March 4, 2016 – Physicians Shaping the Discourse

drmaldonado PRESIDENT’S  MESSAGE
 Dr. Joseph R.  Maldonado
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March 4,  2016
Volume 16, Number 9

Dear Colleagues:

This is the key issue that you should drive home with your legislator on Tuesday: Click Here.

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;
  • Jason Helgerson, Medicaid Director, NYS Department of Health;
  • 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. 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.

For those unable to attend in person, this event will be webcast LIVE. You can access the webcast by going to the following link: http://totalwebcasting.com/live/mssny

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)


Senate Health Committee Chair, Senator Kemp Hannon will be Guest for Fireside Chat With MSSNY President Dr. Joseph Maldonado.
On March 7th, the evening before MSSNY’s Lobby Day, Joseph Maldonado, Jr., MD, MSc, MBA, will conduct a “fireside chat” with Senator Kemp Hannon, Chairman of the Senate Health Committee.

This is a relaxed and fluid format in which Dr. Maldonado and Senator Hannon 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 submitting their questions during the LIVE webcast of the event through this link.

The program will run for one hour from 5:30-6:30PM on March 7th.  To register to attend the event, click onto the this link.  
(DIVISION OF GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS)
 


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 for the Excess program by $25 million, which would result in 55% of physicians who currently receive this additional 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 judgments and settlements exceeding the limits of their primary coverage.  Please urge your legislators to restore full funding for the program!                                                                       (AUSTER, DEARS) 

Urge Your Legislators to Reduce Liability Insurance Costs, Not Raise Them!
All physicians must continue to contact their legislators to urge that they oppose legislation (A.285-A, Weinstein/S.6596, DeFrancisco) that could drastically increase New York’s already exorbitantly high medical liability premiums by changing the medical liability Statute of limitations to a “Date of Discovery” rule.

You need to tell your legislators that no liability increases can be tolerated.  MLMIC’s estimate is that this bill could increase physician liability premiums by nearly 15%!   New York physicians continue to pay liability premiums that are among the very highest in the country.  By way of example, a neurosurgeon practicing on Long Island must pay an astounding $338,252 for just one year of insurance coverage and an OB/GYN practicing in the Bronx or Staten Island must pay $186,639.   New York far surpasses all other states in terms of total medical liability payouts, per capita payments, and medical liability awards above $1 million.

Last week, MSSNY joined the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) and Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) in an ad in the Albany Times-Union calling for reduction in these exorbitant costs.

To make matters even worse, trial lawyers are aggressively pushing the Legislature to consider additional liability expansion bills such as legislation that would eliminate the statutory limitation on contingency fees in medical liability actions, legislation that MLMIC has estimated could have the effect of raising your premiums by over 10%.   Please tell your legislators to enact comprehensive liability reform to bring down these costs, not legislation that increases them!                                                                                                       (AUSTER, DEARS)


Nearly 30 Assemblymembers Affirm Support for Health Republic Guarantee Fund Legislation (S.6667/A.9311)
27 Assemblymembers have joined Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried and Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Nassau County) in introducing legislation (A.9311) to establish a Guarantee 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.  To view the list of co-sponsors, click here.

Identical legislation (S.6667, Valesky, also with several co-sponsors (see here) 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. The template letter urges support for the legislation or the use of other monies, such as the hundreds of millions in dollars accruing to the State as a result of settlements with financial institutions, to help pay these outstanding claims.

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)


Physicians Must Continue to Let Their Legislators Know of Concerns with Adverse Workers’ Compensation Budget Proposal
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:

  • Expand the list of non-physicians who can treat and be paid directly for care to injured workers without any clarity as to how these non-physicians will coordinate care delivery when specialized care is needed;
  • 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.
  • Reduce choice for injured workers by expanding the circumstances when an injured worker must seek care within a PPO network; and
  • 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, the proposal was made even more adverse by a) requiring 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.

Working closely with MSSNY, county medical society leaders from across the State have been writing to, and meeting with, their local Senators and Assemblymembers to request that these proposals be jettisoned from the Budget. Moreover, many of these proposals are being opposed by other stakeholders, including the NYS AFL-CIO, the NYS Trial Lawyers Association, the Injured Workers Bar Association and the New York Insurance Association.
(AUSTER, DEARS)


Legislation To Make Changes to The Erx Law to Exempt Low Volume Prescribers and to Enable Nurses in Ltc Facilities to Act as Agent for the Physician Reported by Senate Health Committee
Legislation (A. 9335, Gottfried/ S.6779, Hannon) which would exempt low volume prescribers from the e-prescribing mandate entirely was reported from the Senate Health Committee to the floor of the Senate this week. MSSNY is aware that physicians who are low volume prescribers (those who write less than 25 prescriptions a year) are receiving waivers from the mandate; but those waivers are only good for one year requiring low volume physicians to reapply each year. This measure would eliminate the need for them to re-apply for a waiver each year.

