February 19, 2016 – We Are NOT Burned Out or Stressed! We Are Fed Up!

drmaldonado PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE
 Dr. Joseph R.  Maldonado
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February 19, 2016
Volume 16, Number 7

Dear Colleagues:

We Are NOT Burned Out or Stressed!  We Are Fed Up!

Over the past year, we have all read headlines highlighting physician burnout and stress.

I have to admit that I have been advocating for greater physician awareness and attention to physician burnout and stress.  I have established a taskforce that seeks to address physician stress and burnout.  I have done so by trying to look at the stressors placed on our lives from an observer perspective.

From that perspective, one frames physician stress as a common phenomenon.  The observer perspective allows us to distance ourselves from the overwhelming stresses, identify them for others while framing those affecting us differently.  From an observer perspective, our stresses are manageable and we are always capable of effectively dealing with stresses.  We are, of course, different than those other doctors who have a difficult time effectively coping with their stresses.  For those physicians, we clearly need solutions for managing stress and burnout – or so we frame it to distance ourselves from “those” colleagues.

This week, I came to realize the fallacy of this framework.  Yes, there are physicians who are coping ineffectively with stress.  Some physicians do burn out. HOWEVER, there is something ABSOLUTELY WRONG about framing the stresses facing physicians in context of our coping abilities.  Such framing seems to make it perfectly acceptable and normal to pile stressor upon stressor upon stressor onto physicians.  Any failure of a physician to respond like Superman or Wonder Woman is viewed as weakness.

The failing is NOT the inability of physicians to merrily face the assaults on the profession.  The failing is in our buying into these assaults and stresses as part of what we bought into when we entered our profession.  We must stop accepting these assaults and must fight back!  We are not stressed!  We are not burnt out.  WE ARE FED UP AND HAVE HAD ENOUGH!

This is NOT what I bought into when I became a doctor.  It’s time we reframed this demoralization within our profession.  We must stand up and say, “The problem is not with my abilities to cope with stress or burnout.  The problem lies in the assaults on us and our profession!  Enough is Enough!  We will not continue to accept these assaults.  We will walk away before burning out.”

I’m MAD AS HELL AND I’M NOT GONNA TAKE THIS ANYMORE!

I’M GONNA GIVE SOME LEGISLATORS A PIECE OF MY MIND NEXT MONTH!

Joseph Maldonado, M.D, MSc, MBA, DipEBHC
MSSNY President

Please send your comments to comments@mssny.org


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MSSNY Lobby Day Scheduled for March 8th – Physicians Urged to Attend and Wear  Your White Lab Coats
MSSNY’s “Physician Advocacy Day” will be held on March 8th in the Lewis Swyer Theatre in the Egg located at the Empire State Plaza in Albany, New York.  If you plan to attend, please register here.

A full slate of legislators and top Administration officials will attend and dialogue with Advocacy Day participants including:

  • Donna Frescatore, Executive Director, NYS Health Benefit Exchange;
  • Troy Oechsner, Executive Deputy Superintendent, Department of Financial Services;
  • Legislative Panel: Senate Health Chair Kemp Hannon; Assembly Health Chair Richard Gottfried; Senate Insurance Chair James Seward; Assembly Insurance Chair Kevin Cahill.

In addition, Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan have also agreed to attend the morning proceedings and Speaker Heastie has been invited to the event but has not yet confirmed his participation. A brief informal luncheon to which members of each House are invited to speak with their constituents will follow the morning program.   County Medical Societies will be scheduling appointments for physicians to meet with their elected representatives.

PHYSICIANS ARE ENCOURAGED TO IMMEDIATELY REGISTER THROUGH THE LINK BELOW TO ATTEND THE MARCH 8TH LOBBY DAY IN ALBANY. http://goo.gl/forms/Mw7CX8JfzL (DIVISION OF GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS) 


MSSNY Lobby Team to Conduct one more Pre-Lobby Day Webinar on Issues to be Discussed on March 8th
In advance of the Lobby Day, MSSNY DGA staff will offer one more morning briefing program so that you can hit the ground running on March 8th. The next briefing program will be held on Wednesday, February 24 from 7:30-8:30AM. If you and/or your colleagues wish to participate on this briefing session, please register by clicking onto the link below.

