July 17, 2009 - Volume 60 Issue 31
AMA Trustees Back House Health Reform Bill; NCMS Board Set to Review Health System Reform Measures
The AMA Board of Trustees has voted to support a Democrat-backed health reform bill that was approved by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on Tuesday. In a letter sent to Committee Chair Senator Henry A Waxman (D-CA) on Thursday, AMA Executive VP, CEO Michael D. Maves, MD, MBA wrote, “I am writing to express our appreciation and support of HR. 3200, the ‘America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009.’ This legislation includes a broad range of provisions that are key to effective, comprehensive health system reform.” The letter was also sent to the House Education and Labor, Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means Committees asking them to give HR 3200 a favorable recommendation. “AMA Views on House Reform Legislation: H.R. 3200 (PDF), the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, ” and the letter to Sen. Waxman can be viewed at www.ncmedsoc.org.
Legislative Update: House Committee to Consider S958 on Tuesday; S877 Awaits Governor's Signature
S958 – NC Medical Board Disciplinary Procedures (Sen. Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe)
Online Medicaid Enrollment Available Soon
Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) has announced that starting August 31, 2009, providers will have the option to enroll in Medicaid programs online. This is one of the ongoing activities by DHHS and CSC to upgrade and streamline the Medicaid provider enrollment process. Pilot sessions for the web application are scheduled for August 3 - August 14 at CSC offices in Raleigh. Providers participating in the sessions will have the opportunity to preview the web application and give CSC and the State valuable feedback, comments, and concerns. It is anticipated that pilot sessions will last four to six hours. NCMS has been asked to nominate one or two practices to participate in the pilot. Please contact Lauren Cullipher at the NCMS Resource Center at email@example.com by July 21, if you are interested in taking part in the pilot program.
Aetna Wins Contract to Manage US DOD TRICARE
The US Department of Defense has awarded the TRICARE managed care support contract for the North Region to Aetna, Inc. Under the five-year administrative services contract, Aetna Government Health Plans will support health care delivery to approximately 2.8 million eligible beneficiaries who are active duty service members, retirees, and family members based in 21 states of TRICARE’s North Region, which includes North Carolina. The contract is effective April 1, 2010. More information is available at www.aetna.com.
PractEssentials for Your Practice Management
Are you up-to-date on Health Information Technology (HIT), Health Reform, and all the other issues affecting Healthcare? Let the NCMS Foundation’s PractEssentials be your premier practice management and resource center. No log in needed!
NCMS Calls on NC Senators to Support US Surgeon General Nominee
The NCMS has called on North Carolina Senators Richard Burr (R-Winston-Salem) and Kay Hagan (D-Greensboro) to support President Obama’s nomination of Regina Benjamin, MD, as the next US Surgeon General. “We believe Dr. Benjamin will serve diligently as an advocate for the nation’s patients and for health care reform that will offer high quality, affordable care for every man, woman and child in our great nation,” said NCMS President Albert J. Osbahr, MD, and AMA Delegation Chair John R. Mangum, MD, in a letter to the senators. The letter cited Dr. Benjamin’s professionalism and strong leadership, along with her selfless devotion and care for her patients. A Family Physician, Dr. Benjamin stepped into the national spotlight when she led efforts to rebuild a rural health clinic in Alabama in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. She has chaired the AMA’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, served as a member of the AMA Board of Trustees, and was the first African-American woman to serve as President of the Alabama Medical Association.
New Data Say Uninsured Account for Nearly One-Fifth of ER Visits
Federal HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released new data Wednesday from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample—the largest all-payer emergency department database in the US. The data indicates that uninsured persons accounted for nearly one-fifth of the 120 million hospital-based emergency department visits in 2006. The database is managed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and contains 26 million records from emergency department visits from approximately 1,000 community hospitals nationwide. The Sample is designed to help public health experts, policymakers, health care administrators, researchers and others find the data they need to answer questions about care that occurs in US hospital emergency departments. More information is available at www.hhs.gov.
CDC to MDs: Develop a Response Plan for Novel H1N1 Flu
The CDC is urging medical offices and outpatient facilities to develop action plans for novel H1N1 influenza in order to have a “sustainable community health care response for a likely recurrence of novel H1N1 flu in the fall.” A ten-step planning guide is available at http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/10steps.htm.
