MSSNY eNews: October 29, 2021 – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives


I am proud that MSSNY is committed to do its part in addressing the injustice and very real harm to public health caused by racism, misogyny, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination in our society.  In that spirit, MSSNY Council passed a resolution in June 2021 that, among other things, recognized racism as a public health crisis.  The resolution went on to direct MSSNY to several action steps on which MSSNY leadership and staff have been working. I’d like to highlight just a few of those steps here:

  • Evaluating our mission statement, as well as our policies and procedures, to clarify support for equity in all aspects of our work
  • Working collaboratively with county medical societies to develop a strategic plan to improve recruitment, retention, support and mentoring of members who are Black and Latinix, people of color (POC), indigenous people, Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), people with disabilities and/or sexual gender minorities
  • Working with New York medical schools to ensure that underrepresented minority students are successfully recruited and supported to reinforce the pipeline of physicians and physician leaders to be representative of the population we serve; and use appropriate culturally relevant curricula that does not propagate race-based medicine, understanding that race is a social construct and not a biological one.

I recently asked our Committee on Health Equity for additional suggestions on specific steps MSSNY can take to effectuate our June 2021 policy and our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.  I plan to present those recommendations to Council for their consideration and action.

Again, this is just a beginning. We welcome any other suggestions from you, our members—or anyone else—on how to improve our organization, our profession, and our society.

Joseph Sellers, MD, FAAP, FACP
MSSNY President

MSSNY Applauds FDA Emergency Use Authorization of Pfizer Vaccine
for Children 5-11
MSSNY sent the following statement to the press today, Friday, October 29, 2021: 

Statement Attributable to:
Joseph R. Sellers, MD, FAAP, FACP
President, Medical Society of the State of New York

“Today, the country took another important step forward in changing the face of the COVID-19 pandemic with the FDA’s emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for children between the ages of 5 through 11.

“The importance of getting every eligible American vaccinated against this deadly virus cannot be overstated. With new cases in children in the U.S. continuing to be at a high level, sending unvaccinated children back into the classroom this Fall has been a concern.  As a pediatrician, I understand first-hand the importance of childhood vaccinations in keeping children safe and healthy. Vaccines have a long history of eradicating diseases in children, including polio, mumps, and measles.

“MSSNY continues to be grateful for the science that has made the COVID-19 vaccines a reality. We encourage parents who have questions about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine for their young children to speak with their trusted pediatrician.

“MSSNY and its physicians are committed to ensuring that all New Yorkers are immunized against this deadly virus.  Throughout the years, vaccines have saved lives and we are confident that the COVID-19 vaccines will help us end this pandemic.”

Physician Practices Needed to Enroll in NYSDOH COVID-19 Vaccination Program
Not yet enrolled in the NYSDOH COVID-19 Vaccination Program?  Have questions about the process?  The Biden Administration will soon begin immunization of children 5-11 years of age and needs the assistance of pediatricians and family physicians to provide this immunization to children.

There is also a need for more physician practices to provide the booster to those adults who are eligible. MSSNY is encouraging physicians to become enrolled in this program.  Information on enrolling can be found here.


MSSNY Meets with Representatives from Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield to Discuss NYC Retirees’ Transition from Traditional Medicare to Medicare Advantage Plan
Following negotiations this past summer between municipal unions, and the city of New York, an agreement was reached to transition New York City retirees from their current, traditional Medicare plan to Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. Beneficiaries will have the ability to opt-out of the NYC Medicare Advantage Plus Plan and remain enrolled in their current, traditional Medicare plan. The new plan is being administered by Emblem and Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield and coverage for these enrollees is scheduled to begin January 1, 2022.

Many MSSNY members have raised concerns about possible adverse impacts to patients once their new MA coverage becomes effective. To that end, several MSSNY physician leaders met this week with representatives from Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield to discuss questions from physicians regarding the possible impact of the upcoming transition for patient care delivery.  Separately, Kings County Medical Society Past-President Dr. Donald Moore testified regarding the potential new prior authorization requirements at a hearing about the issue, which was held on Thursday, October 28th by the New York City Council Committee on Civil Service and Labor. Moreover, there is also pending litigation against this coverage change from other health insurers and retiree groups.

However, there is a need to let physicians know what to expect should this coverage be implemented, so MSSNY has launched an outreach and educational effort, to provide as much detail as possible over the next two months. Empire and Emblem will be developing educational materials for physicians and other providers including webinars.  MSSNY will also monitor the new plans, should they be implemented in January, for reports of potential pre-authorization and claims hassles for physicians, and barriers to care for patients.

To view the initial materials provided by Emblem and Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield:

To access a range of other information shared by the NYC Office of Labor Relations:

Only 40% of Americans Know Vaccines Reduce Chances of Testing Positive for COVID-19: Poll
Many Americans still don’t understand how COVID-19 vaccines work, with minimal knowledge of relative risk factors after vaccination, according to Axios/Ipsos poll findings published Oct. 26.

The 56th wave of the poll surveyed 1,038 Americans from Oct. 22-26.

Four poll findings:

  1. Forty percent of respondents knew that vaccinated people are less likely to test positive for COVID-19 than unvaccinated individuals.
  2. Only slightly more than 25 percent of respondents accurately said that a vaccinated 80-year-old is at greater risk of dying of COVID-19 than an unvaccinated 30-year-old.
  3. While 60 percent of respondents correctly identified that an unvaccinated person is at least 10 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than a vaccinated person, 26 percent said they didn’t know and 14 percent said they believed this to be false.
  4. Twenty-three percent of respondents said they didn’t know if the vaccine is effective at preventing severe illness among people with “breakthrough” cases, while 66 percent correctly indicated this is true and 11 percent believe it to be false.

