MSSNY eNews: February 26, 2021 – Advocating for Physicians in DC and NY

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Colleagues:

Early this week the American Medical Association held its annual National Advocacy Conference.  While we could not meet in person in Washington, the event was none-the-less impactful.  We heard from Doris Kearns Goodwin, a presidential historian about lessons from the past that can shape our future; AMA leadership on AMA priorities and our AMA legislative agenda; and Dr. Bechara Choucair, vaccination coordinator for the Biden administration.  We were also briefed and prepped for virtual Hill visits.

Our MSSNY team met with many of our New York State congressional delegation and advocated for federal allocation of vaccine supply to community physicians, federal stimulus money to New York State to offset our enormous state budget deficit, bipartisan legislation that would continue the current Medicare sequester moratorium at the very least for the duration of the public health emergency, and permanently removing the rural limitations on Medicare telehealth reimbursement.

From there it was onto the NYS joint legislative public hearing on the 2021 Executive Budget Proposal.  The legislature heard from the Department of Financial Services, the Department of Health, and many stakeholders in a marathon session lasting for nearly 12 hours. MSSNY provided detailed written testimony on the many budget issues affecting physician practices in New York State.  We were also fortunate to be granted a slot to provide a brief verbal summary of our concerns with the proposed State Budget and used our time to highlight the following:

  • Opposition to the restructuring of the state’s Excess Medical Malpractice Program and the new huge cost imposition on the 17,000 physicians enrolled in the program
  • Opposition to the unreasonable and un-American bypassing of due process for physicians through the Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC)
  • Opposition to a very large and mistimed cut in the funding for MSSNY’s Committee for Physicians’ Health (CPH)
  • Opposition to the inappropriate expansion of pharmacy scope of practice that would significantly undermine our patient-centered medical home concept.

I also had the opportunity to answer questions from several legislators regarding our concerns on these issues.  We were heartened that several legislators raised our concerns with these proposals in their questioning of the DFS Superintendent and Health Commissioner.

Next up: Tuesday, March 2nd is virtual Physician Advocacy Day.  While every day is advocacy day at MSSNY, some days—and at some times—our voices need to be stronger and louder to effect change. Make a difference: sign up for Physician Advocacy Day to stand up for your rights, your patients, and our noble profession.

Bonnie Litvack, MD
MSSNY President


 



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Join Us for MSSNY’s Virtual Lobby Day on March 2
We are just a few days away from MSSNY’s Annual Physician Advocacy Day, we are excited to have you all join us, If you haven’t already, please register by clicking here.

The format will follow previous years formats, where assembled physicians and allies will hear from legislative leaders and physician leaders in the morning (this year via Zoom) from 8 AM-11 AM, and then have virtual visits with their respective legislators in the afternoon (organized by their county medical societies).  With physicians facing so many challenging issues this year as noted below, there has never been a more important time for you to join with your colleagues on these important advocacy efforts.

Please plan to join hundreds of colleagues from around the State on March 2! (ALI)


MSSNY Members Meet With New York Congressional Delegation to Discuss Priority Federal Issues
MSSNY members and staff conducted virtual meetings with several members of the New York Congressional Delegation this week to discuss a range of timely federal issues, that impact physicians. Among those discussed were:

  • The need for significant federal funding in the COVID Relief Package, to help prevent state budget cuts.
  • Making vaccines available to community-based physicians to immunize patients with co-morbidities.
  • Preventing Medicare sequester cuts from going forward on April 1, 2021.
  • Eliminating in statute the “rural only” provision in Medicare for Telehealth coverage.

The meetings were part of the American Medical Association’s (AMA) annual National Advocacy Conference (NAC).  Participating MSSNY physician leaders included MSSNY’s current President, Dr. Bonnie Litvack, its President-elect, Dr. Joseph Sellers, MSSNY Vice-President Dr. Parag Mehta, MSSNY Past Presidents, Dr. Arthur Fougner and Tom Madejski, Dr. Dan Choi, Dr. Paul Pipia, Dr. Carlos Zapata, Dr. Rose Berkun, and Dr. Alan Klitzke. The group met with Ways & Means Committee member Tom Suozzi and with the top health policy staff for Representatives Clarke, Higgins, Morelle, Rice, and Tonko, as well as for Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer.

MSSNY staff will continue to monitor, and advocate, on these issues on members’ behalf, and update members as discussions unfold on Capitol Hill.       (CARY)


MSSNY Continues to Urge Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccine to Community Based Physicians
MSSNY continues to urge the New York State Department of Health to supplement its efforts to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to its residents by making doses available to community-based physicians to immunize their patients—especially since patients with co-morbidities are now eligible to receive the vaccine.

As the country moves forward into the immunization process, and as supply increases, it is vitally important that the country and the states employ all resources available and that includes the community-based physicians.   Currently, hospitals, chain pharmacies and mass vaccination sites have been prioritized while very few doses have been made available to those who know their patients’ best – the community physician. These are individuals who can quickly identify the most vulnerable and can reach large amounts of patients who suffer from significant co-morbidities and cannot travel to a vaccine distribution site due to health reasons.

Community-based physicians practice in a wide range of communities such as urban, rural and suburban settings and serve the poor, the elderly, individuals of color and those with co-morbidities.   Many of these patients do not have transportation, are in communities without mass transportation, lack the financial resources or are simply too ill to travel.

Community based physicians care for thousands of patients each and can quickly identify those patients who are most of risk of getting COVID-19 or having complications due to their comorbidities.  More importantly, patients often feel comfortable with their physicians, with whom they can discuss the vaccine, and address any vaccine hesitancy, and feel comfortable in the office setting.

MSSNY physician leaders were featured in numerous articles in papers and media across the State this week on this issues including in the Buffalo News, and WNYT-TV and WTEN-TV (Albany). WTEN-TV 10, Buffalo News (1), Buffalo News (2), Press Release, WNYT-TV.

It was also the subject of numerous conversations that MSSNY leaders had with members of New York’s Congressional delegation this week.       (CLANCY, AUSTER)


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Please Urge Your Legislators to Reject Huge New Costs Placed on Community Physicians for Excess Coverage
Please urge your legislators to reject an extraordinarily ill-timed Budget proposal that would foist thousands to tens of thousands of dollars of new costs on the nearly 17,000 physicians enrolled in the Excess Medical Malpractice Insurance.   You can send a letter and/or tweet them from here: Click Here.

This proposal, which would require enrolled physicians to bear an extraordinary 50% of the cost of these policies, would thrust over $50 million of new costs on the backs of our community-based physicians who served on the front lines of responding to the pandemic.  This new cost imposition would hit these practices at a time when many of these practices are already facing huge losses resulting from the substantial reduction in the number of patients receiving care during the pandemic.

NEW COSTS TO BE IMPOSED ON PHYSICIANS FOR EXCESS COVERAGE BASED UPON GOVERNOR’S 50% COST BUDGET PROPOSAL

SPECIALTY Long Island Bronx, Staten Island Brooklyn, Queens Westchester, Orange, Rockland, and Manhattan
Emergency Medicine $5,653 $6,561 $6,118 $4,500
Cardiac Surgery $4,482 $5,202 $4,862 $3,567
OB-GYN $20,881 $24,235 $22,648 $16,617
Neurosurgery $35,222 $40,879 $38,202 $28,030

MSSNY has joined with 16 other specialty medical societies in a letter to the entire State Legislature that expresses our strong objection to this proposal (Click Here).  Among the key points in the letter is that a recent AMA survey reported that during the pandemic the average number of in-person visits to physician offices dropped nearly in half.   The bottom line is that the new costs this proposal would impose are simply not assumable by physicians, meaning that many physicians will face no choice but to forgo receiving this additional coverage.

MSSNY thanks the many legislators, including Assembly Insurance Committee Chair Kevin Cahill, Senate Finance Committee Chair Liz Krueger, and Assemblymembers Bichotte, Byrne, and Ra, for raising concerns with this proposal during this week’s Health Budget hearing. (AUSTER) 


Urge Your Legislators to Reject Overbroad Proposal to Severely Curtail Physician Due Process
Physicians are urged to continue to contact their legislators to reject an Executive Budget proposal that that would greatly curtail due process protections for physicians when a complaint has been filed with the Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC), including making information public about a complaint even if no professional misconduct is found and greatly lessening the burden for imposing an interim suspension prior to the conclusion of the statutory hearing process.   You can send a letter and/or tweet to your local legislators from here: Click Here.

While New York’s physicians share the goal of assuring the State has ample power to protect the public when the conduct of a particular health care provider places patients at risk, the Commissioner already has authority to take summary action prior to the conclusion of a disciplinary hearing in the absence of a finding of misconduct.  MSSNY together with several specialty societies have raised concerns his proposal is greatly over-reaching given that most complaints never result in findings of misconducts or even formal charges being filed. Of greatest concern is that information released to the public, even if there is no action ultimately taken, can remain available through “Google searches” forever, with the potential to eviscerate a physician’s professional reputation.  (AUSTER)


Please Contact Your Legislators to Raise Concerns with “Consolidated Billing” Legislation
Physicians are urged to contact their Assemblymembers and Senators to urge them to substantially revise A.3470- A/S.2521-A, “The Patient Medical Debt Reduction Act”. Click here to contact your legislators today! Click Here.

While there are many components to this well-intended legislation, there is a seriously problematic component which would prohibit a physician or other provider with any “financial or contractual relationship” with a hospital from separately billing a patient for a course or episode of treatment in the hospital. While it doesn’t appear to prohibit continued separate billing to insurance companies or other payers, a single hospital-physician bill would be required when a bill is sent to a patient for costs not covered by the patient’s insurance, such as collection of a deductible. It would also require such consolidated bill to be sent within 7 days of a patient’s discharge from the hospital, before there is any clarity as to what expenses will actually be covered by a patient’s insurance.

If this bill were to pass and this provision not amended, it would put non-employed physicians at the mercy of the hospitals where they practice since the legislation does not specify how payments to hospitals from this “single bill” would then be distributed to these physicians.

In an era when patients’ insurance policies regularly impose enormous deductibles, it would likely force even more physicians to sell their practices and become employees of hospitals in response to the helpless position many physicians would find themselves.  Other physicians may leave the state altogether.  The impact of this prohibition will fall most adversely on physicians who are on the front lines of the pandemic, many of whom are facing an enormous drop in patient volume due to a significant amount of delayed care.                                   (AUSTER)


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Please Oppose Proposals That Facilitate Uncoordinated Siloed Care to be Provided by Pharmacists
Please contact your legislators to urge that they oppose several components of the Executive Budget that could upend the patient-centered medical home model and threaten patient safety by greatly expanding the scope of services provided to patients by pharmacists without coordination with patient care physicians.  You can send a letter from here: Click Here.  Please let them know these proposals would greatly enhance the power of big box giants to control various aspects of patient care delivery not in coordination with but to the exclusion of community-based primary care and specialty care physicians that typically manage the care of their patients.

Specifically, these Budget proposals would 1) permit pharmacists to order various lab tests without any physician oversight and without any requirement to coordinate with the patient’s physician for follow-up care; 2) greatly expand the physician-pharmacist Collaborative Drug Therapy Program to enable pharmacists to adjust the medications provided to entire classes of patients rather than individual patients and 3) permit pharmacists the power to administer any vaccination approved by the federal Advisory Commission on Immunization Practices (ACIP), including those which may be added in the future, thereby removing the discretion of the State Legislature to make these decisions.  Some of these proposals have been rejected by the Legislature in previous Budget cycles.

All of these programs together could incentivize the development of health care silos at the expense of the patient centered medical home model we have worked so hard to develop in New York.   It would also marginalize community based primary care and specialty care physicians’ ability to continue to be able to manage their patients’ ongoing care needs.    Please urge your legislators to reject these measures as they finalize the State Budget for 2021-22.     (AUSTER)


CMS Waives MIPS Penalties for 2022 Amid Public Health Emergency
This week, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it will not impose Medicare payment penalties in 2022 related to performance in the Medicare Merit Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) due to the significant disruptions on physician practices’ performance in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. The AMA noted in a memo to the federation that it “strongly advocated for this automatic relief from MIPS penalties and sincerely thanks CMS for ensuring physicians will not be unduly penalized during the pandemic.”

The AMA further noted that the Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstances Hardship Exception policy will be automatically applied to ALL MIPS eligible clinicians who do not submit any MIPS data for the 2020 performance period and avoid a 2022 payment penalty. CMS is also reopening the hardship exception application for group practices, virtual groups, and alternative payment model entities who missed the previous 2020 deadline. The re-opened application deadline is March 31, 2021. The AMA further noted that groups and eligible clinicians who submit data in at least two MIPS categories will override the hardship exception and be eligible to earn a bonus from the exceptional performance bonus pool or potentially be subject to a penalty.            (AUSTER)


MSSNY Conducts New Member Survey to Compare Payments to Physicians for Care Provided via Telehealth Services vs. In-Office Visits; Continues to Urge Revisions to Telehealth Proposal in FY 2022 Executive Budget
To support its continued advocacy efforts to expand coverage for Telehealth services, MSSNY is conducting a new survey of its members regarding use of telehealth and comparing generally reimbursement for telehealth and in person services.  To take the new survey, please fill out the following Survey Monkey questionnaire: Click Here.

As a reminder, the Executive Budget proposal for FY 2022 does not include a provision to ensure that payments for Telehealth services are on par with in-office visits, creating a significant hurdle for community physicians and the patients that they serve. Despite wide adoption of telehealth use arising from the pandemic, insurers’ reimbursement for audio and video Telehealth services has not kept pace with those paid for in-office visits and the gap is wide. According to a MSSNY survey last year, physicians reported that less than 1/4 of health plans had set their reimbursement levels for Telehealth equal to what they pay for in-office visits, with audio-only visits the least compensated.

