July 6, 2009

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Twenty-eight Organizations Present at MMA/MHA "Listening Session" with Chellie Pingree

Twenty-eight organizations representing a wide variety of stakeholder interests in the current health system reform debate participated in the Maine Medical Association/Maine Hospital Association "Listening Session" with First District Congresswoman Chellie Pingree held on Thursday, July 2 at the MMA offices in the Frank O. Stred Building in Manchester.  As the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on a comprehensive health reform proposal by August 1, the event was very timely and gave many organizations in the state an opportunity to share their organizations current thoughts on where the reform proposals should focus. 

Congresswoman Pingree, accompanied by her health staffer in the D.C. office, Jennifer Taylor, offered remarks following the presentations and thanked the participants.  She noted that it would be unlikely that a similar event with such wide participation and polite discourse could take place in any other state in the country.  And despite a disparate group of interests ranging from small business advocates to consumer interests and state office holders, virtually all presenters noted the need for change and unhappiness with the status quo.  The necessity to develop a health care system that provides some type of coverage, public or private, to all Americans was a universal theme.  Beyond that, different groups supported or opposed the need for a "public option" to compete with the private health plans, and the issues surrounding an employer or individual mandate were presented.

Maine's Superintendent of Insurance Mila Koffman, J.D. expressed her personal support for a public option and discussed her previous experience as a regulator with the federal Department of Labor in Washington and as a student of health insurance models at Georgetown University.

Several physicians attended the session either as presenters or guests, including Jo Linder, M.D., representing MMA as Chair of the MMA Executive Committee, Elisabeth Mock, M.D. and Minda Gold, M.D. representing the Maine Academy of Family Physicians, Christopher Cary representing the Maine Society of Anesthesiology and Spectrum Medical Group, Josh Cutler, M.D., representing the Maine Quality Forum, Lisa Letourneau, M.D., MPH, representing Quality Counts, Mark Batista, M.D., J.D. representing Medical Care Development, Barbara Crowley, M.D. representing Maine General Medical Center and State Representative Linda Sanborn, M.D.

The event was hosted by Gordon Smith of MMA and Steve Michaud, President of the Maine Hospital Association.

MMA continues its work on national health system reform next week when the MMA Executive Committee will consider a position on the "public option".  Members wishing to weigh in on this issue may communicate comments/thoughts to EVP Gordon Smith at gsmith@mainemed.com

18 Community Health Centers (FQHCs) Receive $10.2 Million in Economic Stimulus Funds

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced this past week that $10.2 million in federal Community Health Center grant funding will be divided among the eighteen federally qualified health centers in Maine.  The funds come from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

The largest disbursement was to Penobscot Commuity Health Center, which received $1.8 million.  Next was HealthReach Community Health Centers, with administrative offices in Waterville, which received more than $l.3 million. 

The funds must be used for capital improvement needs, and several of the Centers indicated that the funds would be used to continue the move toward electronic medical records.

The following clinics/centers received grants in the amounts noted below:

  • Maine Migrant Programs, Augusta, $279,142
  • City of Portland, $320,595
  • Islands Commuity Medical Services, Vinalhaven, $295,535
  • Health Reach Community Health Centers, Waterville, $1,332,375
  • Penobscot Commuity Health Center, Bucksport, $1,820,660
  • Pines Health Services, $649,105
  • Fish River Rural Health, Eagle Lake, $365,955
  • Eastport Health Care, Eastport, $440,715
  • Harrington Family Health Center, Harrington $367,530
  • DFD Russell Medical Center, Leeds $511,520
  • Health Access Network, Lincoln, $696,390
  • Sebasticook Family Doctors, Newport, $439,348
  • Sacopee Valley Health Center, Parsonsfield, $400,500
  • Katahdin Valley Health Center, Patten $499,515
  • St. Croix Regional Family Health Center, Princeton, $360,145
  • York County Community Action Corp, Sanford, $327,595
  • Regional Medical Center at Lubec, Lubec, $409,670
  • Bucksport Regional Health Center, Bucksport, $704,580
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Governor Appoints David D. Jones, M.D. to Board of Licensure in Medicine

Governor John E. Baldacci this week appointed Presque Isle family physician David D. Jones, M.D. to the Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine.  The Governor also reappointed to the Board George "Joe" Dreyer, M.D. and public member Cheryl Clukey.  Ms. Clukey is from Augusta and is a former educator.

Jones replaces Dan Onion, M.D., who served a six-year term and chose not to be reappointed.

The Board is made up of six physicians and three public members.  The current chair is Sheridan Oldham, M.D., a retired surgeon who practiced in Waterville.  Other physicians currently on the Board include Vice-Chairman Gary Hatfield, M.D., an internist from Lewiston, David Dumont, M.D., a family physician from Lincoln and Maroulla Gleaton, M.D., an ophthalmologist from Palermo who practices in Augusta.  Dr. Dreyer practices in the Portland area and is a psychiatrist and addictionologist.  Dr. Dreyer began his medical career as a family physician.

The Board meets the second Tuesday of each month for a full-day meeting.  MMA monitors the work of the Board and reports to members via this Weekly Update and Maine Medicine. 

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Outlook for SGR Fix Improving After CMS Announcement July 1

In the proposed 2010 fee schedule rule published July 1, CMS announced it intends to remove costs of physician-administered drugs from the Medicare spending targets used to set payment targets under the sustainable growth rate (SGR).  This move, which the AMA has been seeking the past decade, significantly lowers the cost to fund a permanent solution to the steep cuts scheduled under the SGR.  Previous administrations had not been willing to make the change.

