I make my living off the evening news
Just give me something-something I can use
People love it when you lose,
They love dirty laundry
-Dirty Laundry by Don Henley
As you are probably aware, I spend a considerable amount of time on Twitter. Despite the often intimidating noise to signal ratio, I have found it a useful source of info and breaking news, as well as an opportunity to bring our message to a wider audience. Apparently, Thomas Jefferson University recognized the importance of combatting the rising tide of health misinformation or, dare I say it, fake news. Doctors, meet Austin Chiang MD MPH. Dr. Chiang is the Chief Medical Social Media Executive for Thomas Jefferson Health. With 20,000 Instagram followers, his mission is to combat misinformation with information. Recent events regarding vaccinations demonstrate that this situation requires more than an “Army of One” or a “Few Good Men/Women.”
I recognize that as professionals, we are loathe to expose our reputations or careers to the hordes of internet orcs who would drag us off to a virtual Mount Doom. However, this is the arena that beckons and for the sake of our patients, we must engage. Since my chosen theater of engagement is Twitter, I’ll happily assist you. First, sign up here. Then you put sonodoc99 in the “search twitter” bar and type @sonodoc99. When you see Bones McCoy (my mentor), just click on my name and then hit Follow.
Similarly, do the same with @mssnytweet (MSSNY’s official Twitter handle). Now you are off and running. I would suggest just dipping your toes in the water and lurking to get your bearings. If you see a Tweet by Yours Truly or MSSNY, just click on Retweet and the message will be sent out again. Our organization has about 20,000 members. If only ¼ of the members both followed MSSNY and our leaders, we all would grow in relative influence. Moreover, retweeting our message amplifies the message so that too grows in influence. It’s the old Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader ad come to life – you tell two friends and they tell two friends and so on and so on and so on. If you still have questions, follow @DrDanChoi too. He’ll help you with Instagram as well.
Our message is strong but it often cannot be heard amongst the din of the crowded lounge during happy hour. With a critical mass, we can extend our reach to places we’ve never imagined.
The truth may not be out there yet, but it will be.
Arthur Fougner, MD
Comments? email@example.com; @mssnytweet; @sonodoc99
NYS Has 889 Confirmed Measles Cases—Physicians Urged to Call Legislators to Demand Action on this Public Health Epidemic
The number of measles cases in New York State has again seen an uptick over the past week with 889 confirmed cases out of the 1,000 plus confirmed nationwide. Physicians throughout the state are encouraged to call their legislators and urge action on a bill that would allow only medical exemptions for immunizations. The measure, A.2371/S.2994A, is in the Assembly & Senate Health Committees. The Medical Society of the State of New York has joined 29 other medical organizations, patient advocacy groups and public health organizations, meeting with members of the Legislature to advocate for passage of this measure. MSSNY has participated in several press conferences with the sponsors of this legislation, including one this week organized by the March of Dimes.
Advocates against mandatory vaccinations continue to call and meet with legislators and were in Albany again this week. It is vitally important that physicians call or send messages to their legislators urging action on this measure. You can help by following these steps:
- Physicians are strongly urged to contact members of the Assembly Health Committee. Please call 518-455-4100 and ask for the following Assemblymembers: Gottfried, Schimminger, Galef, Dinowitz, Cahill, Paulin, Cymbrowitz, Gunther, L. Rosenthal, Hevesi, Jaffee, Steck, Abinanti, Braunstein, Kim, Solages, Bichotte, Barron, Sayegh, Raia, McDonough, Ra, Garbarino, Byrne, Byrnes and Ashby. Tell them that you support passage of A.2371/S.2994, which ensures that the only allowable exemption to vaccination will be for medical reasons.
- Please send a letter to your legislator via the MSSNY Grassroots Action Center (GAC). Please click here!
- Physicians are encouraged to call their Senator and Assemblymember’s office to voice support for this legislation. There is strength in numbers! Please click here.