MSSNY is also concerned that if passed, certain policies included in the budget may be used by the insurance industry to actually reverse Telehealth gains made over the past year. Specifically, linking coverage of Telehealth services to insurers having a “so-called” adequate network, together with the proposal to permit Telehealth delivery services by out of state physicians, could essentially empower insurers to limit who it will pay for Telehealth services once it asserts it has an “adequate” network. It is not hard to imagine a scenario where a health plan asserts it has an adequate network through a national Telehealth service provider, and then excludes coverage of Telehealth service by all or some of its in-network community-based physicians. That is completely at odds with the expansive approach to Telehealth coverage taken over the past year as a result of important actions taken by the New York DFS and DOH.

MSSNY is continuing to work with a range of other patient and provider partner organizations to address our concerns and will update members as the issue unfolds. (CARY)


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MSSNY to Conduct Medical Matters: Three Coronaviruses in Three Decades

Date: March 24, 2021 @ 7:30am
Register now to learn more about the evolution of coronaviruses over the past three decades.  Medical Matters: Three Coronaviruses in Three Decades webinar will take place on Wednesday March 24th at 7:30am.  Stephen Morse, PhD, Professor of Epidemiology at the Columbia University Medical Center and Director of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Certificate Program at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health will serve as faculty for this program.  Click here to register for this webinar.

Educational objectives

  • Identify three different coronaviruses and the epidemiology specific to each one
  • Discuss SARS-CoV-2 in relation to other coronaviruses
  • Evaluate the circumstances that contributed to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic

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. (Hoffman) 


eNews

CMS Holds Physicians Harmless from MIPS Penalties Amid COVID-19 PHE
CMS announced this week that it will hold physicians harmless from up to 9% MIPS penalties due to the significant disruptions of the COVID-19 public health emergency on physician practices’ performance in 2020. The AMA strongly advocated for this automatic relief from MIPS penalties.

The Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstances Hardship Exception policy will be automatically applied to ALL MIPS eligible clinicians who do not submit any MIPS data for the 2020 performance period and avoid a 2022 payment penalty. CMS is also reopening the hardship exception application for group practices, virtual groups, and alternative payment model entities who missed the previous 2020 deadline. The re-opened application deadline is March 31, 2021. Note, groups and eligible clinicians who submit data in at least two MIPS categories will override the hardship exception and be eligible to earn a bonus from the exceptional performance bonus pool or potentially be subject to a penalty.


Dr. Fauci Introduces New Acronym for Long COVID at White House Briefing
As officials scramble to get vaccines and protective gear to the public, scientists are working overtime to gain knowledge of the long-term effects of COVID-19, said Anthony Fauci, MD, during a wide-ranging briefing at the White House this week.

“Many of you are now aware of what had long been called ‘long COVID,’ ” said Fauci, the White House COVID-19 Response Team’s chief medical adviser. “But actually, what that really is is post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection, which we’re now referring to as ‘PASC,’ or P-A-S-C.”

He noted that the National Institutes of Health launched an initiative yesterday to further study the phenomenon, which Fauci called “alarming” and “puzzling.”
He stressed that even patients with moderate cases of the infection can develop PASC. Symptoms include fatigue; gastrointestinal problems; “brain fog,” or an inability to focus; depression; anxiety; sleep difficulties; and, in extreme cases, impaired lung capacity.

“New symptoms sometimes arise well after the time of infection, or they evolve over time and persist for months,” Fauci continued. “They can range from mild or annoying to actually quite incapacitating.” He referred to a study from researchers at the University of Washington that was published online February 19 in JAMA Network Open. In that study, more than 30% of the 177 participants reported symptoms that persisted for up to 9 months.
“It’s very difficult to treat something when you don’t know what the target of that treatment is,” Fauci said. “There are a lot of important questions with this series of initiatives that we will ultimately answer.”
Medscape, 2/24/21


How to Recognize Phishing Scams
Scammers use email or text messages to trick you into giving them your personal information. They may try to steal your passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers. If they get that information, they could gain access to your email, bank, or other accounts. Scammers launch thousands of phishing attacks like these every day — and they are often successful. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reported that people lost $57 million to phishing schemes in one year.

Scammers often update their tactics, but there are some signs that will help you recognize a phishing email or text message.

Phishing emails and text messages may look like they are from a company you know or trust. They may look like they are from a bank, a credit card company, a social networking site, an online payment website or app, or an online store.

Phishing emails and text messages often tell a story to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. They may:

  • say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts
  • claim there’s a problem with your account or your payment information
  • say you must confirm some personal information
  • include a fake invoice
  • want you to click on a link to make a payment
  • say you’re eligible to register for a government refund
  • offer a coupon for free stuff

Here’s a real-world example of a phishing email.

Netfilx Scam Imagine you saw this in your inbox. Do you see any signs that it’s a scam? Let’s take a look.

  • The email looks like it is from a company you may know and trust: Netflix. It even uses a Netflix logo and header.
  • The email says your account is on hold because of a billing problem.
  • The email has a generic greeting, “Hi Dear.” If you have an account with the business, it probably would not use a generic greeting like this.
  • The email invites you to click on a link to update your payment details.

While, at a glance, this email might look real, it’s not. The scammers who send emails like this one do not have anything to do with the companies they pretend to be. Phishing emails can have real consequences for people who give scammers their information. And they can harm the reputation of the companies they are spoofing.

How to Protect Yourself from Phishing Attacks
Your email spam filters may keep many phishing emails out of your inbox. But scammers are always trying to outsmart spam filters, so it is a good idea to add extra layers of protection. Here are four steps you can take today to protect yourself from phishing attacks.

What to Do If You Suspect a Phishing Attack
If you get an email or a text message that asks you to click on a link or open an attachment, answer this question: Do I have an account with the company or know the person that contacted me?
If the answer is “No,” it could be a phishing scam.
If the answer is “Yes,” contact the company using a phone number or website you know is real. Not the information in the email. Attachments and links can install harmful malware.



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CDC Backs New Vaccine Finder Website
The CDC has backed a vaccine finder website, VaccineFinder.org, to make it easier for Americans to find vaccination sites. Run by Boston Children’s Hospital, the online portal allows the public to search for available vaccination sites and appointments. The developers hope to expand the program nationally  to include nearly all vaccine providers who participate.


J&J’s COVID-19 Vaccine is Safe, Effective, FDA Review Shows
Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine had an overall efficacy rate of 72 percent in U.S. trials, meaning it provides strong protection against severe illness and death from the virus, according to an FDA analysis posted Feb. 24, The New York Times reported.

The U.S. clinical trial showed the vaccine was 86 percent effective against severe forms of COVID-19, and a South African clinical trial showed it was 82 percent effective against severe disease there, where a more contagious variant called B.1.351 emerged and is causing most COVID-19 cases, according to the Times. The vaccine had an overall efficacy rate of 64 percent in South Africa.

The FDA’s vaccine committee is set to meet Feb. 26 to vote on whether to recommend the agency authorize the vaccine, and authorization could come as early as tomorrow, Feb. 27, according to the Times.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine requires a single dose, as opposed to two doses required by Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines, and it can be stored at normal refrigeration temperatures for at least three months, according to the Times.

Access to the vaccine will be severely limited at first, if approved Feb. 27. Richard Nettles, vice president of U.S. medical affairs for the drug development arm of Johnson & Johnson, said Feb. 23 that nearly 4 million doses would be ready to be shipped after the FDA authorizes the vaccine. But White House officials said the same day that only about 2 million doses would be available next week if the vaccine is authorized, the Times reported.

The drugmaker said Feb. 22 that it would have 20 million doses shipped to the U.S. government by the end of March.

Side effects reported in clinical trials of the vaccine were noticeably milder than Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines, the Times reported. There were no reports of anaphylaxis.

Headaches, fatigue, muscle pain and injection site pain were the most common side effects reported, according to CNBC. Injection site pain was reported by nearly half of clinical trial volunteers; headaches were reported by about 40 percent; and fatigue was reported by about 38 percent. More than 33 percent of volunteers reported muscle pain, CNBC reported.

Most of the adverse reactions occurred in people ages 18 to 59, and the FDA said most side effects went away a couple of days after receiving the vaccine, according to CNBC.

–Becker’s Hospital Review


Three Reasons COVID-19 Vaccines Remain in Short Supply
Though the U.S. has invested billions of dollars in COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing and invoked the Defense Production Act to boost supplies needed to make the vaccines, there are still not enough doses to meet demand, Kaiser Health News reported Feb. 23.

Experts told Kaiser Health News that three main bottlenecks are contributing to the lack of supply:

  1. The production of lipids. Both Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines contain billions of lipids, and lipids are only made in a handful of U.S. factories, Kaiser Health News

    “No one has ever thought of a scenario where we would use lipid nanoparticle formulation for [billions of] doses,” Prashant Yadav, PhD, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development at Harvard University, told Kaiser Health News. “We have not invented a process for doing lipid nanoparticles at scale.”Before COVID-19, the companies making the lipids made only small amounts, mainly for use for such things as clinical trials, according to Kaiser Health News. It takes time to get FDA authorization for a facility to make large quantities of lipids, so Moderna and Pfizer have been forming agreements with existing manufacturers to convert to lipid production, Pieter Cullis, PhD, a University of British Columbia professor, told Kaiser Health News.
    .
  2. The availability of glass vials. Though the Defense Production Act has been invoked to require some glass makers, such as Corning and SiO2 Materials Science, to prioritize making vials to store vaccines, it takes time to get the needed equipment installed to boost production, Prashant Yadav, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development at Harvard University, told Kaiser Health News.
    .
  3. Filling the vials. Vaccine-filling lines that get the finished vaccines into vials or syringes must be extremely efficient and sterile, Kaiser Health News Few companies in the world are up to the task, Mike Watson, former president of Valera, a subsidiary of Moderna, told Kaiser Health News. Moderna has hired a company named Catalent to fill and finish its vaccine doses at a facility in Bloomington, Ind., as well as at least two other companies to do the same for its vaccines abroad, according to Kaiser Health News. Sanofi agreed to let Pfizer use its fill/finish vaccine line in Germany for its vaccine, but that line isn’t expected to be up and running until July, Kaiser Health News reported.

Becker’s Hospital Review, 2/23/21


 

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Phishing Scam Targeting Licensed Professionals NYSED Warns

STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT WARNS OF PHISHING SCAM TARGETING LICENSED PROFESSIONALS

In response to concerns brought to the attention of the State Education Department by MSSNY and county medical society executives from physicians who have received deceptive phone calls that they are under investigation by the State, the New York State Education Department issued this statement today, which warns all licensed professionals regarding this phishing scam. 

Specifically, they note that “The New York State Education Department will never telephone or fax any individual to request a bond fee or payments related to an ongoing investigation of professional misconduct.  If you receive such a phone call, please hang up immediately and report it to the proper law enforcement authorities.” 

Link to NYSED statement

MSSNYeNews: February 24, 2021 – Phishing Scam Targeting You–Licensed Professionals

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State Education Department warns of Phishing Scam targeting Licensed Professionals
The New York State Education Department today is warning licensed professionals in New York State about a scam involving telephone calls from individuals posing as NYSED Employees or law enforcement officials to defraud and extort victims. The scam is targeting such licensed professionals as physicians and pharmacists, and is seeking the professional’s social security number and an immediate bond payment under the guise that the professional’s license has been suspended and payment is required to reverse the suspension and avoid further charges.

The New York State Education Department will never telephone or fax any individual to request a bond fee or payments related to an ongoing investigation of professional misconduct.  If you receive such a phone call, please hang up immediately and report it to the proper law enforcement authorities.

“It is truly unspeakable that during the challenges of this pandemic there are individuals intentionally seeking to defraud the nurses, pharmacists and other professionals who have been heroes through all of this,” said Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. “I encourage anyone that receives a suspicious call to immediately contact the FBI and your local law enforcement officials to report the incident. Thank you all for everything you have done throughout the pandemic.”

Commissioner Betty A. Rosa. “We will work with our partners in law enforcement in any way possible to ensure those responsible for this scam are brought to justice.  New Yorkers should be aware that the Department will not telephone any licensed professional to seek a bond fee at any time and should report any such call immediately.”

The police and impacted licensees have reported to the Department that the phishing scam involves a phone call from an individual claiming to represent New York State stating that the professional’s license has been temporarily suspended and in order to have their license reinstated, they must pay a bond fee via bank wire transfer, which would be refunded to them if they were cleared by an investigation.

Using phone “spoofing” technology, the phone calls and faxes appeared to come from real government agencies.   Numerous pages of official looking documents that appear to be from New York State, the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, Trans Union and the New York State Office of Professions are then sent to these licensed professionals which contain publicly available information including their license number, National Provider Identifier (NPI) number, name, address, and other personal information. To complete the documentation, licensed professionals are asked to complete a box in which their social security number is requested.

If you have lost money in such a scam, immediately notify your bank and file a report with the FBI at Internet Crime Complaint Center(IC3). This must be done quickly, usually in less than 72 hours, for even a very slight chance of recovering any money sent by bank wire transfer. You should also file a report with your local police precinct. Additionally, notify the Federal Trade Commission and visit Identity Theft Recovery Steps to learn how to mitigate your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft.

 Should you wish to check the status of your current registration and ability to practice, please do so using the OP Website found here:  NYS Professions – Online Verifications (nysed.gov)


This article was published in Friday’s Enews. If you missed this scam story, we republish it so that you may be warned.

