MSSNY eNews: August 20, 2021 – House of Delegates Goes Virtual-Only in September
I—along with so many of my MSSNY colleagues—was very much looking forward to meeting in person in Saratoga next month for our House of Delegates meeting. But the Delta variant of COVID-19 has forced us to reassess, shift gears, and change our plans.
With the uptick in COVID-19/Delta cases and the increased ability of the Delta variant to transmit to others despite vaccination status, we in MSSNY leadership agreed it was time to re-evaluate our plans for the HOD. It was a tough call, but I am confident that we have made the right decision to hold our 2021 House of Delegates meeting on Saturday, September 18 on a virtual-only platform. Our first priority is to keep our physicians, staff, and guests safe and healthy.
The reference committee reports are under construction and will be posted on the MSSNY website by September 3 as originally planned. Once posted, MSSNY members will be able to add comments in the report.
I hope you will make plans to participate in the CME events on Friday, September 17, which will also be held on Zoom. We have many offerings, including In My Defense: The Perspective of a Physician in a Malpractice Suit, Steps to Physician Wellness and Resiliency, Medical Matters: COVID Questions and Answers, and Veterans Matters: Substance Use Disorders in Veterans. Visit the HOD CME page for a full listing and to register.
And, finally, I want to thank our HOD Speaker Dr. Bill Latreille, Vice Speaker Dr. Maria Basile, and our MSSNY staff for their hard work in transitioning to a virtual meeting. We will keep you informed as plans for the meeting are finalized.
MSSNY Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund
The devastating 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the southwestern region of Haiti killed nearly 2,000 people and injured close to 10,000. Unfortunately, those numbers are expected to rise. The disaster resulted in toppled buildings and homes and damaged infrastructure and roads, cutting off access to some areas in the southwest, and forcing many to flee their homes in fear that they may collapse.
The people of Haiti desperately need help. Please consider making a donation to the MSSNY Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund. Donations will be sent to organizations assisting Haiti with urgent needs, including medical supplies and equipment.
MGMA Raises Concerns to CMS Re EFT Fees Charged to Physicians by Health Plans
The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) has written to the CMS to raise strong concerns with the growing incidence of fees being charged to physician practices by health plans and/or their payment processing vendors in order to receive payments via electronic funds transfer (EFT). The MGMA letter notes that “Given that CMS has a both a statutory requirement and the authority to prohibit EFT fees, the industry guidance removed by the prior administration in 2017 should be reposted or clearly restated by CMS in a definitive manner. If CMS will not provide clear guidance, we ask the agency to expeditiously and clearly state why it is not using its legal authority to prohibit these abuses.”
MSSNY has also been working with the American Medical Association to bring examples to CMS regarding health insurers inappropriately charging physician practices for EFT and will report back as these efforts continue. For more information, please contact Heather Lopez, MSSNY’s Director for Physician Payment & Practice, at firstname.lastname@example.org
MSSNY President Dr. Sellers Discusses Vaccine Misconceptions on WUTR/WFXV/WPNY
WUTR/WFXV/WPNY reports: “As COVID-19 cases rise throughout the area, physicians are encouraging everyone to get vaccinated. Dr. Joseph Sellers, President of the Medical Society of the State of New York tells us about the misconceptions that are still making people hesitant.
‘Physicians’ focus right now is vaccinating the unvaccinated and they want those who do not have confidence in vaccines to reach out. You need to talk to someone you trust with the background and knowledge to help you through this. And that’s usually the medical providers—the doctors—that have been taking care of you in other aspects of your life,’ said Sellers.”
United Hospital Fund (UHF) Study Finds American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Provides Big Savings for New Yorkers When Buying Health Insurance
According to a new study by UHF, “A Shot in the Arm: American Rescue Plan Act Boosts Health Coverage Affordability”, which was released in July, health insurance costs have been reduced for many New Yorkers since the enactment of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) into law this past March. The study highlights the impact of one portion of this massive bill, which expands subsidies for health insurance coverage, including for income eligible New Yorkers obtaining commercial health insurance coverage through New York’s Health Insurance Exchange. Moreover, it provides premium tax credits to higher-income individuals and families ineligible for financial help under the ACA. (Those who earn more than 400% of the Federal Poverty Level- FPL).