The Medical Society of the State of New York’s memo in support of A.2371/S.2994A can be found here and a copy of the memo produced by physician and public health organizations and parent and patient advocacy groups is available here.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has publicly stated that he will sign the bill if it comes to his desk. The question is whether there will be enough votes in support in the New York State Assembly Health Committee and on the Assembly Floor.
Joining the Medical Society in support of repealing religious exemptions are the following groups: American Academy of Pediatrics, NYS District II, Chapters 1, 2 & 3, American Nurses Association – New York (ANA-NY), Associated Medical Schools of New York, Autism Science Foundation, Citizen Committee for Children of New York, Inc., Children’s Defense Fund-New York, Erie County Department of Health, Ithaca Is Immunized, Kimberly Coffey Foundation, Nurses Who Vaccinate, March of Dimes, Meningitis B Action Project, Nurse Practitioner Association New York State, New York American College of Emergency Physicians, New York State Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, NY Chapter American College of Physicians, NYS Academy of Family Physicians, NYS Association of County Health Officials (NYSACHO), NY Occupational and Environmental Medical Association (NYOEMA), NY State Neurological Society, NY State Neurosurgical Society, NYS Ophthalmological Society, NYS Society of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, NYS Public Health Association, New York State Society of Anesthesiologists, Inc., The New York State Radiological Society, Schuyler Center For Analysis and Advocacy, The Children’s Agenda, Tompkins County Department of Health and the Tompkins Board of Health. (CLANCY)
Act Now to Prevent Unsustainable Increases in Liability Premiums
There are currently a handful of bills being advanced that would have the effect of significantly increasing already outrageously high medical liability insurance premiums and further erode patient access to needed care. Physicians are encouraged to reach out to their elected officials to let them know how harmful these bills would be for patient care continuity by clicking here.
- 4006/A.5612 would greatly expand the possible damages in a wrongful death action which would have the effect of greatly expanding liability insurance premiums. While estimates vary, one actuarial estimate indicated that passage of this legislation could further increase premiums by nearly 50%, which translates to tens of thousands of dollars in new costs for many physicians and could make it impossible for many physicians to stay in practice.
- 6194/A.2370 would limit a physician’s ability to defend themselves in liability actions by prohibiting their defense counsel from conducting an interview with the plaintiff’s treating physician. This would depart from a long-standing judicial concept that no party has a proprietary interest in a witness, and would further tip the scales of New York’s already one-sided malpractice adjudication system.
- 6081/A.2372 would require a non-settling co-defendant in a tort action to choose whether to reduce his/her liability exposure by the stated settlement amount or the settling tortfeasor’s equitable share prior to the first opening statement of the trial. It is likely that this bill would enable a plaintiff to be unjustly enriched by collecting more than the jury ultimately determined the non-settling defendants’ equitable share to be if the settling defendant settles for an amount that exceeds their equitable share of the award.
Medical liability payouts and premiums in New York State continue to be considerably out of proportion with the rest of country. A recently released report showed that New York State had far and away the highest number of cumulative medical liability payouts of any state, and that this cumulative number had increased by 11% from 2017 to 2018. Claimants in New York were awarded nearly two times more than the state with the next highest amounts, Pennsylvania, and payments in New York far exceeded states such as California and Florida. Moreover, demonstrating once again why New York has been designated the worst state in the country to be a doctor, New York had the highest per capita medical liability payment as well, averaging over $35 per New York resident, more than 20% higher than the second highest state, New Jersey.
Given the extraordinary costs of medical liability insurance that many physicians must already pay, combined with the enormous changes in health care delivery and payment that is placing huge new financial pressures on physician practices and hospitals, MSSNY is urging legislators to reject these bills, as it could drive many physicians out of New York State. Instead we urge that comprehensive liability reform be enacted. (AVELLA)
Efforts to Legalize Recreational Marijuana Continue As Legislature Nears End; Physician Action Urged
Physicians are urged to continue to contact their legislators to oppose legislation and commercialization of recreational use of marijuana. In the remaining days of the legislative session, advocates on both sides of legalizing the recreational/adult-use of marijuana in New York held joint press conference espousing their view on whether the New York State Legislature should pass the bill.