MSSNY Member Details a Scam Re His Medical License by Purported State and Federal Officials

Dear Members:

Below please find a concerning message from one of our valued physician members detailing an account that took place this week and involved indivduals purporting to be State and Federal officials. For the sake of honoring the integrity of this member’s account, I have shared the member’s direct message below:

Here are the details of my experience yesterday that I would like to let other members be aware of.

My Medical Assistant took a call yesterday morning from someone identifying himself as Albert Rossi from the State Education Department, Office of Professions, Division of Licensing Services.  He said that he needed to talk to me about a problem with my NY Medical License. When I got on the phone, he told me that I was under investigation and connected me with someone who said he was Brian Hobbs, the Chief Investigating Officer, Unit 3.

I spent most of the morning and a good part of the afternoon on the phone with this person. He told me that my license was being suspended at the order of the FBI and DEA because I was the prime suspect in an investigation involving illegal drug trafficking and money laundering. At times, he would call someone that he said was an FBI Agent named Robert Johnson who then was part of a 3-way call with me.

They faxed me official looking documents that are attached to this email. [Please click here to view those documents Scam Faxes.pdf, which have been redacted for privacy reasons]. The first one stated that my license was suspended.  He then told me my options were to consult a lawyer and fight these allegations in court. If I did that, I would not be able to practice medicine until the case was resolved.

The other option was that I could agree to cooperate with the investigation. Even though the evidence appeared to show that I was involved, they suspected that I was set up and my DEA and license were being used by someone else. They hoped that my cooperation would help them find the real culprit. If I agreed to cooperate, they would be able to re-instate my license within 48-72 hours. I was told that I would have to post a bond of $15,600 to have the license re-instated and this would be refunded once the case was resolved.

I did sign the cooperation agreement, but then I was able to confirm with the State Education Department that there was no action against my license.  The caller ID on their call was the real number for the State Education Department.  This whole scheme was well rehearsed and very convincing.  They preyed on the fact that I desperately didn’t want my license suspended.  They insisted that I stay on the line with them while all this was transpiring and would put me on hold while they prepared or reviewed the attached documentation, etc.  They insisted that I not hang up or talk to anyone else because it could compromise the investigation.  This was obvious a ploy to prevent me from getting anyone else to help me figure if this was real or a scam.

Aimana ElBahtity,Esq.
Executive Director
Erie County


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Doctors Say Supplying Them with Vaccines Would Solve Many Problems
In an article in today’s Buffalo News, MSSNY past president Dr. Tom Madejski and MSSNY past Speaker of the House of Delegates and AMA past president Dr. Nancy Nielsen make a strong case for the need to get COVID-19 vaccines into physician’s offices.

“For all these people with underlying conditions, let them go to their physician,” Dr. Nielsen said. “Docs know how to vaccinate. They do it all the time. They also know who in their practice needs it the most. They just need vaccine.”

“Vaccine hesitancy is one of the other reasons that we need to give vaccine to physicians’ offices,” Dr. Madejski said, “because the best person to have a robust discussion with a patient who’s concerned about being vaccinated is their personal physician who knows their health history, can really put the risk and benefit of the vaccine versus the disease in the context of that particular patient.”


Interested in Joining Premier Group Purchasing? Call MSSNY’s Dedicated Rep!
MSSNY has a group purchasing partnership with Premier Group Purchasing to provide lower operating costs and improved access to supplies and products for members who sign on to purchase through Premier negotiated agreements.

Sign up today or contact MSSNY’s dedicated representative, Samantha Garrett, at Samantha_Garrett@premierinc.com /212-901-1209.

Click the links below to access specifics on the program:
Continuum of Care Overview: High level overview of the Premier program and the value it provides

GPO FAQ: Questions and answers to further introduce Premier and explain the program

Physician Practices information sheet: Provides value proposition of the Premier program, followed by specific suppliers and contracts members will be able to access, broken down by category

What to Expect: Step by step onboarding guide for members.


Hospitalizations Fall for 40 Days; Masks May Be Needed in 2022, Fauci Says
Daily COVID-19 hospitalizations in the U.S. have been declining for 40 days, or since Jan. 14, reports The COVID Tracking Project.

The U.S. is seeing the lowest daily number of hospitalizations since Nov. 7, with 56,159 COVID-19 hospitalizations recorded Feb. 21. Experts have pointed to a variety of explanations for decreasing numbers, such as more widespread mask use and a growing number of people who have been vaccinated, reports The New York Times. However, some experts warn of a “fourth wave” if people become complacent, states lift restrictions too quickly or more contagious variants become dominant.



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Health Officials Plan to Stick With Two-Dose Coronavirus Regimen
The U.S. government’s top infectious-disease doctor, a leading drug regulator and the Health and Human Services secretary are dismissing suggestions that the second shot of authorized coronavirus vaccines could be delayed to make more doses available faster to more people. In recent days, some public health experts have debated whether it is worth taking a scientific gamble by altering the two-dose regimen that proved highly effective in trials to maximize the number of people partially protected with at least one shot as the pandemic surges. With so many dosages sitting unused, Florida and New York governors warned medical facilities that they risk fines or future allotment cuts  if they don’t accelerate covid vaccinations.


NYC: Most expensive US cities for Scripts
New York City patients pay 24 percent more than the national average for prescription medications, making it the most expensive city for prescription drugs, according to a list published Feb. 19 by prescription discount service GoodRx.

To compile its list, GoodRx examined the prices of the 500 most common prescriptions in 30 of the country’s most populous cities.

Five most expensive cities for prescription medications:

  1. New York City: 24 percent above the national average price
  2. Los Angeles: 13.7 percent above the national average price
  3. San Francisco: 13.6 percent above the national average price
  4. New Orleans: 12.3 percent above the national average price
  5. Milwaukee: 11.2 percent above the national average price

February 25 Update!
CANCELED FOR THIS WEEK ONLY!

Please join the NYS Department of Health
Thursday, February 25th at 1 – 2 PM
for a COVID-19 update for healthcare providers 

To accommodate the large number of participants, find our webinar streaming via YouTube Live (and available for viewing immediately thereafter) on the NYSDOH COVID website for providers

Audio number and code: 844-512-2950 Access code 7413229#

February 25 Update!
CANCELED FOR THIS WEEK ONLY!


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Vaccine Monitor: Attitudes Re Vaccination Among Black Women and Men
The latest from the KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor finds that Black men (45%) and women (41%) are more likely than other groups to want to “wait and see” how the COVID-19 vaccine works for others before getting it themselves, making them a key target for public health officials seeking to boost vaccination rates equitably. This analysis explores similarities and differences in the attitudes of Black men and women toward COVID-19 vaccination. Highlights include:

·        Providing accurate information about side effects may be key to communicating with this group. Among those not yet vaccinated, large shares of Black women (87%) and men (61%) say they are worried they might experience serious side effects from a COVID-19 vaccine. Many Black women (69%) and men (65%) who have not yet gotten the vaccine also say they do not have enough information about vaccine side effects.

·        About one in five (19%) Black women say they “definitely will not” get vaccinated for COVID-19, larger than the share of Black men (7%) who say the same. This greater reluctance may be related to Black women’s higher levels of concerns about side effects. In addition, among those not yet vaccinated, many more Black women (68%) than men (38%) say they worry about contracting COVID-19 from a vaccine, suggesting that learning that doesn’t happen could influence their decision.

·        About half of Black women (53%) and men (45%) say that they trust the health care system to do what is right for them and their community “only some” or “almost none” of the time. This suggests addressing historic mistreatment and inequities in the vaccine distribution process could help outreach efforts aimed at vaccine hesitancy among both Black women and men. Available through the Monitor’s online dashboard, the new analysis also probes the messages that make Black men and women more or less likely to want to get vaccinated, as well as their confidence in the fairness of vaccine distribution efforts.
Read the Report


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NYS Vaccination Center at the Javits Center, NYC, Jan. 18, 2021
(Photo by Steve Sachs)

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Classified Ads Available for:

Physicians’ search services • allied medical placements • locum tenens • practice valuation • practice brokerage • practice consulting • real estate

For help, information or to place your ad, call Christina Southard 516-488-6100 x355 • fax 516-488-2188


Allergy Practice For Sale, Forest Hills, NY
Founded in 1988, this well-established Single Practitioner Allergy Practice has over 3500 active patients, with very positive patient reviews. The office is only one of a few in the area, but patients are seen from throughout the NYC Metropolitan Area, as well as Long Island. Potential for growth. Centrally located next to major public transportation.  Retirement planned. Lease is assignable. Well-trained, extremely personable staff of three, including a Registered Nurse. Payer mix 85% private, 10% Medicare 5% other. Email any questions to: allergydoctorbn@gmail.com

Two (2) Prime Commercial Spaces
Two (2) affordable office spaces available for immediate occupancy.  Located in Sheepshead Bay Brooklyn,  surrounded by multiple co-ops and private homes.  Space can be viewed at your convenience. Price negotiable. Call: Avi 212-736-3680 ext. 15


Physician & Other Healthcare Jobs. P/T & F/T
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Unique Rheumatology Practice Opportunity – Great Neck, NY
Partnership opportunity available at an established rheumatology practice in Great Neck, NY. Looking for a dedicated physician to join our practice or merge practices. Contact 516-972-2986 / susanrita1@msn.com for more info.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MSSNYeNews: February 19, 2021 – Distribution of Vaccine to Community-Based Physicians

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Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccine to Community-Based Physicians

Colleagues:

In November, our state asked community-based physicians all over New York to register as vaccinators for Covid-19.  Thousands of physician practices heeded the call and stand ready, willing, and able to immunize this state’s most vulnerable patients.

We are pleased that the vaccine supply is beginning to increase, and new vaccines gain emergency use authorization, which means more of our patients can receive these critically needed vaccinations.  However, as part of this effort, it is imperative that our state and our country employ all resources available and that certainly must include our most experienced vaccinators, community-based physicians.   Our community physicians can quickly identify the most vulnerable and can reach large amounts of patients who suffer from significant co-morbidities and who cannot travel to a vaccine distribution site due to health reasons.

Equity in vaccine distribution has been prioritized by all, and community-based physicians can aid in execution.  Community-based physicians practice in a wide range of communities— urban, rural, and suburban settings; and they serve the poor, the elderly, individuals of color and those with co-morbidities.   Many of these patients do not have transportation, are in communities without mass transportation, lack the financial resources, or are simply too ill to travel.   More importantly, patients trust their physicians and are comfortable in the office setting.

So, who better than the community physician to decrease vaccine hesitancy and promote vaccination?

It is time to update the game plan on the distribution of the vaccine and get the vaccine to the people rather than having the people go to the vaccine.  Click here to urge Governor Cuomo and the NYS Legislature to take the steps necessary to ensure that community-based physicians are part of our “all hands-on-deck” effort to provide COVID -19 vaccination to their patients!

Bonnie Litvack, MD
MSSNY President


 


Capital Update

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Join Us for MSSNY’s Virtual Lobby Day on March 2
Please plan to put aside Tuesday, March 2 for MSSNY’s Annual Physician Advocacy Day – this time Virtual!  To register, click here.

The format will follow previous years formats, where assembled physicians and allies will hear from legislative leaders and MSSNY physician leaders in the morning (this year via Zoom) from 8 AM-11 AM, and then have virtual visits with their respective legislators in the afternoon (organized by their county medical societies).

Please take this opportunity to advocate your concerns to your legislators regarding the numerous problematic proposals that have been advanced in the proposed Executive Budget including:

  • Significantly reducing physician due process when a complaint has been filed against them to the OPMC;
  • Forcing the 17,000 physicians insured through the Excess Medical Malpractice Insurance Program to unfairly bear thousands to tens of thousands of dollars in new costs for this coverage
  • Inappropriately expanding scope of practice for various non-physicians including pharmacists and nurse practitioners;
  • Handing insurance companies enormous new powers to limit physicians providing telehealth services to their patients

As well as voicing your support for a number of Executive Budget proposals including:

  • Expanding the supply of PPE
  • Regulation of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs)
  • Reducing the interest on court judgments to bring down exorbitant liability costs

Please plan to join hundreds of colleagues from around the State on March 2! (ALI) 


Please Urge Your Legislators to Reject Huge New Costs Placed on Community Physicians for Excess Coverage
Please urge your legislators to reject an extremely ill-timed Executive Budget proposal that would foist thousands to tens of thousands of dollars of new costs on the nearly 17,000 physicians enrolled in the Excess Medical Malpractice Insurance.   You can send a letter and/or tweet them from here.

This proposal, which would for the 1st time in the program’s 35-year history require enrolled physicians to bear an extraordinary 50% of the cost of these policies, would thrust over $50 million of new costs on the backs of our community-based physicians who served on the front lines of responding to the pandemic.  For some physicians, particularly in Long Island and New York City, this could add up to tens of thousands of dollars per physician (see examples below).  This new cost imposition would hit these practices at a time when many of these practices are already facing huge losses resulting from the substantial reduction in the number of patients receiving care during the pandemic.