February 24 briefing session 7:30-8:30AM:
(DIVISION OF GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS)


Physicians Invited to Attend Fireside Chat With MSSNY President Dr. Joseph Maldonado and Troy Oechsner, Deputy Superintendent of Insurance and Donna Frescatore, Executive Director of the NY State of Health
On March 7th, the evening before MSSNY’s Lobby Day, Joseph Maldonado, Jr., MD, MSc, MBA, will conduct a “fireside chat” with Troy Oechsner, Deputy Superintendent at DFS and Donna Frescatore, Executive Director for the NY State of Health in the MSSNY office. This is a relaxed and fluid format in which Dr. Maldonado, Mr. Oechsner and Ms. Frascatore can discuss issues of concern to the medical community (network adequacy, action taken by Emblem Health to narrow its network,  the collapse of Health Republic, etc). Physicians are invited to be physically present at this event in the DGA offices located at Ste 408, One Commerce Building, in Albany or can engage in real time by emailing their questions during the LIVE webcast of the event. The program will run for one hour from 5:30-6:30PM on March 7th.  To register to attend the event, click onto this link:
(DIVISION OF GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS)


Why Physicians Need to Take a Day Away from Your Practice To Lobby Albany on March 8, 2016

  • Think you pay too much in malpractice insurance costs?  The Trial Bar doesn’t care. They have introduced legislation that will certainly increase your premium costs.
  • If you practice in the Capital District, Southern Tier, Central NY, or Western NY, New York State wants to take away your Excess Liability Insurance Coverage.
  • New York State wants to enable NPs to deliver care to injured workers and take away County Medical Society review of authorized physicians rather than fixing what ails the Workers’ Compensation system.
  • The Proposed NYS Budget does nothing to compensate physicians for the unpaid care they have provided to Health Republic insureds.
  • New York State wants to enable Walmart and Target to hire NPs to deliver care to the public to compete directly against you.
  • Patient health could be threatened by inappropriately expanding the scope of practice of countless non-physicians, including dentists, optometrists and psychologists.
  • We need to prevent insurers from offering patients narrow networks for Exchange plans and denying patient access to out of network physicians.

These are very real issues that are currently being discussed and will be resolved either in the State Budget which will be enacted by April 1st or before the end of Session on June 16th. You need to come to Albany, and speak with your elected officials so that they can hear your concerns. Otherwise, all they will hear are the perspectives of trial lawyers and insurance companies.

PLEASE JOIN YOUR COLLEAGUES FROM ACROSS THE STATE TO LOBBY YOUR ELECTED LEADERS IN PERSON IN ALBANY MARCH 8TH.
REGISTER HERE.
(DIVISION OF GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS)


Urge Your Legislators to Support Health Republic Guarantee Fund Legislation (S.6667/A.9311)
Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried together with Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Nassau County) introduced legislation (A.9311) this week to establish a Guaranty Fund to help to assure the payment of the hundreds of millions that Health Republic owes physicians and hospitals across New York State, as well as to protect consumers and health care providers from future health plan insolvencies.  Identical legislation (S.6667, Valesky, with several co-sponsors) has been introduced in the State Senate.  Right now, New York is the only state in the country that does not have such a Guarantee Fund.  With the health insurance industry in strong opposition to this proposal, it is imperative that you urge your Senators and Assemblymembers to support this bill and include it as part of the State Budget currently under negotiation by sending a letter from 
here .

