Monday
Feb212011

Member News

LEGISLATIVE MINORITY WINS COURT BATTLE CHALLENGING MEDICAID HOSPITAL ASSESSMENT:

Legislators who voted against the expansion of Arizona’s Medicaid won an appeals court battle yesterday allowing them to challenge the law and the levy it imposes. The ruling puts in jeopardy the state’s ability to fund the health program’s expansion without the estimated $256 million the hospital assessment would generate.

The judges voted unanimously the state’s constitutional language is plain – the voter-approved mandate for a two-thirds vote to increase revenues applies to a host of changes including taxes, fees or assessments.  It also applies to authorizing any state agency to set fees.

The court rejected Gov. Brewer’s arguments that:

  • Only hospitals subject to the levy have the ability to argue that it’s a tax and not an assessment.
  • The Governor’s contention that a simple majority of lawmakers have the constitutional power to decide when a measure needs a two-thirds vote.

The ruling allows Medicaid expansion opponents to argue the levy imposed on hospitals was unconstitutional since only a slim majority of the legislature voted for its approval not the two-thirds needed. Gov. Brewer is expected to challenge the ruling in the Supreme Court.

AMA STUDY SHOWS AZ PHYSICIAN IMPACT ON ECONOMY:  According to the American Medical Association's (AMA) new Economic Impact Study, each physician in the United States supports 13.84 jobs on average and contributes $2.2 million in economic output, underscoring how physicians influence the health of both their patients and the economy. The study, prepared by IMS Health and released this week, focused on the roughly 720,000 physicians who primarily engage in patient care activities, as opposed to those who focus on research or teaching. Nationally, these physicians support $1.6 trillion in total economic output-that's $2.2 million per physician-and 10 million jobs. The study also found that:

  • Physicians support $775.5 billion in wages and benefits at the national level.
  • Physicians contribute $65.2 billion in total state and local taxes nationally, or $90,449 in local and state tax revenue per physician.

The study estimated the total economic impact of patient care physicians at the national level and for each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., measuring output, jobs, wages and benefits, and state and local tax revenue. At the national level, physicians support greater economic output than the following industries: legal services, home health care, higher education and nursing home and residential care. Here in Arizona, physicians impacted the economy by:

  • Creating $21.5 billion in direct and indirect economic output
  • Supporting 149,844 jobs (including their own)
  • Contributing $11,907.8 million in direct and indirect wages and benefits for all supported jobs
  • Supporting $847.4 million in local and state tax revenues

Visit the AMA Economic Impact Study Web page to access an interactive map and see a specific break-down of economic contributions for other states.

HIPAA / HITECH COMPLIANCE WORKSHOP:  Law firm Mesch, Clark and Rothschild will hold a free breakfast seminar on Meaningful Use Audits and HIPAA / HITECH Compliance readiness on May 14 between 7-8:30 a.m., Arizona Inn Flandrau House. Susan Goodman, RN, JD and Gene Hechler, owner Silverado Technologies, will present. The program is open to physicians and practice administrators. To RSVP go to:  resvp@mcrazlaw.com.

PRESIDENT SIGNS SGR EXTENSION AND ICD-10 DELAY

The President has signed the , "Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014," legislation that contains both a one year delay of scheduled Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) cuts and a one year delay of ICD-10 implementation (from October 1, 2014 to October 1, 2015). 

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE / NEW AMB MEMBERS:

During the past two weeks, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee has met twice to recommend to the full Senate the confirmation of six new Arizona Medical Board members. The candidates, comprised of four physicians and two lay members, were appointed by the Governor and several were supported by ArMA. The new Board members will be:

Marc Berg, MD, Pediatric Critical Care

Screven Farmer, MD, Anesthesiology (PCMS Member)

Robert Fromm, MD, Internal Medicine Critical Care

Edward Paul, MD, Family Medicine

Donna Brister, Citizen Member

Paul Gerding, Citizen Member

All in all, it’s a talented group that will have its hands full working with the rest of the Board and the new Executive Director, Lloyd Vest, to restore public and physician faith in the licensing activities of the Board.

