News and Notes
Dr. Richard Babayan Elected by New England Section Membership to Serve as AUA President
Thank you to the Active and Senior members of the New England Section for participating in a very robust election to select the NEAUA's next President of the AUA. The Section was very fortunate to be represented by two excellent candidates, Dr. Peter Albertsen and Dr. Richard Babayan. Both have served the Section extremely well in a number of capacities, including having previously served as President of the Section. It was a close race, representative of the respect that Section members have for both candidates. The winner of the election, who will serve as the President-Elect of the AUA and then ascend to the AUA Presidency in May of 2016, is Dr. Richard Babayan. He will preside over the AUA Annual Meeting to be held in Boston in 2017. Thank you again to both of candidates, as well as our Section members.
Annual Meeting Invitation from Dr. Ann Gormley, Dr. Vernon Pais, Jr., and Dr. Veronica Triaca
We are delighted to invite you to the 83rd Annual Meeting of the New England Section of the AUA. This year, we shall return to the iconic New England seaside resort, Newport, Rhode Island. The stunning Hyatt Regency Newport will serve as the headquarters for this meeting to be held October 16-19, 2014.
Annual Meeting Links and Deadlines
Call for Cases (deadline June 30, 2014): meeting.neaua.org/index.cgi
Online program: meeting.neaua.org/abstracts/2014-Program.cgi
Housing (deadline September 15, 2014): meeting.neaua.org/housing.cgi
New England Wins the 2014 AUA Residents Bowl!
Please join the New England Section in congratulating the 2014 team of New England residents, as they won the AUA Residents Bowl Competition held in Orlando this past May! Details may be found on the AUA Facebook page. New England Section team members included: Paholo Barboglio, MD Dartmouth-Hitchcock / Tudor Borza, MD Harvard / Steven Kardos, MD, Yale University / Andrew Leone, MD, Brown University / Gregory Murphy, MD, UCONN / Kamal Nagpal, MD, Lahey Clinic / Rajan Veeratterapillay MBBS FRCS(Urol), Freeman Hospital, United Kingdom
My Turn: Crisis looms for next generation of doctors (June 6, 2014)
Every physician on the journey from graduation to independent practice undertakes three to 10 years of residency training. At my hospital, and at hospitals nationwide, the annual welcoming of new residents ensures a pipeline of trained doctors who will go on to serve our communities. The pressure on this pipeline has never been greater. The U.S. population is aging at the fastest rate in recent generations: 10,000 baby boomers are joining the Medicare roster daily, and the Census Bureau predicts a one-third increase in the coming decade. Concord Monitor
STATE ADVOCACY & HEALTH POLICY
The following articles are provided by the American Association of Clinical Urologists in partnership with the New England Section of the AUA. The AACU is pleased to update NEAUA members on socioeconomic issues affecting urologists. AACU staff may be reached via the NEAUA or by emailing email@example.com. Edited By: Ross E. Weber, AACU State Affairs Manager
|Physicians Rail at Recertification Requirements (June 19, 2014)
The ABIM is mandating that by January, 2014, doctors would have to satisfy certain performance and education criteria in a series of cycles rather than procrastinate until the last few months to do it all. ABIM says it is listening to the doctors, and Baron issued this response to the petition in April. But so far, it is not about to budge, Baron says. Much of the objection is coming from older doctors whose training did not include measuring and improving performance "as a core part of what you do as a doctor. And now, knowledge and expectations for what a doctor should do are changing." HealthLeaders Media
Lawmakers propose Medicare coverage mandate for USPSTF-approved test
(June 18, 2014)
In a letter to CMS, 130 lawmakers called for a timely decision on coverage for low-dose CT scans for older patients at higher risk of developing lung cancer. The US Preventive Services Task Force last December recommended the test for people ages 55 through 79 who smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years. The CT scan will be covered by private insurance as required by the Affordable Care Act with no copays, beginning Jan. 1. But the ACA does not require Medicare to cover the screenings. CMS is reviewing the proposal, with a preliminary decision expected by November. AP, via Boston Globe
Telemedicine Policy Draws Opposition From Providers and Patient Advocates (May 2, 2014)
The Federation of State Medical Boards issued guidelines April 26 for state regulation of telemedicine. The FSMB statement specified that telemedicine is not, "an audio-only, telephone conversation, email/instant messaging conversation or fax." Eight patient advocacy and provider groups wrote FSMB Chairman Donald Polk May 1 asking that the policy be reconsidered. "We believe the policy...did not account for many of the safe, secure ways patients are accessing health care today, including "audio-only" telephone. FSMB CEO Humayun Chudhry countered saying the, "policy is not designed to limit the use of the telephone." Instead, it's designed to ensure that a patient's care does not proceed "for months or years on end" based entirely on "audio only" conversations, adding neither FSMB or state medical boards have a say in how private insurers or Medicaid reimburse for these consultations. Kaiser Health News