The bill would also amend the eRx law by eliminating existing provisions which require prescribers who invoke one or more of the exemptions to the eRx mandate to contact the department when they exercise an exemption. Instead, the bill would require a prescriber to make a notation in the patient’s record that the exercise of the exemption was utilized.

A second proposal (A.9334, Gottfried/S.6778, Hannon), also supported by MSSNY, was also reported by the Senate Health Committee this week to the Senate floor. Specifically this proposal would allow prescriptions for non-controlled substances for nursing home residents to be made orally rather than electronically.  For decades, nurses, acting as the agent to the physician, have been authorized to take oral orders from the physician for non-controlled medications through the nursing home medication administration system to deliver medications to residents safely and without delay. In this long-standing system, the physician then routinely signs the oral orders within 48 hours.

Physicians are not physically present in nursing homes 24 hours a day. Nurses serve a vital role ensuring proper medication administration in nursing homes. This bill is necessary to assure that physicians’ orders are timely filled to protect the health and well-being for each resident in a safe and secure method.(DEARS,AUSTER)


Endo Enters Into Settlement With NY AG to Limit Marketing of Opana
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced an agreement with Endo Pharmaceuticals this week which requires Endo to cease all misrepresentations regarding the properties of Opana ER, to describe accurately the risk of addiction to Opana ER, and to summarize studies regarding Opana ER on its website.  To read the AG’s full press release, click here.

Specifically, the settlement requires Endo to:

  • Provide truthful and complete information regarding addiction risks associated with Opana ER;
  • Stop improperly marketing Opana ER as being crush resistant;
  • Create an Abuse and Diversion Detection Program that requires Endo’s sales representatives to report to the company health care providers it suspects of engaging in abuse and illegal diversion of opioids, and for Endo to cease marketing opioids to certain prescribers;
  • Post results of clinical studies on Endo’s website;
  • Encourage health care providers to seek training on appropriate opioid prescribing practices; and
  • Provide health care providers with information about addiction treatment resources for their patients.

Furthermore, the Attorney General also imposed a $200,000 penalty on Endo.
(AUSTER) 


NY AG Investigates Health Insurers Over Hep C Coverage
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has asked 16 health insurance companies for information regarding their coverage rules for patients with hepatitis C, requesting documents explaining how they make decisions on who to cover or not, according to several media reports.  As is noted in these articles (see here), the companies being investigated include Anthem, Aetna and Emblem.  (AUSTER)


Physicians Now Have Until July 1 to Apply For 2015 EHR Meaningful Use Hardship Waiver
CMS announced late last week that physicians will now have until July 1to apply for a “hardship exemption” from the electronic health record (EHR) meaningful use financial penalties for the 2015 program year.   Without obtaining such “hardship exemption”, physicians could face up to a 3% cut in their Medicare payments in 2017.  In its statement announcing the delay, CMS noted that it “is extending the deadline so providers have sufficient time to submit their applications to avoid adjustments to their Medicare payments in 2017.”

The AMA has advised that all physicians should apply for the exemption since  CMS has said that submitting an application for a hardship exemption will not prevent those who qualify from receiving an incentive payment.

To obtain the application, click here. The AMA has developed step-by-step instructions to help simplify the submission process. Physicians do not need to include documentation of their circumstances with their application, but should hold onto it for their own records.

Moreover, new this year, individuals can apply on behalf of a group of physicians, an important change enacted by Congress at the end of 2015 as a result of the combined advocacy of MSSNY, the AMA and many medical and specialty societies from across the country.
(AUSTER)


PTSB 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)


Clinical Update for Primary Care Providers on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (Prep)
The New York State (NYS) Department of Health AIDS Institute Clinical Education Initiative (CEI) and Mount Sinai Institute for Advanced Medicine will be offering an educational program on the Treatment for Hepatitis C: New Tests, New Drugs & New Recommendations on Thursday, March 31, 2016, 9:00am – 12:00pm at St. Mary’s Healthcare, Amsterdam – Carondelet Pavilion Auditorium, 380 Guy Park Ave. Amsterdam, New York 12010. 

