June 8, 2009

 
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Second Annual Quality Symposium: June 24 in Rockport

The Maine Medical Association, the Maine Hospital Association and the Maine Osteopathic Association are presenting the second annual Quality Symposium, featuring Brian Wong, M.D., MPH presenting, "Hospital-Physician Relations:  Building a Foundation of Trust and a Shared Vision of Excellence," at the Samoset Resort on June 24.   A board certified family physician with a 30 year career in the healthcare industry, Dr. Wong is widely recognized as an innovator in healthcare strategy.  The afternoon features a panel discussion entitled, "Hospitals and Physicians Working Together - Sharing Success Stories Here in Maine."  The program has been approved for 6.5 hours of category one CME.

The target audience for this program includes chief executive officers, other senior-level executives, physicians and board members.  While any physician, executive or board member from any healthcare organization will benefit from participating, interdisciplinary team attendance is highly encouraged.

Registration information is available at http://www.themha.org/education/QualitySymposiumflyer.pdf.  Questions about the program may be directed to the Maine Hospital Association at 622-4794.  The registration fee is $100 per person and includes a continental breakfast, lunch and program materials.

For those persons wishing to stay overnight, rooms are available at the Samoset Resort at a discounted rate for Tuesday, June 23.  You may call the Samoset directly at 1-800-341-1650 and ask for the MHA rate.

18th Annual Practice Education Symposium Featured Janet Mills and Mila Kofman

Well over one hundred persons attended the Association's 18th Annual Practice Education Symposium at the Augusta Civic Center last Wednesday.  Keynote speakers Attorney General Janet Mills and Insurance Superintendent Mila Kofman impressed attendees with their interest in working with practices to ease some of the administrative hassles facing physicians.  Attorney Mills allocated about one-third of her talk to the issue of prescription drug abuse.  Citing statistics regarding the number of infants born in withdrawal (over three hundred per year), the number of accidental drug overdose victims, and the number of arrests and convictions, she implored Maine's medical community to do more to prevent diversion.  Read it here now [Adobe Acrobat PDF - 86.14 KB].

Superintendent Kofman discussed her initiatives at the Bureau and her interest in providing a forum for physicians and practice staff to meet with her and bureau staff to review the types of problems that exist with respect to health insurance practices.  She encouraged physicians and office staff to have their patients use the consumer line at the Bureau (1-800-300-5000) if issues arise with insurance carriers.  She also discussed her initiative to better enforce the insurance laws by performing market conduct studies.

The most popular breakout sessions in the afternoon program appeared to be the HIPAA update, the program on the FTC Red Flag rules regarding avoiding identity theft, and the track involving technology.

A huge thank you to those readers who attended and to all our speakers and guests.  It was our best attended program in some time. [return to top]

Richard Petersen named President and CEO of Maine Medical Center

The Maine Medical Center Board of Trustees announced last week the selection of Richard Petersen as President and CEO of Maine Medical Center.  Petersen had been acting CEO since the departure of Vince Conti.

"(Petersen) is a principled and results-oriented leader with a proven track record in setting strategic direction, achieving positive financial performance and developing highly effective teams," said Meg Baxter, chair of the Maine Medical Center Board of Trustees. 

Before his role as interim president and CEO, Petersen was chief operating officer at Maine Medical Center for ten years. [return to top]

MMA Payor Liaison Committee Meets June 10 on Medicare RAC Audits

A final reminder that the Association's Payor Liaison Committee will meet this coming Wednesday night (June 10) in Manchester to hear from CMS official Andrew Finnegan regarding the Medicare RAC audits that will begin in Maine prior to the end of the year.  At this point, it is not yet known whether representatives of the contractor hired to conduct the audits will be present with Mr. Finnegan or not. 

The audits are very controversial as the contractors are allowed to retain a percentage of what they determine is a past overpayment to a physician or other provider.

The event begins with dinner at 6:00pm followed by the meeting at 6:30pm.  Any MMA member or practice manager is welcome to attend but please call Diane McMahon at 622-3374 to let her know so that we may have an accurate count for dinner. [return to top]

Special MMA Event at Portland Motor Club on June 18, 5:30-7:30pm

The Maine Medical Association and Portland Motor Club invite you to spend, "An Evening with the Cars", a unique and exciting social event for MMA members and their guests at the new Portland Motor Club at 275 Presumpscot Street in Portland.  This event follows very successful events with the Cumberland County Bar Association and other professional groups, which have been introduced to the Motor Club through similar events.  If you are a car enthusiast (a/k/a motorhead), don't miss this opportunity to visit with the cars and your professional colleagues who also enjoy cars.

The event includes:

5:30pm    Reception

6:30pm    Tour of Motor Club

6:45pm    A conversation with owner Bill Waldron about his classic car collection and Portland Motor Club.

Feel free to invite friends or associates who have a particular interest in cars and car collecting.