A Bittersweet Graduation For Patients At The Mass. Hospital School (May 27, 2014)
Graduation day can be bittersweet for graduates of all stripes, but perhaps nowhere is it more bittersweet than at the Massachusetts Hospital School. All of the 91 students in these hallways are also patients. When they graduate they're not only leaving their friends and teachers, they're leaving the hospital they've called home for years, and in some cases, a decade or more. This facility is part pediatric hospital, part elementary and secondary school. It serves children with severe disabilities and is run jointly by the state Department of Public Health and the Department of Education. Children as young as 6 or 7 can be admitted to the hospital and they often stay at this lakefront campus until the kid's clock strikes 22 years old, when it's time to graduate and it's time to go, regardless of whether there is another alternative place to go. WBUR
CT law mandates ‘facility fee’ notification starting in October (June 10, 2014)
Starting in October, patients will receive advance notification if they will face extra charges for getting outpatient care at hospital-owned facilities. The new law measure requires that patients who schedule appointments at medical offices that charge facility fees receive plain-language notices about the fees. Patients will also get information on the potential cost, if they’re scheduled to receive direct care and it’s clear what services they will receive. The law requires patients who schedule appointments at least 10 days in advance to be given notice before appearing at the office. The bill passed the House and Senate unanimously earlier this year. CT Mirror
ME pilot program could be model to ease VA backlogs nationally (June 12, 2014)
In Aroostook County, veterans rave about Project ARCH (Access Received Closer to Home), a pilot program allowing them to receive care at the hospital in Caribou instead of the VA hospital in the Augusta area, saving them hours of travel time. Through the pilot program, veterans can get specialty care at Cary Medical Center and four other hospitals outside the VA system, in Farmville, Virginia; Pratt, Kansas; Flagstaff, Arizona; and Billings, Montana. The program costs million a year. Veterans who meet certain criteria, including living far from a VA hospital, can be treated at a medical facility closer to home, which gets reimbursed at Medicare rates. Portland Press Herald
Proposed cost transparency ballot initiative latest "divide and conquer" reform
(June 17, 2014)
Though only 11,000 signatures are required to put measures on the ballot in this phase of the collection process, union members gloated upon the submission of more than 25,000 signatures. The ballots would have wide sweeping changes, with the "Patient Safety Act" setting a maximum number of patients assigned to a nurse. The "Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness Act" would require hospitals receiving any tax dollars to provide comprehensive financial documents on hospital profits and CEO compensations. The mandate would also cap hospital profits and CEO salaries, and give excess funding to hospitals serving poorer populations. Boston Business Journal
More marketplace options anticipated next year in New Hampshire (June 17, 2014)
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield was the only company selling plans through the New Hampshire marketplace this year, and had exclude 10 of the state's 26 acute-care hospitals. But, this week state insurance officials announced that two other insurers, Harvard Pilgrim and Assurance, and two cooperatives, Maine Community Health and Minuteman, are expected to begin offer plans next year in the Granite State which should mean greater patient access to certain providers. Washington Examiner
RI ins. exchange granted latitude on federal money (May 27, 2014)
Insurance exchange director Christine Ferguson said federal officials recently told her that they will "work with" her "to be flexible in which expenses can be charged to federal dollars", in light of the state's budget constraints and public calls to dump the state exchange. Providence Journal
State Hires Health Technology Form for $5.69M (June 11, 2014)
With a backlog of 10,000 requests, Vermont health officials have signed a six-month, $5.69 million contract with a Minnesota health technology firm to fix nearly every aspect of Vermont Health Connect, the state's online health insurance marketplace. The state finds itself exasperated by the primary contractor, CGI, which has subject to contract penalties for failing to meet original (and even some revised) deadlines. Burlington Free Press
Maine (2014 Legislative Session: 01/08/14 - 05/31/14)
Maine is being sued by organizations representing the pharmaceutical industry over the state's move to legalize the importation of prescription drugs from Canada. Such drug re-importation schemes were all the rage throughout New England in the early 2000s, when then Vt. State Senator led the National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices. Maine's revival of this issue set the industry on its heels, but they are responding strongly, arguing in court filings that the 2013 law violates the U.S. Constitution and federal regulations governing medicine sales.
