April 19, 2010

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Happy Patriots Day; MMA Office is Open for Business

While the states of Maine and Massachusetts celebrate Patriot's Day, the MMA office is open today from 7:00am to 5:00pm in order to serve you, the members and your staffs recognizing that most medical offices are open.  State offices are also closed tomorrow for another "shut down" day, one of the devices used to close the gap in the state budget.  On the federal side, the Congress did act quickly last week to retroactively postpone the reduction in Medicare fees from April 1 to May 31.  Details of this action are included in the next article in this Update and were also sent out on Friday in a special issue. 

Relative to the Medicare payment issue, it is hoped that Congress will pass a permanent fix to the SGR formula between now and May 31.  While an overwhelming majority of both the House and Senate support a permanent fix, there is disagreement as to how much of the cost of the fix should be paid for as opposed to further increasing the deficit.  Most of the Republicans, including Maine Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, are insisting that all or a portion of the cost of the fix (estimated at $210 billion over ten years) be paid for by either raising revenues or reducing expenses somewhere else in the budget. MMA representatives will be in Washington next week to meet with the delegation and AMA staff to see what options may be available. 

MMA is participating in a grass-roots petition drive, initially established by the Texas Medical Association but now supported by all fifty state medical societies and many national specialty societies.  The goal is to present the Congress with at least one million signatures of physicians and patients stating support for a permanent fix to the SGR problem.  You are encouraged to access the on-line petition at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/meltdown/.  You can sign the petition on line and share it with colleagues and patients.  The signatures will be presented to the Congress before the end of May.

Congress Delays Medicare Physician Payment Cut Until End of May/ Sign Petition Now!

Last Thursday, April 15th, the President signed H.R. 4851, the Continuing Extension Act of 2010, into law, reinstating Medicare physician payments to where they were on March 31st and again postponing the 21.3% cut that was supposed to take effect in 2010.  This most recent extension of 2009 payment rates will continue through the end of May, and will be applied retroactively to all physician services provided to Medicare patients in April.  The legislation passed the Senate by a bipartisan vote of 59-38, and subsequently passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 289-112.

On April 15th, the hold on processing April claims that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) had placed to avoid implementing the payment cut technically expired.  However, with Congressional action so imminent, we do not believe many claims were actually processed at the lower payment rates.  However, we have been informed by CMS that any claims paid that reflected the 21.3 percent cut will be reprocessed automatically without any action required from physicians.

The AMA is continuing to work closely with House and Senate leadership offices and with White House officials on a long-term solution to the sustainable growth rate formula.  MMA representatives will be in Washington meeting with Maine's Congressional delegation on the SGR and other issues later this week.  We will keep you informed of action on the Medicare SGR issue through the Maine Medicine Weekly Update.

MMA is also participating in a petition drive initiated originally by the Texas Medical Association but now supported by all fifty state medical societies and several national specialty societies.  The goal is to deliver a petition with over a million signatures to members of Congress stating support for a permanent solution to the SGR problem.  The petition is available for your signature on line at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/meltdown/.



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Quality Counts 7 Attracts Over Four Hundred Participants

Over four hundred individuals attended Quality Counts 7 on Friday (April 16) at the Augusta Civic Center.  The theme of the conference was, Transforming Health and Healthcare in Maine's Communities:  What's Your Role?"  Keynote presentations by Dr. David Rutstein, Acting Deputy U.S. Surgeon General and Dr. John R. Lumpkin, Senior Vice President, Director, Health Care Group, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation were followed by eleven breakout sessions and a panel presentation entitled, Communities at Work - Best Practices in Piscataquis County to Improve Diabetes Care. Participants also had an opportunity to meet with colleagues from their own public health district to identify specific opportunities for improvement in their regions.  Quality Counts Executive Director Lisa Letourneau, M.D., MPH closed the day with a theme of Moving Forward Together. 

The Maine Health Access Foundation and Martin's Point Health Care were Gold level Sponsors for the event. 

The morning session also featured a presentation on nationwide health ranking by county put together by the Population Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin.  Julie Willems Dijk, R.N., PhD., from the University presented the background on the project, followed by Trish Riley, Director of the Governor's Office of Health Policy and Finance who presented the county data for Maine, by Public Health District. 

The program was moderated by Gordon Smith, Esq., EVP of MMA who is the current chair of the Quality Counts Board.  Stephen Ryan, President and CEO of the Maine Network for Health is the Vice Chair and Barbara Crowley, M.D., EVP of MaineGeneral Medical Center is the immediate past chair.

Given the success of QC 7, a date for Quality Counts 8 in mid-April, 2011 has been secured at the Augusta Civic Center and planning will begin almost immediately.