The study details “before and after” scenarios which showed a significant reduction in premiums and savings for consumers in Queens, Tompkins County in central New York, and Erie County in western New York. Specifically, it notes that an individual in Queens earning just above the income eligibility threshold for free coverage under New York’s Essential Plan (approximately $25,600) are seeing premiums for plans bought at the New York State of Health marketplace decrease by over 75 percent, from $128 to $31 per month, while a family of four at the same income level will save more than $2,300 annually with the lower ARPA premiums.
In lower-cost Erie County, a family with an income of about $65,500 annually will receive a 50 percent reduction in premiums, from $457 per month to $220. Savings for families earning slightly more than the ACA subsidy limit (400% FPL, or approximately $104,800) are especially dramatic. In Tompkins County, for instance, family premiums dropped from $1,899 per month to $746, producing annual savings of more than $13,700.
To read the full UHF HealthWatch report: https://uhfnyc.org/publications/publication/ARPA-boosts-health-coverage-affordability/. It is the first in a two-part series on health coverage provisions in the ARPA. The next installment will focus on extra help for people who have lost their jobs or job-based health insurance. MSSNY staff will continue to follow this issue and provide new information as it becomes available.
Win 2 PIT or 2 Lawn Tickets to Dave Matthews Band at SPAC on 9/18!
Through the generosity of Dr. Gregory Pinto, Dr. Natalie Adler, and Aimana ElBahtity, MSSNYPAC donors can enter to win 2 PIT section or 2 lawn seats for the Dave Matthews Band playing Saturday, September 18, 2021 at 7:30pm at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Registration and qualified entry are required. To register text MSSNYPAC DMB to 52886 and follow the prompts. To qualify for PIT tickets, donate $500 to MSSNYPAC for each entry. To qualify for lawn seats, donate $100 to MSSNYPAC for each entry. Two winners will be chosen on 9/8/21 among qualified registrants. Donations made to MSSNYPAC between 9/14/20 and 9/7/21 can be used to qualify. The higher your donation, the greater your chances to win! Join, renew, or increase your membership today! Contact Jennifer Wilks at email@example.com or 914-933-7722 with any questions. View the MSSNYPAC events page for further details.
MSSNY Insurance Tip: How Are You Verifying Your Patients’ Insurance?
Have you ever received a zero-dollar payment/denial from an insurance company that says, “members’ coverage terminated prior to service rendered”? There are multiple reasons how this could happen BUT there is only ONE way to ensure it does not. The answer is very simple: verify the insurance. Train your staff to get into the habit of verifying insurance at every visit. This will help to reduce denials and save time for your billing and office staff. Once the patient presents, request the insurance card every time and verify that what you have in your EHR system is indeed the most current. Too many times we see Mr. or Mrs. Jones and say, “Everything the same?” and the patient’s response is yes without even knowing what you are looking at in the system.
Remember the “Triple R” rule:
REQUEST: The insurance card
READ: Compare the information on the card VS your EHR system
RE-ENTER: Update the EHR with the correct information and file
Software enhancements are also available. Check out insurance eligibility verification software like iPAS through the Pelitas company. This type of software is integrated into your EHR system that provides current insurance information for your patients.
At the end of the day, getting your AR days down to a minimum is going to help your practice. Saving your staff time will assist in boosting morale and effectiveness.
MSSNY President Dr. Sellers Discusses Open Notes on WNYT-TV
In an interview with WNYT-TV Albany, NY (8/19, Zahn), Medical Society of the State of New York President Joseph R. Sellers, MD, said recent federal laws require that hospitals and physician practices provide patients with their personal medical records. While there are some provisions for sensitive records to remain segregated from patients, “virtually all your records are open to you,” he said. Dr. Sellers added, “You have a right to get them.”
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Health Research, Inc. (HRI) has a job opening within the AIDS Institute’s Office of the Medical Director for a Public Health Physician II. Please distribute this announcement widely through your networks. Interested individuals can apply for this position through the HRI website.
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