January 9, 2012

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Second Session Opens; Legislative Committee Conference Calls Begin Tomorrow; New Bills for Review & Consideration

The Second Regular Session of the 125th Maine Legislature opened last Wednesday, January 4th and is expected to conclude in mid-April.  Please join the weekly conference call of the Legislative Committee to review the new bills listed below and to discuss further the supplemental budget debate and other current issues before the Maine legislature.  The calls are completed in an hour or less.  Please see the call information below.

The MMA's Legislative Committee will begin its weekly conference calls during the legislative session tomorrow, Tuesday, January 10th at 8:00 p.m.  Legislative Committee members and specialty society legislative liaisons are strongly encouraged to participate.  Any physician, practice manager, or other staff member who is interested in the MMA's legislative advocacy also is welcome to participate.  It is not necessary to RSVP for the calls.

Please use the following conference call number and passcode.  These will remain the same for every weekly call during the session:

Conference call number:  1-877-669-3239

Passcode:  23045263

The purpose of the weekly conference calls is to review and finalize the MMA's position on bills printed that week, to hear the views of specialty societies on the new bills or their concerns about any health policy issues, and to discuss the highlights of legislative action that week.  The calls rarely last longer than an hour and usually we can accomplish our business in much less time.

If you have any questions about the conference calls, please contact Andrew MacLean, Deputy EVP at amaclean@mainemed.com or 622-3374, ext. 214.

The following are bills of interest to the physician community identified by the MMA staff.  By clicking on the highlighted "LD XXXX," you will go to the summary page for the bill on the legislature's web site.  You can find the text of the bill by following the tabs on the left side of the summary page.  These bills will be on the agenda for the weekly Legislative Committee conference call next week, or you may provide feedback directly to Andrew MacLean, Deputy EVP, by phone at 622-3374, ext. 214 or by email at amaclean@mainemed.com.  You will note that the MMA staff has suggested a position for each bill along with a MMA committee or specialty society that may have a particular interest in the bill.

L.D. 1603, An Act To Amend the Law Relating to Concealed Firearms Locked in Vehicles (oppose; Public Health Committee)

L.D. 1608, An Act To Clarify the Laws Governing Pharmacy Interns (monitor)

L.D. 1621, An Act To Remove a Barrier to Response by Emergency Medical Personnel (support; emergency physicians; Public Health Committee)

L.D. 1624, An Act To Lessen the Regulatory Burden on Medical Laboratories by Removing Outdated Requirements from the Maine Medical Laboratory Act (oppose; pathologists)

L.D. 1627, An Act Regarding the Filing of Birth, Death and Marriage Data (monitor)

L.D. 1628, An Act To Limit Payment for Care and Treatment of Residents of State Institutions (monitor; psychiatrists)

L.D. 1629, An Act To Allow for a Contingency Fee Agreement with a MaineCare Recovery Audit Contractor (oppose)

L.D. 1646, An Act To Facilitate the Use of Alternative Methods for Biomedical Waste Treatment and Disposal (support; Public Health Committee)

L.D. 1666, An Act To Guarantee Basic Preventive Dental Health Services for Children in Maine (monitor or support; pediatricians, Public Health Committee)

L.D. 1670, An Act To Extend the Scope of the Maine Guaranteed Access Reinsurance Association (monitor)

L.D. 1678, An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Stalking and Domestic Violence (monitor; Public Health Committee)

L.D. 1679, An Act To Conform Maine's Prescription Drug Privacy Laws with the United States Constitution (monitor)

L.D. 1688, An Act To Clarify the Status of Patients Held under Involuntary Commitment Applications (support; psychiatrists)

L.D. 1691, An Act Related to Specialty Tiers in Prescription Medication Pricing (support)

L.D. 1692, An Act To Clarify Case Management Supervision Authority and Ensure Access to Case Management Services (monitor; psychiatrists)

L.D. 1694, Resolve, Directing the Department of Health and Human Services To Review Rules Governing Reimbursement to MaineCare Recipients for Transportation to Freestanding Methadone Clinics (monitor; psychiatrists)

L.D. 1695, An Act To Provide Additional In-store Space for Maine's Businesses by Removing License and Permit Posting Requirements (monitor; Public Health Committee)

L.D. 1698, An Act To Establish Veterans Treatment Courts (monitor; psychiatrists)

L.D. 1700, An Act To Provide an Alternative Method of Calculating Minimum Staffing Levels in Nursing Homes (monitor)

L.D. 1702, An Act To Correct Inconsistencies and Ambiguities in the Maine Guaranteed Access Reinsurance Association Act (monitor)

L.D. 1705, Resolve, To Create the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children (monitor; pediatricians)

L.D. 1711, An Act To Mandate the Use of Standardized Risk Assessment in the Management of Domestic Violence Crimes (monitor; Public Health Committee)

L.D. 1714, An Act To Restrict Further the Amount of Methamphetamine Precursors That May Be Bought or Sold (monitor; Public Health Committee)

L.D. 1715, An Act To Allow for Timely Access to and Enhanced Administration of All Vaccines (oppose; pediatricians; Public Health Committee)

The following bills will be discussed during the Legislative Committee conference call on Tuesday, January 17, 2012.

