MSSNY eNews: July 26, 2019 – Turn Complaints into Action

Arthur Fougner MSSNY Presiident

Arthur Fougner, MD
MSSNY President

July 26, 2019

Vol. 22  Number 28



One of the most, if not THE most, aggravating issues plaguing physicians is the process of obtaining prior authorization for medically necessary drugs, procedures or tests. In fact, Medical Economics has cited the all too often arduous process of obtaining authorizations as one major factor associated with physician burnout. In 2016, this video, illustrating the absurdity of the process, went viral. Yet, like a stubborn cold, the problem remains.

Finally, it appears someone with sufficient juice may be paying attention. Yesterday, your Medical Society’s Regina McNally received an email from CMS’ NY Division of Financial Management and Fee for Service Operations, urging comments on this process as part of the “Patients over Paperwork Initiative designed to find opportunities to modernize or eliminate rules and requirements that are outdated, duplicative, or getting in the way of quality patient care.”

Simply register here and fire away. Here’s our chance to turn complaints into action. But we need to move on this one as there is an August 12th deadline.

Although personally, I find the Murphy-Reinhold Maneuver attractive, I’d make our comments more substantive. So as Larry the Cable Guy would put it, let’s “Git ‘Er Done.” (See further info below).

Arthur Fougner, MD
MSSNY President 

CMS Regional Offices are contacting provider organizations to make a special request for comments on prior authorization procedures under Medicare FFS, as well as those of Medicare Advantage, Medicaid Advantage and Health Insurance Marketplace Plans. Physicians are invited to send their experiences and comments concerning preauthorization to CMS anonymizes the comments, stories, experiences, and recommendations you share, with the exception of your ‘role’ e.g., clinician, ‘location’ e.g., state, or ‘facility type’ e.g., hospital.

The team uses the information to inform policy and operational staff, as well as for internal presentations. The early goal of this Prior Authorization Engagement is to create a strategy that will become the foundation for improving the prior authorization process. This is part of CMS’ ongoing “Patients over Paperwork” initiative designed to find opportunities to modernize or eliminate rules and requirements that are outdated, duplicative, or getting in the way of quality patient care.  In that regard, I should remind you that CMS recently published a Request for Information (RFI) in the Federal Register: “Reducing Administrative Burden to Put Patients over Paperwork”, a broad request for public comments on ways to improve CMS programs. You can submit formal comments on the RFI by August 12, 2019, and we hope that you do.  

Comments?; @mssnytweet; @sonodoc99

MLMIC Insurance Banner


With Congressmembers Back in Districts, Now is the Time to Meet with Them to Raise Concerns with Surprise Billing Proposals
A recently published article, “Congress is About to Give Health Insurance Companies the Nuclear Weapon” noted that elected officials at the federal level continue to move well-intended, but seriously misguided legislation that would address surprise bills for out of network care delivered to a patient covered by an ERISA-regulated health plan. 

Specifically, they are referring to legislation that has advanced from the Senate HELP (S.1895) and House Energy & Commerce Committees (HR 3630) that would limit payments to out of network physicians for “surprise” hospital bills to an insurer determined “median contracted” rate.

These bills are clearly slanted toward benefiting insurance company interests.  MSSNY and many other physician groups agree with the goal to assure patients are protected from surprise bills, but disagree with the approach of these bills.  These bills are far different than New York’s balanced approach to this issue, which includes regionally adjusted charges (as reported by Fair Health) for services as a major consideration for determining fair reimbursement by an independent dispute resolution entity.  As has happened in California, permitting insurers to pay an in-network rate in these instances would give already fat-cat insurance companies the incentive to further narrow their networks, and impact the ability of ALL physicians to fairly negotiate with these corporate behemoths.

However, physicians still have the opportunity to shape the outcome as negotiations continue to occur.  We still have a chance to impact the ongoing dialogue as the bill continues to move through the legislative process.  MSSNY and many other physician organizations have noted their support for HR 3502 (Ruiz/Roe/Morelle), which largely mirrors New York’s approach to surprise medical bills.

