May 18, 2009

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Make Plans Today to Attend the 2nd Annual Quality Symposium

Building upon a successful event last year, the Maine Medical Association, the Maine Osteopathic Association, and the Maine Hospital Association are collaborating on a 2nd Annual Quality Symposium scheduled for Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at the Samoset Resort in Rockport.  This year's symposium is entitled, Hospital-Physician Relations:  Building a Foundation of Trust and a Shared Vision of Excellence.  The Maine Quality Forum is sponsoring the event.  The featured speaker will be Brian Wong, M.D., M.P.H., who will conduct a workshop on the title subject in the morning.  You will find registration materials and more information on the MMA web site at:

The 2nd Annual Quality Symposium will take place in the Baypoint Ballroom at the Samoset and will begin with registration and continental breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and will end at 2:30 p.m.  Lunch also is included.

Dr. Wong wiil conduct his workshop, Hospital-Physician Relations:  Building a Foundation of Trust and a Shared Vision of Excellence from 8:15 a.m. to noon.  As the CEO of Bedside Trust, Dr. Wong's personal mission is to help solve the health care crisis by building trust across all stakeholders.  His skills in conflict resolution, negotiation, facilitation, and team-building have enabled him to bring large groups of physicians, nurses, administrators, and other key members of the health care team together to discover their common goals.  During the workshop, Dr. Wong will use both group presentations and interactive exercises to review the TRUST Cycle, a patent-pending framework designed to diagnose and then treat the root cause of almost every problem in quality and patient safety:  mistrust.  With an approach built around these fundamentals, Dr. Wong will show attendees how to attain breakthrough improvements across the board:  in increased patient safety and satisfaction, higher quality of care, lowered turnover, higher efficiency, and improved financial performance.

After lunch, Maine physicians, nurses, and administrators will participate in a panel discussion entitled, Hospitals and Physicians Working Together - Sharing Success Stories Here in Maine

CME approval for this event is pending.

Still Time to Register for 18th Annual Practice Education Seminar, June 3 in Augusta

There is still time to register for MMA's 18th Annual Practice Education Seminar being held on Wednesday, June 3, 2009 at the Augusta Civic Center.  Four plenary sessions and twelve afternoon breakout sessions will prepare attendees to face the current regulatory and practice environment.  Keynote presenters include Maine Attorney General Janet Mills and Maine Superintendent of Insurance Mila Kofman, J.D.  Topics covered in the breakout sessions include the new HIPAA changes included in the recent federal stimulus law and the FTC's Red Flag rules on efforts to prevent identity theft.  Other presenters include Lisa Letourneau, M.D., MPH; D. Joshua Cutler, M.D., David McDermott, M.D., MPH and MaineCare and Medicare officials.

While we know it is difficult to take a day from the office, this one day program could ultimately save you far more than a day by focusing your attention on compliance, quality improvement, and technology issues.

You may register on the MMA website at or by calling the office at 622-3374, extension 219. 

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Physicians' Day at the Legislature is this Thursday, May 21st - Please join us!

In an effort to attract additional publicity, the following media advisory will be released on Wednesday, highlighting the MMA's public health efforts, starting the day with a run/walk with Governor John E. Baldacci at 7:00 am.  It's not too late to participate!  If you are interested in participating and haven't RSVP'd, contact Maureen Elwell at 622-3374, ext. 219 or  For the day's full agenda, go to the MMA website at and click on Physicians Day.

Physicians Gather at Statehouse to Highlight Public Health Efforts

Outside the Walls of Clinical Medicine

Manchester - The Maine Medical Association and Maine Osteopathic Association begin their biennial Physicians’ Day at the Legislature at 7:00 am on May 21st, highlighting organized medicine’s public health efforts with a run/walk with the Governor to practice what they recommend to patients --- that exercise is one key ingredient to a healthy and productive lifestyle.  Press and media representatives are welcome to join the physician participants on the run with the Governor.   The starting point will be at the Kennebec River Rail Trail message board at Capitol Park, located west of the YMCA.

The two physician associations are working on healthy weight initiatives that go beyond the traditional clinical setting.  MMA President Stephanie Lash’s presidential initiative has physicians meeting with their local school superintendents to build collaborative efforts to increase the health and well-being of young people in schools.  Dr. Lash stated, that “Physicians are an excellent resource to assist in the healthy weight initiatives at the local level and have become connected to the Healthy Maine Partnerships throughout the state.  It is imperative that we continue to build these relationships at the community level to build “health” back into our environment.”

To lead by example, the physician groups will be posting calorie content for the Hall of Flags breakfast items that will be served and will provide additional public health information at select display tables, such as the “Fast Food Nutritional Quiz,” and Fast Foods Answer to Menu Labeling educational Video, to gain a greater appreciation for the difficulty one has when choosing healthier food choices at fast food restaurants.

