Archive for June, 2011

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Recap of Albany Legislation as Session Ends

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

PHYSICIANS COLLECTIVE NEGOTIATIONS PASSES SENATE

LONG ISLAND PHYSICIANS ADVOCACY EFFORT CRITICAL TO THIS SUCCESS

ASSEMBLY LEADERSHIP PLAN TO MEET WITH MSSNY DGA STAFF AND PHYSICIAN LEADERSHIP TO PASS COLLECTIVE NEGOTIATIONS THIS YEAR

By the close of the Legislative Session, the physicians collective negotiations bill S3186A (Hannon et al)/A2474A (Canestrari et al) had passed the Senate by a 43-19 margin, with bipartisan support.  While the bill was not voted upon in the Assembly, it did move from the Assembly Insurance Committee to Ways and Means.  The companion Assembly bill has about 70 co-sponsors, roughly half of the Assembly.  Communications with Albany leadership including Speaker Silver’s office, Assemblyman Gottfried’s office, and Assemblyman Canestrari’s office have made it clear that that they support collective negotiations legislation.  In addition, communications with the Attorney General’s office and the Governor’s office have indicated that they support this legislation.  However, in recognizing the importance and the historic nature of this unprecedented legislation, they want to take some time to address bill language and to assure that passage will not result in increased costs to publicly funded programs such as Medicaid.

Key Albany leadership has made a commitment to meet with MSSNY DGA (Division of Governmental Affairs) Staff and physician leadership over the summer weeks to address these concerns.  The Assembly will return to Albany during the summer or fall to address unfinished business.  At that time, it is hoped that they will bring collective negotiations legislation to a vote and passage.  The Senate will then be asked to pass clean-up legislation that addresses Assembly leadership concerns.  Then the legislation can go to the Governor for his signature.

Long Island physicians should be pleased to know that all 9 Long Island Senators voted for this legislation.  There is no doubt that the activism of Long Island physicians was essential to getting the bill passed in the Senate.  Doctors who called these Senators advocating for the bill should now call or write to thank them for their leadership in bringing this bill to passage.

This is the first time this legislation has passed either chamber in Albany.  Physicians should be pleased and proud of their effort to bring this bill to passage in the NY State Senate.  And physicians should remain hopeful that this legislative goal can be achieved before the end of 2011.  And physicians must be prepared to continue their successful advocacy efforts to bring this legislation to passage in the Assembly and to the Governor’s desk for his signature this year.

In addition, physicians should understand and appreciate the tremendous effort put forth by MSSNY DGA staff including Gerry Conway, Liz Dears, Moe Auster, Pat Clancy and Barbara Ellman.  The opposition to this legislation by the insurance industry was tremendous, and extremely well funded and worked daily to kill this legislation, but out DGA staff remained vigilant, putting in 15 hour days, day after day toward the end of the legislative session.  Their efforts kept this legislation alive and were critical to bring this legislation to passage in the Senate.  No doubt they will be there for us throughout the summer as we work to address Assembly leadership concerns and to bring this bill to passage in the Assembly.  Physicians should remember to let MSSNY DGA Staff know how much their efforts on behalf of NY State physicians is appreciated.

Posted in NEWS FROM THE NYS LEGISLATURE | No Comments »

ATTENTION PHYSICIANS! E-PRESCRIBING INCENTIVE REMINDER:

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

The New York Medicaid e-prescribing incentive program applies only to non-facsimile electronic transmissions when compliant with Medicare Part D data standards.

E-Prescribing Incentive checks are being returned by prescribers who claim they do not e-prescribe.

PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING:

Electronic Prescription Definition

New York State Pharmacy Regulations (http://www.op.nysed.gov/part63.htm) recognize two distinct types of electronically-transmitted prescriptions:
· a prescription transmitted electronically by facsimile;

  • · a prescription transmitted electronically by means other than facsimile; such non-facsimile prescriptions are required by regulation to be electronically encrypted, meaning protected to prevent access, alteration or use by any unauthorized person.

The New York Medicaid Program accepts both types of electronically-transmitted prescriptions for standard claim reimbursement. However, pharmacies must verify a prescription is compliant with Medicare Part D data standards and requirements and NYS Pharmacy Regulations before submitting for the e-prescribing incentive.

Claims for prescriptions transmitted electronically by means other than facsimile and not Medicare Part D compliant are recognized by New York Medicaid for claim reimbursement purposes, but do not qualify for the e-prescribing incentive reimbursement.