MSSNY joined Smart Alternatives to Marijuana (SAM), the New York State PTA, the Sheriff’s Association, school superintendents and the New York State Association of County Health Officials (NYSACHO) in opposing passage of the legislation. A.1617A/S.1527A, sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Senator Liz Krueger, was recently amended and would create the “marijuana regulation and taxation act”. The Assembly bill is in the Assembly Codes Committee and the Senate bill is in the Senate Finance Committee.
The Medical Society of the State of New York continues to oppose the legalization of recreational/adult use marijuana and continues to work with other advocacy groups that oppose this measure. In particular MSSNY is concerned with the adverse public health consequences that have occurred in other states that have legalized marijuana. Also pending in both houses is A.7467/S.5657, sponsored by Assemblymember Richard Gottfried and Senator Diane Savino, which would greatly expand New York State’s medical program for certifying patients for the use of marijuana.
The bill eliminates “serious condition” and replaces it with “condition” and further expands the list of conditions eligible for certification. The measure also expands the list of practitioners who can certify the patient for the use of marijuana and would authorize “smoking” as a modality of treatment. The bill is pending in the Assembly Codes Committee and the Senate Health Committee. Physicians throughout New York State are urged to send a letter through MSSNY Grassroots Action Center opposing legalization of marijuana here. (CLANCY, AUSTER)
Opioid Prescribing in NYS Down by 37.5% Over Five Year Period
Opioid prescribing by New York State physicians has decreased 37.5% percent between 2013-2018 and opioid prescriptions also decreased by 11.2% from 2017 to 2018 according to data recently released by the IQVIA, Danbury, CT, a data collection firm within the healthcare industry. The data is available here.
Additionally, the American Medical Association (AMA) has released its 2019 Opioid Progress Report—the third year that the AMA has reported on actions that physicians have taken to help end the nation’s opioid epidemic. The report shows significant decreases in opioid prescribing as well as increases in PDMP use and naloxone prescriptions. In addition to the national data, the AMA also released state-level data for opioid prescribing and PDMP use. New York State physicians and other users of the prescription monitoring program logged 23,931,571 inquiries in 2018, a 42% increase since 2014.
The Medical Society of the State of New York is a member of the AMA Task Force on Opioids which put together the report. While more can be done to address our opioid abuse epidemic, the report highlights the progress that has been made. The topline findings from the report are as follows:
- Nationally, opioid prescriptions decreased 33 percent between 2013-2018 from 251.8M to 168.8M;
- PDMP use increased to 462M since 2014 (up from 61.4M in 2014);
- More than 700,000 physicians and other health care professionals completed CME and related trainings or accessed other resources focused on opioid prescribing, pain management, screening for substance use disorders and other areas;
- Naloxone prescriptions increased to nearly 600,000 in 2018—a 338 percent increase from 2016;
- More than 66,000 physicians and other health care professionals now have a federal waiver to prescribe buprenorphine in-office for the treatment of opioid use disorder—an increase of more than 28,000 since 2016.
Many states have also taken action to remove prior authorization and other barriers to evidence-based treatment for an opioid use disorder and the AMA has proudly supported those efforts. New York State is at the forefront by removing the prior authorization for Medicated Assistance Treatment (MAT). MSSNY strongly supported this measure during the 2019-20 New York State budget process. (CLANCY)
Physician Advocacy Needed in End of Session Push for Insurance Reforms
There are two weeks left until the scheduled end of 2019’s legislative session and in these waning days it is vital to continue advocating for the insurance related bills to assure patients are more able to receive the timely quality care they need. Physicians are urged to help advocate for the advancement of these reforms by conducting outreach to the appropriate legislators to emphasize how important these bills are. Physicians may advocate via clicking the links below or calling their legislator’s office. You can call the switchboard and ask to be directed to their office (Senate – 518-455-2800, Assembly – 518-455-4100). Find your legislator here.