In the meantime, the budget dance continues among the Governor, the House and Senate Republican leadership. The Governor has indicated she will veto any bills sent to her before the budget is done and signed. Also, the House refused to concur with several of the budget bills because Senate amendments reduced or eliminated House proposed funding. It also appears the House budget, adopted last week, is more in line with the Governor's priorities than is the Senate effort. It is likely the first set of numbers that can garner 31 votes in the House and 16 in the Senate will have the honor of being known as next fiscal year's budget.

SOCIETIES WORK TO HELP ADDRESS BACKLOG OF AMB APPLICANTS: 

On April 30, the Executive Directors from Pima County Medical Society, Maricopa County Medical Society and the Arizona Medical Association will meet with new Arizona Medical Board Executive Director to develop solutions to the current physician licensing backlog.The situation is critical.

During the last several months, the average processing time for new license applications has gone from 11 days to more than 120 days. It is clear this backlog is a deterrent to physicians considering practicing in AZ. The AMB has been funneling its limited resources to revalidate licenses issued under a potentially compromised system and this has resulted in a backlog of more than 700 new applicants. We want the AMB to speed up the process by having access to increased staff and the ability to contract with appropriately qualified primary source credentialing.

If your practice is currently being impacted by the backlog situation, contact Bill Fearneyhough at billf5199@gmail. He will share your information at the meeting.

PCMS ALLIANCE HOLDS MAY FUNDRAISER: The Pima County Medical Society Alliance hosts “Wine Country in the Desert” on Saturday, May 3 between 6-9 p.m. at St. Phillips Plaza (courtyard).

Please join us for wine tasting and tapas to benefit Mobile Meals of Tucson and honor all the hardworking PCMSA members. Tickets are $75. Bodega Kitchen & Wine is graciously sponsoring the Tapas.

For information, tickets and sponsorship packages go to:  https://itrulycare.com/events/wine-country-in-the-desert or contact: Anestasha Lynn at msdesertprincess@gmail.com, 820-1622.  

PHYSICIANS NOT HAPPY WITH EHR FUNCTIONALITY: A recent survey conducted by research firm MPI Group and Medical Economics shows two-thirds of physicians would not purchase their current EHR system again. Find the full story here: http://medicaleconomics.modernmedicine.com/medical-economics/news/physician-outcry-ehr-functionality-cost-will-shake-health-information-technol

ICD-10 CODING:  The requirement to use the ICD-10 coding system has been extended to Oct. 1, 2015, however if your practice hasn’t developed an implementation plan these resource sites can assist.  

Online ICD-10 Guide: http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Coding/ICD10/ICD-10ImplementationTimelines.html

Introduction to ICD-10: http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Coding/ICD10/ProviderResources.html

Basics for Small and Rural Practices: http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Coding/ICD10/Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Provider-Resources.html

AMA’s What You Need to Know for the Upcoming Transition to ICD-10:  http://www.azmed.org/ckfinder/userfiles/files/icd-10-transition.pdf

AMA’s Your 12-Step Transition Plan for ICD-10: http://www.azmed.org/ckfinder/userfiles/files/AMA_icd-10-action-plan-12-step-transition.pdf

FMCSA SETS NEW RULES TO CONDUCT MEDICAL CERTIFICATION EXAMS:  Family physicians who conduct physicals for interstate commercial motor vehicle drivers have new federal requirements for certification starting May 21. The Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) now requires medical examiners to undergo training, testing and be registered before performing physicals. More information may be found at the FMCSA website.

PCMS / FAVORITE STAFFING SERVICE:  If you need staffing, contact Favorite our affiliate medical staffing service. Favorite provides a full range of services including direct hire, contract, temp- to-perm, permanent placement and “just –in-time” per diem.  Special rates are given to member physicians.  Call Amy Erbe at 319-5766. She is anxious to assist. 

WALK-WITH-A-DOC:  The Society is teaming with the Arizona Chapter of the American College of Physicians (ACP) to host and provide physician leaders for the monthly Walk-With-A-Doc outings.  Walkers sign in at the ramada east of Swan Bridge on the south bank.PCMS physicians are encouraged to urge patients to participate in the program. Each walk begins with a brief discussion on a health topic and includes a one- or two-mile walk on level ground. Please contact Dennis Carey at 795-7985 or dcarey5199@gmail.com with questions. There is one more walk scheduled for 2013. It's on December 14. In 2014 walks will be held on January 11, February 8, March 8, April 12, September 13, October 11, November 8 and December 13. They begin at 8 a.m.