NEW COSTS TO BE IMPOSED ON PHYSICIANS FOR EXCESS COVERAGE BASED UPON GOVERNOR’S 50% COST BUDGET PROPOSAL

SPECIALTY Long Island Bronx, Staten Island Brooklyn, Queens Westchester, Orange, Rockland, and Manhattan
Emergency Medicine $5,653 $6,561 $6,118 $4,500
Cardiac Surgery $4,482 $5,202 $4,862 $3,567
OB-GYN $20,881 $24,235 $22,648 $16,617
Neurosurgery $35,222 $40,879 $38,202 $28,030

MSSNY has joined with 16 other specialty medical societies in a letter to the entire State Legislature that expresses our strong objection to this proposal (Click Here).  Among the key points in the letter is that a recent AMA survey reported that during the pandemic the average number of in-person visits to physician offices dropped nearly in half.   The bottom line is that the new costs this proposal would impose are simply not assumable by physicians, meaning that many physicians will face no choice but to forgo receiving this additional coverage.                                                          (AUSTER)


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MSSNY Joins Other Northeastern State Medical Societies Urging Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine to Community Based Physicians to Immunize Their Patients
The Medical Society of the State of New York and other state medical societies joined together to urge that the Biden Administration and state governments take necessary to steps to ensure that community-based physicians can receive the COVID-19 vaccine to immunize their patients.   Joining in the statement were the: Connecticut State Medical Society, Massachusetts Medical Society, Medical Society of New Jersey, Pennsylvania Medical Society, and the Ohio State Medical Association. 

The statement says in part: “As the country moves forward into the immunization process, and as supply increases, it is vitally important that the country and the states employ all resources available and that includes the community-based physicians.   Unfortunately, so far, hospitals, chain pharmacies and mass vaccination sites have been prioritized at the expense of those who know their patients’ needs best – the community physician. These are individuals who can quickly identify the most vulnerable and can reach large amounts of patients who suffer from significant co-morbidities and cannot travel to a vaccine distribution site due to health reasons.

Community-based physicians practice in a wide range of communities such as urban, rural and suburban settings and serve the poor, the elderly, individuals of color and those with co-morbidities.   Many of these patients do not have transportation, are in communities without mass transportation, lack the financial resources or are simply too ill to travel.    Community based physicians care for thousands of patients each and can quickly identify those patients who are most at risk of getting COVID-19 or having complications due to their comorbidities.  More importantly, patients feel comfortable with their physicians, with whom they can discuss the vaccine, and address any vaccine hesitancy, and feel comfortable in the office setting.” (CLANCY, AUSTER)


Urge Your Legislators to Reject Proposal to Curtail Physician Due Process Protections
Please urge your legislators to reject an Executive Budget proposal that that would greatly curtail due process protections for physicians when a complaint has been filed with the Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC), including making information public about a complaint even if no professional misconduct is found and greatly lessening the burden for imposing an interim suspension prior to the conclusion of the statutory hearing process.   You can send a letter and/or tweet to your local legislators from here.

MSSNY has joined with more than a dozen specialty medical societies in a letter to the State Legislature expressing its strong opposition to this proposal (Click Here). While New York’s physicians share the goal of assuring the State has ample power to protect the public when the conduct of a particular health care provider places patients at risk, the Commissioner already has authority to take summary action prior to the conclusion of a disciplinary hearing in the absence of a finding of misconduct.  Moreover, this proposal is stunning in light of the enormous sacrifices made by countless physicians over the last year, serving on the front lines in responding to the pandemic.

The group letter reminds the State Legislature that, while the medical community is always ready to work to address gaps in our disciplinary system to protect patient safety, this proposal is grossly unfair and over-reaching given that most complaints never result in findings of misconducts or even formal charges being filed. Of greatest concern is that information released to the public, even if there is no action ultimately taken, can remain available through “Google searches” forever, with the potential to eviscerate a physician’s professional reputation.                                         (AUSTER)


Please Contact Your Legislators to Raise Concerns with “Consolidated Billing” Legislation
Physicians are urged to contact their Assemblymembers and Senators to urge them to substantially revise A.3470- A/S.2521-A, “The Patient Medical Debt Reduction Act”. Click here to contact your legislators today!

While there are many components to this well-intended legislation, there is a seriously problematic component would prohibit a physician or other provider with any “financial or contractual relationship” with a hospital from separately billing a patient for a course or episode of treatment in the hospital. While it doesn’t appear to prohibit continued separate billing to insurance companies or other payers, a single hospital-physician bill would be required when a bill is sent to a

patient for costs not covered by the patient’s insurance, such as collection of a deductible. It would also require such consolidated bill to be sent within 7 days of a patient’s discharge from the hospital before there is any clarity as to what expenses will actually be covered by a patient’s insurance.

If this bill were to pass and this provision not amended, it would put non-employed physicians at the mercy of the hospitals where they practice since the legislation does not specify how payments to hospitals from this “single bill” would then be distributed to these physicians.  In an era when patients’ insurance policies regularly impose enormous deductibles, it would likely force even more physicians to sell their practices and become employees of hospitals in response to the helpless position many physicians would find themselves.  Other physicians may leave the state altogether.  The impact of this prohibition will fall most adversely on physicians who are on the front lines of the pandemic, many of whom are facing an enormous drop in patient volume due to a significant amount of delayed care.

The legislation recently advanced from the Assembly Health Committee to the Codes Committee and is before the Senate Health Committee.  Please let your legislators know you appreciate the intent of the legislation to minimize the financial burden on our patients but that this “single bill” component will most heavily adversely impact community physicians, and ultimately result in the loss of patient choice and exacerbate health care monopolies in our health care system.  (AUSTER)


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Governor Cuomo Announces 30-Day Budget Amendment on Recreational Marijuana
This week, Governor Cuomo announced a budget amendment on his quest to legalize recreational marijuana.  This amendment included a designation of $100 Million for the purposes of Social Equity Funding including how it will be allocated as well as refining criminal penalties related to the improper sales.   Under the Governor’s proposed amendments, qualified community-based nonprofit organizations and local governments would apply for funding to support a number of different community revitalization efforts, including, but not limited to: 

  • Job placement and skills services,
  • Adult education,
  • Mental health treatment,
  • Substance use disorder treatment,
  • Housing,
  • Financial literacy,
  • Community banking,
  • Nutrition services,
  • Services to address adverse childhood experiences,
  • Afterschool and child care services, system navigation services,
  • Legal services to address barriers to reentry, and
  • Linkages to medical care, women’s health services and other community-based supportive services

The amendment also calls for the following classification of certain criminal penalties:

  • Criminal sale in the third degree (sale to under 21 year old) will be made a class A misdemeanor
  • Criminal sale in the second degree (sale of over 16 ounces or 80 grams of concentrate) will be made a class E felony
  • Criminal sale in the first degree (sale of over 64 ounces or 320 grams of concentrate) will be made a class D felony

MSSNY continues to oppose the legalization of recreational use of marijuana and also urges that it be taken out of the NYS budget for 21-22.  Physicians are encouraged to send a letter to the Governor and to members of NY Legislature through MSSNY’s Grassroots Action Center (GAC) here. (CLANCY)


Please Oppose Proposals That Facilitate Uncoordinated Siloed Care to be Provided by Pharmacists
Please contact your legislators to urge that they oppose several components of the Executive Budget that could upend the patient-centered medical home model and threaten patient safety by greatly expanding the scope of services provided to patients by pharmacists without coordination with patient care physicians.  You can send a letter from here: Click Here.  Please let them know these proposals would greatly enhance the power of big box giants to control various aspects of patient care delivery not in coordination with but to the exclusion of community-based primary care and specialty care physicians that typically manage the care of their patients.

Specifically, these Budget proposals would 1) permit pharmacists to order various lab tests without any physician oversight and without any requirement to coordinate with the patient’s physician for follow-up care; 2) greatly expand the physician-pharmacist Collaborative Drug Therapy Program to enable pharmacists to adjust the medications provided to entire classes of patients rather than individual patients and 3) permit pharmacists the power to administer any vaccination approved by the federal Advisory Commission on Immunization Practices (ACIP), including those which may be added in the future, thereby removing the discretion of the State Legislature to make these decisions.  Some of these proposals have been rejected by the Legislature in previous Budget cycles.

All of these programs together could incentivize the development of health care silos at the expense of the patient centered medical home model we have worked so hard to develop in New York.   It would also marginalize community based primary care and specialty care physicians’ ability to continue to be able to manage their patients’ ongoing care needs.    Please urge your legislators to reject these measures as they finalize the State Budget for 2021-22.        (AUSTER)


If you or someone you know is struggling with everyday life stressors, reach out to the P2P program to be connected with a peer supporter to help!
Email: P2P@mssny.org and request that you be connected with a peer supporter. Phone: 1-844-P2P-PEER (1-844-727-7337) and request that you be connected with a peer supporter.

MSSNY now offers to physicians, residents and medical students a completely confidential and anonymous opportunity to talk with a peer about some of their life stressors. MSSNY’s Physician Wellness and Resiliency Committee launched a Peer 2 Peer (P2P) program to assist their colleagues who are need of help in dealing with work and family stressors. With the myriad of challenges we are all facing related to the pandemic, some physicians may need the support of their colleagues to help manage these stressors.

MSSNY has established a confidential helpline phone number (1-844-P2P-PEER) and an email address (p2p@mssny.org) so that physicians may be connected with a peer 24 hours a day/7 days a week. In addition to offering a trained, empathetic ear, peer supporters may provide information on specific resources that can offer further support, provide positive coping skills, or connect physicians to professionals for more focused assistance when needed.

MSSNY has nearly 50 trained peer supporters across NYS who are just a phone call away!                                       (LAUDER)                                                     


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MSSNY Podcasts Keep You Informed and Current
Don’t forget to check out MSSNY’s podcast website.  In addition to MSSNY’s weekly Update podcasts, there are numerous informative podcasts available on topics ranging from COVID-19 to emergency preparedness to vaccines.  Each podcast offers insight from medical experts on topics for which they are extensively well versed.  Go to http://www.buzzsprout.com/51522 and choose one or many to listen.                                                                    (HOFFMAN)


eNews

Troy Oechsner Named Executive VP of Medical Society of State of New York
February 17, 2021, Westbury, NY—The Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY) today announced that it has named Troy Oechsner as its new Executive Vice President. Oechsner is a veteran of State government who served as lead regulator of commercial health insurance at the Department of Financial Services as well as prosecutor of illegal and deceptive health care business practices with the New York State Attorney General.  Most recently, Oechsner has been a partner at the consulting firm Manatt, Phelps and Phillips.

“We are thrilled to have Troy on board at MSSNY.  He brings proven ability to effectively advocate for positive reforms that will protect the rights of doctors and their patients to affordable, accessible quality health care,” said Dr. Bonnie Litvack, MSSNY President.  “Troy has a track record of effective management and leadership, and the ability to build coalitions among a broad section of health care professionals and consumers.”

“The Medical Society has worked successfully with Troy for decades,” said Dr. Andrew Kleinman, Chair of the MSSNY Board of Trustees.  “He brings passion, knowledge and skill to the job that will help further the cause of physicians and patients.  Troy is a welcome addition to the important work of the Society.”

“As a former insurance regulator and prosecutor, I recognize the many challenges faced by both physicians and patients,” said Oechsner.  “Physicians have been leaders in the frontline battle against COVID.  I am excited and honored to join the MSSNY team in our common fight to support doctors and patients seeking improved access to quality, affordable health care, guided by the physician’s training, experience and best practices.”

During over 30 years in State government, Oechsner helped lead many actions to improve health care for physicians and consumers.  Oechsner was part of a team leading the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in New York, including the successful establishment of the state’s health insurance exchange marketplace – the New York State of Health.  Oechsner was also instrumental in drafting and negotiating New York’s landmark Surprise Balance Billing Law that protected consumers from surprise bills from out-of-network doctors with a dispute resolution system fair to physicians and insurers.

Mr. Oechsner led an investigation by the New York Attorney General’s office into improper denials of specialty care by Aetna when it failed to acknowledge appropriate referrals to specialists.  These actions resulted in a negotiated settlement with Aetna that assured fair reimbursement to the impacted physicians.  Oechsner also helped initiate the investigation of Ingenix, which ultimately produced action by then Attorney General Cuomo to stop the manipulation of physician fee data, which was inappropriately increasing patient cost-sharing responsibilities for out-of-network care.

Oechsner succeeds Philip Schuh, CPA, who is retiring from MSSNY after a 35-year career at the Medical Society.


Patient Medical Debt Bill:  Right Premise-Wrong Solution
The patient medical debt bill S2521-A (Rivera)/A3470-A (Gottfried) proposed by the New York State Legislature is well intended, seeking to ensure patients receive clear, concise, and timely bills. However, the legislation as currently written will have negative unintended consequences. This bill would prohibit a physician or other provider with any financial or contractual relationship with a hospital from separately billing the patient. This could force many physicians to sell their practices and become employees of hospitals in order to receive timely and adequate payments. 

The professional services provided by a contracted physician are often only a small component of the overall hospital services received by a patient.  Prohibiting a private physician group from separately billing a patient for services provided at a hospital puts the physician group at a distinct financial disadvantage, will increase health care costs, and ultimately reduce quality of care.

In addition, the legislation as written fails to address further billing for applicable patient cost-sharing as required by their insurance policy (co-pay, coinsurance, deductible, etc.) after a claim has been paid by the insurance company, and how partial payments will be allocated between the multiple health care parties whose services are being billed by the hospital. The bill has the right premise but the wrong solution.  MSSNY strongly supports greater transparency and timeliness of billing for patients and is committed to working with the sponsors of this legislation to achieve these goals and to preserve the independent physician practice model and high-quality patient care. Click here to urge your legislator to oppose S2521-A (Rivera)/A3470-A (Gottfried).


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MSSNY Member Details a Scam Re His Medical License by Purported State and Federal Officials
Dear Members: Below please find a concerning message from one of our valued physician members detailing an account that took place this week and involved individuals purporting to be State and Federal officials. For the sake of honoring the integrity of this member’s account, I have shared the member’s direct message below: Here are the details of my experience yesterday that I would like to let other members be aware of. My Medical Assistant took a call yesterday morning from someone identifying himself as Albert Rossi from the State Education Department, Office of Professions, Division of Licensing Services. He said that he needed to talk to me about a problem with my NY Medical License.