L.D. 1719, An Act To Update the Powers and Duties of the Bureau of Maine Veterans' Services (monitor)

L.D. 1720, An Act To Increase the Membership of the Homeland Security Advisory Council (monitor; Public Health Committee)

L.D. 1728, An Act To Strengthen the Integrity of Nonresident Concealed Handgun Permits (monitor; Public Health Committee)

L.D. 1743, Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Portions of Chapter 270: Uniform Reporting System for Quality Data Sets, a Major Substantive Rule of the Maine Health Data Organization (monitor)

L.D. 1744, An Act To Require Carbon Monoxide Detectors in Additional Residential Facilities (support; Public Health Committee)

L.D. 1746, An Act To Make Supplemental Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government and To Change Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2012 and June 30, 2013 (oppose; this is the Governor's supplemental budget proposal)

L.D. 1760, An Act To Ensure Notification to Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking When Defendants Are Released on Bail (support; Public Health Committee)


POLITICAL PULSE: Legislative Highlights of the First Week of the Session


Last Tuesday, the Appropriations and Health and Human Services Committee held a joint session to continue work on the Department of Health and Human Services budget shortfall.  As was widely covered in the press, both Republicans and Democrats announced that they oppose the LePage administration's proposal to cut funding for private nonmedical institutions (PNMIs).   This will require the Legislature to come up with the approximately $60 million that this cut would have saved.  The two Committees cancelled a work session for Friday, at which they planned to hear from the Office of Fiscal and Program Review and Administration regarding the projected shortfall amount. It is expected that they will continue their work early this week.  Budget documents can be found on the Appropriations Committee website


With the reconvening of the legislature last week committees began hearing reports from study groups and task forces that met during the break in sessions.  Of particular note, the Health and Human Services Committee heard updates regarding:

  • L.D. 216, Resolve, Regarding MaineCare Tobacco Treatment and Smoking Cessation Benefits, directing the Maine CDC and Office of MaineCare services to address and reduce tobacco use by MaineCare members
  • L.D. 547, Resolve, Directing the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention To Conduct a Review of Wood Smoke Laws.  This work was largely spearheaded by the American Lung Association.  
  • L.D. 1501, Resolve, To Reduce Opioid Overprescription, Overuse and Abuse.  A number of members of this task force were present to present their final report and 33 recommendations regarding ways to reduce opioid abuse to the members of the HHS Committee.  The report is available on the MMA website
  • L.D. 1558, Resolve, To Study Allocations of the Fund for a Healthy Maine.  The report of the commission, largely reaffirming the current priorities of the Fund, can be found on the Office of Policy and Legal Analysis website

The Education Committee received an update regarding LD 98, Directing the Commissioner of Education to Adopt a Policy Regarding Management of Head Injuries in Youth Sports.  This group continues to meet to design materials on best practices for evaluation of head injuries and return to play. 

Finally, the Insurance and Financial Services Committee met to discuss its schedule and will be hearing updates on LD 1333, the new health insurance law in Maine, this week, and will continue their discussion on creating a health insurance exchange in Maine next week. 


The MMA needs physicians to serve as "Doctor of the Day" for this session.  In particular, we are looking for physicians able to serve on January 17, 24, & 31, as well as February 2.  The session begins at 10:00 a.m. on each of these days and you would likely be finished by noon.  FMI, contact Maureen Elwell, Legislative Assistant, at 622-3374, ext. 219 or melwell@mainemed.com, or see the MMA web site at:  http://www.mainemed.com/legislation/drday.php.

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Stable COPD: The Latest AMA Therapeutic Insights Online Topic

The American Medical Association announces the release of Management of Stable COPD, the latest AMA Therapeutic Insights newsletter.  

Take a quick look - read an overview of this issue.

Maine physicians can access their personal prescribing profile showing their individual prescribing patterns for StableCOPD alongside state, national and specialty prescribing patterns. Just select the Maine newsletter and click Personal Prescribing Profile

AMA Therapeutic Insights 

□ is free and online

□ highlights one disease condition per issue

□ features individual, state, national prescribing data* and evidence-based treatment guidelines

□ is written by top disease experts in collaboration with the AMA

□ offers AMA PRA Category 1 Credit

While most treatment-oriented CME programs focus solely on disease management, AMA Therapeutic Insights takes it one step further. This program delivers the actual prescribing patterns for the disease.

Visit AMA Therapeutic Insights to read this issue, as well as previous newsletters on dyslipidemia, tobacco dependence, migraine, Alzheimer’s Disease and more.

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House, Senate Conferees Slated to Take Up Payroll Tax Bill With Doc Fix in Mid-January

A 20-member conference committee is expected to begin meeting the week of January 16th on a full-year extension of the payroll tax holiday and to ensure physicians' Medicare reimbursement is not cut at the beginning of March, congressional aides said January 3rd.

The aides expect House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) to chair the conference committee and convene the group's first meeting after the House returns from its winter recess on January 17th. The conference committee is made up of eight House Republicans, five House Democrats, four Senate Democrats, and three Senate Republicans.