You must remind your legislators that, with physicians facing so many other challenges in seeking to keep their doors open to deliver patient care, including high liability costs, expensive electronic medical record equipment, employee costs, insurance companies dropping physicians from their networks and declining payments from insurers, failure to assure payment for these claims would have serious negative consequences for patient care and employment in your community.
(AUSTER, DEARS)


Please Complete Survey to Let Us Know What You Are Owed as a Result of Health Republic Debacle
MSSNY’s updated survey of outstanding Health Republic claims shows that, based upon results received, physicians are owed nearly $25,000,000.  However, we believe that far more physicians who have been adversely impacted have yet to respond.  As we continue our advocacy in support of a Guarantee or other special fund to pay for the unpaid claims as a result of the Health Republic demise, we need those of you who have not completed the survey to provide us with updated information regarding the amounts you are due from Health Republic.  To complete the survey, click hereThis data is critical to our advocacy efforts!   We need to obtain updated and more precise numbers from as many impacted physicians as possible since many legislators have asked us for this data.
 (AUSTER, DEARS)


Physicians Urged to Oppose Huge Cuts to Excess Medical Liability Insurance Program
Physicians are urged to continue to contact their legislators to object to a provision in the Executive Budget that would cause more than half of physicians to lose their Excess Medical Malpractice Insurance coverage.

Specifically, the proposal would cut funding by $25 million, with the effect that 55% of physicians who currently receive this essential coverage being dropped from the program.  Across much of upstate New York, only neurosurgeons, bariatric surgeons and OB-GYNs would keep this coverage.  That means that in the Capital District, in Northern New York, in Central New York, in western New York and in the Southern Tier every family physician, internist, pediatrician, ophthalmologist, emergency room physician, vascular surgeon, cardiologist, radiologist, pathologist, otolaryngologist, dermatologist and allergist would be automatically dropped.  And downstate, many primary care physicians, ophthalmologists, otolaryngologists, pathologists, dermatologists and allergists would be dropped.

The Excess Medical Liability Insurance Program provides an additional layer of $1M of coverage to physicians with hospital privileges who maintain primary coverage at the $1.3 million/$3.9 million level.  The program was created over 30 years ago as a result of the liability insurance crisis of the mid-1980’s to address concerns among physicians that their liability exposure far exceeded available coverage limitations.  Absent meaningful liability reform, with verdicts and physician liability premiums continuing to be far out of proportion compared to the rest of the country, full funding for the Excess program is absolutely essential in today’s very challenging practice environment.

At a time when the state is seeking to attract and retain physicians, this proposal deters physicians from wanting to practice in New York State for fear of putting themselves and their families in financial jeopardy for judgements and settlements exceeding the limits of their primary coverage.  Please urge your legislators to reject these cuts and restore full funding for the program!  (AUSTER, DEARS)


Physicians Urged to Oppose Adverse Workers’ Compensation Budget Proposal; 30-Day Amendments Bring Additional Concerns
All physicians must continue to contact their State Senators and Assemblymembers to express their strong opposition to sweeping Workers’ Compensation reform proposals contained in the Executive Budget.

MSSNY staff continues to meet with key legislative leaders and staff to voice its very serious concerns with Budget proposals that would:

  • Enable treatment of injured workers and direct payment for care by various non-physicians without clarity as to: how non-physicians treating patients with serious health conditions will coordinate patient care delivery when specialized care is needed; whether existing fees will need to be cut to cover this expanded list of care providers; and whether a non-physician can perform an IME of an injured worker to review the care provided by a physician to an injured worker;
  • Expand the circumstances when a physician or other health care provider can have their authorization removed and empowers the Board to impose significant fines on a physician or any other Board-authorized health care provider for violating a Workers Compensation rule;
  • Remove the authority of county medical societies to recommend physicians to serve as treating providers or independent medical examiners under Workers Compensation, which is currently an important peer review function provided by county medical societies to assure physician applications are complete and physician applicants are appropriately qualified to deliver this needed care to injured workers.
  • Reduce choice for injured workers by prohibiting in many instances an injured worker from seeking medical treatment from outside a Workers Compensation PPO before 120 days after his or her first visit to a PPO provider;
  • Remove the requirement for a referral by a physician for an injured worker as a pre-condition to receive psychological care;

In the 30-day Executive Budget amendments released last weekend, the proposal was made even more adverse by a) requiring all physicians and other currently authorized WC providers to execute an “authorization agreement” with the Board (as of now, it is unclear what would be contained within such “authorization agreement”) within 12 months of the effective date of the proposal, if it were to be enacted; and b) removing the ability of professional associations, such as MSSNY, to recommend arbitrators to resolve medical fee disputes between health care providers and carriers.