When I got on the phone, he told me that I was under investigation and connected me with someone who said he was Brian Hobbs, the Chief Investigating Officer, Unit 3. I spent most of the morning and a good part of the afternoon on the phone with this person. He told me that my license was being suspended at the order of the FBI and DEA because I was the prime suspect in an investigation involving illegal drug trafficking and money laundering. At times, he would call someone that he said was an FBI Agent named Robert Johnson who then was part of a 3-way call with me.

They faxed me official looking documents that are attached to this email. [Please click here to view those documents, which have been redacted for privacy reasons]. The first one stated that my license was suspended. He then told me my options were to consult a lawyer and fight these allegations in court. If I did that, I would not be able to practice medicine until the case was resolved. The other option was that I could agree to cooperate with the investigation. Even though the evidence appeared to show that I was involved, they suspected that I was set up and my DEA and license were being used by someone else. They hoped that my cooperation would help them find the real culprit. If I agreed to cooperate, they would be able to reinstate my license within 48-72 hours. I was told that I would have to post a bond of $15,600 to have the license reinstated and this would be refunded once the case was resolved. I did sign the cooperation agreement, but then I was able to confirm with the State Education Department that there was no action against my license.

The caller ID on their call was the real number for the State Education Department. This whole scheme was well rehearsed and very convincing. They preyed on the fact that I desperately didn’t want my license suspended. They insisted that I stay on the line with them while all this was transpiring and would put me on hold while they prepared or reviewed the attached documentation, etc. They insisted that I not hang up or talk to anyone else because it could compromise the investigation. This was obviously a ploy to prevent me from getting anyone else to help me figure if this was real or a scam.
This was submitted by Aimana ElBahtity, Esq. Executive Director Erie County.


2021 E/M Coding Changes: Are You Leaving Money on the Table?

Limited to 25 Attendees
Two convenient time slots for “2021 E/M Guideline Changes

Course Description
Many physicians are still struggling when it comes to implementing these historic changes into their day-to-day workflow. Garfunkel Health Advisors is offering an interactive event on Documentation & Coding Compliance following the new E/M Coding Guidelines. 

To help ensure you get the most out of the live session, participation will be limited to 25 participants and you may submit questions in advance, specific to your practice and specialty.  

During the event we will:

• Share our knowledge and experience
• Answer your questions
• Discuss tips and best practices
• Review Time vs MDM opportunities
• Wave the caution flag in areas of potential audit risk 

Speaker:
Alicia Shickle
President, Documentation and Coding/Audit Division of
Garfunkel Health Advisors, Inc

Discounted pricing for MSSNY members:
◊ Member rate $150
◊ Non-member rate $300 

OPTION 1
Tuesday, February 23, 2021Presentation:
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm (EST)
OPTION 2
Thursday, February 25, 2021Presentation:
7:30 pm – 9:00 pm (EST)

For more information call: 516-393-2294

REGISTER HERE

Garfunkel Health Advisors, Inc.
Garfunkel Wild is pleased to announce the launch of Garfunkel Health Advisors, Inc., a healthcare consulting subsidiary providing strategic and operational advice to the healthcare industry.


Biden To Nominate Chiquita Brooks-Lasure As CMS Chief
Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, a former policy official in the Obama administration, is President Joe Biden’s pick to lead CMS, according to Politico, which cites four sources familiar with the decision. Ms. Brooks-LaSure, who previously oversaw the implementation of the ACA, was named a front-runner for the CMS administrator role in early February.

If her nomination is confirmed, Ms. Brooks-LaSure will oversee the Biden administration’s plans to expand the ACA and other healthcare policy efforts.

Ms. Brooks-LaSure, who serves as managing director of consulting firm Manatt Health, previously was deputy director for policy at CMS’ Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight. She also served as director of coverage policy within HHS.


Declines in Hospital Volume Amid COVID-19
U.S. hospitals saw patient volume for CMS-defined shoppable services drop an average of 35.2 percent in the second quarter of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019, according to a new analysis from Hospital Pricing Specialists.

For the analysis, Hospital Pricing Specialists reviewed volume data on 68 current procedural terminology codes on the CMS-mandated list of shoppable services. The analysis, which sought to understand how patient volume was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, compared volume in the second quarter of 2019 to the second quarter of 2020.

Hospital Pricing Specialists also normalized the data so only codes that were present in both time periods were analyzed.

The state that saw the steepest decline in patient volume for the CPT codes analyzed was Massachusetts, which saw volume decline by 48.5 percent from the second quarter of 2019 to the second quarter of 2020.

New Jersey: -47.9 percent
New York: -42.2 percent
Connecticut: -44.4 percent
Pennsylvania: -35.0 percent
Massachusetts: -48.5 percent


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State Medical Societies Urge Biden Administration and State Governments to Facilitate Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccine to Community-Based Physicians

 

For Immediate Release

February 19, 2021

 

 CONNECTICUT STATE MEDICAL SOCIETY
MASSACHUSETTS MEDICAL SOCIETY
MEDICAL SOCIETY OF NEW JERSEY
MEDICAL SOCIETY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
PENNSYLVANIA MEDICAL SOCIETY
OHIO STATE MEDICAL ASSOCIATION

 

 State Medical Societies Urge Biden Administration and State Governments to Facilitate Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccine to Community-Based Physicians

 

“On behalf of the tens of thousands of physicians we represent, the medical societies of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio call upon the Biden Administration and state governments to facilitate the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to those community-based physicians who have registered with their state systems in order for them to immunize the country’s most vulnerable patients.

As the country moves forward into the immunization process, and as supply increases, it is vitally important that the country and the states employ all resources available and that includes the community-based physicians.   Unfortunately, so far, hospitals, chain pharmacies and mass vaccination sites have been prioritized at the expense of those who know their patients’ needs best – the community physician. These are individuals who can quickly identify the most vulnerable and can reach large amounts of patients who suffer from significant co-morbidities and cannot travel to a vaccine distribution site due to health reasons.

Community-based physicians practice in a wide range of communities such as urban, rural and suburban settings and serve the poor, the elderly, individuals of color and those with co-morbidities.   Many of these patients do not have transportation, are in communities without mass transportation, lack the financial resources or are simply too ill to travel.    Community based physicians care for thousands of patients each and can quickly identify those patients who are most of risk of getting COVID-19 or having complications due to their comorbidities.  More importantly, patients feel comfortable with their physicians, with whom they can discuss the vaccine, and address any vaccine hesitancy, and feel comfortable in the office setting.

The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest health care challenge that this country has faced in the last 100 years.   The difference compared with public health crises is the rapid advancement of science that allowed the world to develop vaccine that could very well stop this pandemic in its tracks.  The key though is to ensure that we engage all facets of the health care system and that includes the community-based physician.

It is time to change the game plan on the distribution of the vaccine and get the vaccine to the people rather than having the people go to the vaccine.   The first step in this process is for the federal government to take the necessary steps to enable community-based physicians to secure a supply of the COVID -19 vaccine and to begin to immunize those patients most at risk.”

# # #

Founded in 1807, the Medical Society of the State of New York is the state’s principal non-profit professional organization for physicians, residents and medical students of all specialties. Its mission is to represent the interests of patients and physicians to assure quality healthcare services for all.


Media Contact:
Roseann Raia
Communications / Marketing
Medical Society of the State of New York
865 Merrick Ave.
Westbury, New York
516-488-6100 ext. 302
rraia@mssny.org

State Medical Societies Urge Biden Administration and State Governments to Facilitate Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccine to Community-Based Physicians

For Immediate Release
February 19, 2021  

 

CONNECTICUT STATE MEDICAL SOCIETY
MASSACHUSETTS MEDICAL SOCIETY
MEDICAL SOCIETY OF NEW JERSEY
MEDICAL SOCIETY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
PENNSYLVANIA MEDICAL SOCIETY
OHIO STATE MEDICAL ASSOCIATION  

State Medical Societies Urge Biden Administration and State Governments to Facilitate Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccine to Community-Based Physicians

“On behalf of the tens of thousands of physicians we represent, the medical societies of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio call upon the Biden Administration and state governments to facilitate the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to those community-based physicians who have registered with their state systems in order for them to immunize the country’s most vulnerable patients.

As the country moves forward into the immunization process, and as supply increases, it is vitally important that the country and the states employ all resources available and that includes the community-based physicians.   Unfortunately, so far, hospitals, chain pharmacies and mass vaccination sites have been prioritized at the expense of those who know their patients’ needs best – the community physician. These are individuals who can quickly identify the most vulnerable and can reach large amounts of patients who suffer from significant co-morbidities and cannot travel to a vaccine distribution site due to health reasons.

Community-based physicians practice in a wide range of communities such as urban, rural and suburban settings and serve the poor, the elderly, individuals of color and those with co-morbidities.   Many of these patients do not have transportation, are in communities without mass transportation, lack the financial resources or are simply too ill to travel.    Community based physicians care for thousands of patients each and can quickly identify those patients who are most of risk of getting COVID-19 or having complications due to their comorbidities.  More importantly, patients feel comfortable with their physicians, with whom they can discuss the vaccine, and address any vaccine hesitancy, and feel comfortable in the office setting.

The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest health care challenge that this country has faced in the last 100 years.   The difference compared with public health crises is the rapid advancement of science that allowed the world to develop vaccine that could very well stop this pandemic in its tracks.  The key though is to ensure that we engage all facets of the health care system and that includes the community-based physician.

It is time to change the game plan on the distribution of the vaccine and get the vaccine to the people rather than having the people go to the vaccine.   The first step in this process is for the federal government to take the necessary steps to enable community-based physicians to secure a supply of the COVID -19 vaccine and to begin to immunize those patients most at risk.”

# # #


Founded in 1807, the Medical Society of the State of New York is the state’s principal non-profit professional organization for physicians, residents and medical students of all specialties. Its mission is to represent the interests of patients and physicians to assure quality healthcare services for all.
 

 

Media Contact:
Roseann Raia

Communications / Marketing
Medical Society of the State of New York
865 Merrick Ave.
Westbury, New York
516-488-6100 ext.302
rraia@mssny.org

Troy Oechsner Named Executive VP of Medical Society  

For Immediate Release
 

Troy Oechsner Named Executive VP of Medical Society

February 17, 2021, Westbury, NY—The Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY) today announced that it has named Troy Oechsner as its new Executive Vice President. Oechsner is a veteran of State government who served as lead regulator of commercial health insurance at the Department of Financial Services as well as prosecutor of illegal and deceptive health care business practices with the New York State Attorney General.  Most recently, Oechsner has been a partner at the consulting firm Manatt, Phelps and Phillips.

“We are thrilled to have Troy on board at MSSNY.  He brings proven ability to effectively advocate for positive reforms that will protect the rights of doctors and their patients to affordable, accessible quality health care,” said Dr. Bonnie Litvack, MSSNY President.  “Troy has a track record of effective management and leadership, and the ability to build coalitions among a broad section of health care professionals and consumers.”

“The Medical Society has worked successfully with Troy for decades,” said Dr. Andrew Kleinman, Chair of the MSSNY Board of Trustees.  “He brings passion, knowledge and skill to the job that will help further the cause of physicians and patients.  Troy is a welcome addition to the important work of the Society.”

“As a former insurance regulator and prosecutor, I recognize the many challenges faced by both physicians and patients,” said Oechsner.  “Physicians have been leaders in the frontline battle against COVID.  I am excited and honored to join the MSSNY team in our common fight to support doctors and patients seeking improved access to quality, affordable health care, guided by the physician’s training, experience and best practices.”

During over 30 years in State government, Oechsner helped lead many actions to improve health care for physicians and consumers.  Oechsner was part of a team leading the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in New York, including the successful establishment of the state’s health insurance exchange marketplace – the New York State of Health.  Oechsner was also instrumental in drafting and negotiating New York’s landmark Surprise Balance Billing Law that protected consumers from surprise bills from out-of-network doctors with a dispute resolution system fair to physicians and insurers.

Mr. Oechsner led an investigation by the New York Attorney General’s office into improper denials of specialty care by Aetna when it failed to acknowledge appropriate referrals to specialists.  These actions resulted in a negotiated settlement with Aetna that assured fair reimbursement to the impacted physicians.  Oechsner also helped initiate the investigation of Ingenix, which ultimately produced action by then Attorney General Cuomo to stop the manipulation of physician fee data, which was inappropriately increasing patient cost-sharing responsibilities for out-of-network care.

Oechsner succeeds Philip Schuh, CPA, who is retiring from MSSNY after a 35-year career at the Medical Society.

###

Founded in 1807, the Medical Society of the State of New York is the state’s principal non-profit professional organization for physicians, residents and medical students of all specialties. Its mission is to represent the interests of patients and physicians to assure quality healthcare services for all.  

Media Contact:
Roseann Raia

Communications / Marketing
Medical Society of the State of New York
865 Merrick Ave.
Westbury, New York
516-488-6100 ext.302
rraia@mssny.org

 

 

MSSNYeNews: February 17, 2021 – AMA Acknowledges Its History of Racism

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AMA Acknowledges that Founder, Dr. Nathan Davis, Allowed and Upheld Racism
Today, the American Medical Association (AMA) is taking an important step to reconcile AMA’s past by acknowledging the harms that one of their founders, Dr. Nathan Davis, had in their organization’s history that allowed and upheld racism within the medical profession.

This Viewpoint from AMA CEO James L. Madara, MD, provides important details and context for this acknowledgment including AMA’s 2008 apology, recent actions by their Board and House of Delegates, and the work underway through the AMA Center for Health Equity. By acknowledging the past, the AMA is embracing a discussion about how to begin to heal past harms.


Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Cuts Symptomatic Cases By 94%, Data Shows
COVID-19 infections fell by 94 percent among people who received two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, according to a study by Clalit, the largest healthcare provider in Israel. Clalit studied symptomatic COVID-19 infections among 600,000 people who received two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine and compared them to an unvaccinated group of the same size (WSJ) reported Feb. 15. The study included 430,000 participants between ages 16 and 59 and 170,000 participants ages 60 and older, Clalit said.

The study also found that Pfizer’s vaccine reduced cases of severe illness from COVID-19 by 92 percent. (Becker’s Hospital 2/18)


Physicians See Spike in Rare Inflammatory Condition Linked to COVID-19
Physicians are reporting a significant uptick in cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, a rare inflammatory condition potentially linked to COVID-19, reports The New York Times. The condition, known as MIS-C, typically emerges several weeks after COVID-19 infection and causes symptoms like fever, inflammation and poor organ function. Physicians said these cases are not just becoming more common, but also more severe.

“We’re now getting more of these MIS-C kids, but this time, it just seems that a higher percentage of them are really critically ill,” Roberta DeBiasi, MD, chief of infectious diseases at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., told the Times. About 80 percent to 90 percent of Children’s National patients with MIS-C need intensive care, up from about half of patients in the spring, according to Dr. DeBiasi. Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha saw about two MIS-C cases per month between April and October 2020, with about 30 percent of patients needing intensive care. This jumped to 10 cases in December and another 12 in January, with about 60 percent needing ICU care.

It is unclear why cases are rising, and experts say it is too early to speculate whether virus variants are influencing these numbers. Overall, MIS-C is still a rare condition. As of Feb. 8, the CDC had confirmed 2,060 cases nationwide, including 30 deaths.


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Vaccine Will Be Available to All Americans By Late July, President Biden Says
For the first time in 2021, no state is reporting a seven-day COVID-19 case average higher than 10,000 as of Feb. 16, reports The COVID Tracking Project.

Other updates:

  1. President Joe Biden also said that every American who wants to receive a COVID-19 vaccine will be able to get one by the end of July during a town hall meeting hosted by CNN Feb. 16.
  2. The federal government will increase states’ collective vaccine allocation to 13.5 million doses each week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Feb. 16. The U.S. is also doubling its supply for pharmacies to 2 million doses weekly through a new federal program, Ms. Psaki said.
  3. Moderna expects to deliver 300 million vaccines to the U.S. government by the end of July, according to a Feb. 16 update. About 25.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine have been administered in the U.S. thus far, according to a CDC communication with Moderna.

2021 E/M Coding Changes: Are You Leaving Money on the Table?
Limited to 25 Attendees
Two convenient time slots for “2021 E/M Guideline Changes
Course Description
Many physicians are still struggling when it comes to implementing these historic changes into their day-to-day workflow. Garfunkel Health Advisors is offering an interactive event on Documentation & Coding Compliance following the new E/M Coding Guidelines.To help ensure you get the most out of the live session, participation will be limited to 25 participants and you may submit questions in advance, specific to your practice and specialty.  During the event we will:

  • Share our knowledge and experience
    •  Answer your questions
    •  Discuss tips and best practices
    •  Review Time vs MDM opportunities
    •  Wave the caution flag in areas of potential audit risk

Speaker:
Alicia Shickle
President, Documentation and Coding/Audit Division of
Garfunkel Health Advisors, Inc

Discounted pricing for MSSNY members:
◊ Member rate $150
◊ Non-member rate $300 

OPTION 1
Tuesday, February 23, 2021 Presentation:
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm (EST)
OPTION 2
Thursday, February 25, 2021 Presentation:
7:30 pm – 9:00 pm (EST)

For more information call: 516-393-2294

REGISTER HERE

Garfunkel Health Advisors, Inc.
Garfunkel Wild is pleased to announce the launch of Garfunkel Health Advisors, Inc., a healthcare consulting subsidiary providing strategic and operational advice to the healthcare industry


43% of Patients Check a Pharmacy Comparison App for Prescription Savings
Americans are becoming increasingly curious about ways to lower their prescription drug costs, according to recent survey results released by healthcare software company CoverMyMeds.

CoverMyMeds surveyed patients, providers and pharmacists during September and October. One thousand patients, 400 providers and 328 pharmacists participated in the survey, the results of which were released Jan. 25.

  • Sixty-two percent of patients seek information from their provider about medication costs and affordability options.
  • Forty-three percent of patients said they checked a pharmacy comparison app to find cheaper medication prices, up from 28 percent the previous year.
  • More than a third of pharmacists said they saw patients use prescription price shopping tools on a daily basis. (Feb. 15 Becker’s Hospital Review)

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Northwell Sues Insurers for Denying Pandemic-Related Claims

  • New York’s largest health care provider is suing two out-of-state insurance companies for denying claims related to business-interruption insurance policies and the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Northwell Health, home to more than 21 hospitals in the metropolitan area, is suing Boston-based Lexington Insurance Co. and Chicago-based Interstate Fire & Casualty Co. for breach of contract for their refusal to honor an “all risk” property policy.
  • In the lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of New York, Northwell contends it suffered “significant property and business-interruption losses arising out of the novel coronavirus outbreak and ongoing Covid-19 pandemic,” and the defendants “have refused to compensate Northwell for its losses.”
  • Northwell alleges that the defendants denied coverage in its entirety Oct. 30 based on a “pollution” exclusion endorsement. The health system says the defendants’ interpretation of the pollution exclusion contravenes the plain meaning of the language, and the policy contains coverage for communicable diseases, confirming that a virus can cause loss of or damage to property.
  • Northwell says both defendants have refused to pay any amount to date, with currently assessed damages listed as “hundreds of millions of dollars.” The health care provider alleges its policies with the defendants provide almost $1.3 billion in coverage, with Lexington covering 90% of the share, and Interstate covering 10%. (Crain’s Feb. 16)

The Importance of Community-Based Organizations During the Pandemic
With the COVID-19 national emergency, many people are facing unprecedented challenges. Some have lost their jobs and have lost health insurance coverage for themselves and their families. Others may be underinsured with unaffordable health coverage, or may have health insurance, but are not sure how to access the services that they need for their health problems.

With these uncertainties, Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) are key players who can help link community members to valuable resources, including how and where to obtain health insurance. CBOs also play a major role in educating community members about COVID-19 vaccines, raising awareness about the benefits of vaccination, and addressing common questions and concerns. As many communities are waiting for their turn to get the vaccine, CBOs can encourage them to take the time to consider their health insurance coverage. 

What can CBOs do now to help your community access valuable resources on the vaccine and health insurance coverage?

  • Use the NEW Community-Based Organizations COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit. Soon the communities you serve will have access to vaccines to help protect against COVID-19. CDC has designed a toolkit to help CBOs educate communities about this important new prevention tool. This toolkit is designed for staff of organizations serving communities affected by COVID-19.
  • Share COVID-19 Vaccine information and Resources with the communities that you serve. Here’s some messaging to share with your communities through newsletters, e-mail listserv announcements or other channels:
    • You can receive the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost. People without health insurance or whose insurance does not provide coverage of the vaccine can also get the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost.
    • State governments are handling the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Look for updates from your state and local officials as more doses of the vaccine become available for additional priority groups.
    • Link community members to information on how to obtain health insurance or use their existing coverage:
    • Consumers can take advantage of a special enrollment period (SEP) for individuals and families to apply and enroll in the coverage they need starting February 15, 2021 through May 15, 2021. This SEP will be available to consumers in the 36 states served by Marketplaces that use gov. Read the press release here.
    • Those in states with State Based Exchanges should check their state’s exchange website to find out specific enrollment options for their state. Go to gov to find out more information or be directed to your state’s exchange.
    • See if you qualify for Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program or check on your health benefits if you already have coverage.
    • The From Coverage to Care initiative, has resources such as the Roadmap to Better Care to help consumers understand their health coverage and connect to primary care and the preventive services that are right for them.

Questions? Please e-mail us: Partnership@cms.hhs.gov


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CMS: What Partners Need to Know Now About Health Insurance During Pandemic
As COVID-19 vaccines begin rolling out across the country, CMS is taking action to protect the health and safety of our nation’s patients and providers and keeping you updated on the latest COVID-19 resources from HHS, CDC, and CMS.

With information coming from many different sources, CMS has compiled resources and materials to help you share important and relevant information on the COVID-19 vaccine with the people that you serve. You can find these and more resources on the COVID-19 Partner Resources Page and the HHS COVID Education Campaign page. We look forward to partnering with you to promote vaccine safety and encourage our beneficiaries to get vaccinated when they have the opportunity. 


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Partnership opportunity available at an established rheumatology practice in Great Neck, NY. Looking for a dedicated physician to join our practice or merge practices. Contact 516-972-2986 / susanrita1@msn.com for more info.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MSSNYeNews: February 12, 2021 – Changing of the Guard: Thank you Philip Schuh, CPA, MS, and Welcome Troy Oechsner, JD

.MSSNY’s Partnership with Premier Group Purchasing

Colleagues:

For the last 30 years, our current EVP, Philip Schuh, has served our MSSNY tirelessly and effectively earning the respect and gratitude of us all.  Mr. Schuh was deservedly awarded the AMA lifetime achievement award for medical executives in the fall of 2020. We wish him well in his retirement and thank him for his financial stewardship and his enormous contributions to our organization and our profession. On a personal note, I would like to thank him for his friendship, support, and general good humor.

After an extensive nationwide search, I am excited to announce that MSSNY has selected a new Executive Vice President, Troy Oechsner, JD.  He will be leaving his position as a partner at the law firm Manatt Phelps & Phillips, LLP to lead the MSSNY team beginning March 1, 2021.  Mr. Oechsner is a Cum Laude graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School.  He has served as the Deputy Bureau Chief of the Health Bureau of the New York State Office of Attorney General, and as Deputy Superintendent of Health Insurance for the New York State Department of Financial Services.

The MSSNY search committee found his vision for the future of MSSNY to be both aspirational and inspirational.  Some of you are already familiar with Mr. Oechsner from previous presentations at past MSSNY Lobby Days and from his prominent role in formulating New York’s landmark Surprise Medical Billing Law.

Mr. Oechsner is well known and highly respected in state health circles, including among consumer groups, elected officials, state offices and hospital associations which will be an asset to our MSSNY in building coalitions to achieve meaningful victories for physicians and patients.  His experience in managing 700 employees at the Department of Financial Services will be instrumental in oversight of the daily operations of our MSSNY and in continuing strong financial stewardship.  Mr. Oechsner plans to prioritize membership expansion and non-dues revenue.

We look forward to his leadership and welcome him to the MSSNY family.

Bonnie Litvack, MD
MSSNY President


 


Capital Update

MSSNY Weekly Podcast


MSSNY Urges Governor Cuomo to Authorize Community Based Physicians to Begin Immunizing their Patients with COVID 19 Vaccine
From the beginning of this pandemic MSSNY has said repeatedly that the state should be relying on the multifaceted health care system, including the community-based physicians as one prong in the COVID 19 vaccination effort to reach the entire patient population.  Physicians are urged to send a Grassroot Action Center letter to the Governor Cuomo and members of the NYS Legislature urging that New York State allow community-based physicians to begin to receive a supply of COVID-19 vaccine and begin immunizing patients.

These concerns have been raised in numerous articles in papers across the State including in the New York Times, Buffalo News and NY1:

Community-Based Physicians Seek More Vaccine Doses (ny1.com)
Pop-up vaccine clinics try to fill gaps, but community doctors say they can do it better | Local News | buffalonews.com
Primary Care Doctors Feel Left Out of Vaccine Rollout – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced this week that New Yorkers with comorbidities and underlying conditions are now eligible to receive the COVID19 vaccine.    Several hundred community-based physicians who have signed up to through the New York State Immunization Information System (NYSIIS) only to be told that there is no vaccine available for the community-based physician.

These individuals’ practice in a wide range of communities throughout the state.  MSSNY has raised concerns that the plan to limit immunizing these comorbid patients to a state run COVID-19 site will adversely impact the poor, individuals of color and the very population you are trying to immunize—those with co-morbidity.   Many do not have the ability to go long distances (even an hour away) to these sites due to their condition.

MSSNY has asked Department of Health and the Governor’s office for an estimated time frame for these physicians to start receiving vaccine to immunize these patients and has yet to receive a reply.  Additionally,  Governor Cuomo has also indicated that excess vaccine supply meant for hospital workers can be used to open eligibility for New Yorkers with comorbidities and underlying conditions.  The Medical Society of the State of New York has repeatedly indicated to the state Department of Health and to the Governor’s office that there continues to be community-based physicians and their office staff that remain unimmunized because hospitals either don’t have a supply or that there the regional or local hospital hub are not immunizing those physicians and/or staff that are not employed.

Physicians log on to the GAC and make your voice on COVID-19 vaccination heard.  Click here to contact the governor and your legislator today! (CLANCY)


Join Us for MSSNY’s Virtual Lobby Day on March 2
Please plan to put aside Tuesday, March 2 for MSSNY’s Annual Physician Advocacy Day – this time Virtual!  To register, click here.

The format will follow previous years formats, where assembled physicians and allies will hear from legislative leaders in the morning (this year via Zoom), and then have virtual visits with their respective legislators in the afternoon.

With the significant number of adverse proposals in this year’s State Budget submission that will drive exacerbate existing practice challenges and unquestionably drive physicians away from New York State, your participation in this program is absolutely essential.

