based topics in the field!   The Practice Awards Dinner Speaker will be Dr. Stephen Meister, the new Medical Director for the Maternal and Child Health Division of the Maine CDC who will be speaking about his experience as a Pediatrician running for Congressional office.

Bring your family along for this exciting conference at one of Maine's beautiful ski resorts!

To register: www.maineaap.org/conferences.htm. [return to top]

MMA's 18th Annual Practice Education Seminar to be held at Augusta Civic Center, June 3

MMA's 18th Annual Practice Education Seminar will be held on Wednesday, June 3, 2009 at the Augusta Civic Center.  The Program will run from 8:30am to 3:30pm and will focus on health system reform, technology (including disease registries, e-prescribing and EMR), quality improvement and health insurance issues.  Invited speakers include Attorney General Janet Mills and Insurance Superintendent Mila Koffman.  Other presenters include Lisa Letourneau, M.D. MPH, Josh Cutler, M.D., Gina Hobert, CPC, Noel Genova, PA-C, Vaughn Clark, Kenneth Lehman, Esq., Brett Witham, Esq. and Gordon Smith, Esq.  Other presenters will be announced soon.

This popular annual seminar is intended to inform physicians and practice managers of the major new laws and market trends impacting on Maine medicine.

A full schedule and registrations materials will be sent to all members and practice managers in mid-April, but you may reserve your space today by contacting Maureen Elwell at MMA at 622-3374 ext. 212 or via email to melwell@mainemed.com [return to top]

MMA Annual Benefit Golf Tournament, Monday, June 22 at Augusta Country Club

MMA's Annual Golf Tournament will be held on Monday, June 22 at the Augusta Country Club.  The event will begin with lunch on the deck at 11:00am with a shot-gun start at noon.  A traditional "scramble" format will be followed.  Brian Jumper, M.D. will chair the tournament again this year. The net proceeds from the tournament will benefit the Medical Professionals Health Program.

Registration materials for the event and sponsorship opportunities will be mailed to all prior participants and all corporate affiliates this coming week.  Watch for these materials in your mail.

Any questions may be directed to Gail Begin at MMA (622-3374 ext 210 or via email to gbegin@mainemed.com). [return to top]

Save the Date for Maine Hospital Association/Maine Medical Associationís 2nd Annual Quality Symposium

The 2nd Annual Quality Symposium, jointly sponsored by the Maine Hospital Association and the Maine Medical Association, will be on Wednesday, June 24, 2009, at the Samoset Resort in Rockport, Maine.

 

The day-long symposium, held in conjunction with MHA’s annual Summer Forum, will run from 8 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. and will include a plenary session, interactive exercises and a panel discussion around physician and hospital relations

 

Brian Wong, MD, MPH, CEO of the Bedside Trust, will be the featured speaker.  A board-certified family physician with a 30-year career in the health care industry, Dr. Wong is widely recognized as an innovator in health care strategy.  His career includes experience as a practicing physician, a hospice medical director, a medical group administrator, a managed care executive, a health system board member, a consultant in health care strategy and an expert in leadership development and executive coaching. 

 

As the CEO of The Bedside Trust, Dr. Wong’s personal mission is to help solve the health care crisis by building trust across all stakeholders.  He has dedicated his life to the idea that it is possible to define, build, multiply and leverage trust to such a degree that it becomes the most powerful engine of positive change in every medical community.  His skills in conflict resolution, negotiation, facilitation and teambuilding have enabled him to bring together large groups of physicians, nurses, administrators and other key members of the healthcare team to discover their common goals.  And the results speak to his ability.  His clients are experiencing unprecedented levels of physician, nurse and staff engagement, participation and leadership and what has followed are breakthrough improvements across the board: increased patient safety and satisfaction, higher quality of care, lowered turnover, higher efficiency and improved financial performance.

 

Dr. Wong’s session, Hospital-Physician Relations: Building a Foundation of Trust and a Shared Vision of Excellence, will kick off the conference.  It will be followed by a panel discussion featuring success stories here in Maine.  A detailed agenda and registration information will be available soon. [return to top]

New Bills for Your Review & Comment/Reminder of Legislative Committee Conference Call

The following are bills of interest to the physician community printed and referred to committees last week for your review and comment.  Please note that clicking on the highlighted "LD XXX" will take you to a PDF version of the bill.  For each bill, MMA Deputy EVP Andrew MacLean has proposed a position and any MMA committee or specialty society that might have a particular interest in the bill.  You are welcome to provide feedback about any of the bills and the proposed position by participating in the weekly conference call or by contacting Andy at amaclean@mainemed.com or 622-3374, ext. 214.