Registration:   On-line registration is required as space will be limited.

This free event will focus on the current epidemiological trends, updates on prevention and care best practices, and NYSDOH guidance on HIV & HCV, as well as therapeutic regimens and monitoring plans.

This event is open to New York State clinical providers, such as physicians, physician assistants, nurses, nurse practitioners, and pharmacists.  The New York State (NYS) Department of Health AIDS Institute Clinical Education Initiative (CEI) is designed to enhance the capacity of New York’s diverse health care workforce to deliver clinical services to improve health outcomes related to HIV, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and hepatitis C (HCV). The aims of the CEI are fourfold:

  • provide progressive HIV, HCV and STD education to clinicians
  • disseminate AIDS Institute clinical practice guidelines
  • expand the base of providers able to diagnose and care for HIV, HCV and STD patients
  • foster partnerships between community-based providers and HIV, HCV and STD specialists

Mount Sinai serves as The HIV/HCV Center and provides free education and training for medical providers in NYS. Clinicians are updated on the latest NYS guidelines to enhance the capacity to deliver clinical services to improve health outcomes related to HIV/HCV.  Further information is available by contacting Robert Walsh at 212-636-1315 or at rwalsh@chpnet.org.
(CLANCY) 


MSSNY Joins New York Kicks Butts Campaign
The Medical Society of the State of New York has joined the “New York Kicks Butts” campaign which is a week-long citywide effort to encourage all smokers in New York City to quit smoking.   Smoking Cessation Week will be held May 31-June 6, 2016 and will encourage smokers in the New York City area to seeking assistance from physicians and other health care professionals to learn about the tools and support available to assist them to quit smoking.  MSSNY has joined with American Cancer Society, Cancer Action Network, NYC Smoke-Free, the American Lung Association, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and other health groups in this campaign.  Further information on this campaign will be available shortly from MSSNY and through the campaign’s website(CLANCY)


 MSSNY-HCA Collaborate on Legislation to Address Health Care Disparities
Following MSSNY’s most recent Health Care Disparities Committee meeting, the Home Care Association of New York State (HCA) and MSSNY have joined forces to address health care disparities. After circulating the idea among members of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus and receiving positive feedback—next week, MSSNY and HCA will present legislation and a grant proposal to all 50 members of the Caucus. Our proposal will allow physicians, home care agencies and hospitals to collaborate, by applying individually or collectively to the DOH for grant funding for programs to address a wide array of health care disparities. MSSNY hopes that the legislation will not only allow for spirited, localized programs specific to community needs, but also provide funding for: continuing medical education programs on health care disparities issues and educational outreach initiatives to attract adolescent members of minority population to the profession of medicine.                                                                                 
(MCPARTLON)
 


President Obama Lauds Affordable Care Act Achievements
On Thursday, March 03, 2016, President Obama announced that since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, more than 20 million have gained health insurance and the country has the lowest uninsured rate ever recorded. The President also announced that as of January 16th more than 30 percent of Medicare Part A and B payments are tied to alternative payment models (nearly a year ahead of schedule.)  In a press release issued by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), it stated it was proud to achieve such a timely result and shift to quality and value of care. More information and CMS’ press release can be found here.(MCPARTLON) 


Governor Cuomo Continues Push for 12 Week Paid Family Leave
With One-House Budget bills only days away, Governor Cuomo renewed his call for paid family leave in two Op-Ed pieces, one published by Newsday and the other by the Buffalo News. In Newsday, striving to appeal to small business owners worried about their bottom-line, the Governor reiterated its zero cost to business owners as an employee-funded benefit that will reduce turnover and strengthen the state-wide labor force.  In the Buffalo News, Governor Cuomo delivered an appeal for New Yorkers to spend time with their loved ones when they need it most. Both articles can be found here (Newsday / Buffalo News ).
(MCPARTLON) 


Final Opioid Prescribing Webinar on March 10th;  Registration is Now Open
The fourth and final webinar in the opioid series will be held on Thursday, March 10th at 7:30 a.m. Title of the program is “Treatment of Opioid Use Disorders”.   Physicians and other prescribers are encouraged to register this for this webinar  at the this link.

Click on the upcoming tab and select the programs.