Please plan to join hundreds of colleagues from around the State on March 2!


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Please Urge Your Legislators to Reject Huge New Costs Placed on Community Physicians for Excess Coverage
Please urge your legislators to reject an extremely unfair Executive Budget proposal that would require the nearly 17,000 physicians enrolled in the Excess Medical Malpractice Insurance program to bear 50% of the cost of these policies.   You can send a letter and/or tweet them from here: Click Here.

This proposal would thrust over $50 million of new costs on the backs of our community-based physicians who served on the front lines of responding to the pandemic.  For some physicians, particularly in Long Island and New York City, this could add up to tens of thousands of dollars per physician.

For example, an emergency physician in Queens would face a new charge of over $6,000 for this coverage; an Ob-GYN in the Bronx would face a new charge of over $24,000; and a neurosurgeon on Long Island would face a new charge of nearly $41,000.  This new cost imposition would hit these practices at a time when many of these practices are already facing huge losses resulting from the substantial reduction in the number of patients receiving care during the pandemic.

MSSNY has joined with 16 other specialty medical societies in a letter to the entire State Legislature that expresses our strong objection to this proposal (Click Here).  Among the key points in the letter is that a recent AMA survey reported that during the pandemic the average number of in-person visits to physician offices dropped nearly in half.   The bottom line is that the new costs this proposal would impose are simply not assumable by physicians, meaning that many physicians will face no choice but to forgo receiving this additional coverage.

It is important to remember that the Excess Insurance program exists because of New York’s disproportionately high medical liability insurance costs as compared to all other states.  The real solution to this problem is comprehensive medical liability reform, but in its absence this program continues to be absolutely essential.  Please contact your legislators today to oppose this new cost imposition: Click Here (AUSTER)


Urge Your Legislators to Reject Proposal to Disregard Important Physician Due Process Protections
Please urge your legislators to oppose an Executive Budget proposal that that would significantly reduce due process protections for physicians against whom a complaint has been filed with the Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC), including making information public about a complaint even if no professional misconduct is found and greatly lessening the burden for imposing an interim suspension prior to the conclusion of disciplinary proceedings.   You can send a letter and/or tweet to your local legislators from here: Click Here.

MSSNY has joined with 15 other specialty medical societies in a letter to the State Legislature expressing its strong opposition to this proposal. While New York’s physicians share the goal of assuring the State has ample power to protect the public when the conduct of a particular health care provider places patients at risk, the Commissioner already has authority to take summary action prior to the conclusion of a disciplinary hearing in the absence of a finding of misconduct.  Moreover, this proposal is stunning in light of the enormous sacrifices made by many in the medical profession over the last year, serving on the front lines in responding to the pandemic.  The proposal was rejected by the Legislature last year when it was proposed in the Executive Budget and we are urging them to reject it again.

The group letter reminds the Legislature that, while the medical community is always ready to work to address gaps in our disciplinary system to protect patient safety, this proposal is far too broad given that most complaints never result in findings of misconducts or even formal charges being filed. Of greatest concern is that information released to the public, even if there is no action ultimately taken, can remain available through Google searches forever, potentially unfairly destroying a physician’s professional reputation.

Please urge your legislators to reject this grossly unfair proposal. (AUSTER)


New Yorkers With Comorbidities and Underlying Conditions Now Eligible to Get COVID 19 Vaccine—MSSNY Asks When Community Based Physicians Will Receive Vaccine
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that New Yorkers with comorbidities and underlying conditions are now eligible to receive the COVID19 vaccine.    Patients must show proof of comorbidities by either a

  • Physician letter or
  • Medical Information Evidencing Comorbidity or
  • Signed Certification which will be developed by local governments.

Patients can begin to make appointments at state-run mass vaccination sites beginning February 14, with the first appointments scheduled for February 15.   They must do so by logging onto “Am I Eligible?” or by calling 1-833 NYS 4 VAX (1-833-6974829).

The full list of comorbidities and underlying conditions is available below. The list is subject to change as additional scientific evidence is published and as New York State obtains and analyzes additional state-specific data.

  • Adults of any age with the following conditions due to increased risk of moderate or severe illness or death from the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Cancer (current or in remission, including 9/11-related cancers)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Pulmonary Disease, including but not limited to, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma (moderate-to-severe), pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, and 9/11 related pulmonary diseases
  • Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities including Down Syndrome
  • Heart conditions, including but not limited to heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, or hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) including but not limited to solid organ transplant or from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, use of other immune weakening medicines, or other causes
  • Severe Obesity (BMI 40 kg/m2), Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease or Thalassemia
  • Type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
  • Neurologic conditions including but not limited to Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia
  • Liver disease

There has not yet been official guidance on this issued by New York State Department of Health.

The New York State Department of Health has issued a compilation guidance information of items of importance regarding the COVID-19.   This guidance is complete as of February 4, 2021 and offers information from becoming an enrolled COVID-19 immunizer to mental health resources, including information on MSSNY’s P2P program.  The guidance is HERE.
(CLANCY)


 

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Legislation to Prohibit Billing by Hospital Based Physicians Advances – Please Contact Your Legislators
Physicians are urged to contact their Assemblymembers and Senators to urge them to substantially revise A.3470-A/S.2521-A, “The Patient Medical Debt Reduction Act”. Click here to contact your legislators today!  There are many components to this legislation, but one seriously problematic component would prohibit a physician or other provider with any “financial or contractual relationship” with a hospital from separately billing a patient for a course or episode of treatment in the hospital.  While it would not appear to prohibit continued separate billing to insurance companies and other payers, a single hospital and physician bill would be required when a bill is sent to a patient for costs not covered by the patient’s insurance.  It would also require such consolidated bill to be sent within 7 days of a patient’s discharge from the hospital before there is any clarity as to what expenses will actually be covered by a patient’s insurance.

If this bill were to pass and this provision not amended, it would put non-employed physicians at the mercy of the hospitals where they practice since it is not clear how payments to hospitals from this “single bill” would then be distributed to these physicians.  In an era when patients’ insurance policies impose enormous deductibles, it would likely force even more physicians to sell their practices and become employees of hospitals in order to receive timely and adequate payments. The impact of this prohibition will fall most adversely on physicians who are on the front lines of the pandemic, many of whom are facing an enormous drop in patient volume due to a significant amount of delayed care.   This is one more factor that will drive physicians out of New York State towards other states with more favorable practice environments.

The legislation recently advanced from the Assembly Health Committee to the Codes Committee and is before the Senate Health Committee.  The sponsors of the legislation have indicated that they intend to make this legislation a major priority for this Legislative Session.  Please let your legislators know you appreciate the intent of the legislation to minimize the financial burden on our patients but that this “single bill” component will most heavily adversely impact community physicians, and ultimately result in the loss of patient choice and exacerbate health care monopolies in our health care system. Click here to contact your legislators today! (AUSTER)


Please Oppose Proposals That Facilitate Uncoordinated Siloed Care to be Provided by Pharmacists
Please contact your legislators to urge that they oppose several components of the Executive Budget that could upend the patient-centered medical home model and threaten patient safety by greatly expanding the scope of services provided to patients by pharmacists without coordination with patient care physicians.  You can send a letter from here: Click Here.  Please let them know these proposals would greatly enhance the power of big box giants to control various aspects of patient care delivery not in coordination with but to the exclusion of community-based primary care and specialty care physicians that typically manage the care of their patients.

Specifically, these Budget proposals would 1) permit pharmacists to order various lab tests without any physician oversight and without any requirement to coordinate with the patient’s physician for follow-up care; 2) greatly expand the physician-pharmacist Collaborative Drug Therapy Program to enable pharmacists to adjust the medications provided to entire classes of patients rather than individual patients and 3) permit pharmacists the power to administer any vaccination approved by the federal Advisory Commission on Immunization Practices (ACIP), including those which may be added in the future, thereby removing the discretion of the State Legislature to make these decisions.  Some of these proposals have been rejected by the Legislature in previous Budget cycles.

All of these programs together could incentivize the development of health care silos at the expense of the patient centered medical home model we have worked so hard to develop in New York.   It would also marginalize community based primary care and specialty care physicians’ ability to continue to be able to manage their patients’ ongoing care needs.    Please urge your legislators to reject these measures as they finalize the State Budget for 2021-22. (AUSTER)


MSSNY Continues to Raise Concerns that Executive Budget Proposal to Expand Telehealth Coverage May Actually Lessen Coverage
MSSNY continues its outreach to lawmakers to ensure patients can continue to have coverage for needed health care services via telehealth, including providing payment parity between in-person and telehealth visits. At the same time, we continue to raise concerns with a number of aspects of the Executive Budget proposal to expand Telehealth coverage, and are seeking further clarification of these provisions.

We are particularly concerned that the Executive Budget proposal did not include a measure to ensure payment parity, which is a significant issue for community physicians and the patients that they serve. A recent survey of its members by MSSNY showed that 83% had incorporated telemedicine into their practice, with nearly half saying they were treating at least 25% of their patients remotely. However, insurers’ reimbursement for audio and video Telehealth services has not kept pace with those paid for in-office visits and the gap is wide. According to the survey, less than 1/4 of health plans had set their reimbursement levels for telehealth equal to what they pay for in-office visits, with audio-only visits the least compensated.

Further, MSSNY has raised concerns that the Budget proposal may be used by the insurance industry to actually reverse the telehealth gains made over the past year. Specifically, linking coverage of telehealth services to insurers having a “so-called” adequate network, together with the proposal to permit telehealth delivery services by out of state physicians, could essentially empower insurers to limit who it will pay for telehealth services once it asserts it has an “adequate” network. It is not hard to imagine a scenario where a health plan asserts it has an adequate network through a national telehealth service provider, and then excludes coverage of telehealth service by all or some of its in-network community-based physicians. That is completely at odds with the expansive approach to telehealth coverage taken over the past year as a result of actions taken by the DFS and DOH.

MSSNY has also raised concerns that the Executive Budget proposal doesn’t expressly address payment parity in the state’s Medicaid program, which if not addressed, could create an inequity in the care that beneficiaries of Medicaid receive.

MSSNY is continuing to work with a range of other patient and provider partner organizations to address our concerns and will update members as the issue unfolds. (CARY)


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NYS DOH Commissioner Medical Grand Rounds Virtual Webcast on March 5
The New York State Health Commissioner, Howard Zucker, MD, will host his 2021-2022 Commissioner’s Medical Grand Rounds series on Friday, March 5th, virtually via webcast.   The session, entitled Caring for Patients Living with and Beyond Cancer, will bring together experts to discuss the role primary care providers play in improving the quality of life for cancer survivors.

This Grand Rounds session will help primary care providers understand the long-term impact of cancer treatment on their patients and their continuing physical- and mental-health care needs by providing access to timely and evidence-based information. Three experts in cancer survivorship will discuss how to identify and manage commonly experienced physical and psychosocial effects of cancer and its treatment, as well as best practices for coordinating survivorship care between oncology specialists and primary care providers. View the flyer here.

This virtual session will take place on Friday, March 5th from 1:00 – 3:00 pm, and will be streamed via live webcast. The session will also be archived on the NYSDOH Website. The event is free-of-charge and open to all interested providers across New York State. The link to register can be found here.  The Medical Society of the State of New York is a partner in the Commissioner Grand Rounds. (CLANCY)


MSSNY’s Peer-to-Peer is Here to Help if You or Someone You Know is Struggling with Everyday Life Stressors
Email: P2P@mssny.org and request that you be connected with a peer supporter

Phone: 1-844-P2P-PEER (1-844-727-7337) and request that you be connected with a peer supporter

The Medical Society of the State of New York now offers to physicians, residents and medical students a completely confidential and anonymous opportunity to talk with a peer about some of life stressors. MSSNY’s Physician Wellness and Resiliency Committee launched a Peer 2 Peer (P2P) program to assist their colleagues who are need of help in dealing with work and family stressors. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the emotional issues related to this event may also be troubling for our colleagues.

MSSNY has established a confidential helpline phone number (1-844-P2P-PEER) and an email address (p2p@mssny.org) so that physicians may be connected with a peer 24 hours a day/7 days a week. In addition to offering a trained, empathetic ear, peer supporters may provide information on specific resources that can offer further support, provide positive coping skills, or connect physicians to professionals for more focused assistance when needed. MSSNY has nearly 50 trained peer supporters across NYS who are just a phone call away! (LAUDER)


Registration Now Open
Medical Matters: COVID Vaccine Update February 17, 2021 @ 7:30 am
There is still time to register.  Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine on February 17th @ 7:30am.  Registration is now open for the next Medical Matters webinar: COVID Vaccine Update.  The discussion will include the types of vaccine in development, distribution priorities and barriers surrounding vaccine administration.  Dr. William Valenti will serve as faculty.  Click here to register.

Educational Objectives:

  • Recognize the types of COVID-19 vaccine in development
  • Discuss priorities for vaccine distribution
  • Identify barriers to COVID-19 immunization

Additional information or assistance with registration may be obtained by contacting Melissa Hoffman at mhoffman@mssny.org.

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 each 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. (HOFFMAN)


eNews

HHS: US Government Bought 200,000,000 Vaccine Doses Yesterday
The U.S. government purchased 200 million COVID-19 vaccine doses Feb. 11. HHS and the Department of Defense purchased 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from both Pfizer and Moderna, bringing the total doses purchased by the government from the two companies to a total of 600 million. Each company is set to deliver 300 million doses in regular increments through the end of July 2021.