The e-prescription must originate from the prescriber’s computer system (an electronic health record, electronic medical record, or stand-alone e-prescribing software) and must be transmitted to the retail pharmacy’s computer system.

For more information go to: http://www.health.ny.gov/health_care/medicaid/program/update/2009/2009-11spec.htm

Posted in MEDICAID UPDATES | No Comments »

ACT NOW!

Monday, June 20th, 2011

The Legislature is working toward its stated goal of ending session by Monday, June 20th but several major unresolved issues appear to threaten that possibility. Unresolved issues included” same-sex marriage, rent control and a real property tax cap

As of today, the fate of the Collective Action legislation, strongly supported by MSSNY, was unclear. The final outcome on this bill will be determined by the extent to which every physician, every county medical society and every specialty society take the action we have requested of them. Every single legislator must be contacted by physicians from the legislators’ district a well as the physician leaders of organized medicine in that district.

Ø Call your legislator. To find your respective legislator, click here.

Ø Call them at their Albany office.

Ø Senators can be reached at (518) 455-2800; Assemblymembers can be reached at (518) 455-4100.

If you cannot reach the legislator personally, leave a message.

Please call and ask your representative to make certain that A.2474-A, Canestrai/S.3186-A, Hannon, is brought to a vote and that they vote for it. Collective Action is essential for physicians and patients if the growing insurance company domination of our healthcare system is to be halted.

Your call is essential. CALL NOW!

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Banking Change

Monday, June 20th, 2011

JUNE 17

Important News from National Government Services:

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has converted its banking contracts with JP Morgan and U.S. Bank to Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) contracts. These banks serve all the Medicare contractors. Accordingly, CMS has instructed the banks to close all bank accounts and letters of credit associated with the old configuration and contracts.

Normally, Medicare checks are valid for a 12-month period after the payment date on the check and then they are automatically stale-dated, at which point they become void. CMS needed to close some of the old bank accounts prior to the end of the 12-month period due to contractual requirements. Some checks drawn on these old bank accounts may be presented for payment within the next two to three months, but will be returned and annotated “account closed.” If providers encounter this situation, they may contact the Provider Contact Center and have the checks reissued under a new appropriate account number. If the provider receives a fee for the check being returned as unpaid please bring that to the attention of the Provider Contact Center and they will address that issue as well for the provider. While we do not anticipate this being a large impact for providers it is important that you are aware of what to do if the situation arises.

Please visit our Web at www.NGSMedicare.com for the Provider Contact Center information located at Resources > Contact Us > Provider Contact Center.

Thank you,

National Government Services, Inc.
Corporate Communications

Posted in MEDICARE UPDATES | No Comments »

NOW IS THE TIME! PHYSICIAN ACTION NEEDED TO ENACT COLLECTIVE NEGOTIATION BILL

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

You can make the difference.  With just a few days remaining in the 2011 Legislative Session, all physicians must make their voices heard loud and clear in support of legislation (A.2474-A, Canestrari/S.3186-A, Hannon) to permit independently practicing physicians to come together under close state supervision to collectively negotiate their participation contracts with health insurers.   In addition to calling the numbers listed below, physicians can send a letter from the MSSNY Grassroots Action Center by clicking here.

S.3186-A was unanimously reported from the Senate Health Committee to the Senate Finance Committee.  Earlier in the Session, A.2474-A was unanimously reported from the Assembly Health Committee to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

You must urge that this bill be brought up for a vote in the Assembly and Senate and enacted into law!

If you want to keep your practice viable and overcome the dominance of the monopolistic health insurers in your community, you must make these contacts!

Sen. Thomas K. Duane: (518) 455-2451 (Albany); (212) 633-8052 (District)

Asm. Linda B. Rosenthal:  (518) 455-5802 (Albany); (212) 873-6368 (District)

Posted in NEWS FROM THE NYS LEGISLATURE | No Comments »

NON PHYSICIAN SCOPE OF PRACTICE BILLS MOVING IN LEGISLATURE – PHYSICIAN ACTION NEEDED NOW!!!