A majority of conferees from each chamber is needed for the conference report to be approved and sent for a floor vote in each chamber.  Lawmakers in both houses of Congress agree on the need to extend the Social Security tax rate at the current 4.2 percent for individuals, but finding a way to pay for the $100 billion tax cut has been the key sticking point.

It is important for all of medicine to communicate the need for a long-term fix to the SGR problem.  Each physician in Maine should communicate with Maine's Congressional delegation as soon as possible and emphasize what this cut now scheduled for March 1, 2012 would mean to them and their patients.  Find contact information and a sample letter at the AMA Advocacy website.

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2012 MGMA Third Party Payor Seminars


The Maine Medical Group Management Association is Pleased to Present



Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Jeff’s Catering

East/West Industrial Park

15 Littlefield Way, Brewer


Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Fireside Inn and Suites

81 Riverside Street, Portland


8:30 am - 4 pm


Provider representatives from the major payers will be speaking at this seminar and providing updates as to the status of claims processing. 

The cost for either seminar is  only $40.00 for MEMGMA members and their office staff or $70.00 

for non-members.  If you have questions concerning this seminar, or for registration, please contact Karen Wheeler at (207)  873-6173 or by E-mail:  kwheeler@mmimvw.com

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National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Application Now Open

Last Friday, the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program (LRP) opened its 2012 application cycle. The application cycle will be open until May 2012, however providers are strongly encouraged to apply early.

The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) loan repayment program  offers primary care medical, dental, and mental and behavioral health providers the opportunity to have their student loans repaid, while earning a competitive salary, in exchange for providing health care in urban, rural, or frontier communities with limited access to care.

NHSC participants serve at one of more than 17,000 NHSC-approved sites located in Federally Designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs).  A higher HPSA score indicates greater community need so the program offers two levels of loan repayment awards: 

  • Up to $60,000 to primary care providers practicing at an NHSC-approved site with a HPSA score of 14 or above in return for a 2-year full-time commitment or 4-year half-time commitment.

  • Up to $40,000 to primary care providers practicing at an NHSC-approved site with a HPSA score of 13 and below in return for a 2-year full-time commitment or 4-year half-time commitment. 

With continued service, all providers may be able to pay off all their student loans.

Visit NHSC.hrsa.gov and click on “loan repayment” for more information or to apply. [return to top]

Critical Access Hospital in Central Maine Area Seeks Physician VPMA

A twenty-five bed, federally designated critical access hospital is seeking a physician interested in serving as its Vice President for Medical Affairs.  A limited clinical practice could also be part of the package.  Any physician interested in this opportunity may contact Gordon Smith, Esq., EVP of MMA who will pass the name on to the institution.  They may call Mr. Smith at 622-3374, ext. 212 or communicate via e-mail to gsmith@mainemed.com. [return to top]

Downeast Association of Physician Assistants Winter CME Meeting is Open for Registration

22nd Annual Downeast Association of Physician Assistants

Winter CME Conference

February 1-4, 2012

Grand Summit Resort Hotel & Conference Center

Sunday River, Newry Maine

This conference offers a wide range of topics for all PAs!

                 Register before the Early Bird Special expires 12/31/11

Visit www.deapa.com/conference

Visit www.sundayriver.com for all hotel, skiing/winter activities and directions!

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Interim Final Rule Adopts Standards For HIPAA Entities' Fund Transfers

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services January 5th released an interim final rule adopting new standards for electronic funds transfers in health care that CMS said could cut as much as $4.5 billion from administrative costs for doctors and hospitals, private health plans, states, and other government health plans over the next 10 years.

The interim final rule with comment period adopts streamlined standards for the format and data content of the transmission a health plan sends to its bank when it wants to pay a claim to a provider electronically—meaning through an electronic fund transfer—and to issue a remittance advice notice. Remittance advice is a notice of payment sent to providers that may or may not accompany the payment the provider receives, CMS said.

According to CMS, current health care practices dictate that when a provider submits a claim electronically for payment, a health plan often sends a remittance advice that is separate from the electronic funds transfer payment. The disconnect between the two makes it difficult or sometimes impossible for the provider to match up the bill and the corresponding payment, CMS said.

The interim final rule would address this issue by requiring the use of a trace number that automatically matches the payment and the notice. Additionally, the new tracking system will allow health care providers to eliminate costly manual reconciliation that must currently be done, CMS said.

The interim final rule will be published in the January 10th Federal Register and is effective on January 10th.  All health plans covered under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) must comply by Jan. 1, 2014. Comments are due 60 days after publication.

The interim final rule is available at http://op.bna.com/hl.nsf/r?Open=bbrk-8q8mbk.

A CMS fact sheet on the rule is available at http://www.cms.gov/apps/media/press/factsheet.asp?Counter=4242.

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AMA Publishes List of 2011 Regulatory Accomplishments

The AMA, through its physician members and advocacy staff, had substantial influence on the federal government's regulation of health care in 2011 on matters ranging from the ACA to HIPAA to HIT and more.  You can find the AMA's list of regulatory accomplishments in 2011 on the web at:  http://www.ama-assn.org/resources/doc/washington/regulatory-achievements.pdf. [return to top]

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