For directions, go to:  www.PortlandMotorClub.com/contact.php    RSVP to info@PortlandMotorClub.com or call 207-775-1770 and please indicate the number of guests in your party. [return to top]

Public Health Committee to change the August 19th meeting to August 26th

Under the direction of Chair, Dr. Charles Danielson, the next meeting of the Public Health Committee has been rescheduled to August 26th, 4pm - 6pm, (formerly August 19th) to allow for increased member participation in the final formulation of the Public Health Committee's Resolutions for submission to the Maine Medical Association.  The final resolutions will be considered by the members at the MMA's Annual Session's General Business Meeting on Saturday, September 12th.  At this stage, the resolutions will be developed in regards to the following public health issues:

  • Emphasis of the physician's role in the state's current Public Health Infrastructure through the District Coordinating Councils.
  • Federal Health Care reform efforts around the financing structure for childhood immunizations.
  • The use of Wind Turbines as a green energy source.
  • Patient education regarding menu labeling and the role of physicians in the clinical setting.

The agenda and support materials for the meeting will be emailed prior to the meeting.  The conference call in line is available by dialing:  1-800-989-2842; Passcode:  6223374#, as well as videoconference at the Dana Center.  If you have questions or need additional information, contact Kellie Miller, Staff, at 622-3374, ext. 229 or kmiller@mainemed.com [return to top]

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

With adjournment of the First Regular Session of the 124th Maine Legislature anticipated on Friday, June 12, 2009, the last Legislative Committee conference call for this session is scheduled for this Thursday, June 11, 2009 at 8:30 p.m.  The conference call number is 800-989-2842 and the access code is 6223374#.  The MMA staff will provide an update on action during the last week of the session. [return to top]

POLITICAL PULSE: 124th Maine Legislature Expected to Adjourn First Session this Coming Friday

THE LEGISLATURE'S SCHEDULE

The legislative leadership has advised members and the public that the First Regular Session of the 124th Legislature likely will adjourn this Friday, June 12, 2009, 5 days ahead of the June 17, 2009 statutory adjournment deadline.  Speaker Pingree announced this morning that the House has fewer than 100 bills left to address.

MENU LABELING BILL TABLED IN THE SENATE AWAITING TECHNICAL AMENDMENT

Last week, the menu labeling bill, L.D. 1259, An Act to Increase Access to Nutrition Information, passed in the House by a vote of 88-56 in the House and 18-17 in the Senate.  It is now tabled in the Senate as a technical amendment on portion size is prepared.  The MMA expects the vote to hold in the Senate, but it still would be helpful for you to contact your own Senator to urge support for the bill.

You can see the roll call votes on the web at:  http://janus.state.me.us/legis/LawMakerWeb/rollcalls.asp?ID=280032306.

You can leave a message at the State House for your legislators by calling toll free as follows:

Representatives:  1-800-423-2900

Senators:  1-800-423-6900

DIRIGO FUNDING BILL UP FOR ENACTMENT IN SENATE

Also last week, L.D. 1264, An Act to Stabilize Funding and Allow DirigoChoice to Reach More Uninsured, the bill to replace the Dirigo savings offset payment (SOP) funding mechanism with a an assessment on paid claims passed in initial votes in both houses.  The roll call vote was 83-53 in the House and 20-15 in the Senate, largely along party lines.  You can find the status of the bill on the web at:  http://janus.state.me.us/legis/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280032311.

 It now awaits final enactment in the Senate.

HEALTH CARE "BILL OF RIGHTS" PASSES HOUSE

L.D. 1205, An Act to Establish a Health Care Bill of Rights, a 9-4 "ought to pass as amended report" from the Insurance & Financial Services Committee, passed the House by a vote of 80-59 last Friday.  The bill makes several amendments to the Insurance Code, including giving the Insurance Superintendent more authority to regulate rates in the small group health insurance market and, of particular interest to physicians, providing more due process rights for physicians in health plan "profiling" and "tiering" programs.  The bill currently is held in the House by the Speaker.

HEALTHINFONET IS SUBJECT OF LAST MINUTE BILL IN HHS COMMITTEE

The Health & Human Services Committee met briefly this afternoon to consider an emergency bill, An Act Regarding the Transfer of Patient Health Care Information through an Electronic Health Information Exchange, a bill that amends Maine' health information confidentiality statute to facilitate the work of HealthInfoNet.  The MMA spoke in favor of the bill which received unanimous support in the committee.  

During the past week, HealthInfoNet and its stakeholders, including the MMA, have been working to keep a potential bond initiative in the amount of $10 million in consideration as the Governor and legislative Democrats and Republicans negotiate a bond package.  The HealthInfoNet bond, L.D. 729 sponsored by Senator Lisa Marrache, M.D., did not make it into the Governor's bond proposal, nor is it on the short list for either legislative Democrats or Republicans.  At a work session in the Appropriations Committee last Thursday, the Democrats proposed a bond package of approximately $275 million, while the legislative Republicans proposed a package of approximately $129 million.

