MSSNY eNews: March 18, 2022
Ukraine Needs Our Help
There is nothing more troubling to me than the images of the people of Ukraine suffering trauma and death for the past three weeks. War is always disturbing to us as healers. Casualties involving civilians, particularly children, are all the more tragic. Compounding the trauma of war is the loss of healthcare infrastructure as hospitals and medical facilities are destroyed by bombs, the ability to deliver supplies (including medicines) is lost and basic needs for water, food and shelter cannot be met.
I am asking us to reach out to support our physician brothers and sisters as they work to heal and comfort the victims of the war in Ukraine. Towards that end, I want to make you aware of a fundraising endeavor by the Ukrainian Medical Association of North America (UMANA). I hope you will join me in donating to this effort to bring direct aid to the people of Ukraine.
Along with physicians from countries throughout Europe, UMANA members have been meeting with physicians from Ukraine to ascertain the greatest needs. The New York and New Jersey chapters of UMANA are focused on raising money for 400,000 Individual First Aid Kits (IFAKs) to be used in the field. These are not typical first aid kits with bandages and creams, but rather specialized kits that are specific to saving a life within the first hour of injury i.e., a tourniquet for severe bleeding and equipment to treat a punctured lung. With proper training on how to use the equipment in these kits, the chance of saving a life increases significantly.
The goal is to get 400,000 of these kits to Ukraine within the next few weeks. They will be shipped to Poland, where a robust network of volunteers will get them into Ukraine. Physicians, nurses and medics in Ukraine (many from the U.S.) then conduct 4–8-hour training sessions for the team who then train the civilian soldiers on how to use the IFAKs. These are not professional soldiers. Most of them are teachers, tailors and office workers who have absolutely no training. They need our help.
Donate to the IFAK fund either online (note on the form that the donation is for the IFAK fund) or by sending a check made out to UMANA Foundation Attn: NY-NJ Chapter and mail to UMANA 2247 W. Chicago Ave Suite 206 Chicago, IL 60622. UMANA is a 501c3 organization and donations are tax deductible.
In addition to money raised for the IFAKs, the NY/NJ chapters are also collecting expired or non-expired medical supplies, including the following:
Celox Granules and Gauze
Adaptic Wound Dressing
Xeroforms Wound Dressing
Betadine Skin Preps
Sterile and Exam Gloves
Planes are flying regularly from New Jersey to Poland to deliver supplies.
For medical supply donations, please email the UMANA NY/NJ Metro Chapter with information regarding your donation or any questions.
UMANA was incorporated as a professional organization in New York City in 1950. Under the leadership of Roman Osinchuk, MD, a post-World War II Ukrainian immigrant, physicians united in an association of physicians and dentists, sharing the immigrant experience, expanding their educational possibilities, and interacting with colleagues in an exchange of medical knowledge and practice.
Senate and Assembly Release their Budget Priority Documents
Earlier this week, the New York State Senate and Assembly announced their respective one-House Budget proposals in response to Governor Hochul’s proposed Budget released in January and amended in February. These position documents set the stage for “3-way” negotiations between the Governor and legislative leaders to work towards passing an agreed upon Budget by April 1.
Public Health Investments Included. Importantly, both the Senate and Assembly agreed with the Governor’s proposals to significantly increase funding for the Doctors Across New York student loan repayment program, and to implement a 1% across the board Medicaid payment increase.
Both Houses also agreed with various initiatives to increase and maintain access to comprehensive health insurance, including increasing the upper income threshold eligibility for the State’s Essential Plan health insurance program, and eliminating premium requirements for eligibility for the CHIP program for families making less than 223% FPL.
Telehealth. The Senate’s Budget proposal included language supported by MSSNY to require health insurers to pay for telehealth services at a level similar to comparable in-person services. The Assembly did not include this provision (see related article). A letter can be sent in support here: Support Payment Parity for Telehealth Services(p2a.co)
Surprise Bill Law Changes Not Included. Both one-House Budget proposals did not include language contained within the Governor’s Budget to make changes to New York’s surprise bill law to ensure it meets the requirements of the federal No Surprises Act (NSA) recently passed by Congress. Most of these changes have been implemented through circular letters issued last December by the NY Department of Financial Services. While MSSNY did not object to formalizing these necessary changes to statute that had been advanced in the Executive Budget, it did oppose one aspect of that proposal – not required by the NSA – that would require the Independent Dispute Resolution entity to consider the insurer’s self-determined median in-network payment amounts.
