Western Carolina Medical Society: The Physicians' Voice for a Health Community
  Weekly e-News of the  Western Carolina Medical Society 
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May 4, 2016

In This Issue:
Sponsor Message: JPS (left)
Message from Foundation Board Chair: Dr. Todd Wallenius
Quality Improvement Workshop 5/11/16
Rural Medicine Affinity Group 5/23/16
Upcoming MAHEC Events
A Guide to Rational Opioid Prescribing for Chronic Pain
Watch this video: Why you should use an interpreter - Drs. Chay and Messino
Public Health Alert from BCHHS: Increase in Reports of Varicella (Chickenpox) Illness
What has WCMS been working on? Find out here.
Bowtie Briefing for 4/29/16
NCMB Program to Address Opioid Crisis
NCGA Short Session Begins
From NCMS: Special Update on BCBSNC Payment Issues
Historic Change to How Clinicians Are Paid
Docs Face Stark Choices Under New Medicare Pay Proposal
Preventing Burnout: Finding Joy in Medicine
Job Board & Classified Ads
Message from Foundation Board Chair: Dr. Todd Wallenius
Dear WCMS Members:
I am very excited to offer you my first message as Western Carolina Medical Society's Foundation Chair of 2016. I look forward to working closely with my colleagues in our respective Western NC communities. I know that we will collectively rise to the occasion as physicians, as we face more and more obstacles to practicing medicine.There are times when I think, "this is not what I signed up for," but, it is what it is. Collectively, with our voices united, we will prevail.

I am especially happy to be writing this as Project Access celebrates 20 years serving the most vulnerable families in our communities. This innovative and unique program has been replicated across the country, and in Buncombe County, has served more than 2,500 low income individuals annually since 1996. I am honored to be a part of Project Access and the Western Carolina Medical Society Foundation. 

As Medical Director at Western North Carolina Community Health Services (WNCCHS), I am indebted to Project Access for caring for our most vulnerable patients. I am also indebted to the Western Carolina Medical Society for advocating for the needs of physicians in Western North Carolina.  I am thrilled to report that 100% of our physicians at WNCCHS are member of WCMS, and that senior management values this membership enough to pay 100% of the yearly dues. I urge each and every physician in western North Carolina to become affiliated with WCMS. We are ALL in this together.

Todd Wallenius, MD
WCMS Foundation Chair
Quality Improvement Workshop Prevention & Wellness 5/11/16
North Carolina Medical Society Foundation, in cooperation with the National Rural Accountable Care Consortium and CHESS, invites you to join us to kick off the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative and learn about services you can provide to your patients to promote health and wellness. By providing these services, you will improve community health, increase practice revenue and improve quality scores. At the end of the workshop you will have an individual work plan to incorporate these services into your primary care practice. This is part of the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative (TCPI).
Click here to view the agenda.
Click here for more information and to register. 
Rural Medicine Affinity Group 5/23/16
If you practice outside of Buncombe County, please join us for the second Rural Medicine Physicians Affinity Group of 2016.

In order to promote attendance from all over Western NC, this meeting will be held at Cherokee Indian Hospital in Swain County.

The featured topic will be "Increasing Recruitment of Primary Care Doctors to Rural Communities" including a presentation from Dr. E. Blake Fagan, MAHEC Family Medicine Residency Director presenting information on the "hub" planned for Spruce Pine.

We may have time to touch on some other items as well, so bring your ideas, and your colleagues (regardless of their membership status with WCMS). 
Upcoming MAHEC Events
A Guide to Rational Opioid Prescribing for Chronic Pain - Online CME Course
MAHEC, working with the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians, The Governor's Institute on Substance Abuse and Project Lazarus: A Project of CCNC, is pleased to present this online education: 
A Guide to Rational Opioid Prescribing for Chronic Pain

Only $15 for the first 6 months! Offers 3 hours of AAFP, AMA/AAFP Equivalency, and CDE.
More information can be found here:  www.mahec.net/opioid
Watch this video: Why you should use an interpreter, featuring Drs. Chay and Messino from Cancer Care of WNC 
Check out our new WIN video. See why quality communication is so important. 
Click here to watch. 
Public Health Alert from BCHHS: Increase in Reports of Varicella (Chickenpox) Illness
Buncombe County Health and Human Services recently has seen an increase in varicella cases in some local schools. While varicella is not a reportable disease, outbreaks are common and we work with school nurses and school administrators to prevent further spread, especially to vulnerable populations. 