The mission of Quality Counts is transforming health and healthcare in Maine by leading, collaborating, and aligning improvement efforts.  The non-profit organization is co-located with MMA offices in the Frank O. Stred Building in Manchester.

Some of the presentations from the conference are available on the Quality Counts website at www.mainequalitycounts.org

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MMA Public Health Committee to Meet on Monday, April 26th

The MMA Public Health Committee meeting is scheduled for  Monday, April 26, 2010 from 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. at the Maine Medical Association office.  All members and interested non-members are welcome to attend.  This meeting is now accessible by Webinar via your laptop for your convenience.  Please follow the instructions below.  It would be best for you to connect in via the instructions below for "the On-line Meeting."  The Dana Center (Maine Medical Center) will no longer be used for video-conferencing of the Public Health Committee meetings because of the new Webinar capabilities.  You will still be able to connect in via conference call as well.

If you plan to attend the meeting, please email Kellie Slate Miller, Director of Public Health Policy at kmiller@mainemed.com.  Thank you, and we look forward to your involvement.  The upcoming meeting will focus on our work in Climate Change, the National Children's Study, an update on the State Health Plan, the Gubernatorial Candidate Forum focusing on public health issues held in conjunction with the MMA Annual Session, and our legislative successes and next steps.

The PHC meeting packet (agenda and supporting materials)  can be accessed one week prior to the meeting at the Maine Medical Association's website at http://www.mainemed.com/calendar/programs/2010/021010_PHCAgendaMaterials.pdf.

To join via webex, please follow the instructions below:

Topic: Public Health Committee
Date: Monday, April 26, 2010
Time: 4:00 pm, Eastern Daylight Time (New York, GMT-04:00)
Meeting Number: 738 855 359
Meeting Password: 1234

To join the online meeting (Now from iPhones too!)
1. Go to https://mainemed.webex.com/mainemed/j.php?ED=132014882&UID=914381577&PW=NNjdkNmVjMjVk&RT=MiMxMQ%3D%3D
2. Enter your name and email address.
3. Enter the meeting password: 1234
4. Click "Join Now".

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To join the audio conference only
To receive a call back, provide your phone number when you join the meeting, or call the number below and enter the access code.
Call-in toll-free number (US/Canada): 1-877-669-3239
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Toll-free dialing restrictions: http://www.webex.com/pdf/tollfree_restrictions.pdf

Access code:738 855 359

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AMA and MMA Collaborate on Climate Change and Human Health for Clinicians on May 20th

Public Health Forum on Climate Change and Human Health For Clinicians

May 20th                                                                                                                                                                                   8:30am-11:30am                                                                                                                                                                   Holiday Inn by the Bay, Portland, Maine                                                                                                                         Limited to 50 attendees  (There is no registration fee)                             

The earth's climate is in the midst of significant change and with it comes the impact upon human health.  Increased respiratory allergies, asthma attacks, days lost from work due to respiratory disease, emergency room visits, hospitalization rates, and mortality are all symptoms of climate changes.

Physicians, Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners and Nurses are being called upon to increase their involvement in educational efforts on the impending health problems due to climate change and the adaptive and mitigating actions that can be taken in the public health policy arena. 

A limited number of seats (50) are available for clinicians to attend this forum that will address the scientific underpinnings of climate change and identify human health effects and implications for public health.

Expert Faculty to include:

Paul R. Epstein, MD, MPH, Associate Director Harvard Center for Global Health and the Environment.  Dr. Epstein received recognition for his contributions on the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

Paul A. Mayewski, PhD, Explorer and Scientist Director & Professor, The Climate Change Institute, University of Maine.  Dr. Mayewski has developed integrated understanding of multiple controls on climate and unique role of human impact, demonstrated associations between climate and disruptions to civilization.

The program will conclude with a reactor panel of experts to facilitate an in-depth discussion with attendees.

To register, email kmiller@mainemed.com and indicate in the subject line that you would like to register for the Climate Change Forum on May 20th.  When your registration is received, a detailed agenda with directions will be sent to you via email prior to the forum.

This forum will provide 2.0 hours of CME and CEU credits.