Exacerbating these concerns is that the proposal also does not meaningfully address the many excessive administrative hassles and payment delays that have caused many physicians to be unable to participate in the Workers Compensation program.   While there have been some modestly positive actions taken by the WCB in recent years to encourage physician participation in the WC program through removal of arbitration fees and development of an electronic portal for facilitating authorizations from carriers, the Budget proposals if enacted could further chase physicians away from the program.

MSSNY has also reached out to labor organizations and associations representing attorneys for injured workers to coordinate its advocacy in opposition.  MSSNY has also been working closely with county medical society leadership from across the State to encourage their outreach to their local Senators and Assemblymembers to request that these proposals be jettisoned from the Budget.
(AUSTER, DEARS)


MSSNY President Appears on News Program to Urge Passage of Legislation to Enable Override of Insurer “Fail First” Medication Policies
Concerned about health insurer policies that require your patients to “fail first” on certain prescription medications before they are able to take the medication that you believe is most medically appropriate to improve their health?  MSSNY is working together with a number of patient advocacy groups in support of legislation (A.2834-A, Titone/S.3419-A, Young) to provide physicians with an expeditious manner to override an insurer “fail first” policy when it is in the best interest of their patients’ health.  To send a letter in support of this legislation click here.   This week, MSSNY President Dr. Joseph Maldonado appeared on the YNN Statewide news program Capital Tonight along with Matthew Shapiro of the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ Matthew Shapiro to discuss the importance of the legislation.  To watch the broadcast, click here.(AUSTER, DEARS)


Please Advocate for Due Process Rights When Physicians are Non-Renewed by a Health Insurer
Physicians are urged to contact their legislators to support a bill (A.1212, Lavine/S.4751, Hannon) that would assure physicians are accorded a fair peer review appeals mechanism before their participation contract with a health insurance company can be non-renewed.  To send a letter in support of this legislation here.  The legislation is in response to situations such as the disrespectful way by which Emblem treated 750 of its network physicians who were unceremoniously dropped from the network in October based upon specious allegations of failure to transition to value-based payments, severing patient treatment relationships for countless patients.  MSSNY has strenuously urged to the Department of Financial Services, Department of Health, and Attorney General that these physicians be given a fair opportunity to be reinstated, and have shared this information with the entire New York State Legislature. (See MSSNY letter to DFS here.   The Attorney General’s office continues to investigate specific complaints raised by individual physicians whether they were given a fair chance to appeal these non-renewals.
 (AUSTER, DEARS)


To Physicians in Long Island, NYC, Hudson Valley, and Capital District:  Please Complete this Survey
State and federal regulators are very interested in knowing the prospective effects of these possible mergers on your practice and patient care.   In this regard, MSSNY working together with the American Medical Association Advocacy Resource Center have developed a survey seeking physician input on the potential impact on these proposed mergers.

Last fall, the AMA released a report articulating the significant potential anticompetitive effects that would occur in numerous regions all across the country as a result of this merger.  Among the identified regions of concern in New York State were Long Island, New York City, the Hudson Valley, the Capital District and the Glens Falls area.  Therefore, physicians practicing in these regions are asked to complete the Survey! 


Opioid Prescribing Webinar on Feb 23rd; Registration is Now Open
Registration is on-going for the third webinar in the opioid series which will be held Tuesday, February 23rd at 7:30 a.m. Title of the program is “Treatment of Opioid Use Disorders”.   Physicians and other prescribers are encouraged to register for the remaining webinars  at the this link.

Click on the upcoming tab and select the programs.