MINORITY REPORT ON CON BILL PASSES HOUSE AND SENATE

Finally last week, both the House and Senate passed the HHS Committee's minority report on L.D. 1395, An Act to Amend the Maine Certificate of Need Act of 2002.   Both reports fixed the thresholds for CON review as follows:

  • Major medical equipment:  $1.6 M
  • New technology:  $1.6 M
  • Capital expenditures:  $3.1 M

The distinction in the minority report is that it also includes a threshold for simplified CON review for replacement equipment set at $2 M.  The majority report completely eliminated the exemption to CON review for replacement equipment. [return to top]

President Obama Nominates Kevin Concannon to Agricultural Post

Former Maine HHS Commissioner Kevin Concannon has been nominated by President Barack Obama to a post in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Concannon will serve as Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. 

Concannon headed the Maine Department of Human Services from 1995 to 2003.  He was commissioner of the Maine Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation from 1980 to 1987.  More recently, he served as Commissioner of HHS in the state of Iowa.

The nomination was applauded last week by U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, who said Concannon has a wealth of experience in public health policy that makes him well-suited to become undersecretary. [return to top]

AMA & Others Follow Up on $2 Trillion Savings Pledge to President

On June 1, 2009, the stakeholders who recently met with President Obama at the White House to discuss savings in our health care system (AMA, AHA, PhRMA, AHIP, SEIU, & AdvaMed) submitted a 25-page proposal to improve quality and control costs in our health care system.  The paper predicts savings of as much as $1.7 trillion over 10 years through 4 categories:

  • utilization of care ($150-180 billion);
  • chronic care ($350-850 billion);
  • administrative simplification & the cost of doing business (a combined $500-700 billion).

In particular, the AMA offered proposals to improve the quality of care, including a program to improve care transitions and to avoid readmissions to hospitals through standards of care and better use of health IT.  The AMA also pointed out the potential benefits of reducing unnecessary utilization and highlighted the work of the Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement (PCPI), a group that works to develop "evidence-based measures that capture variations in care and inform efforts to improve the quality of care and the appropriate utilization of health care services and treatments." [return to top]

Maine's Largest Physician Network Allies with Athenahealth

An alliance has been formed between athenahealth and Medical Network, the state's largest physician organization.

The Watertown, Mass.-based athenahealth, which has an operations center in Belfast, provides Internet-based business services to physician practices. Medical Network Inc. is Maine's largest independent preferred provider organization with more than 4,000 medical provider members. Both entities announced their alliance Wednesday.

As a result of the alliance, MedNet providers practicing in Maine will gain access to athenahealth's integrated electronic health record and revenue management services.

The relationship could lead to the creation of additional jobs at the athenahealth's Belfast division.

"This will enable doctors to access health records and get paid faster with less hassle," said John Hallock, athenahealth's director of corporate communications.

The relationship also will give MedNet providers a greater ability to participate in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act.

The federal HITECH Act was enacted in February as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which includes financial incentives to qualified medical providers that demonstrate meaningful use of an electronic health record.

"We are impressed with athenahealth's products and services which have the capacity to significantly improve a physician's ability to deliver quality care, help link rural physician practices and avoid unnecessary and costly duplication of services, while reducing the administrative complexity of practice operations," said MetNet chairman Dr. William Maxwell of Portland.

Jonathan Bush, Chairman and CEO of athenahealth said the company and MedNet share a common goal to provide technology and services that will allow Maine medical providers to elevate the quality of care delivered while minimizing administrative hassles associated with operating a medical office. [return to top]

Maine Board of Licensure Seeks Applicants for BOLIM Medical Director

This Physician III position will serve as the Medical Director of the Board of Licensure in Medicine.  The primary role of the Medical Director will be to provide clinical consultation to Board staff and legal counsel, and analysis of complaints against licensees in order to determine the investigative information necessary for review by the Board.   Responsibilities include, but are not limited to providing initial case review and guidance to investigative staff regarding special materials which are required to satisfy initial case status; performing initial analysis of materials collected for relevance to the complaint and identifying critical relevant investigative factors to board member reviewers; sitting as a participating member of the Board Case Review Committee to review and recommend complaint disposition to Board Members; assisting the Attorney General’s Office as an expert consultant in case review and hearing preparation; serving as an expert witness in complaint hearings as appropriate; providing clinical consultation to investigative staff.

Minimum Qualifications:  In order to qualify, applicants must have (1) a current active Maine allopathic medical license, (2) five (5) years of active fulltime medical practice within the past nine (9) years, (3) ABMS Board certification, with preference given to family practice, internal medicine or emergency medicine, and (4) no disciplinary history.  Experience in quality assurance or medical staff peer review helpful.  History of medical practice in Maine desired.

To apply:  Qualified candidates should send a letter of interest and C.V. postmarked by June 24, 2009 to:

Mary Jayne W. Monroe
Personnel Specialist
Security and Employment Service Center|
45 Commerce Drive, SHS# 108
Augusta, Maine 04333-0108
(207) 623-6736

Questions regarding this position should be directed to Randal Manning, Executive Director, Board of Licensure in Medicine at 287-3605 or Randal.C.Manning@maine.gov. [return to top]

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