April 9, 2012

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Political Pulse: Legislature Still in Augusta, Break Expected this Week

The Second Regular Session of the 125th Legislature continues this week.  It is likely that the House and Senate will take a break sometime this week and return to the State House in May once the Appropriations Committee completes its work on the third supplemental budget that would involve almost exclusively adjustments to Health and Human Services accounts, including MaineCare.  That document may also contain an alternative to the existing MaineCare limits on opiates, which is still on hold pending legal analysis.

Legislative action in the House and Senate this week is also expected to involve votes on remaining bills on health insurance exchanges.  The various exchange bills have been the subject of contentious debates this past week with the Democrats arguing that Maine should get prepared for the possibility that the Affordable Care Act will be upheld in whole or in part by the Supreme Court and have the structure for an exchange ready and the Republicans not wishing to give any significance to the ACA instead preferring to support the Governor and Attorney General in seeking to have the law struck down as unconstitutional.

MMA Legislative Committee Call, Tuesday Night at 8:00 pm

The MMA's Legislative Committee has held very successful weekly conference calls so far this session.  They have been well attended and we appreciate the individuals and specialty societies that took the time to participate in the call and share their feedback on pending legislative proposals. 

The next call is tomorrow night, Tuesday, April 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.  For the full list of bills the MMA is currently tracking, click here

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 new bills for review and consideration this week:

L.D. 1909An Act To Simplify the Certificate of Need Process and Lessen the Regulatory Burden on Providers (monitor)

L.D. 1912An Act To Encourage Responsible Teen Driving (monitor or support; Public Health Committee, pediatricians)

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Maine Economic Growth Council Continues Red Flag Status for Health Care Costs

The Maine Economic Growth Council in its recently released annual report has once again cited high health care costs as one of the most difficult issues impacting negatively on economic growth in the State.  The Council's Measures of Growth in Focus report, prepared with the help of the Maine Development Foundation, gave red flag status to five economic indicators, including health care costs.

In measuring total health care costs as a percent of state Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Maine led all states in New England at 22.4%, up from 13.3% in 1991 and 7.3% higher than the national average and 4.4% above the New England average.  On a per capita basis, health care costs have increased in Maine by 83% from 2000 to 2009, increasing from $4,656 to $8,521.

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Office of MaineCare Services Holding Value-Based Purchasing Forums

The main objective of these forums is to gather suggestions and feedback from interested parties to help the Department finalize the MaineCare Accountable Communities model for the Request for Proposal the Department plans to issue later this year.

The Department held the first forum at the Dorothea Dix facility last week.  The remaining three forums will be:

  • 9 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, April 17, at the Ramada Inn, 490 Pleasant St., Lewiston
  • 9 a.m. to noon, Thursday, April 19, Italian Heritage Center, 40 Western Ave., Portland
  • 1 to 4 p.m., Wednesday, April 25, Maine Department of Transportation, Main Conference Room, Child Street

You can find more information about the Department's Value-Based Purchasing initiative on the web at:  http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/oms/vbp/index.html.

You can Register online  now for the remaining three forums. 

The presentation from the April 4th forum in Bangor is posted online on the MaineCare VBP webpage.

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Stage Two Meaningful Use Webinar

Athena Health presents a free webinar providing insights and expertise on just-announced Stage 2 measures 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 at 3:15 PM

If you successfully attested for Stage 1 of CMS’ Meaningful Use program, and received your incentive payment, congratulations. Now, it gets tougher. 

That’s why our experts are ready to break down the just-announced proposed Stage 2 measures and discuss ways you can take next steps toward another sizable incentive check. 

Join us for this webinar, where we’ll discuss:

  • The details of Stage 2 measures and how we’ll help you meet them
  • Guidance on sending feedback to CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT
  • Details on the EHR certification criteria
  • athenahealth’s viewpoints on the Stage 2 delay and other policy implications

Register today to join us. And get ahead for Stage 2 Meaningful Use [return to top]

CMS Delays New Place of Service Coding Requirement

In response to concerns raised by the AMA and several state and specialty medical societies, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it will delay a transmittal establishing a new national policy for coding place of service under Medicare’s physician fee schedule. 