LD 1239, An Act To Establish a Revenue Source for the Maine Pesticide Education Fund (monitor; Public Health Committee)

LD 1244, Resolve, To Advance Health Care in Maine (monitor or support)

LD 1245, Resolve, To Improve the Continuity of Care for Individuals with Behavioral Issues in Long-term Care (monitor; psychiatrists)

LD 1254, An Act To Repeal Inactive Boards and Commissions (monitor)

LD 1258, An Act To Create a Duty To Report Serious Injuries (monitor or oppose; emergency physicians; Public Health Committee)

LD 1259, An Act To Increase Access to Nutrition Information (support; pediatricians; Public Health Committee)

LD 1260, An Act To Amend the Certificate of Need Act of 2002 for Nursing Facility Projects (monitor)

LD 1262, An Act To Restrict Gifts to Health Care Practitioners from Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Manufacturers (support, perhaps with qualifications)

LD 1264, An Act To Stabilize Funding and Enable DirigoChoice To Reach More Uninsured (support)

LD 1276, An Act To Ensure That High-quality Services Are Provided to Behavioral Health Clients (monitor; psychiatrists)

LD 1280, Resolve, To Provide a Program Model for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (monitor; pediatricians; psychiatrists)

LD 1281, An Act To Increase the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Licensing Behavioral Health Care Providers (monitor; psychiatrists)

LD 1285, An Act To Create the Insurance Fraud Division within the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, Bureau of Insurance (monitor)

LD 1291, Resolve, Establishing a Study Commission on In Utero Narcotic Drug Exposure (monitor or support; pediatricians)

LD 1300, An Act To Establish Head Injury Safety Requirements for School Athletic Programs (monitor or support; pediatricians; Public Health Committee)

LD 1333, An Act To Establish Climate and Energy Planning in Maine (monitor; Public Health Committee)

LD 1339, An Act To Improve Oversight of Pharmaceutical Purchasing (monitor)

LD 1340, An Act To Protect Consumers' Health Information Records (oppose)

LD 1342, Resolve, To Direct the Commissioner of Health and Human Services To Establish a Blue Ribbon Task Force To Examine the Attorney General's Report Regarding Police Shootings as It Relates to Deaths of Persons with Mental Illness (monitor or support; psychiatrists)

LD 1347, An Act To Deter Initiation of Tobacco Use by Increasing the Tax on Tobacco Products (support; Public Health Committee)

LD 1354, Resolve, Directing the Department of Health and Human Services To Limit Prescriptions for Narcotic Drugs under MaineCare without Prior Authorization (oppose)

LD 1358, An Act To Implement Shared Decision Making To Improve Quality of Care and Reduce Unnecessary Use of Medical Services (support, perhaps with qualifications)

LD 1359, An Act To Improve the Use of Data from the Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program (support, perhaps with qualifications)

LD 1360, An Act To Allow Law Enforcement and Family Members To Petition the District Court To Initiate Assisted Outpatient Treatment (monitor; psychiatrists)

LD 1363, An Act To Establish and Promote Statewide Collaboration and Coordination in Public Health Activities and To Enact a Universal Wellness Initiative (support; Public Health Committee)

LD 1365, An Act To Establish a Single-payer Health Care System (oppose, but point out how closely divided physician community seems to be, based upon recent MMA poll)

LD 1366, An Act To Increase Access to Health Care by Providing Insurance Coverage for Telemedicine (support)

LD 1376, Resolve, To Reduce Homelessness for People with Mental Illness or Dual Diagnoses (monitor; psychiatrists)

LD 1395, An Act To Amend the Maine Certificate of Need Act of 2002 (oppose)

LD 1396, An Act To Establish a Mental Health Services Advisory Commission To Improve Mental Health Services in the State (monitor or support; psychiatrists)

LD 1397, An Act To Allow Efficient Health Insurance Coverage (monitor or support)

The next MMA Legislative Committee conference call is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 9, 2009.  The conference call number is 800-989-2842 and the access code is 6223374#.  Any MMA member or specialty society representative is welcome to join the discussion of bills listed above and other legislative highlights.
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