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 Charles Argoff, MD and Charles Morgan, MD, FASAM, FAAFP, DABAM.   The educational objectives are:    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’s Opioid Webinars are Now Available Through Its Cme Online Site
The Medical Society has archived its opioid webinar series on its continuing medical education website at http://cme.mssny.org/   The webinars that are currently on the site are:  Webinar 1 Pain Management at the Crossroads:  A Tale of Two Public Health Problems and Webinar 2   Rational Opioid Prescribing:  Is this Possible for Chronic Pain?  Physicians and other prescribers can earn up to one hour of continuing medical credits by viewing this webinar and completing the test.    The reminder of the webinars will be placed on line in the very near future. 

The MSSNY CME site requires new users to register, but once registered physicians and other health care providers will have a personalized training page to take the webinars and other course work located on the site.   New registrants to the site will create a username and password, which should be retained and be used for continued access to the site.

Once registered and logged into the site, physicians will be taken to an instruction page.   Click on the tool bar menu located at the top of the page and click on “My training” to view and take the various courses.     MSSNY has over 50 programs at this site and physicians are able to earn continuing medical education credits for each course. 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 online program has various programs with the number of continuing medical education credits, but the majority of the programs are for 1.0 AMA/PRA Category 1 credit™.  Further information on all these programs may be obtained by contacting Pat Clancy at pclancy@mssny.org.
(CLANCY) 


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 Elizabeth Dufort, MD,  Medical Director, Division of Epidemiology from the New York State Department of Health will conduct this presentation.

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 ‘Programs’.

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)

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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Michael J. Schoppmann Joins MLMIC’s Service Company
MLMIC announces the appointment of Michael J. Schoppmann, Esq. as President of our service company subsidiary. In this role, Schoppmann will work closely with Edward J. Amsler, CEO of the service company, to serve the needs of MLMIC policyholders.

Schoppmann’s long history of protecting doctors in New York State will contribute to the superior protection, sound defense and active risk management we offer all of our insureds.

Michael J. Schoppmann’s legal career spans 30 years, and his tenure defending healthcare professionals has earned him national regard. Prior to joining MLMIC, Schoppmann was the managing principal partner in a private firm (Kern, Augustine, Conroy & Schoppmann) where he dedicated more than two decades of his career to providing counsel to physicians and other health care providers. His background, reputation and drive will be extremely valuable to MLMIC as we continue to serve policyholders in an increasingly competitive environment. 


Endoscope Maker Olympus to Pay Record $623 Million to Settle Kickback Allegations
The nation’s largest endoscope distributor will pay $623.2 million to resolve civil and criminal allegations that it paid kickbacks to hospitals and doctors in exchange for purchasing its devices, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

Olympus Corporation of the Americas has agreed to pay a record-setting $310.8 million to settle civil claims that it violated the False Claims Act because its claims were tainted by illegal kickbacks. The sum is the largest ever paid by a medical-device company over violations related to the federal anti-kickback law, according to the government. Olympus will also pay a $312.4 million criminal penalty over the allegations. The company admitted to paying doctors and hospitals in the form of consulting payments, travel, meals, grants and free endoscopes in exchange for their business, according to the Justice Department.

The company admitted, for example, to paying for three doctors’ trips to Japan in 2007 in exchange for their hospital’s decision to use Olympus. The company gave another doctor who had a major role in his medical center’s buying decisions free of use of $400,000 in equipment.

Nacho Abia, CEO of Olympus Corporation of the Americas, said in a statement, said “Olympus is committed to complying with all laws and regulations and to adhering to our own rigorous code of conduct which guides our business processes, decisions and behavior.”Abia also noted that the company’s past actions didn’t affect patient health or care. He said the settlements will not affect the company’s ability to offer its products and services.

According to the Justice Department, the kickbacks helped the company make more than $600 million in sales and gross profits of more than $230 million. The company entered into a deferred prosecution agreement that will allow it to avoid conviction if it follows certain requirements.


The NYeC PQRS Registry is Open for Business and Ready to Support You
If you are a Medicare provider, but still haven’t selected a registry to submit your PQRS measurements and want to avoid payment penalties, NYeC as a CMS qualified Registry can help you control your reporting process. Remember this is a time sensitive program, and your data needs to be received by NYeC by March 17th to ensure your submission meets the CMS deadline of March 31, 2016.

Learn more about our full service PQRS Registry at http://bit.do/nyecpqrsportal. You can also email us at supportpqrs@nyehealth.org or call 646-619-6485.

Join them for a FREE informational webinar about their full service CMS qualified registry.