Physicians will need to register for each webinar; each webinar has different topics described below. Physicians and other prescribers are allowed to register up to ½ hour before the webinar.

The Medical Society of the State of New York, the New York State Office for Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Service and the NYS Department of Health’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, are jointly providing this free, four part webinar series on opioid prescribing. 

Entitled,) “Revisiting the Role of Opioid Analgesics for Simple and Complex Patients with Chronic Pain”.  Faculty for the session will be Jeffrey Selzer, MD and the educational objective:  Describe potential for patient addiction, screening, diagnosis and subsequent treatment or referral.

The fourth webinar will be held on Thursday, March 10, 2016, 7:30 a.m. Faculty: Charles E. Argoff, MD and Charles Morgan, MD, FASAM, FAAFP, DABAM and the educational objectives:  Recommend tools to assist in the management of patients for whom opioids are indicated and prescribed; discuss strategies to reduce risk of treating pain in patients with substance use disorders.

Physicians and other prescribers can take one or all of the webinars. The Medical Society of the State of New York is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The Medical Society of the State of New York designates this live activity for a maximum of 1.0 AMA/PRA Category 1 credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Please contact Pat Clancy at pclancy@mssny.org or Terri Holmes at tholmes@mssny.org for further information.                                        (CLANCY, DEARS)


MSSNY Continues Work to Address Disparities in Health Care
MSSNY’s Committee to Eliminate Health Care Disparities met this Friday, February 19th, and hosted Kyle Ishmael, the Executive Director of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus. Mr. Ishmael spoke at length on the background of the Caucus and its legislative priorities outlined in the Caucus’ 2016-17 People’s Budget.

As budget season progresses, MSSNY hopes to collaborate with the Caucus and develop synergies to address health care disparities among minority populations. With a wide variety of illnesses and ailments disproportionately affecting minority populations, MSSNY remains diligent in its efforts to address these disparities and committed to attracting members of minority populations to the practice of medicine. A special thanks to Kyle Ishmael and the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus.
(MCPARTLON)


MSSNY to Conduct Medical Matters Webinar on Zika Virus on March 16, April Session on Ebola
The Medical Society, in conjunction with the New York State Department of Health will conduct a Medical Matters webinar on the  “Zika Virus: An Evolving Story” on March 16th at 7:30 a.m.  
Registration for this program is now open.

Click on the upcoming tab and select the programs.

The educational objectives for this program are: 1) Describe the epidemiology of Zika Virus infection;

2) Understand the modes of transmission; 3) Understand how to advise patients; and 4) Learn methods for prevention of infection.  William Valenti, MD, chair of MSSNY’s Infectious Disease Committee, and physicians from the New York State Department of Health will conduct this presentation.  Further information will be available shortly.

The April session of Medical Matters will take place at the MSSNY House of Delegates and is entitled,

“Ebola: A Perspective from the Field”.  The program will be conducted by Dario Gonzalez, MD, FACEP. Associate Medical Director,  Fire Department City of New York/Office of Medical Affairs.  Dr. Gonzalez was deployed for nine weeks by Americares to Liberia, West Africa as part of the US response to the Ebola epidemic.  The program will be held on Thursday, April 14, 2016 at 2:00pm. Physicians may attend the session at the Westchester Marriott, 670 White Plains Road, Tarrytown, NY 10591 or by webinar.  Registration is now open.

Click on the upcoming tab and select the program.

The educational objective is: Offer perspective and lessons learned from an individual who treated Ebola patients firsthand.

The May session will be “Radiological Emergencies”, this session will be held on May 18, 2016 at 7:30 AM. (Please note that this session was originally scheduled for March 16, 2016) Faculty for this session will be Cham Dallas, PhD.  Dr. Dallas is a professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the College of Public Health, University of Georgia.  He is also the Director of the Institute for Disaster Management at the University of Georgia and a Board Member of the National Disaster Life Support Foundation (NDLSF).  Dr. Dallas has a national/international reputation in toxicology and emergency preparedness and response, including over 30 years of experience.