The American Medical Association is sponsoring only three Climate Change forums across the country on Climate Change and this program is one of the three. [return to top]

Psychiatry Update April 30th - Registration Open

Maine Association of Psychiatric Physicians 2010 Update

Psychiatry: On the Street and In Your Genes

What: MAPP Annual Educational Sessions

When:  Friday, April 30, 2010

Where: Holiday Inn by the Bay, Portland, ME

Who Should Attend:  Psychiatrist, Primary Care Physicians, Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, Psychiatric Nurses, those that want to broaden their knowledge of mental health care

Sample Topics:

Genetics of Addiction

Medical Marijuana: Risks and Benefits, What Literature Says, Understanding the Law

Treatment of Addiction

Risks of Anti-psychotic Medicine in Dementia

Treatment of Adults with Psychotic Disorders

Prevention of Schizophrenia

And More

For more information please call or email Warene Eldridge, 207. 622 .7743 or weldridge@mainemed.com

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Insurance Superintendent Kofman Warns Practitioners About Fraudulent Insurer ATA

Maine Insurance Superintendent Mila Kofman recently has notified consumers and health care practitioner organizations about a cease and desist order she has issued against the following companies engaging in illegal insurance sales scams:

  • American Trade Association (ATA)
  • Smart Data Solutions
  • Pinnacle Health Solutions

Health care practitioners should not accept the so-called insurance from patients and should refer them to the Maine Bureau of Insurance.

For more information, please see the following notice on the Bureau of Insurance web site:  http://www.maine.gov/tools/whatsnew/index.php?topic=INS-PressReleases&id=95521&v=Default. [return to top]

POLITICAL PULSE: 124th Maine Legislature Adjourned Last Monday Afternoon

After finally reaching bipartisan agreement on a bond package, the 124th Maine Legislature adjourned sine die in the late afternoon of Monday, April 12th completing two years of work and addressing more than 2000 bills.  The legislature adjourned well ahead of its April 21st statutory adjournment deadline.  You can read the Governor's press release on the bond package here:  http://www.maine.gov/tools/whatsnew/index.php?topic=Gov+News&id=95590&v=Article-2006.

Party conventions will take place in the next month or so and the primary election campaigns will be heating up.  You can find a list of the primary election candidates for the June 8th primary here:  http://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/upcoming.html.  Please take the time to get to know the candidates for your House and Senate seats for the 125th Maine Legislature.  If you have any questions about the gubernatorial or legislative races, please contact Gordon Smith, EVP (622-3374, ext. 212; gsmith@mainemed.com) or Andrew MacLean, Deputy EVP (622-3374, ext. 214; amaclean@mainemed.com).  [return to top]

First Fridays Program on May 7th Features Risk Management

The next MMA First Fridays seminar on Friday, May 7th from 9:00 a.m. to noon features two experienced risk managers from Medical Mutual Insurance Company of Maine speaking about two important aspects of risk management in the physician office. 

  • Sue Boisvert, B.S.N., M.H.S.A., Senior Risk Manager will offer a presentation entitled, Workplace Violence:  Are You Prepared? 
  • Nancy Brandow, M.S., Senior Risk Manager will follow with a presentation entitled, Telephone Triage Tips to Reduce Risk and Improve Patient Safety.

Registration is available on the MMA web site at:  http://www.mainemed.com/.

You also may participate by WebEx.

For more information, please contact Maureen Elwell at MMA by phone at 622-3374, ext. 219 or by email at melwell@mainemed.com. [return to top]

Your Participation in Upcoming MaineCare Survey Critical to HIT Incentives

The ARRA Health Information Technology Act (HITECH) provides Medicaid incentive funding for providers adopting, implementing, or updating electronic health records and health information technology.

Physicians, physician organizations, and qualified professionals may be eligible for funding up to $63,750 per professional over a five year period.  Ongoing funding requires that providers demonstrate “meaningful use” of HIT as defined by CMS.  Physicians may be eligible for either Medicare or Medicaid funding but may not participate in both.  Hospitals are also eligible for Medicaid HIT funding but hospital employed physicians are not.  The pertinent CMS rulemaking can be found at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/Recovery/Downloads/CMS-2009-0117-0002.pdf.  Physician practice organizations are eligible for funding for up to ten providers.

Similar incentives will be administered by Medicare.  Hospitals are eligible to receive both Medicare and Medicaid funding, while physicians eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid funding must choose which program to participate in. 

MaineCare is in the planning phase of HIT incentives.  CMS requires Medicaid agencies to assess the current state of technology development in the provider community and to create a vision for the future (2015) state of HIT/HIE in Maine.  The State will use an electronic survey tool administered by the Muskie Institute to compile the assessment of current technology.

It is very important that every physician, whether eligible or not, participates in the survey.  The survey is not an application for funding, but a tool to assess the “as is” state as required by CMS. 

Funding to providers will begin in January of 2011.  The implementation phase of the project including provider funding applications begins next fall.

You will be receiving an email shortly containing the survey link.

We look forward to working with you on the HITECH funding.

If you have any questions, please contact Dawn Gallagher by phone at (207)287-9366 or by email at dawn.r.gallagher@maine.gov.

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