The new policy, which was intended to address issues raised in a report from the HHS Office of Inspector General, also included special instructions for assigning place of service for the professional and technical components of diagnostic tests.  Among other things, it would have required the use of two different site-of-service and zip codes when a diagnostic test is performed at a hospital or other facility and then interpreted by a physician in the office or other facility.  Because the change was implemented through a transmittal modifying the manual used by Medicare contractors, most physicians were unaware of the new rules.  As a result, the April 1st effective date called for in the original transmittal would have put many at risk of violating rules they were not aware existed.  In addition, the new rules relating to diagnostic tests raised many technical issues that contractors were not prepared to answer. 

Specialty societies representing pathologists and radiologists along with the AMA, the North Carolina Medical Society and the Medical Group Management Association all raised concerns to CMS and, on March 29, the agency announced that it is delaying implementation of the transmittal until October 2012; any necessary changes to address these concerns will be made in the interim.

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MMA Seeking Neurologists and Anesthesiologists for Peer Reviews

For over twenty-five years the Maine Medical Association has provided professional external peer review services to practices and institutions across the state.  The reviews are confidential by state law.  The program continues to be very popular and we are seeking a stronger base of reviewers in the specialties of neurology and anesthesiology, particularly those individuals specializing in pain management.

Reviewers are paid for their time.  If you are interested in participating in some reviews, or know of colleagues who may be interested, please contact Gordon Smith, Esq., the association's EVP at gsmith@mainemed.com or 207-622-3374 ext. 212.


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Next DEA Medication Collection Day, April 28th

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has scheduled another National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day which will take place on Saturday, April 28, 2012, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  This is a great opportunity for those who missed the previous events, or who have subsequently accumulated unwanted, unused prescription drugs, to safely dispose of those medications.

Americans that participated in the DEA’s third National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on October 29, 2011, turned in more than 377,086 pounds (188.5 tons) of unwanted or expired medications for safe and proper disposal at the 5,327 take-back sites that were available in all 50 states and U.S. territories. 

For collection sites in Maine, please visit www.dea.gov 

Collection is for individual households only, not facility disposal.  

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Maine Pediatricians Win National Award for Outstanding Work

The Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics brought home an “Outstanding Chapter Award,” one of only four national awards given annually by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).  Maine won for the “small chapter” category at the AAP’s annual leadership forum in Chicago on March 17th.

The Outstanding Chapter Awards recognize excellence in programs that promote the health and welfare of children.  Maine pediatricians were commended for their "breadth and wealth of innovative, collaborative initiatives with limited resources."  Dr. Carol Allen of Massachusetts, who chairs the district including Maine said, “We are delighted that your chapter has received this award as recognition of the outstanding work you do for the children of Maine!”

Maine Chapter President, Dr. Steve Feder, FACOP, FAAP of Boothbay, accepted the prize, a plaque and $4,000, on behalf of the Chapter’s 200 members who practice pediatrics throughout the State.  “We are a small chapter with very limited dollars, yet we have repeatedly shown an extraordinary ability to do a lot with a little,” Dr. Feder explained.  The three key areas the Chapter focused on leading to competing successfully for the award, included: projects to improve the quality of health care delivered to Maine’s children; advocacy at the state, national and local levels on behalf of Maine’s youth and families; and engagement of the Chapter members in professional education to advance their own continuous learning as well as activities to meet the needs of Maine children.   

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Downeast Association of Physician Assistants 2012 Award Nominations

The Downeast Association of Physician Assistants (DEAPA) presents awards each year in recognition of outstanding service to the PA Profession and to DEAPA.

You can make a nomination online, or print a nomination form to be completed and returned no later than April 14th, 2012. You can mail or fax to: DEAPA, PO Box 190, Manchester, Maine 04351; Fax: 207-430-8386. If you prefer to send your nomination by email, please send it to info@deapa.com or ksnell@mainemed.com. 

For more information on the nomination categories and how to nominate someone, see: https://deapa.com/practice/awards.php [return to top]

Upcoming Events & Conferences

Cancer in the Family: Primary Care Matters

April 13, 2012 


The Jackson Laboratory 

 600 Main Street

Bar Harbor, ME

This half day free CME event will be held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Maine Academy of Family Physicians with the goal of enhancing Maine health care providers' understanding of detecting and managing individuals with familial cancer syndromes.

For more information or to register, click here.


The Maine Gastroenterology Society

Gastroenterology 2012 Update

April 14, 2012 

Harraseeket Inn, Freeport, Maine. 