The Medical Society of the State of New York is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The Medical Society of the State of New York designates this live activity for a maximum of 1.0 AMA/PRA Category 1 credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Further information or assistance in registering for any of these programs may be obtained by contacting  Melissa Hoffman at mhoffman@mssny.org.                                                      
(CLANCY, HOFFMAN)
 


PTSD and TBI in Returning Veterans: March – June Webinars
MSSNY will be holding a series of CME webinars on PTSD and TBI in returning veterans on eight dates listed below from March through June. The faculty presenters will be Frank Dowling, MD and Joshua Cohen, MD.

Course objectives:

  • Explore the two most prevalent mental disorders facing American veterans today, their causes, symptoms, and comorbidities;
  • Outline treatment options including evidence-based psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy;
  • Discuss barriers to treatment, including those unique to military culture, and how to overcome them;Outline the process of recovery and post-traumatic grow. 

To register for this webinar, click on a date below and fill out the registration form

Wednesday, March 9, 7:30-8:30 AM

Tuesday, Mach 22, 6-7 PM

Thursday, April 7, 6-7 PM

Tuesday, April 12, 7:30-8:30 AM

Thursday, May 5, 6-7 PM

Thursday, May 19, 7:30-8:30 AM

Thursday, June 2, 6-7 PM

Thursday, June 9, 7:30-8:30 AM

(ELPERIN, DEARS)

For more information relating to any of the above articles, please contact the appropriate contributing staff member at the following email addresses:          

pschuh@mssny.org ldears@mssny.org            mauster@mssny.org  
pclancy@mssny.org jMcPartlon@mssny.org    


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Do You Have Expertise in Physician Stress and Burnout? We Need You!
At the 2015 House of Delegates of the Medical Society of the State of New York, a resolution was passed calling for action to address the prevalence of physician burnout.

We need your help!

We are looking to assemble the MSSNY team to tackle this work. This calls for physicians who have experience or expertise in designing or implementing physician health programs or stress/burnout programs for physicians. Please contact eskelly@mssny.org with a short bio and letter expressing your interest, expertise and what you intend to bring to the taskforce to advance the mission of the project.


CDC Report: New Yorkers and Others Not Getting Enough Sleep
The CDC released a report revealing that about one-third of adults in the US appear to be getting insufficient sleep. Prevalence of healthy sleep duration varied among states and ranged from 56.1% in Hawaii to 71.6% in South Dakota (Table 2). Most of the Great Plains states were in the upper quintile for healthy sleep duration; states in the southeastern United States and along the Appalachian Mountains tended to be in the lower quintiles (Figure). After surveying some 444,000 US adults in 2014, the CDC “also found that while two-thirds of white people nationally got enough sleep, only about half of blacks, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders did.”

In New York, 61.6-63.2 % of age-adjusted percentage of adults reported ≥7 hours sleep per 24-hour period.


Humana Fined $500,000 for Discriminating Against AIDS /HIV Patients
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (FOIR) announced this week that it had concluded its market examination of Humana and fined the health insurer $500,000 for failing to cooperate with investigators. In a consent order dated February 16, 2016, Humana agreed to “maintain procedures to ensure that it does not by effect or design treat people living with HIV/AIDS less favorably than any other condition.”

In 2014, The AIDS Institute and NHeLP filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) charging four Florida health plans, including Humana, with unlawful discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS by placing all HIV medications, including generics, on the highest cost sharing tier, thus requiring enrollees to pay as much as 50 percent co-insurance for every HIV drug. In the complaint, the groups contend that such practices discourage people with HIV/AIDS from enrolling in the plans and violate the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) non-discrimination provisions. The ACA bans plans from discriminating against individuals based upon disability and prohibits them from discouraging enrollment by people with significant health needs.

Last year, HHS issued guidance to all plans nationwide informing them that such practices are discriminatory; and in proposed regulations implementing the ACA’s non-discrimination provision, Section 1557, HHS made clear that plan benefits cannot be designed to discriminate. However, OCR has yet to issue a ruling on the complaint.