As members of Congress are back in New York for the “August recess,” please seek to call and meet with them to let them know that HR 3630 and S.1895 would be an unmitigated disaster, resulting in narrower networks and potentially making it much harder for hospitals to have needed on-call specialty care in their emergency departments.  Instead, urge them to support the Ruiz-Roe HR 3502 approach to this issue.

Notably, an AMA press release this week raised strong concerns with the “clear mischaracterization” of the impact of an independent arbitration process by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). 

Please also take a moment to send a letter to your members of Congress by going to The letter is pre-populated and allows you to get the message to the right individuals in just a few short minutes.

Gov.: New Action Ensuring Insurers Give Expanded Coverage for HIV-Prevention
This week, Gov. Cuomo issued a statement that requires additional co-pay assistance for coverage of HIV prevention drug PrEP in a proposed regulation to require more information on patients’ health insurance ID cards. 

Responders Continue to Suffer from World Trade Center-Related Illnesses
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention “notes that thousands of responders and survivors of the 9/11 attack continue to suffer adverse health effects from toxic contaminants, risks of traumatic injury, and physically and emotionally stressful conditions.” New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said, “It is almost incomprehensible that after losing 343 members on September 11, we have now had 200 more FDNY members die due to World Trade Center illness.” The recent deaths “come as legislation remains stalled in Congress to extend the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund that provides financial help to victims of the attack in exchange for their agreement not to sue the airline corporations involved.”

Study Finds Google Search More Accurate Than Medicare Advantage Directories
Compared to Google, Medicare Advantage provider directories contained less accurate information, according to a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care. Austin Frakt, PhD, director of the Partnered Evidence-Based Policy Resource Center at the V.A. Boston Healthcare System and a co-author of the study, wrote in a column for The New York Times that even for researchers, “figuring out which doctors are available (and where) can be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible” for Medicare Advantage plans.

While Medicare Advantage has been promoted by the Trump administration as an alternative to Medicare that offers more coverage for a lower price tag, Dr. Frakt writes that often a limitation of the plans — that physician networks may be narrower — is omitted from this discourse. In addition, directories for the plans are often riddled with errors. CMS found nearly half of provider entries had either address errors, incorrect phone numbers or physicians who weren’t accepting new patients, according to Dr. Frakt, who cited government audits of Medicare Advantage plans.

“Still, because there is no way for Medicare beneficiaries to compare plan networks, people could easily stumble into a narrow network plan without knowing it,” Dr. Frakt wrote. “As with many things in healthcare, it’s hard to make an informed decision.”


NY Rx Card Banner

Anthem’s New App Can Schedule and Pay for Care Via Smartphone
Anthem will roll out a new app this month that will give members and nonmembers the ability to schedule and pay for medical care through their smartphones. The app, right now called CareSpree, will be tested in Indiana during the last week of July. Anthem plans to expand the app to people across its 14 main states. The app will include an artificial intelligence-powered chat function to predict diagnoses for consumers after they enter their symptoms and other health information. The app then allows users to connect with a physician through text for follow-up.

Video physician visits will also be a feature of the app. The app will allow Anthem and non-Anthem users to schedule in-person physician visits, MRIs and X-rays, and pay a pre-negotiated rate through their smartphones. Anthem has made deals with 10 healthcare providers for the app, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Users not covered by Anthem will be charged to text and video message with physicians. Anthem members will be able to tie the app with their health history and health plan, allowing them to pay any out-of-pocket charges with their smartphone. Additionally, Anthem will offer a new digital personal health record for its members later this year.
(Becker’s Hospital July 22)

Death Rates Rising for Young and Middle-Aged Adults
Death rates are on the rise for young and middle-aged American adults, according to a study published July 23 by the CDC.  Among younger adults ages 25-44, the death rate rose 21 percent for whites and blacks and 13 percent for Hispanics between 2012 and 2017. Most died of injuries such as drug overdoses, suicides, homicides and heavy use of alcohol.

Among middle-aged adults ages 45-64, death rates rose by 6.9 percent for whites and 4.2 percent for blacks. The Hispanic death rate in this cohort did not change significantly.

The analysis further examines negative health trends across the U.S., where the opioid epidemic and heart disease are decreasing life expectancy.