In other health reform news, the House Health Care Tri-Committee reform bill is expected to be formally introduced when Congress returns to work Tuesday.  Relative to physician fees, the Committee bill would provide for a update in 2010 pegged to the Medicare Economic Index and would then provide for payments to be adjusted annually based upon two categories:

  • All E & M and primary care, including preventive services
  • All other services, including surgery, imaging and therapy

In the Senate, the Finance Committee continues its work and Chairman Max Baucus announced this week that a working group within the Committee had pared its reform bill down to the point where its cost is far less than the $1.5 trillion originally "scored" by the Congressional Budget Office.  Unfortunately, this committee bill proposed only another temporary fix to the SGR formula.  The Committee intends to introduce its bill next week, with markup beginning around July 14. [return to top]

Make Plans Now to Attend 156th Annual Session, Sept. 11-13 in Bar Harbor

Your May-June issue of Maine Medicine contained a brochure with registration materials for the Association's Annual Meeting, being held this year at the Harborside Hotel & Marina in Bar Harbor.  Friday's educational program and opening night reception will be held at the Jackson Laboratory, also in Bar Harbor.  The theme of this year's meeting is Personalized Medicine, Translating Science to Clinical Practice, with clinical researchers from Jackson Laboratory being paired with practicing clinicians in each field to present one of our strongest educational programs.

The Meeting begins at 2:30pm on Friday, Sept. 11 with a keynote presentation by Richard P. Woychik, PhD., President and CEO of Jackson Laboratory.  The presentation will be in the auditorium at the Laboratory facilities.  A world-renowned geneticist with a background in both academia and industry, Dr. Woychik came to Jackson Laboratory in 2002. Dr. Woychik's wide-ranging interests include the molecular genetics of obesity and insulin-dependent diabetes, hearing loss and polycystic kidney disease.

If you are interested in attending and can not find the brochure, either give the office a call at 622-3374 or register on-line on the MMA website at www.mainemed.com. 

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Coding Center to Offer CPC Coding Course in Lewiston

The Coding Center, a subsidiary of the Maine Medical Association, will present a eighteen-week coding course, qualifying a student to then sit for the AAPC exam, beginning in Lewiston in August.  The classes will be held at Central Maine Medical Center's Conference Room and will be taught by Gina Hobert, CPC-I, CPC, CPC-H.

This 18-week course, developed by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), will take students through the 2009 Current Procedural Terminology (CPT), International Classification of Disease (ICD-9), and HCPCS books to address proper coding in physician practices. This class is intended to educate students on proper techniques and rules of coding and will also prepare them to sit for the AAPC Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam.

The Program includes the following:
- One year membership in the  AAPC
- Student workbooks
- CPC exam
- Group discussion and networking opportunities

Prerequisites: Two years coding experience, understanding of anatomy and medical terminology is strongly recommended

Course Requirements:
- 2009 Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) Book  (Professional Edition strongly recommended)
- 2009 ICD-9-CM Book
- 2009 HCPCS Book

$1650 MMA members & affiliates
$1750 non-MMA members

For more information on the course, please contact Maureen Elwell at 622-3374 Ext. 219 or via e-mail to melwell@mainemed.com, or click here for a registration form .[pdf] [ [return to top]

Maine Bureau of Insurance Launches Summer Consumer Outreach Program

AUGUSTA, MAINE  --  Superintendent of Insurance Mila Kofman announced on Tuesday that the Bureau of Insurance will conduct a Summer Consumer Outreach Program to help consumers with insurance cases and to raise awareness about the Bureau’s resources. 

In addition to encouraging consumers to visit the Bureau’s offices at 122 Northern Avenue in Gardiner or the agency’s website, www.maine.gov/insurance, Superintendent Kofman invites the public and media to join her and staff at events in Portland, Bangor, Presque Isle and Farmington. 

All sessions will take place from 5:00–7:00 p.m.  They will include an overview of the Bureau’s services and ample time for questions.  Additionally, staff members will assist individual consumers with their specific cases.  Dates and location are listed below.

Thursday, July 9th, Portland:
University of Southern Maine (USM)
Abromson Community Education Center, Room 110

Monday, July 13th, Bangor:
Eastern Maine Community College (EMCC)
Mathieu Auditorium, Schoodic Hall

Wednesday, August 12th, Presque Isle:
University of Maine  (UMPI)
Campus Center, Allagash Room

Tuesday, August 18th, Farmington:
University of Maine  (UMF)
North Dining Hall,  Section C

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which encourages sound ethical business practices through regulation of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions and occupations for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Maine. Consumers can reach the Bureau through its web site at www.maine.gov/insurance; by calling 800-300-5000 in state; or by writing to Bureau of Insurance, 34 State House Station, Augusta, ME  04333. [return to top]

Sebelius says 9 Percent of Mainers Lack Health Insurance

From MPBN:

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says 9 percent of people in Maine lack health insurance, and 75 percent of them are in families with at least one full-time worker.  The statistic is one of several Sebelius cited today in an effort to highlight what she called an "urgent need" for health care reform.

Sebelius released the information on a conference call with reporters today as part of the Obama Administration's push for health care reform.

She says about 783,000 people in Maine get their health insurance through their employer at an average family premium of more than $14,000 a year.  In the past nine years, she says, average family premiums in Maine have jumped 105 percent. 

Moreover, she says the quality of care in Maine is rated as average, due in part to a lack of preventive care.  She says 13 percent of Maine children are obese, 15 percent of Maine women over age 50 haven't received a mammogram in the past two years, and 27 percent of men over age 50 have never had a colorectal cancer screening.

Sebelius says Mainers have a limited choice of insurers. She says WellPoint, Inc.'s subsidiary, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, constitutes nearly 80 percent of the state's health insurance market.

To view the statistics Sebelius released about Maine, click here. [return to top]

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