Webinar dates:

  • Monday, March 7, 2016, 10:00 am EST

REGISTER NOW

Topics to be covered:

  • Review of Eligible Professionals required to participate in the PQRS Program
  • How to avoid negative payment adjustments
  • Participation informs quality ratings that compare providers to their peers
  • Overview of New York eHealth Collaborative’s Registry Services
  • Review of reporting methodologies Registration, fees, support, and critical deadlines

The webinar should be for total of 45 minutes (30 min informational and 15 min Q&A).


The Medicare EHR Incentive Program Hardship Application Deadline for All Providers is Now July 1, 2016
This week, CMS is extending the application deadline for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program hardship exception process that reduces burden on clinicians, hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs). The new deadline for Eligible Professionals, Eligible Hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals is July 1, 2016. CMS is extending the deadline so providers have sufficient time to submit their applications to avoid adjustments to their Medicare payments in 2017.

In January, CMS posted new, streamlined hardship exception application forms that reduce the amount of information that eligible professionals (EPs), eligible hospitals, and CAHs must submit to apply for an exception. The new applications and instructions for providers seeking a hardship exception are available here.


Reminder: Time for Physicians and Teaching Hospitals to Complete Open Payments System Registration
As a reminder, the Open Payments system is available for Physician and Teaching Hospital registration. The review and dispute period for physicians and teaching hospitals is targeted to start in April 2016. Just a reminder, only information that has been submitted in the current program year is eligible for review and dispute.

Registering in the Open Payments system is voluntary for physicians and teaching hospitals. However, registering is required if a physician or teaching hospital wants the opportunity to review and dispute data. The data is submitted by applicable manufacturers and applicable group purchasing organizations (GPOs) prior to public posting on June 30, 2016. If a physician or teaching hospital registered last year, they are not required to register again this year.

However, if it has been over 180 days since a physician or teaching hospital has logged onto the Enterprise Identity Management System (EIDM), the account has been deactivated for security purposes. If an account has been deactivated, contact the Help Desk. The Help Desk hours are from 8:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. (EST). For new users, the quick reference guide on the EIDM system can be found here. In addition, the quick reference guides on teaching hospital registration can be found here, and the guide for physician registration can be found here.

CMS plans to publish the 2015 payment data and make any applicable updates to the 2013 and 2014 data in June 2016. More information about Open Payments is available at www.cms.gov/openpayments.


FLU View

The most recent FluView report shows increasing flu activity in the United States. Ongoing flu activity is expected for several weeks. (NY is Region 2)

CDC reports this season’s flu vaccine is nearly 60 percent effective against all circulating viruses. It is not too late to get your flu vaccine this season.


CDC Interim Recommendations re Olympics and Zika Virus in Pregnancy
Because Zika virus infection in a pregnant woman is linked to a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and miscarriage, CDC recommends special precautions for the following groups:

  • Women who are pregnant (in any trimester): Consider not going to the Olympics; if you have a male partner who goes to the Olympics, either use condoms or abstain from sex for the duration of your pregnancy. If you must go, talk to your doctor or other health care provider first; you and your partner should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites and use condoms or abstain from sex.
  • Women who are trying to become pregnant: Before you travel, talk to your doctor or other health care provider about your plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection. You and your male partner should strictly follow steps.
  • Men with pregnant partners should use condoms or abstain from vaginal, anal, or oral sex for the duration of the pregnancy.

Specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing are often difficult to determine and are likely to change over time. As more information becomes available, this travel notice will be updated. Please check back frequently for the most up-to-date recommendations.


Onondaga County Holds Annual Legislative Roundtable
Onondaga County Legislative Roundtable
The Onondaga County Medical Society held its annual Legislative Breakfast and Roundtable discussion with area federal and state legislators on February 27. The following elected representatives were in attendance:  Congressman John Katko, Sen. John DeFrancisco, Sen. David Valesky, Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter, and Assemblyman Albert Stirpe.  Director Jennifer Cook represented Assemblyman Will Barclay, Special Assistant Pamela Kirkwood represented Assemblyman Gary Finch and Craig Swyecki represented Assemblyman William Magnarelli.

This annual event gives interested physician members and our governing body the opportunity to talk with local federal and state representatives about issues of concern. Physicians in attendance were: Drs. Beers, Abdulky, Nave, Halleran, Semeran, Sneider, Hart, Huang, Walsh, and Practice Manager Anne Zecchio of Nephrology Associates.


 


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