The AIDS Institute’s analysis of Florida’s 2016 qualified health plans found that coverage for nearly all Hepatitis B and C drugs by several insurers remains subject to high co-insurance levels. Humana places almost all Hepatitis C drugs on Tier 5, which translates into coinsurance of either a 40 or 50 percent of drug cost, after the patient pays a $3,800 deductible. Aetna and CoventryOne place all Hepatitis C drugs and almost all hepatitis B drugs on Tiers 4 and 5, which carry coinsurance of 40 percent and 50 percent of drug cost, after a $2,750 deductible.


Young Adults on Adderall: Dramatic Increase in Emergency Room Visits
A study published online Feb. 16 in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry indicates that “incidences of misuse and emergency room visits related to Adderall increased dramatically for young adults between 2006 and 2011.” Researchers arrived at this conclusion after examining data from the “National Disease and Therapeutic Index, a survey of office-based practices; National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a population survey of substance use; and Drug Abuse Warning Network, a survey of hospital emergency department visits.”


Medical School Deans Promote Three-Year Medical Degree
In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal (2/18, A11), dean and CEO Robert I. Grossman, MD, and vice dean for education, faculty, and academic affairs Steven B. Abramson, MD, of New York University’s Langone Medical Center and the NYU School of Medicine, write in favor of the three-year medical degree instead of the traditional four-year path as a way to save students money and help medical education adapt to the needs of the current century.


CA Hospital Pays “Ransomware”
Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center paid a ransom in bitcoins equivalent to about $17,000 to hackers who infiltrated and disabled its computer network, the hospital’s chief executive said Wednesday. It was in the hospital’s best interest to pay the ransom of 40 bitcoins after the hacking that began Feb. 5, the C.E.O., Allen Stefanek said. The F.B.I. is investigating the attack, often called “ransomware,” in which hackers encrypt a computer network’s data to hold it hostage, providing a digital decryption key to unlock it for a price. “The quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions was to pay the ransom and obtain the decryption key,” Mr. Stefanek said. Bitcoins, an online currency, are hard to trace. The Los Angeles hospital network was operating fully again Monday, and patient care was not affected by the hacking, Mr. Stefanek said. 


CMS Plans to Correct Attestation System to Allow EPs to Claim an Exclusion for Measure 1 of the Patient Electronic Access Objective
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will shut down the Medicare & Medicaid EHR Incentive Program Registration and Attestation System on Sunday, February 21, 2016, between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. EST, to correct an error that is preventing eligible professionals (EPs) from claiming an exclusion for Measure 1 of the Patient Electronic Access Objective (referred to as 8A in the attestation system).

  • Patient Electronic Access, Measure 1 Exclusion: Any EP who neither orders nor creates any of the information listed for inclusion as part of the measures except for ‘Patient Name’ and ‘Provider’s name and office contact information.

EPs whose attestation was rejected as a result of not meeting objective 8 may modify and resubmit their attestation information after February 21, 2016. EPs who have successfully attested to the EHR Incentive Programs 2015 requirements do not need to take any action.

Batch attestation users who have not yet submitted their files will also need to wait to submit their data until after February 21. To successfully upload a batch attestation with this exclusion, please ensure the batch files include a Y/N indicator for each provider record on the file. Users who have already submitted a batch attestation file for the 2015 program year do not need to resubmit.

For More Information

Visit the CMS website or contact the EHR Information Center Help Desk at (888) 734-6433/ TTY: (888) 734-6563. The hours of operation are Monday through Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. EST.


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Jerome I. Sager – Attorney at Law
The health care law experts representing medical professionals for more than 25 years.  See us for Professional Medical Conduct Defense, Medicaid and Medicare Fraud Cases, DEA and Controlled Substance Issues, Third party insurance issues. 212-685-2333 / 917-312-6631, jeromesager@cs.com.



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