Monday, June 13th, 2011


Despite compelling arguments against them, all three bills highlighted in last week’s Capital Update were reported by the Senate Higher Education Committee to the Senate floor this week. Physicians engage in discussions with elected officials and urge no further action on a number of bills now winding their way through the legislative process. This is true even for bills that in past years died in one House or the other. Please take action on the following:

1. Nurse Practitioner Scope of Practice: Status: On Senate Floor; In Assembly Higher Education Committee.

Legislation (S.3881, Hannon/A. 2157, Gottfried) was reported earlier this week by the Senate Higher Education Committee to the floor of the Senate. This measure would authorize a nurse practitioner to perform any function in conjunction with the making of a diagnosis of illness or physical condition, or the performance of therapeutic and corrective measures within a specialty area of practice lawfully performed by the NP that a statute authorizes or directs a physician to perform that function.  The bill is both ambiguous and contradictory. It fails to clearly articulate the additional functions being authorized. Moreover, it appears to equate the work of a nurse practitioner with that of a physician as it fails to relate the NP’s authority to perform such services back to the written practice agreement and written practice protocols required in subparagraph (3)(a) of Section 6902.

Physicians are urged to call their senator immediately at 455-2800 to oppose this bill. Physicians can also send a letter in opposition to this bill by clicking here:

http://www.capwiz.com/mssny/issues/alert/?alertid=49316526&type=ST

2. Nurse Practitioner Scope of Practice- Death Certificates: Status: On Assembly Codes

Committee Agenda; In Senate Higher Education Committee.

Legislation (A.1747, Gunther/S.325, Montgomery) was reported earlier this week by the Assembly Higher Education Committee to the Assembly Codes Committee. This measure would allow nurse practitioners to sign death certificates.  Under the law the death certification process does not simply involve ascertainment and certification of the fact of death. Ultimately, accurate death certification is a public health issue with two principal goals—(1) to be certain that the individual death is investigated adequately and (2) to provide the best possible data to the public jurisdictions charged with overseeing the public health.  The physician certifying a death is often the last scientist who will ever think about diseases the person had, and how he/she came to die. When there is doubt about a death or the circumstances surrounding it, the physician should not certify it. Large epidemiologic and public health decisions are made based upon death certificate data, and much public health research is based on death certificates. To permit other individuals, with less medical and scientific training than physicians, to certify the death of an individual would seriously decrease society’s protection of the individual and its commitment to public health.

Physicians are urged to call their assemblymember immediately at 455-4100 to oppose this bill. Physicians can also send a letter in opposition to this bill by clicking here:

http://www.capwiz.com/mssny/issues/alert/?alertid=49331501&type=ST

3. Extension of Pharmacist Authority to Immunize: Status: On Senate Floor and in Assembly Ways & Means Committee.

Legislation (S.3807-A, Fuschillo/A.8030, Paulin) was reported earlier this week by the Senate Higher Education Committee to the Senate Floor. This measure would extend a law enacted in 2008 and due to sunset in 2012 until 2016. The law authorizes a licensed pharmacist to administer vaccines for flu and pneumococcal disease to adults, and emergency treatment of anaphylaxis pursuant to a non-patient specific regimen prescribed by a licensed physician or certified nurse practitioner.  In order to administer immunizing agents, the pharmacist is required to attain a certificate from the Education Department. Importantly, the 2008 law which authorized pharmacists to administer these vaccines called for a report to be issued by the Commissioner of Health on or before December 31, 2011 which would evaluate the effectiveness and impact of implementation of the law upon the supply and geographical distribution of such immunizing agents among health care providers in New York State. We are not aware that such report has yet been issued and consequently believe that the bill is premature and unnecessary since the law is not due to expire until March 31, 2012.

Physicians are urged to call their senator immediately to oppose this bill at 455-2800. Physicians can also send a letter in opposition to this bill by clicking here:

http://www.capwiz.com/mssny/issues/alert/?alertid=49381501&type=ST

4. Chiropractor-Physician Ownership of LLC: Status: On Senate Floor; In Assembly Corporations Committee.

Legislation (S5012, Fuschillo/A.7403, V. Lopez) was reported earlier this week by the Senate Higher Education Committee to the Senate Floor. This measure would allow doctors of chiropractic, licensed under Title VIII, Article 132 of the education law, to form partnerships with medical doctors.  This specific legislation is new this year and should receive much more attention and study before it is approved by either house of the Legislature.