Excess Medical Malpractice Insurance Program Changes Not Included. One-House Budget proposals did not include a proposal that would require the insurance carriers writing excess liability coverage to be paid in 2 annual installments.
Scope of Practice Proposals Not Included/Revised. Both one-House Budget proposals did not include language opposed by MSSNY that would create further silos in healthcare by permitting pharmacists to perform numerous lab tests without physician coordination and eliminating current statutory requirements for nurse practitioners (NPs) to maintain collaborative relationship with physicians.
The Assembly Budget proposal would permanently extend the existing law that requires NPs with more than 3,600 hours experience to comply with simplified collaboration standards that do not require a written practice agreement but ensure there are defined collaborative relationships with a physician practicing in the same specialty as the NP. The Senate indicated that “each scope of practice deserves a robust conversation outside the context of the Executive Budget”
Physicians are urged to send in letter in support of physician-led team care here, and in opposition to inappropriate scope expansion here: Protect Physician-Led Team-Based Care for Patients (p2a.co)
Licensing/Oversight Proposals. Both Houses did not include a proposal to transfer oversight of several health professions from the Department of Education to the Department of Health.
The Assembly did not include a proposal to permit New York to join the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact. The Senate included the proposal.
Please remain alert for further requests for grassroots advocacy on many of these issues.
MSSNY Teams Up with Specialty Societies & Hospitals to Continue Push for Telehealth Payment Parity in Final FY 2022-23 Budget
This week, MSSNY continued its push for telehealth payment parity. We released a joint statement urging Governor Hochul and the legislature to include policy requiring health insurers to pay for telehealth services at a level similar to in-person services in the final budget for FY 2022-23. Lending their support for the statement were a range of specialty societies and the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS).
MSSNY’s President, Dr. Joseph Sellers, did a news interview with WRGB-CBS6 in Albany where he stressed the importance of telehealth services. Watch Dr. Sellers’ interview here.
The issue was also amplified on several social media platforms, and organizations plan to continue pushing for telehealth payment parity over the next three weeks.
With two weeks left for Governor Hochul and the state legislature to agree on the final details of the FY 2022-23 budget, MSSNY will continue to urge lawmakers to include payment parity and we urge all members to join us in this effort by sending a letter of support here.
MSSNY & Specialty Societies Urge Governor Hochul to Stop Adverse Changes to the NYS Empire Plan
MSSNY, together with the New York State Society of Anesthesiologists and the New York State Society of Plastic Surgery, have written to Governor Hochul’s top health care staff to express deep concerns with the position taken by the NY Department of Civil Service (DCS) that NYSHIP/Empire Plan is no longer subject to NY insurance law regulations when the Plan reimburses out-of-network physicians for medically necessary services these physicians provide to their patients. Of great concern, physicians have been directed to bring surprise billing disputes for these claims to the federal dispute resolution process, rather than the state resolution process.
The letter followed multiple meetings that MSSNY leaders had with the Governor’s office raising these concerns. MSSNY has also been in regular communication with various law firms representing physician practices impacted by this development, including MSSNY’s General Counsel Garfunkel Wild and Roy Breitenbach at Harris Beach Law Firm.
In its letter, MSSNY, NYSSA and NYSSPS argue that these actions by the NYSHIP/Empire Plan are contrary to the provisions of the Civil Service Law, which requires that the Empire Plan be subject to NY insurance laws and DFS regulation. Moreover, the letter notes that immediate action is needed to reverse this decision because the Empire Plan’s actions have resulted in a drastic, unprecedented, and precipitous drop in reimbursement to out-of-network physicians. If not addressed, surgical and medical specialty practices will suffer long-term irreparable harm that will cause many of them to go out of business or drastically reduce their services. The letter also notes that this decision could very well harm patients, who will see the availability of high-quality medical services significantly reduced, particularly given that a major selling point of public employment in New York has been the Empire Plan’s out-of-network benefit, giving enrollees a wide option of high-quality physicians to choose from.