Mid-year formulary changes
Surprisingly, current law does not restrict insurance companies from making substantial changes to their formularies mid-year. This is an egregious practice when you consider the fact that your patients choose insurance plans based on the coverage presented to them – and they generally are not able to switch plans mid-year. Senator Breslin and Assemblymember Peoples-Stokes have introduced legislation (S.2849/A.2969) that would prevent mid-year formulary changes so that patients do not experience removal of a drug or changes in tiering when there is no similarly effective option.
This bill is on the verge of becoming law as it is on the floor calendar in both houses (for the first time in the Senate). However it is being fiercely opposed by health insurers. Please urge your Assemblymember and Senator to join on as a co-sponsor and support the bill here.
Network due process
There is currently a glaring loophole in New York’s laws that allow insurance companies to terminate physicians by non-renewal without cause or recourse. While they are required to notify physicians when contracts are terminated and physicians are then afforded the opportunity for a hearing, these protections don’t extend to non-renewal. Senator Rivera and Assemblymember Lavine’s bill (S.3463/A.2835) would provide physicians with proper due process upon non-renewal and would enhance the current hearing process by allowing the subject of the hearing (the physician) to choose one of the three members of the panel.
The bill is currently eligible for a vote in both the full Senate and Assembly.
Negotiating with insurance companies is extremely difficult, especially when monolithic payers control a huge portion (or all) of the market that you practice in. The fact that you are barred from banding together with your colleagues is unfair, so we strongly support legislation introduced by Senator Rivera and Assemblymember Gottfried (S.3462/A.2393) that would allow physicians to collectively negotiate with insurance companies in certain situations. Insurance companies will surely be out fighting against this and so we must ensure grassroots support for this provision that would put you on more even footing with insurers.
The bill has been reported out of the Assembly Health Committee and awaits a vote in Ways & Means. Its Senate companion is currently in the Senate Health Committee. Please urge your Assemblymember and Senator to join on as a co-sponsor and support the bill here. (AVELLA/AUSTER)
Physician Advocacy Results in Scope of Practice Expansion Bills Being Pulled from Committee Agenda
Thank you to the many physicians who responded to our grassroots call to action earlier this week to oppose bills that were on the Assembly Higher Education Committee agenda and would have inappropriately expanded the scope of practice for podiatrists (A.6185) and optometrists (A.1193-A). With your grassroots assistance, MSSNY worked closely with specialty societies representing Orthopedic Surgery, Radiology and Ophthalmology, lobbying members of the Committee, with the result that the bills were taken off the Committee agenda due to insufficient support by Assemblymembers on the Committee. However, it is still possible these bills could still return before the end of Session. Physicians are urged to continue to contact their legislators to express their opposition to these bills. 518-455-4100. (AUSTER)
MSSNY Joins Public Health Advocates Urging Passage of Bill to Ban Use of Flavored E-liquids
The Medical Society of the State of New York joined with the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, Parents Against Vaping e-cigarettes (PAVe) and other advocates to urge that the New York State Legislature to pass A.47/S.248 which would ban flavored e-liquids for use in e-cigarettes. PAVe, a grassroots organization founded by parents that seeks to educate parents about the dangers of e-cigarettes and an advocate for the health and safety of young people, joined the bill’s sponsors Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal and Senator Brad Hoylman in urging the bill’s passage before the close of session. At a press conference held this week, young people talked to the press about their or their friend’s nicotine addiction stemming from vaping flavored e-cigarettes. They indicated that they had thought that e-cigarettes were harmless and that all they were inhaling was “flavored” water. They have since learned that one e-cigarette can contain as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes.