Physicians are urged to call their senator immediately to oppose this bill at 455-2800. Physicians can also send a letter in opposition to this bill by clicking here:

http://www.capwiz.com/mssny/issues/alert/?alertid=49334506&type=ST

5. Dental Scope of Practice: Status: On Senate floor; In Assembly Higher Education Committee.

Legislation (S.3059 Libous, Klein, Maziarz/A.2820 Morelle) is on the Senate floor and can be acted upon at any time. This bill would permit non-physician oral and maxillofacial surgeons to perform a wide range of medical surgical procedures involving the hard or soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial area, including many cosmetic surgery procedures.

MSSNY has long opposed this bill and has been joined in opposition by the American Medical Association, The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the American Academy of Otolaryngologists – Head and Neck Surgery, the American Academy of Dermatology, the American College of Surgeons, the American College of Physicians, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – District II, the New York Ophthalmological Society, the New York State Society of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and the New York Chapter of the American College of Surgeons.

Physicians are urged to call their senator immediately to oppose this bill at 518-455-2800.  Physicians can also send a letter in opposition to this bill by clicking here.


6. Podiatric Scope of Practice: Status: Passed Senate; In Assembly Higher Education Committee.

Legislation (A.3475 Pretlow/S.3758 Libous) which would expand the scope of practice of podiatrists beyond the treatment of the foot, and in so doing, remove language that restricted the podiatrist from treating other parts of the body, was recently passed by the Senate and has been referred to the Assembly Health Committee.

Currently, podiatrists are authorized to diagnose, treat, operate, and prescribe for any disease, injury, deformity or other condition of the foot.  This bill expands the scope of podiatrists to include any disease, injury, deformity, or other condition of the ankle and the soft tissue structures of the leg below the knee.  In addition, the bill allows for the treatment of systemic conditions that present in local manifestations, presumably those affecting the lower leg.

Physicians MUST WEIGH IN against this measure by calling members of the Senate (518-455-2800) and by sending a letter to their elected representatives by clicking here:

http://www.capwiz.com/mssny/issues/alert/?alertid=45271501&type=ST

7. Naturopath Licensure: Status: In Senate Finance Committee and Assembly Higher Education Committee

Legislation (S.1803 LaValle/A.1937 Hoyt) which would license naturopaths and allow them to prescribe, administer, diagnose, and treat patients is in the Senate Finance Committee.  The bill authorizes the use of the title “naturopathic doctor” or “doctor of naturopathic medicine,” which will mislead the public and convey the false impression that the naturopathic practitioner is, in fact, the equivalent of a licensed physician.  The legislation does not require disclosure that the naturopath is not practicing medicine and that the services provided will not automatically be covered by health insurance.

MSSNY continues to oppose this bill and urges that physicians call their senator immediately to express their opposition to it at 518-455-2800 and by sending a letter to their elected representatives by clicking here:

http://www.capwiz.com/mssny/issues/alert/?alertid=45363501&type=ST

8. Nurse Practitioner Independent Practice: Status: Bill remains in Committee

Legislation (A.5308 Gottfried/S.3289 Young) that would eliminate the requirement for a written practice agreement and collaborative relationship with a physician has been introduced in both houses of the Legislature and, for now, remains in the Higher Education Committee in each House. MSSNY opposes this legislation for concern for the quality of patient care.

Physicians are urged to send a letter to their respective Assembly and Senate representatives by clicking here.

Posted in NEWS FROM THE NYS LEGISLATURE | No Comments »

OUT OF NETWORK COVERAGE TRANSPARENCY LEGISLATION – PHYSICIAN ADVOCACY NEEDED

Monday, June 13th, 2011


With just a little over a week left in the 2011 Legislative Session, all physicians are urged to contact their senators to ask that they pass legislation (S.5068, Hannon) that would a) prevent insurance companies from selling policies with out of network coverage that fail to provide significant coverage for such costs, and b) better assure transparency of health insurance policies that provide out of network coverage by requiring all such policies to be based upon a percentage of the new FAIR Health database.  Physicians can contact their senators by calling 518-455-2800, and asking for their senator. Physicians can send a letter to Governor Cuomo and their local legislators in support of this legislation by clicking here.

This issue is important for all physicians, not just physicians who do not participate with insurance companies.  In most cases, physicians have little or no ability to negotiate patient care and other terms with a health insurer.  Often the only leverage a physician has in these negotiations is to simply decline to participate.  If health plans are permitted to make grossly inadequate payments for out of network care, they would have no incentive whatsoever to negotiate in good faith with any physician.  The “right to walk away” would essentially be meaningless.