Death rates have declined overall for the general population, but the decline is slowing. Hispanics have typically had lower death rates than blacks and whites in the U.S., but the opioid epidemic is curbing that trend among younger Hispanics. In contrast, older Hispanics, many of whom are foreign-born, have remained healthier.

Garfunkel Ad

More Than 25% of Early-Middle-Aged Adults Have Osteopenia in Their Neck
Healio (7/19) reported, “More than 25% of early-middle-aged adults had osteopenia in their neck,” researchers concluded after “173 questionnaires from men and women aged 35 to 50 years that determined calcium intake, weekly exercise and other risk factors associated with osteoporosis and osteopenia.” The findings were published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

Study: Colorectal Cancer Rates Among Adults Under 50 Are Increasing
An observational study indicates “more adults below the age of 50 are being diagnosed with colorectal cancer compared with five decades ago.” The study, published in the journal Cancer, showed “under 50s made up 12 percent of colorectal patients, spiking to 13.9 percent among African Americans and 18.9 percent among Hispanic populations.”

Furthermore, “when younger patients are diagnosed, the disease is more likely to be picked up in the advanced three or four stages, at 51.6 percent versus 40 percent of those above 50.” HemOnc Today (7/22)reports that “overall incidence of colorectal cancer incidence has decreased in the United States over the past several decades,” but “the percentage of colorectal cancer cases diagnosed among adults aged younger than 50 years increased from 10% in 2004 to 12.2% in 2015.”

USPSTF Reaffirms Recommendation to Screen All Pregnant Women for Hepatitis B
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is again recommending that all pregnant women be screened for hepatitis B infection. The grade A recommendation, published in JAMA, reaffirms the group’s 2009 guidance and aligns with recommendations from the CDC and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The task force specifies that a hepatitis B surface antigen test should be ordered at the first prenatal visit. Women who continue to have hepatitis B risk factors during pregnancy (for example, use of injection drugs) should be screened again at admission for delivery.

All women should be screened in each pregnancy, even if they have tested negative in a prior pregnancy or have been vaccinated against hepatitis B.

The USPSTF notes that since 1998, rates of maternal hepatitis B infection have increased 5.5% per year. Screening accurately identifies such infection, and treatment can prevent perinatal transmission.

USPSTF recommendation statement in JAMA;JAMA editorial




Photo of Park Ave building facade
Prestigious Park Ave Office Near Lenox Hill Hospital for Sale
2,400 sq/ft on two levels with a separate 6×12 ft. storage closet. Fireplace in waiting room and consult room. Perfect for plastic surgeons, cosmetic dermatologists or other. $2,950,000 Call for details and appoint to view. 212-570-6060


Ground Floor Office with Private Street Entrance in Luxury Park Avenue Building
Rental includes: two consultation rooms, private office, private bathroom.  Common waiting room, back office filing space and reception desks included.  Affordable rent.  Location East 60s between Park and Lexington.  Easy distance to Lenox Hill Hospital and New York Cornell.  Subway access within 1 block. Immediate occupancy available.  Call James: 917-710-7643

For Lease – Buffalo Area Urgent Care / Primary Care Clinic
Next door to only grocery store in town: Sav-a-Lot 4+ exam rooms, X-Ray room, Lab, Offices, etc. 3300 Sq Ft. – Fully built-out facility  ADA compliant Dunkirk New York
View full listing / (917) 825-4542

Upper East Side Medical Office Space for Rent Part–Time
Beautiful, newly renovated medical office on the Upper East Side between Lexington and Park Ave. Full service building with 2 entrances, conveniently located near all public transportation. Office includes 2 consult rooms, 3 exam rooms, treatment area, 2 bathrooms, kitchenette and reception area with waiting room. The office is available on a part-time basis. Please call 212-288-2278 or e-mail for further information.
Upper East Side Office lobby and receptions area

Park Avenue Office Share-3 Days Per Week
Tasteful, bright, well-maintained medical office in prestigious building on Park Avenue at 94th Street.  Large waiting room and reception area, consultation room and 2 exam rooms available 3 days per week. Room for an
assistant or clerical help 5 days per week. Please or call 987-5000