Tobacco companies have a long history of using creative tactics to draw in adolescents and young adults to begin smoking and are now using flavoring to entice young people to begin using e-cigarettes in New York State, the use of electronic cigarette is on the rise-especially among adolescents and young adults. E-cigarette use poses a significant health risk to young people by increasing the possibility of addiction and long-term harm to brain development and respiratory health. E-cigarette liquid containing nicotine and most are now flavored. The Medical Society supports this measure. The bill is currently in the Assembly Codes Committee and is on the floor of the Senate awaiting a vote. (CLANCY)
Physician Advocacy Urged to Prevent Congressional Attempts to Undermine New York “Surprise Bill” Law
With several US House and Senate leaders releasing bi-partisan proposals to address the issue of “surprise” out of network medical bills faced by patients that could undermine New York’s acclaimed law, physicians are urged to send a letter (please click here) urging their member of Congress to fight for a law that is consistent with New York’s approach. Physician advocacy is essential due to a variety of proposals before Congress that would undermine New York’s proven model and further diminish the ability of physicians to negotiate patient care terms with market dominant health insurers.
Recently, Representative Joe Morelle (D-Rochester) joined with Representative Dr. Phil Roe (R-TN) and Dr. Raul Ruiz (D-CA) in releasing a summary of a proposal that seeks to mirror New York’s law, which uses a “baseball arbitration” Independent Dispute Resolution (IDR) system to determine payment for out of network medical care, and uses charge data collected by an independent database as a leading benchmark to guide the IDR. MSSNY Board of Trustees member Dr. Andrew Kleinman also recently participated in a meeting with the House Doctors Caucus to educate legislators about New York’s approach.
However, several proposals have been advanced that would either require an insurer determined in-network based default rate for out-of-network surprise medical bills, or would create a baseball arbitration system that uses an insurer determined in-network rate as a benchmark. MSSNY has written to New York’s Congressional delegation praising the approach set forth by Representatives Morelle, Roe and Ruiz, and raising strong concerns with the other proposals.
Specifically, New York’s letter raised concerns with the insurance industry’s own notorious history of establishing benchmarks for out of network payment, and the history of then-Attorney General Cuomo’s investigation which found that by using a flawed and conflicted database to determine reimbursement rates for out-of-network care, insurers were increasing profits at the expense of patients and physicians. Moreover, it was noted that New York’s law struck a tenuous balance among various health care stakeholders that protected patients from surprise medical bills and ensured that patients receiving care in hospital emergency departments had greater access to needed on-call specialty physician care. (AUSTER)
Please Complete NYeC Survey to Gauge Physician Hassles with EHR Implementation and Use
MSSNY, in conjunction with other physician associations, has been working with the New York e-Health Collaborative (NYeC) on ways to reduce the hassles associated with the implementation and use of electric health record (EHR) systems. To that end, they have developed a survey for physicians to complete that will gauge the challenges of EHR use, including connecting to and using medical information from your local Regional Health Information Organization (RHIO) to enhance patient care delivery.
Please take just a few minutes to complete the survey here: (AUSTER)
Commissioner’s Medical Grand Rounds On June 13th On Vaccine Hesitancy
New York State Department of Health Commissioner Howard A. Zucker, MD, JD, will conduct a Commissioner’s Medical Grand Rounds on “Vaccine Hesitancy: An Evolving Public Health Threat” on Thursday, June 13 from 9-11 a.m. The location of the grand rounds will be: Annenberg Building, Room 13-01, Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, 1468 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10029. For registration information please view the flyer here. There are also continuing medical education credits that are being offered for this program. (CLANCY)
Measles Outbreak in New York State Continues to Spread
Webinar Available at MSSNY CME Website
The number of measles cases in New York State has again seen an uptick over the past week. 832 of the 981 nationwide cases confirmed in 2019 are in New York State. Year-to-date as of June 6th there have been 509 confirmed cases in New York City and 323 outside of New York City (259 in Rockland; 38 in Orange; 18 in Westchester; 6 in Sullivan; 1 in Suffolk and 1 in Greene counties). MSSNY conducted a just-in-time Medical Matters webinar entitled “The Continued Public Health Threat of Measles 2018” in December, 2018. This webinar has now been posted to the MSSNY CME website.