Identical legislation (A.7489, Gottfried) has passed the Assembly.

Not surprisingly, the insurance industry has aggressively opposed this legislation.   To overcome this opposition, all physicians are urged to call in to their local legislators to ask that this problem be fixed.

Posted in NEWS FROM THE NYS LEGISLATURE | No Comments »

CONTINUED GRASSROOTS EFFORTS URGED TO DEFEAT LIABILITY EXPANSION LEGISLATION

Monday, June 13th, 2011


As we head into the final days of the 2011 Legislative Session, legislation is being aggressively sought by trial lawyers to increase liability exposure against physicians and drive up the already unsustainably high cost of liability insurance coverage.  The Legislature has failed to address this problem. They cannot be permitted to worsen it by passing any of these bills which, if enacted, would exacerbate the serious access-to-care problems that already exist within New York’s fragile health care system.  Continued physician advocacy in opposition to these bills is essential.

MSSNY is working with the Greater New York Hospital Association and the Healthcare Association of New York State on a campaign to prevent the enactment of these bills, including establishing a joint petition in opposition to these bills that physicians can sign by clicking here: http://www.medmaltruth.org/.  Physicians can also send their own letter to legislators in opposition to these proposals and support for medical liability reform by clicking here.

The bills include legislation that would:

  • Create a “date of discovery” rule for the statute of limitations (S.5242, Fuschillo/A.4852, Weinstein) – Estimated to increase premiums by 15%.
  • Expand “wrongful death” damages (S.2540, DeFrancisco/A.4851, Weinstein)– Estimated to increase premiums by 53%.
  • Permit the awarding of pre-judgment interest (A.4929, Brennan) – Estimated to increase premiums by 27%.
  • Eliminate the limitations on contingency fees (S.2541, DeFrancisco) – Estimated to increase premiums by over 10%.
  • Prohibit ex-parte interview of plaintiff’s treating physician (S.3296-A, DeFrancisco/A.694-A, Lancman)
  • Require that, when a medical liability lawsuit is brought against two or more defendants, a non-settling defendant must elect prior to trial to reduce their liability by either 1) the balance of the jury award to the plaintiff or 2) by an equitable share determined by the jury (S.3766, DeFrancisco/A.625, Weinstein).

Please act now to prevent a health care access disaster!

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NOW IS THE TIME! PHYSICIAN ACTION NEEDED TO ENACT COLLECTIVE NEGOTIATION BILL

Monday, June 13th, 2011

You can make the difference.  With next week the last full week remaining in the 2011 Legislative Session, all physicians must continue to call and write their legislators to urge that legislation (A.2474-A, Canestrari/S.3186-A, Hannon) be enacted to permit independently practicing physicians to come together under close state supervision to collectively negotiate their participation contracts with health insurers.   In addition to phone calls (Assembly: 518-455-4100/Senate: 518-455-2800), physicians can send a letter from the MSSNY Grassroots Action Center by clicking here.

This week S.3186-A was unanimously reported from the Senate Health Committee to the Senate Finance Committee.  A.2474-A is currently in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

Posted in NEWS FROM THE NYS LEGISLATURE | No Comments »

NCMS Annual Meeting and Presentation of 50-Year Citations

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

DSCN0969Honorees Joseph Cali, MD & Leonard Marino, MD
DSCN0946

Honoree Michael Ferragamo, MD receives his Citation from cousins Vincent Geraci, Jr. MD and Robert D'Esposito, MD along with President Susan Zwanger-Mendelsohn, MD

DSCN0964

Honorees Irena Shperling, MD and James Poo-Gwan Kwee, MD share a lighter moment

DSCN0963

The 2011 50-Year Citation Recipients

Robert Bruce Bergmann, MD congratulates Dr. Zwanger-Mendelsohn at the conclusion of her last membership meeting as President

Robert Bruce Bergmann, MD congratulates Dr. Zwanger-Mendelsohn at the conclusion of her last membership meeting as President

Dr. Bergmann congratulates Betty Dowling for 35 years of service to the Society and Academy as Dr. Robin Scarlata and Dr. Zwanger Mendelsohn look on.

Dr. Bergmann congratulates Betty Dowling for 35 years of service to the Society and Academy as Dr. Robin Scarlata and Dr. Zwanger-Mendelsohn look on.

Posted in EVENT PHOTOS | No Comments »

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