–Masson, Becker’s Hospital Review

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MSSNY Continues to Raise Concerns to State Government Officials with Unnecessary Scope Law Waivers
MSSNY physician leaders have met and continue to communicate with top officials to Governor Kathy Hochul to commend her efforts to require all healthcare workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, but at the same time raise concerns with aspects of her September 28 and following up October 27 Executive Orders  No. 4: Declaring a Statewide Disaster Emergency Due to Healthcare Staffing Shortages in the State of New York (

In a recent meeting with top staff to Governor Hochul, MSSNY physician leaders praised Governor Hochul for sticking to the vaccination requirement that had been adopted by the Department of Health in August.  In particular, MSSNY has repeatedly noted that the enforcement of the requirement was an essential step resulting in the significant increase in the health care worker vaccination rate across New York State.  However, they also raised concerns that these Executive Order provisions which waive applicable statutory supervision or collaboration requirements with physician assistants, CRNAs, and nurse practitioners go beyond addressing the immediate staffing crisis at hand in hospitals arising from enforcement of the health care worker vaccination mandate.

In its recent meeting with top Hochul staff, MSSNY President Dr. Joseph Sellers, MSSNY President-elect Dr. Parag Mehta and MSSNY Past-President Dr. Bonnie Litvack noted that these measures are not necessary to respond to the shortage of healthcare workers because very few physicians working in hospitals and healthcare facilities have not been vaccinated, and that the waiving of these laws places patients at unnecessary risk.  Indeed, an AMA survey earlier this year reported that 96% of physicians have been vaccinated, and that number is likely to be even higher now.

Both the MSSNY physician leaders and Governor Hochul’s staff expressed hope that the Executive Order provisions would only be temporary, because most of the remaining healthcare workers without proper exemptions would get vaccinated.

Physicians wishing to send a letter to Governor Hochul on these issues can do so here: Protect Patient Safety: Preserve Physician-Led Team-Based Care (

Please remain alert for further updates on this issue.

More Than 60 CME Programs Available on MSSNY’s Website
The CDC recently issued a Health Alert Network Update on several cases of Burkholderia pseudomallei infections (Melioidosis) in Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota, and Texas. Melioidosis was found in an aromatherapy room spray, killing one patient.  Learn more about Melioidosis and get free CME credit by going to the MSSNY CME website The CDC is recommending that doctors be aware of melioidosis symptoms.  Learn more about melioidosis at the MSSNY CME site by viewing the Emergency Preparedness CME program entitled: Brucellosis, Glanders, Melioidosis and Tularemia.

View the rest of MSSNY’s timely and relevant CME programs by going to  Please note that you will need to create an account there if you haven’t already.

Additional information or assistance with the website may be obtained by contacting Melissa Hoffman at

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Telehealth Services Extended to Workers Compensation Board
The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board released new regulations this week Emergency Adoption of Amendment to 12 NYCRR 325-1.8, 329-1.3, 329-4.2, 333.2, and 348.2 (COVID-19 Telemedicine) to continue to allow for payment for emergency Telehealth visits during the continued COVID-19 pandemic. The rule authorizes providers who utilize the Official New York State Workers’ Compensation Fee Schedule to bill using the applicable Evaluation and Management codes when Telehealth services are delivered by audio and visual communication, as well as audio-only.

The policy was adopted to mitigate health and safety risks during the ongoing pandemic and because Telehealth has proven to be an effective tool in providing care for injured workers. The Board also plans to adopt a permanent regulation on Telehealth coverage. Specifically, the regulation notes that the authorized provider shall indicate on their report that such assessment was done using telemedicine by use of modifier 95 and indicating a place of service as 11, or telephonically by indicating place of service as 02.

Sellers Banner AdPsychosocial and Epidemiological Aspects of Vaccine Hesitancy:
Medical Matters Webinar on November 17
Among eligible individuals, the number of those who are fully vaccinated remains under 60% in the United States.  Learn more about both the psychosocial and epidemiological impact of vaccine hesitancy by registering for Psychosocial and Epidemiological Aspects of Vaccine Hesitancy on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 at 7:30 a.m.

William Valenti, MD, chair of MSSNY Infectious Disease Committee and a member of the Emergency Preparedness and Disaster/Terrorism Response Committee and Craig Katz, MD, vice-chair of the Emergency Preparedness and Disaster/Terrorism Response Committee will serve as faculty for this program. Registration is now open for this webinar here.  Click here to view the flyer for this program.

Educational objectives are:

  • Recognize the psychological role of vaccine-positive messaging
  • Outline the epidemiological impact of sub-optimal vaccination rates
  • Identify social and psychological explanations of vaccine hesitancy
  • Illustrate the steps necessary to overcome vaccine hesitancy

Additional information or assistance with registration may be obtained by contacting Melissa Hoffman at

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. 

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 Roseann Raia at 516-488-6100 ext. 302

For the MSSNY 2021 Ad Rate Sheet, please click here.

Office Space for Lease – Great Neck, NY
Large, fully equipped space available for lease up to 7 days per week. Includes onsite parking and is close to mass transit. Call 516-972-2986 for info.

Rheumatology Practice Opportunity – Great Neck, NY
Opportunity available at an established rheumatology practice in Great Neck, NY. Looking for a dedicated physician to join, share or merge practices. Fully equipped office with onsite parking and proximity to mass transit. Contact 516-972-2986 for more info.

AIDS Institute’s Office of the Medical Director for a Public Health Physician II
Health Research, Inc. (HRI) has a job opening within the AIDS Institute’s Office of the Medical Director for a Public Health Physician II. Please distribute this announcement widely through your networks. Interested individuals can apply for this position through the HRI website.