Speaker of the House Hannah Pingree (D - North Haven), the prime sponsor of LD 1259, An Act to Provide Access to Nutritional Information praised the work of Maine doctors to lead on efforts to make needed environmental changes to improve the health of Maine people.  "As Legislators struggle to close the state budget gap we have to deal with the high health care costs associated with obesity," said Speaker Pingree.  "Overweight and obesity are quickly overtaking tobacco as our number one public health concern.  Whether it is increased physical activity or increasing awareness on calorie content, we need to take action on a number of fronts."  

More than 12 specialty physician organizations will be participating by providing up to date information on their respective specialties, as well as new and innovative treatment procedures.

The Maine Osteopathic Association's public health efforts include the launching of a brand new “mini-medical school” program designed to teach healthy lifestyle habits to elementary school children, including the importance of healthy eating, physical activity and preventive medical check ups.  This initiative is made possible with a grant from the Osteopathic Heritage Fund.

The MOA's President- elect Joel Kase, D.O., MPH adds, “Osteopathic physicians have long been committed to prevention and wellness and we are pleased to be working with schools across Maine.”

 To learn more about the Maine Medical Association's Public Health Agenda, go to and click on Public Health and for the Maine Osteopathic Association’s go to   [return to top]

CMS to Hold Provider Conference Call on PQRI on Wednesday, May 20 2:30-4:30

CMS has announced an upcoming Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI) and e-prescribing program national provider conference call.  The May 20th call is from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. EDT.  Topics to be covered include an update on the Quality Data Code Error Report, tips for satisfactorily reporting in 2009 PQRI, and frequently asked e-prescribing questions.  Educational materials are available on the CMS PQRI Web site and e-prescribing Web site, in the “Educational Resources” section.  You must register for the call by 2:30 p.m. EDT May 19.  Space is limited, so register early.  A replay of the call will be available by calling 800.642.1687 (passcode 90613260) between 5:30 p.m. EDT May 20 and 11:59 p.m. EDT May 27.  If you require services for the hearing impaired, e-mail [return to top]

Participate in QI Best Practices Inventory, Win an iPod Nano

What's an iPod Nano got to do with quality improvement (QI) best practices? In the case of the upcoming QI Best Practices Inventory, and with a little luck, the two could just be connected!

In an effort to learn more about the adoption of QI best practices by Maine primary care physician (PCP) practices - such as use of EMRs, registries, nurse care managers, or same-day scheduling, Quality Counts is teaming up with the Maine Quality Forum and the Maine Primary Care Association to launch a statewide QI Best Practices Inventory.  We're asking one individual from each PCP practice (practice manager, medical director, or physician) to complete the survey as a way of learning more about which practices are using these tools to improve care.  The survey will be available in web-based or paper formats, and is estimated to take 10-15 minutes to complete.  Individuals completing the survey by June 1, 2009 will be eligible to win one of three iPod Nanos.

The survey is being distributed by Portland Research Group, and will be sent via email to all practices for whom we had an email contact (usually the practice manager or lead physician).  The email will be sent out from Portland Research, and set up to come from “Lisa Letourneau - Quality Counts [].”  For practices without an email contact, we will be mailing a paper version of the survey (will come in a Quality Counts envelope).

If you know of any practices that don’t get the survey and would be willing to complete it, please have them e-mail Bonnie Esposito at Portland Research Group ( saying they wish to participate in the Maine Primary Care Practice survey.  They should include the name of their practice (so we can check for duplicates), and of course their e-mail address.  They will send out the invitation directly from there. [return to top]

MMA Public Health Committee Meets this Wednesday, May 20th, 4-6 pm

The MMA’s Public Health Committee will hold its next meeting from 4 pm to 6 pm on May 20, 2009 at the MMA.  Light refreshments will be available.  Please RSVP your attendance plans to and indicate whether you will be joining the meeting in person, by conference call, or by video-conferencing at the MMC Dana Center, Room #4 in Portland, Maine. 

The agenda will include:

  • Finalizing the Public Health Forum Panel on “Environmental Toxins – the Economic Cost of In-Action,” to occur at the MMA's Annual Session on September 13, 2009;

  • Priority legislation updates regarding childhood immunization program in Maine and the cost barriers, as well as the healthy weight legislative priorities on menu labeling, increased physical education in schools (PE4ME), status of Body Mass Index data collection, and the physician role in local communities and school districts;

  • Discussion on the development and preparation of potential Public Health Resolutions for submission to the MMA’s General Membership Meeting;

  • Wind Turbine Issue - follow up action by the Public Health Committee;

  • Because of the most recent H1N1 influenza outbreak, we will allow time on the agenda for updates.

All MMA members are welcome to attend the Public Health Committee meetings and we encourage your participation to assist us in moving our Public Health agenda forward.  The full agenda and meeting packet will be emailed prior to the meeting to all committee members and to those members who are interested in receiving the agenda.

The conference call number is:  1-800-989-2842, Passcode:  6223374#.