Expand your knowledge of Gastroenterology  in areas including management of ascites, encephalopathy and dysphagia; hepatocellular cancer screening; treatment of IBS.  Open to Primary Care Physicians, Family Practitioners and Allied Health Professionals that want to broaden their knowledge of Gastroenterology

For more information or to register, contact Gail Begin at gbegin@mainemed.com or 207-622-3374 ext. 210.


Immunization Annual Conference: Focus on Maine

Monday, April 23, 2012 

8:00 am - 3:45 pm 

Augusta Civic Center

Sponsored by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention

 Dedicated to a review of emerging and existing issues relating to immunization practice, at the federal, state and local levels.

For more information or to register, click here.



11th Annual Obesity Workshop 

Price Matters: Sugar Sweetened Beverages, Taxes & Obesity - The Evidence 

May 3, 2012

8:00 am - 3:00 pm 

Maple Hill Farm, Hallowell

The annual obesity workshop is an event not-to-miss for all people interested in public health and the health of our children.  Three nationally known speakers will present the latest research and information about sugar sweetened beverages, how they impact obesity rates and how purchase price influences our choices.

For more information or to register, click here


The Maine Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons Spring Meeting

May 4, 2012 

12:00pm - 4:45pm

Harraseeket Inn, Freeport

The Spring Meeting will include lunch, educational presentations and a business meeting.  The educational talks include Trexler M. Topping, MD presenting on Lessons Learned from Malpractice Claims and Bradford Shingleton, MD presenting on Pseudoexfoliation:  IOP, Cataract Surgery and Postoperative IOL Issues.

For more information or to register, contact Shirley Goggin at sgoggin@mainemed.com or 207-445-2260.


Back to School: Pediatric and Adolescent Hot Topics and School Based Health

May 5-6, 2012

Harborside Hotel, Bar Harbor 

Approved for 10.5 Hours of Category 1 CME 

For more information or to register, go to www.maineaap.org 


Maine Association Medical Staff Services Biennial Education Conference: The Many Spokes of the Wheel

 May 9-11, 2012

 Residence Inn Hotel and Conference Center

Portland, ME

The conference welcomes physicians and other health professionals with an interest in medical staff activities, including credentialing and quality improvement.  Category I CME is offered for physicians.

An agenda and registration materials are available at www.meamss.org


2012 New England Medical Group Management Association Regional Conference 

Practice Management - A Changing Landscape 

May 15-17, 2012

Samoset Resort

Rockland, ME 

In the face of the changing healthcare landscape, you need to understand the challenges and opportunities your practice is facing. The 2012 New England MGMA Regional Conference features a wide range of speakers who will provide you with the insight and tools you need to help your practice thrive.

For more information or registration, visit: http://newenglandmgma.com/

Members of the Maine Chapter MGMA now receive a $50 registration reimbursement. 


22nd Annual Maine GERIATRICS Conference - Save the Date

June 7-8, 2012 

Harborside Hotel & Marina

Bar Harbor, ME

Registration Open.  CME Available. 

 For more information or to register visit http://www.une.edu/com/cme/


Save the Date: 

Emergency Ultrasound Course

October 25-26, 2012

MaineGeneral Medical Center

Waterville, ME 

Primarily geared to emergency and intensivist physicians and mid-levels.  Expected 14 Category 1 CME Credits.  Course Director: John Joseph, MD, FACEP 

To reserve your spot: 626-1303 or sharon.judkins@mainegeneral.org

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Portland Gastroenterology Center Seeking Nurse Practitioner

Are you looking to maximize your professional career? Portland Gastroenterology Center is one of the leading providers of G.I. health care in Maine and Northern New England and we are looking for a dedicated Nurse Practitioner to join our team!

Our Nurse Practitioners are an integral part of our practice; performing patient follow up and consultative clinical evaluation, conducting physical exams, preparing treatment plans, and providing patients with health and disease prevention information.

Candidates should have advanced knowledge and skills in conducting physical examinations and treating patients in an expanded practice model with minimal direction. An advanced knowledge of nursing theory and practice, and additional specialized training acquired through completion of a concentrated study and clinical internship leading to a Master’s Degree. Applicants should have or be eligible to obtain a current license and registration to practice as a certified Advanced Practice Nurse in the State of Maine.

We offer a competitive salary and benefits packet.

If you have always wanted to live in a vibrant city that offers affordable housing, excellent schools, and an energetic arts community, then Portland, Maine is for you!

Resumes should be sent to: TABERA@mmc.org


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