NC DHHS Issues Safe Surrender Reminder
The NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is seeking to remind physicians and the public about North Carolina’s Safe Surrender Law, which provides an option to keep babies safe. In 2001, the NC General Assembly passed a law making it legal for a parent to surrender a newborn to a responsible adult without fear of criminal prosecution. The law was designed to help prevent a postpartum woman who is distraught from endangering her baby. Examples of responsible adults include emergency medical workers, hospital workers, social workers and law enforcement officers. As the law is written, any responsible adult can receive a newborn under the age of seven days. They then must protect the infant and immediately notify law enforcement or their county social services department. For more information about Safe Surrender in North Carolina, go to www.safesurrender.net or call 1-800-FOR-BABY.
Durham Bulls Recognize Team Physician
The Durham Bulls minor league baseball team recently honored Richard F. Bruch, MD, for his service as the Bulls team physician for 29 years. “Dr. Bruch has done more than help players heal and get them back on the field. His love of the game and his honesty have also enabled him to form lasting relationships with players and staff,” according to a news release posted on the Bulls website. Dr Bruch’s career with the Bulls started in 1980 when he stopped by the ballpark to ask Miles Wolff, the team owner at the time, about being the orthopedic surgeon for them. Wolf agreed, and Dr. Bruch became the team physician a few years later. Dr. Bruch serves as President of the Board of Trustees of the NCMS Foundation and is a Past President of the NCMS. Read more about Dr. Bruch’s career with the Bulls at http://durhambulls.com/team/press_release.html?id=1005.
Drug Safety Institute Opens in RTP
The Hamner-UNC Institute for Drug Safety Sciences celebrated its Grand Opening on June 11, 2009 at the Institute’s campus in Research Triangle Park. Janet Woodcock, MD, Director of the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), delivered the keynote address. The Institute is led by Paul Watkins, MD, one of the leading experts in drug-induced liver injury, and will focus on innovative research and training programs as well as technologies to improve the safety of new drugs. Learn more about the Institute and read its newsletter, At The Hamner, by visiting www.thehamner.org.
2010 NCMS Leadership College Nomination Period is Closing
The nomination period for the 2010 NCMS Leadership College is closing on July 24, 2009. Only a limited number of nominees are selected to participate in the prestigious Leadership College, conducted in partnership with the NCMS Foundation. The official nomination form, which must be completed by both the nominee and the nominating organization, and additional information on the program can be found at www.ncmsleadershipcollege.org. Completed nomination forms for consideration in the 2010 class must be received by July 24, 2009. The 2010 Leadership College scholars class will be announced in mid-August. Questions may be directed to Richard W. Skinner, Associate Director, NCMS Member Services, firstname.lastname@example.org, 919-833-3836 or 800-722-1350.
Call for Resolutions: NCMS House of Delegates
In accordance with the NCMS Bylaws, all resolutions to be considered by the House of Delegates at its annual meeting in October must be submitted at least forty-five (45) days before the first meeting of the House of Delegates. The deadline for submission of resolutions is September 14, 2009.
Put It on Your Calendar: 2009 Annual Meeting, October 30-November 1
There’s a touch of Halloween in this year’s theme for the 2009 NCMS Annual Meeting, Succeeding in Frightening Times. Mark the date, October 30-November 1, 2009, at the Raleigh Marriott City Center Hotel, Raleigh. More details coming in the Bulletin and at www.ncmedsoc.org/annualmeeting.
RECOVERY AUDIT CONTRACTOR (RAC) PHYSICIAN PRACTICE ORIENTATION SESSION is scheduled for Wednesday, August 5, 2009, 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm, at the Embassy Suites in Cary. CMS will introduce Connolly Consulting to North Carolina physician practices, describe RAC processes and procedures, discuss the process to address RAC audits and explain what to expect when the program becomes operational. CMS will not discuss the RAC demonstration projects, the appeals process or the 935 recoupment process at this session. All physicians and practice administrators are welcome to attend. A meeting oriented toward hospitals will be held that morning, with separate registration, through NCHA, required for that meeting. There is no registration fee for physicians and their office staff. All others will pay a $25 fee when they register the date of the meeting. Preregistration is required for all attendees to ensure adequate space. To register for the free session, email email@example.com. For more information about RAC implementation, see http://www.cms.hhs.gov/RAC/.
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