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Health Care Reform Discussions Continue at Brisk Pace in Washington, D.C.

Last week, President Obama's rhetoric on health care reform suggested that there are "no excuses" for not proceeding with action on health care reform this year.  DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the HHS Office of Health Reform, directed by Jeanne Lambrew, to coordinate with the White House Office of Health Reform.  House Democrats told the President that they would approve health care reform legislation by the August recess.  Two key committees, the House Energy & Commerce Committee and the Senate Finance Committee have been meeting regularly to consider various options for health care reform, including the possibility of a public plan, an individual mandate, an employer mandate or "play or pay," and funding options, including the elimination of the tax deduction for employer-sponsored health insurance, something Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) said is unlikely.  Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, a member of the Finance Committee, publicly expressed her concern about the elimination of the tax deduction, particularly because of the high cost of health insurance coverage in Maine. [return to top]

AMA Offers HIT Webinar Series

The AMA is pleased to offer a free webinar series to all physicians that will help them understand the health information technology (HIT) provisions laid out in the recently passed economic stimulus bill.  The three-part series will start on Thursday, May 21st at 1:00 p.m. EDT.  

To register for the webinar, or to view the HIT tools and resources the AMA currently has available online, please visit the AMA web site at:
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Comparative Effectiveness Council Approaches June 30th Report Deadline

A 15-member Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness is working towards a June 30th report to DHHS Secretary Sebelius on how she should use $400 million in funding from the ARRA for comparative effectiveness research.  In addition to this funding, the ARRA also provides $300 million for the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ) and $400 million for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for comparative effectiveness research.  The Council has held two "listening sessions," one last week in Chicago and one in mid-April in Washington, D.C. to receive public input.  At both sessions, health care advocacy organizations emphasized that comparative effectiveness research should truly emphasize the effectiveness of health care treatments rather than simply costs. [return to top]

Political Pulse: Appropriations Committee Includes HealthInfoNet & PCMH Pilot Funding in Budget


With the exception of the Appropriations Committee, legislative committees completed most of there work last Friday afternoon.  The legislature now needs to process committee reports on all bills, including the biennial budget when complete and bonds, before adjourning its First Regular Session scheduled for June 17, 2009.

THE FY 2010-2011 BIENNIAL BUDGET (L.D. 353)

Last week, the Appropriations Committee continued caucuses and work sessions as it tries to finalize a deal on the biennial budget.  The Committee did not meet over the weekend, but it expects to issue its report this week.  Among the budget agreements reached last week were:

  • Restoration of $10 million in hospital MaineCare settlements of the $15 million the Governor had proposed to pay out of any state budget surplus as part of his plan to cover the latest budget gap.  According to the MHA, the committee's action will resolve all 2006 hospital settlements and will pay a substantial number of the 2007 settlements.
  • Restoration of $1.7 million in funding for the HealthInfoNet project which had been cut in the Governor's plan to cover the latest budget gap.
  • Reduction of a proposed $3.5 million in funding for the new medical school initiatives to $3 million.
  • Agreed upon funding of $500,000 for a patient centered medical home pilot project.

Because the budget is not yet complete, DHHS has sent a communication to all MaineCare providers that it will not be able to process claims, beginning with the cycle of May 20th.  This will be for all payments systems, including MeCMS and MePOPs.  Providers will receive payments this week from the May 13th cycle.


Last week, the HHS Committee held a public hearing on what is likely its last bill of the session, L.D. 1464, An Act to Amend Licensing, Certification and Registration Requirements for Health Care Providers and Other Facilities, a bill that would require most health care facilities, including ambulatory surgical facilities, to obtain a criminal background check before hiring an individual who will have direct contact with a patient.  The bill does not apply to physician offices.  The Committee voted unanimously "ought to pass" on the bill at a work session immediately after the hearing.

Also, the Committee held a work session on L.D. 1259, An Act to Increase Access to Nutrition Information, the "menu labeling" bill.  Although not all members were present, it appears that a strong majority of the committee favors the bill.  Only Republican Representatives Meredith Strang-Burgess (Cumberland) and Henry Joy (Crystal) voted against the bill.  The MMA urges you to contact your own legislators to urge their support for the bill.  The MMA will keep you posted on the likely timing of the debate on this bill and will provide you with talking points.


In the last several days, the House and Senate have been debating L.D. 319, An Act to Track the Prevalence of Childhood Obesity in Maine, one of the key obesity initiatives of the session.  Today, the House and Senate finally agreed on a series of amendments that will avoid a fiscal note on the bill.  You can see the legislative history of the bill on the web at:



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REMINDER: Legislative Committee Conference Call this Thursday at 8:30 p.m.

The next regular Legislative Committee conference call will be this Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 8:30 p.m.  The conference call number is 800-989-2842 and the access code is 6223374#.  There are no new bills for review this week, but the MMA staff will provide an update on the FY 2010-2011 biennial budget (L.D. 353) and other legislative highlights of the week.  [return to top]

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