Massachusetts (2014 Legislative Session: 01/08/14 - 12/31/14)
During the Fall 2013 session of the year-round Massachusetts legislature, policymakers have considered a number of bills that impact the practice of medicine. Particularly noteworthy are three medical liability bills considered by the Joint Public Health Committee December 17. SB 1010 (Eldridge) would exempt the payment of any money as a part of an apology and early offer program from being a "reportable event". SB 1038 (Kennedy) expands confidentiality and admissibility protections to materials generated as a part of a provider or practice peer review process. Heretofore, those protections were only granted to hospital-based peer review. Senator Kennedy's bill also seeks to reign in "lost chance" actions. SB 1038 would allow such cases only if the chance for survival absent alleged malpractice is 50% or higher. The third medical liability bill on the Dec. 17 docket is SB 1097 (Ross), an ill-defined plan to revoke a physician's license if she/he is "convicted" of medical malpractice on three occasions. Sen. Ross does not define "convicted", which may allow for a settlement to be interpreted as such.
New Hampshire (2014 Legislative Session: 01/08/14 - 06/30/14)
Health and Human Services officials reported Dec. 3 that 104,000 out of the state's 130,000 Medicaid recipients had been transferred into managed care programs in the first few days of the initiative. Previous attempts to abandon fee-for-service failed because of inadequate provider reimbursement. To sweeten this pot this year, officials allocated additional money into the uncompensated care program and increased some provider rates.
Rhode Island (2014 Legislative Session: 01/07/14 - 06/30/14)
Rhode Island is in the minority of states that created its own health insurance marketplace and is considered a model for jurisdictions grappling with the cumbersome rollout of the federal online marketplace. According to figures released Dec. 11, nearly 2,700 Rhode Islanders signed up for private health coverage through the state's new insurance marketplace in its first two months. The report also said that more than 6,600 Rhode Islanders had been deemed eligible for coverage under Medicaid. HealthSource RI said previously that, in the first month of operations, 73 percent of all enrollments were for Medicaid, not private plans. Source: Providence Journal. (2013, December 11). In Rhode Island, 2,700 sign up for private health plans.
Vermont (2014 Legislative Session: 01/07/14 - 05/09/14)
Vermont and several other states this year began testing new health care financing models under an Affordable Care Act program called the State Innovation Models Initiative. Out of the .8 trillion the ACA is projected to cost over the next decade, billion is dedicated to innovation programs. Vermont will use its million grant to improve existing patient-centered medical homes it launched in 2007. Nearly all primary care practices, all hospitals and most community health centers in the state already are using similar quality measures and payment schemes for Medicare, Medicaid and privately insured patients. Source: Vestal, C. (2013, November 18). Grants Help States Combat High-Cost, Low-Quality Health Care. Stateline.
AUA Interactive State Legislation Map
The AUA tracks state legislation that could impact the practice of urology in your region. View which bills the AUA is monitoring by visiting the interactive state legislation map.
CT Urology Annual Scientific Education Program
September 19, 2014
Aqua Turf, Plantsville, Connecticut, USA
NEAUA 83rd Annual Meeting
October 16-19, 2014
Hyatt Regency Newport, Newport, Rhode Island