Medical Office Space for Rent!
Beautiful Newly Renovated Medical Office on the Upper East Side between Madison and Park Avenue! Conveniently located near all public transportation and Mount Sinai Hospital. Consult and Exam room available for rent part time or full time (see pictures). Please call 212-860-0300 or email <for further information.
Pictures of office space for rent on Madison Ave

Fully Renovated Office Space for Part-Time Lease in Hauppauge
Available Tuesdays/Fridays, $450 half session, $750 full session. Elegant office space, beautiful waiting room with new stone and granite reception desk, custom molding, large windows, abundant natural light, TV, and refreshment counter.  Four new exam rooms and dictation room.  New stainless and granite kitchenette.  State-of-the-art network infrastructure meets HIPPA & PCI DSS compliance standards.  Digital X-ray room with PACS in each exam room available as an option.  Located in close proximity to LIE, Northern State Pkwy, and Vets Memorial Hwy. Contact us at (631) 486-8855;  Please see our listing

Office Rental 30 Central Park South
Two fully equipped exam, two certified operating, bathrooms and consultation room.  Shared secretarial and waiting rooms. Elegantly decorated, central a/c, hardwood floors. Next to Park Lane and Plaza hotels. $1250 for four days a month. Available full or part-time.

Rare Find — Great Office Share
Wonderful office share in terrific location at great price. Available Monday, Wednesday, Friday and weekends. Choice of smaller windowed consultation room with adjoining exam room or big windowed consultation room with one or two exam rooms. Beautiful bright rooms, lovely reception area and front . First-rate building on 58th Street between Park and Lexington. Rent by day (about $180). Front desk and office management available if needed, along with many other amenities, including internet, ultrasound, EMG Kitchen, optional C Arm. Willing to make changes for new tenant. Call 646-642-0700.



Are You Trying to Lease Your Medical Office or Sell Your Medical Practice? Trying to Sell New or Used Medical Equipment?
Clineeds, the new online platform designed for medical providers. With Clineeds you can lease your medical officeshared your office spacebuy and sell used medical equipment, or post healthcare job opportunities. LISTING IS FREE! Why wait? Click here to sign-up:


Great Career Opportunities for Clinical Physicians
The NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision has great career opportunities for Clinical Physicians. You must have possession of a license and current registration to practice medicine in New York State, and have two years of post-licensure medical experience.

Starting salary is $143,381 – $171,631 *(Additional $10,000 or $20,000). Benefits include comprehensive health insurance, NYS retirement system, deferred compensation plan, flexible spending plan, and paid time off.

We have openings in the following counties offering a choice of urban, suburban or rural living:

Clinton*                  Clinton Correctional Facility (sporting and recreational outlets)
Dutchess                 Fishkill and Green Haven Correctional Facilities (Hudson River Valley Beauty)
Franklin*                 Franklin and Upstate Correctional Facility (North Country, 1 hour to Montreal)
Greene*                  Greene Correctional Facility (rural charm yet only 2 hours to New York City)
Oneida                    Mohawk Correctional Facility (Cooperstown, breweries)
Sullivan                   Woodbourne Correctional Facility (mountains, outlets, casinos and entertainment)
Seneca*                  Five Points Correctional Facility (heart of wine country)
St. Lawrence           Riverview Correctional Facility (hiking, boating and museums)
Washington             Great Meadow Correctional Facility (Between Vermont & the Green Mountains)
Westchester            Bedford Hills Correctional Facility (Less than 1 Hour to NYC)

Contact: or DOCCS Personnel Office at (518) 457-8132 for more information and to apply.

View of a doctor's office waiting area View of a doctor's office lobby

View of a doctor's office


Nurse, RN Utilization Review Full-Time-Westbury, NY (In-office position only)
Excellent opportunity for a RN who is seeking a position performing utilization review.  We require 1-2 years recent experience in hospital and/or insurer utilization review and experience using Interqual criteria and/or MCG Guidelines. Data entry/PC skills a plus. Benefits include 401(k), paid vacation and holidays. Send resume and salary requirements to: Empire State Medical Scientific and Educational Foundation, Inc. Human Resource Department e-mail:  Fax: (1-516) 833-4760 Equal Oppty Employer M/F