If a student has symptoms of varicella, parents are instructed to keep the child at home and call their healthcare provider for an appointment to confirm the diagnosis.
Click here to read the full alert from BCHHS. 
What has WCMS been working on? Find out here.
WCMS Association and Foundation Boards of Directors and WCMS Staff worked together to create the 2016 Strategic Plan, along with input from interviews and discussions with various key partners (including employed/independent physicians, health system leaders, business &
community leaders, and practice managers). Many of the priorities were significant and longer term, so were carried over from the 2015 Strategic Plan.
Click here  to see what WCMS has accomplished during the first quarter of 2016.
Bowtie Briefing for 4/29/16

Chip Baggett, NCMS Director of Legislative Relations, summarizes a busy opening week at the legislature, covering five topics including the Governor's proposed budget, Medicaid Reform, addressing the opioid epidemic, occupational licensing boards, and federal rule changes.
Click here to view the video
NCMB Program to Address Opioid Crisis
The state of North Carolina is in the midst of a public health crisis related to deaths from prescription opioid overdose. It is generally recognized that most opioid medications implicated in unintentional overdose deaths were originally prescribed by a licensed medical professional. In an effort to address this crisis, the North Carolina General Assembly amended state law to authorize the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to release certain opioid prescribing information to the North Carolina Medical Board (NCMB) and other medical regulatory boards.*
Click here to continue reading. 
NCGA Short Session Begins
Click here for a brief summary in anticipation of the short session.  For more information on your legislators, visit www.ncleg.net and go to Who Represents Me .
From NCMS: Special Update on BCBSNC Payment Issues 
Physicians throughout the state continue to encounter significant difficulties in their interactions with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC). Common complaints range from delays in claim and payment processing to long hold times for authorizations, eligibility checks and general support. 

The North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) is communicating with BCBSNC staff as we assist medical practices in need of support. We also continue to coordinate with NC Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin and his staff at the NC Department of Insurance, who are closely monitoring BCBSNC's handling of these problems and have launched a formal investigation of the company. The Raleigh News & Observer recently published an article  outlining the Commissioner's efforts on behalf of physician practices.

The Insurance Commissioner's office reports that BCBSNC's goal is to have delayed pending claims processed by May 27th, including any and all interest due to medical practices pursuant to the provisions of the Prompt Pay Law, N.C. General Statute 58-3-225. 

NCDOI also sought and BCBSNC has established a fast-track payment process for those physicians presently facing financial hardship. Those medical practices facing financial hardship should contact Susan Menendez at BCBSNC via 919-765-4035 or susan.menendez@bcbsnc.com. BCBSNC has a team of Network Management staff in place to monitor phone and email messages from physician practices. All calls and emails will be rapidly triaged; those requiring additional research will be sent to the company's Strategic Provider Services unit for research with outreach to physicians within 1-2 business days.

Please continue reporting problems to NCMS at ncms@ncmedsoc.org or 919-833-3836 x142 and to the Department of Insurance at 855-408-1212 or to Commissioner Goodwin directly at wayne.goodwin@ncdoi.gov.
Historic Change to How Clinicians Are Paid - Comments Requested by 6/27/16
At the heart of the proposed rule that CMS issued on April 27th is the Quality Payment Program which, beginning in 2019, would offer new systems for paying doctors and other clinicians who serve Medicare beneficiaries.   One, the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), would evaluate the quality of care delivered based on four performance categories: cost, quality, exchange of information (use of electronic health records) and clinical practice improvement. The second system, advanced Alternative Payment Models (APMs), offers higher financial incentive to clinicians who improve quality by coordinating care across providers and settings.  Initiatives for coordinated care include CMS's Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Model and Comprehensive Primary Care.
Click here to continue reading, and here for some FAQs.
Docs Face Stark Choices Under New Medicare Pay Proposal

The new draft regulations designed to change how Medicare pays clinicians represent the most sweeping overhaul the CMS has made in a long time to the business of running a physician practice.
Click here to continue reading.
Preventing Burnout: Finding Joy in Medicine
The key to physician happiness: Be you as a doctor

When you enter medical school, you have this very esteemed white coat ceremony.  It's a memorable occasion, where speakers tell newbie medical students and their families all that it means to wear such a coat: the responsibility, the ethical code, the professionalism, the compassion all intertwined to make up the very fabric of each emblemed cape.
Click here to continue reading. 
Job Board & Classified Ads

To find out how you can post a Job or Classified Ad c lick here .

WCMS is a thriving 700+ member professional association of the physicians of western North Carolina and a chartered component medical society of the NC Medical Society and the AMA. The WCMS is an organization run by physicians for physicians.

Our Mission
WCMS Association: WCMSA is the physicians' voice advocating for the health of the physician, the patient, and the community, through strengthening the physician-patient relationship.

WCMS Foundation: WCMSF is the physician and community-led charitable arm of the medical society improving access to quality healthcare, decreasing disparities in health, and promoting health & wellness.

Our Vision
To be a dynamic physician community dedicated to a healthy, vibrant Western North Carolina.

About WCMS
The purpose of WCMS is: 

  • To strengthen the voice of WNC physicians in advocating for the health of the medical profession, the health of the patient, and the health of our region
  • To inform, educate and prepare physicians for rapidly occurring changes in health care at national, state, and local levels
  • To share legislative and policy information and advocate on behalf of physicians in areas of mutual interest
  • To share available resources in areas of mutual interest
  • To promote physician-to-physician communication and dialogue in an open, honest and safe environment

We hope you enjoy our weekly e-Newsletter. If you have questions or suggestions please feel free to contact me.  


Photo: Miriam Schwarz, WCMS CEO
Miriam Schwarz


Miriam Schwarz signature


Miriam Schwarz, MPA

WCMS CEO/Executive Director