You can also view MSSNY’s latest Medical Matters webinar entitled “What’s Your Diagnosis? Infectious Diseases” which involves a patient with a fever and a rash. Please check these out and keep yourself informed about the growing measles outbreak throughout New York State. You can also listen to MSSNY’s brief podcast on the Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine here. (HOFFMAN, CLANCY)
Medicaid Illegally Paid for NY Sex Offenders’ Erectile Dysfunction Drugs
New York’s publicly funded Medicaid program paid more than $63,000 for erectile dysfunction drugs and other sexual treatments for 47 sex offenders, despite laws banning such expenses. The figures come from an audit released Wednesday by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and first reported by The Associated Press. A state audit revealed that the New York Medicaid system made $993,000 in payments for erectile dysfunction drugs, providing 47 state sex offenders with sexual treatments. While Medicaid will cover such drugs used to treat certain diagnoses, state auditors argued that the cases did not warrant the prescriptions.
Health officials deny the charges, saying auditors “either ignored the law or the facts which undermines any value that can be associated with its findings. State and federal laws prohibit payments for sexual treatments for any Medicaid recipient. Yet auditors found that the state approved such treatments between 2012 and 2018. DiNapoli urged immediate changes to ensure the state isn’t misusing taxpayer money.
“There are clear rules about what conditions Medicaid will cover when it comes to erectile dysfunction drugs. And paying for sex offenders who’ve committed terrible crimes to get these drugs should never be lost in the bureaucratic administration of this program,” DiNapoli said. “Nearly two decades ago this office identified this problem, which led to national and state changes. While the state Department of Health immediately followed up to make corrections during the course of our audit, our auditors found that the problem persisted and needed to be fixed.”
VA Expands Veterans’ Access to Private Physicians
The New York Times (6/5) reports that on Thursday, the Department of Veterans Affairs will start “allowing a broad swath of its nine million enrollees to seek medical care outside of traditional VA hospitals, the biggest shift in the American health care system since the passage of” the ACA. Although “department officials say they are ready, veterans groups and lawmakers on Capitol Hill have expressed concerns about the VA, which has been dogged by problems with its computer systems for years.”
The groups are concerned “the department is not fully prepared to begin its new policy, which Congress adopted last year to streamline and expand the way veterans get care.” The article says “veterans facing a wait of 30 days or more for an appointment at their closest VA health care center could seek private care,” but “under the new policy, that waiting time would be reduced to 20 days, with the goal of 14 days by 2020.”
With respect to “specialty care, they can see private doctors at VA expense if they have to wait longer than 28 days or drive more than an hour to see a VA provider.” Prior to this update, “veterans who had to drive more than 40 miles or wait longer than 30 days could choose to see a private doctor paid for by the VA.”
Physician Wellness and Resilience Committee Sparks Article in Legal Journal
Dr. Michael Privitera, Co-Chair of MSSNY Physician Wellness and Resilience Committee announced that another publication has come out of the MSSNY Burnout survey we did in the fall of 2016 in collaboration with Federation of State Medical Boards. “Physician Burnout and Mental Health Care Barriers when Reporting on Applications” has been accepted in Journal of Legal Medicine.
It expounds upon how asking physicians questions on their state license applications and renewals about previous mental health care is such a large deterrent for physicians getting the care they need and how this backfires in efforts to protect the public. Other MSSNY Co-Authors were Fouad Attalah, Caroline Gomez-DiCesare, Frank Dowling and Arthur Hengerer.