2021 E/M Coding Changes: Are You Leaving Money on the Table?

Limited to 25 Attendees
Two convenient time slots for “2021 E/M Guideline Changes

Course Description
Many physicians are still struggling when it comes to implementing these historic changes into their day-to-day workflow. Garfunkel Health Advisors is offering an interactive event on Documentation & Coding Compliance following the new E/M Coding Guidelines. 

To help ensure you get the most out of the live session, participation will be limited to 25 participants and you may submit questions in advance, specific to your practice and specialty.  

During the event we will:

• Share our knowledge and experience
• Answer your questions
• Discuss tips and best practices
• Review Time vs MDM opportunities
• Wave the caution flag in areas of potential audit risk 

Speaker:
Alicia Shickle
President, Documentation and Coding/Audit Division of
Garfunkel Health Advisors, Inc

Discounted pricing for MSSNY members:
◊ Member rate $150
◊ Non-member rate $300 

OPTION 1
Tuesday, February 23, 2021Presentation:
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm (EST)
OPTION 2
Thursday, February 25, 2021Presentation:
7:30 pm – 9:00 pm (EST)

For more information call: 516-393-2294

REGISTER HERE

Garfunkel Health Advisors, Inc.
Garfunkel Wild is pleased to announce the launch of Garfunkel Health Advisors, Inc., a healthcare consulting subsidiary providing strategic and operational advice to the healthcare industry.


20 Most Expensive Prescription Drugs in 2021
Drug prices in the U.S. are about 256 percent higher than those in other countries, according to recent research.

Below is a list of the 20 most expensive prescription drugs in the U.S., based on the official price their manufacture assigned to them, as compiled by prescription discount company GoodRx. This list excludes medications that must be administered by a healthcare practitioner.

  1. Zokinvy (Geiger Biopharmaceuticals’): $86,040
  2. Millet (Aegerion Pharmaceuticals): $74,159
  3. Mavenclad (EMD Serono): $60,371
  4. Ravicti (Horizon Therapeutics): $57,998
  5. Actimmune (Horizon Therapeutics): $55,310
  6. Oxervate (Dompé): $48,498
  7. Takhzyro (Takeda): $46,828
  8. Juxtapid (Aegerion Pharmaceuticals): $46,502
  9. Cinryze (Takeda): $45,465
    • Chenodal (Travere Therapeutics): $42,570
    • Gattex (Takeda): $41,664
    • P. Acthar (Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals): $39,864
    • Orladeyo (BioCryst Pharmaceuticals): $37,308
    • Tegsedi (Akcea Therapeutics): $35,638
    • Ayvakit (Blueprint Medicines): $33,568
    • Vitrakvi (Bayer Pharmaceuticals): $32,800
    • Qinlock (Decipera Pharmaceuticals): $32,000
    • Korlym (Corcept Therapeutics): $31,440
    • Cerdelga (Genzyme): $28,599
    • Idhifa (Celgene): $28,246
      (Becker’s Hospital Review, Feb. 11)


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WHO Team Shares First Details of Probe into Pandemic’s Origin: 3 Things to Know
After spending time in hospitals, markets and laboratories in Wuhan, China, the World Health Organization team investigating the origins of the novel coronavirus shared findings from their initial data during a Feb. 9 news conference. 

Three early research findings:

  1. COVID-19 may have been circulating both inside and outside of the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan in December 2019, suggesting it may not have been the original source of the outbreak. “The market probably was a setting where that kind of spread could have happened easily, but that’s not the whole story,” said Dr. Peter Ben Embarek, the investigation’s international team lead. Dr. Liang Wannian, Chinese team lead of the WHO study, added that while there may have been missed cases in other regions, there’s been no evidence of significant COVID-19 circulation outside of Wuhan before the December 2019 outbreak.
  2. The virus “most likely” originated in animals before spreading to humans, the scientists said, emphasizing that more targeted research is needed to confirm the hypothesis and identify the intermediary animal host.
  3. The team said it was “extremely unlikely” that the virus was leaked from a Wuhan research lab as earlier theories have suggested, adding that the group will not recommend further investigation into the hypothesis.

“In terms of understanding what happened in the early days of December 2019, did we change dramatically the picture we had beforehand? I don’t think so,” Dr. Ben Embarek said. “Did we improve our understanding? Did we add details to that story? Absolutely.”


CDC: Tight-Fitting Masks, Two Masks Best Protection Against Infectious Aerosols
Double masking or knotting and tucking a single medical procedure mask helps prevent air leakage and improve mask performance, according to the CDC’s Feb. 10 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

After performing lab experiments with dummies, the CDC found that modifying masks to tighten the fit reduced exposure to potentially infectious aerosols, including those in the size range able to transmit SARS-CoV-2, by about 95 percent.

Researchers evaluated two modifications: Layering a cloth mask over a medical procedure mask, known as double masking, and a single medical procedure mask with knotted ear loops and tucked-in sides to help get rid of any loose material. When the infected wearer (source) and receiver were both fitted with the double mask or knotted and tucked mask modifications, the cumulative exposure of the receiver was reduced by 96.4 percent and 95.9 percent for each modification, respectively.

The report also highlighted the use of solid or elastic mask fitters and a modification where a nylon cover is placed over a mask, as additional effective options to improve mask fit.

“The data in this report underscore the finding that good fit can increase overall mask efficiency,” the CDC said. “Multiple simple ways to improve fit have been demonstrated to be effective.”

To view the full report, click here.


Increased Alcohol Use Driving Uptick in Hospitalizations for Liver Disease
Hospitals nationwide have reported a spike in alcohol-related admissions for serious liver disease, reports the Los Angeles Times. At Los Angeles-based Keck Hospital of USC, admissions for alcoholic liver disease jumped 30 percent last year compared to 2019. Hospitals affiliated with Chicago-based Northwestern Medicine, Boston-based Harvard University and New York City-based Mount Sinai Health System have reported up to 50 percent increases in these admissions since March 2020, specialists at each organization told the publication.

Many liver disease specialists and psychiatrists said they believe pandemic-related stressors such as isolation and unemployment are causing more people to drink and are fueling the spike in liver disease cases. “There’s been a tremendous influx,” Haripriya Maddur, a hepatologist at Northwestern Medicine, told the Los Angeles Times, adding that many of her patients with alcoholism have relapsed during the pandemic and required hospitalization.

Dr. Maddur and other physicians have expressed concerns that the stressors leading to higher alcohol consumption will continue well after lockdowns are lifted.

“I think we’re only on the cusp of this,” Dr. Maddur said. “Quarantine is one thing, but the downturn of the economy, that’s not going away anytime soon



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Physician & Other Healthcare Jobs. P/T & F/T – Check Us Out


Unique Rheumatology Practice Opportunity – Great Neck, NY
Partnership opportunity available at an established rheumatology practice in Great Neck, NY. Looking for a dedicated physician to join our practice or merge practices. Contact 516-972-2986 / susanrita1@msn.com for more info.

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MSSNY eNews: February 10, 2021 – DOH COVID Update TOMORROW 1PM to 2PM

.

Gov. Cuomo’s  COVID-19 Briefing
– Day 347
– Statewide Positivity rate 4.02%
– 176,750 Test results reported
– 136 deaths
– 7,593 Hospitalizations, down 282
– 1,423 ICU patients, up 11
– 955 Intubations, down 16

Hospitalizations by Region:
– Finger Lakes: 364 (0.03%)
– Western NY: 338 (0.02%)
– Southern Tier: 206 (0.03%)
– Mid-Hudson: 828 (0.04%)
– Central New York: 173 (0.02%)
– Mohawk Valley: 166 (0.03%)
– Capital Region: 313 (0.03%)
– NYC: 3,797 (0.04%)
– Long Island: 1,327 (0.05%)
– North Country:  81 (0.02%)

Positivity by Region:
– Finger Lakes: 2.82%
– Western NY: 4.04%
– Southern Tier: 1.15%
– Mid-Hudson: 5.28%
– Central New York: 1.85%
– Mohawk Valley: 2.88%
– Capital Region: 3.32%
– NYC: 5.08%
– Long Island: 5.29%
– North Country: 4.45%
– Manhattan: 3.21%
– Bronx: 6.74%
– Queens: 5.14%
– Staten Island: 4.85%
– Brooklyn 5.35%

Q & A
– Post holiday surge continues to decrease
– Gov. said COVID has exposed failures in public health, incompetence
in government, failed leadership, and structural racism and discrimination in
the United States
– Gov. outlined disparities in COVID experience: COVID killed Black
people at 2x the rate of White people and Hispanic people at 1.5X the rate of
white people

New Mass Vaccination Sites:
– Gov. announced federal/state partnership to open mass vaccination sites
for socially vulnerable communities in NYC and upstate
– New mass vaccination sites in Brooklyn and Queens are set to open the week
of Feb 24th and Upstate sites will follow
– These vaccination sites will receive special federal dosage allocations and will
be a joint state and federal effort

COVID Vaccine:
– 2.6 million total doses administered
– 93% of allocated first doses administered
– Vaccine supply is now week-to-week but the White House announced an
additional 5% increase in supply and 3-week allocations

Q&A
On what needs to happen to increase vaccine access in Queens:
– The mass vaccination site in Jamaica Queens will conduct 3,000 vaccinations
a day for Queens residents
On whether the state will be doing anything else to ensure that members of the
black and brown community will be prioritized at new mass vaccination sites:
– Gov. said location alone of the sites will help to prioritize certain target communities
– Gov. said the obstacle at these sites will not be access but distrust of the
vaccine within the community.


New Eli Lilly Combo Antibody Drug Approved by FDA Yesterday
A new combination antibody drug from Eli Lilly received emergency approval from the FDA Feb. 9. The authorization allows bamlanivimab and etesevimab to be administered together for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults and some children who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19.


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NYSDOH COVID-19 Update for Physicians TOMORROW, Feb 11 from 1 PM to 2 PM
Please join the NYS Department of Health Thursday, February 11 at 1:00 PM 2:00 PM for a COVID-19 update for healthcare providers.

To accommodate the large number of participants, find our webinar streaming via YouTube Live (and available for viewing immediately thereafter) on the NYSDOH COVID website for providers:

Audio number and code: 844-512-2950 Access code 6474981#

Recipients: All Prescribers
For questions: Please send an e-mail to bcdc@health.ny.gov, a s notify01 is a non-monitored mailbox.


Coalition of Hospitals, Insurers, Employers Call for ACA Expansion
Eight groups representing hospitals, physicians, insurers and employers called on Congress to support proposals to expand the ACA, according to a joint statement released Feb. 10. The coalition includes:

  • America’s Health Insurance Plans
  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • American Benefits Council
  • American Hospital Association
  • American Medical Association
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
  • Federation of American Hospitals
  • S. Chamber of Commerce

The groups outlined several proposals it wants the federal government to implement. They include the expansion of ACA subsidies, the reintroduction of a three-year, 100 percent federal funding match for states that expand Medicaid and increased federal funding for insurance outreach and enrollment programs. Current proposals under a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill already target increasing subsidies for Americans who buy their health insurance from the ACA marketplace.

“While we sometimes disagree on important issues in healthcare, we are in total agreement that Americans deserve a stable healthcare market that provides access to high-quality care and affordable coverage for all,” the coalition said in the joint statement.


MSSNY, #ThisIsOurShot to Encourage Vaccination & Decrease Vaccine Hesitancy
#ThisIsOurShot is a grassroots social media campaign to encourage vaccination and decrease vaccine hesitancy among patients. If you have photos of yourself receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, please share them with us so we can post them on social media. Photos can be emailed to rraia@mssny.org or post your photos to your personal accounts, hashtag #ThisIsOurShot and tag us so we can like and share. Don’t forget, please follow us on Twitter @mssnytweet and Instagram @mssnygram.  


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Onondaga County Health Dept. Recruiting Physician for Medical Director
The Onondaga County Health Department is a nationally accredited health department located in Central New York. The department is recruiting a full-time Medical Director. The position involves responsibility for the medical oversight and administrative direction provided to medically related health programs including Communicable Disease Control, Environmental Health, Healthy Families, Lead Poisoning Prevention, Cancer Services, Public Health Preparedness, and Employee Health. Reports to the Commissioner of Health.

QUALIFICATIONS

Must be proficient in public health, epidemiology, and infectious diseases. MD degree from a medical school or equivalent professional degree recognized by the New York State Education Department. Board-certified or board-eligible. Possession of a current license to practice medicine in the State of New York.

SALARY AND BENEFITS

The salary for the position is $175,500 with scheduled annual increases and a competitive benefits package including: Medical, dental, and vision coverage; Annual vacation, sick, personal leave, and paid holidays; No-cost long term disability; Flexible Spending Accounts;

  • New York State Retirement/Pension and Deferred Compensation Program

TO APPLY

  • Please submit a cover letter detailing qualifications meeting the above requirements and a resume to CathyClark@ongov.net and CynthiaClift@ongov.net by February 19, 2021.

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Classifieds

Classified Ads Available for:

Physicians’ search services • allied medical placements • locum tenens • practice valuation • practice brokerage • practice consulting • real estate

For help, information or to place your ad, call Christina Southard 516-488-6100 x355 • fax 516-488-2188


Two (2) Prime Commercial Spaces
Two (2) affordable office spaces available for immediate occupancy.  Located in Sheepshead Bay Brooklyn,  surrounded by multiple co-ops and private homes.  Space can be viewed at your convenience. Price negotiable. Call: Avi 212-736-3680 ext. 15


Physician & Other Healthcare Jobs. P/T & F/T
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Unique Rheumatology Practice Opportunity – Great Neck, NY
Partnership opportunity available at an established rheumatology practice in Great Neck, NY. Looking for a dedicated physician to join our practice or merge practices. Contact 516-972-2986 / susanrita1@msn.com for more info.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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