Legislation Introduced to Prohibit Non-Restrictive Covenants
This week, New York State Assembly Labor Committee Chair Latoyna Joyner introduced legislation (A.9591) that would prohibit an employer from imposing a non-compete agreement on its employees. Identical legislation (S.6425, Ryan) has been introduced in the Senate and referred to the Senate Labor Committee.
As part of the Executive Budget, Governor Hochul included a provision that would provide some limitations on the use of non-compete agreements by employers. While positive, MSSNY has advised legislators that the proposal does not go far enough in preventing excessive post-employment limits often imposed on employed physicians that could harm continuity of care for patients. The proposal was not included in either of the one-House Budget proposals by the Senate and Assembly.
MSSNY Seeks NYS Funding for the Veterans Mental Health Training Initiative
MSSNY staff and leadership continue to advocate for funding the Veterans Mental Health Training Initiative (VMHTI) within the NYS budget. Since 2008, this program had been funded through a legislative add-on to provide skills, development, and education for primary care physicians and other mental health providers to treat veterans within their practice. This initiative is a partnership between the Medical Society of the State of New York, The New York State Psychiatric Association, and the National Association of Social Workers-New York State.
These associations work to deliver free training to service providers across New York. They also work with counties implementing the NYS Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer Support programs, which provide holistic care for returning veterans. Through this initiative, MSSNY has been able to provide seminars, webinars, and other online programming to MSSNY’s county medical societies and hospitals. MSSNY is asking physicians send a letter on the VMHTI through its Grassroots Action Center (GAC) to ensure that this funding is included in the state budget.
Behavioral Health Engagement Project Needs Physicians to Interview
CMS staff within the Office of Burden Reduction and Health Informatics Consumer-Focused Research Group is conducting a behavioral health engagement project to “understand the barriers to accessing prevention, treatment, and recovery services for Substance Use Disorder, including effective pain treatment and management.”
The CMS group began interviews for the project this month and is looking for physicians willing to speak to them. Email Shari Kosko at email@example.com if you are interested in being interviewed for the project.
NYS Guidance for COVID-19 Immunizations Updated
The New York State Department of Health has updated its guidance for the New York’s COVID-19 vaccination program for individuals 12 years and older. This update follows the CDC’s revised clinical guidance on the COVID-19 vaccine. Updates include options for extended intervals between doses of the mRNA primary series; additional details on myocarditis; and J&J extended shelf life. Information can be found in updated Guidance for the New York State COVID-19 Vaccination Program for Individuals 12 Years of Age and Older.
Stresses & Distresses in the Time of COVID-19 Medical Matters CME Webinar
April 20, 2022 @ 7:30am
As we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is of paramount importance to understand the mental health challenges this pandemic has presented. Register now for “Stresses & Distresses in the Time of COVID-19” on Wednesday, April 20, 2022, at 7:30 a.m. to learn more about the stresses and distresses the COVID pandemic has caused. Craig Katz, MD, vice-chair of MSSNY’s Emergency Preparedness and Disaster/Terrorism Response Committee will serve as faculty for this program. Register now.
Educational objectives are:
- Illustrate the many sources of stress that society has endured in recent years
- Identify the many ways different ways the resulting distress can be experienced
- Discuss what clinical approaches are available to help
Additional information or assistance with registration may be obtained by contacting Melissa Hoffman at firstname.lastname@example.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 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.
MSSNY P2P Program: How to be a Peer
MSSNY would like to cordially invite new volunteer peer supporters to participate in MSSNY’s Peer to Peer (P2P) training, “How to be a Peer” presented by Dr. Jo Shapiro. This training will be Saturday, March 19th, 2022, from 8-10a.m.
As you know, the MSSNY’s Physician Wellness and Resiliency Committee launched its Peer 2 Peer (P2P) program to assist 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. A peer is an individual who has shared experiences, listens without judgement, can validate feelings, and can provide support, empathy, and perspective. This is someone who practices and encourages the use of positive coping skills.
MSSNY hopes that this training will provide you with knowledge and skills that will enhance your experience as a peer supporter.
If you have any questions or would like to join the training and become a peer supporter, please reach out to Cayla Lauder, MPH, Public Health Associate, at email@example.com.
If someone you know is struggling with life stressors, reach out to the P2P program to connect them to a peer supporter! Peer supporters are available 24/7.
Email: P2P@mssny.org and request that you be connected with a peer supporter
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