A Spike in Emergency Department Prices: 135% from 2008 to 2017
The average price of an emergency department (ED) visit rose by 135% from 2008 to 2017, leaving patients on the hook for a larger share of the cost, according to a new report from the Health Care Cost Institute. The report also found that ED providers were billing for complex care more often in 2017 when compared with 2008.
Average Cost of Emergency Room in 2017 Is $1389: Up 176% over Last Decade
The nonprofit Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) examined insurance claims for a decade’s worth of hospital emergency room bills, analyzing millions of insurance claims for people under the age of 65 who get health insurance through an employer.
HCCI found that hospital emergency rooms not only substantially increased prices for care from 2008 through 2017. The hospitals and doctors also billed for more complex care, which allows them to collect more lucrative fees from consumers, employers and private insurers.
The average emergency room visit cost $1,389 in 2017, up 176% over the decade. That is the cost of entry for emergency care; it does not include extra charges such as blood tests, IVs, drugs or other treatments.
CVS to Open 1,500 HealthHub Stores by the End of 2021
After success with its pilot sites in Houston, CVS Health plans to open 1,500 HealthHub stores by the end of 2021, the pharmacy retail giant announced June 4. HealthHubs are CVS’ redesigned health-focused concept stores that have space dedicated to helping customers manage such chronic conditions as diabetes, hypertension and asthma. Each store features an expanded health clinic with a lab for blood testing and health screenings as well as wellness rooms equipped to handle yoga classes and seminars. The stores also have more shelf space for health-focused products, such as medical equipment and supplies for diabetes care and sleep apnea.
CVS opened its first three HealthHub location in Houston. It plans to open more HealthHubs in Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, southern New Jersey and Tampa, Fla., this year.
The goal is to have 1,500 of the health-focused stores operating by the end of 2021.
Jefferson County Elects New Officers
The Medical Society of Jefferson County met on Tuesday, May 21. The meeting information is below and pictures are attached. On May 21, the Medical Society of Jefferson County hosted a Member Appreciation and New Member Welcome event. Members enjoyed a social gathering in Green Street at the Ramada Inn, Watertown, before adjourning to the Renaissance Room for a light buffet where Dr. Thomas Madejski, Immediate Past President of the Medical Society of the State of New York, led a discussion on current issues of concern to physicians.
AMGA Survey: Physician Benefit Packages Haven’t Changed Much Since 2014
The core discretionary benefits for physicians remained largely unchanged from 2014 to 2018, according to the latest provider benefits survey from medical trade group AMGA. The survey — conducted by AMGA’s subsidiary, AMGA Consulting — also showed that the number of part-time primary care providers who are eligible for employer benefits is increasing.
For instance, in 2018, the most common combination of retirement plans reported by respondents was a 403(b) with a 457(b) plan, which was consistent with the AMGA’s 2014 benefits survey.
The 2014 and 2018 surveys also found that most employers offered some type of life insurance coverage, and that most group physicians become eligible for life insurance the first of the month after their hire date. To compare provider benefits of health systems, researchers examined data from 83 healthcare organizations across 34 states. The research included 2018 benefits package information from AMGA’s 2018 Medical Group Compensation and Productivity survey. AMGA also used a supplemental survey to gain additional information from respondents.
Overall, benefits survey found that core physician benefits, such as retirement plans, medical insurance, income protection, time off, and professional development, remained largely unchanged from 2014 to 2018, said AMGA.
Additionally, 89 percent of the 2018 survey respondents indicated they offer continuing medical education benefits for providers. Also, more than half of the 64 organizations that provided information on provider time-off benefits last year reported more than the typical six holidays guaranteed off, including New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
“The healthcare industry is currently experiencing a physician shortage, especially in primary care,” said Elizabeth Siemsen, AMGA Consulting director, in a news release. “The expanded offerings and lowered FTE [full-time-equivalent] thresholds we saw in this survey indicate short-staffed organizations are looking to fill employment gaps with part-time physicians and are using employee benefits as a way to attract talent.” (Beckers Hospital Review May 29).
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