Getting the Red Out -- AMA Encouraged by new Medicare Proposals to Cut Red Tape
AMA President Steven Stack likes the CMS's new proposed Medicare regulations, which he says can help transform the giant federal social insurance program by "promoting flexibility and innovation in the delivery of care." The proposal is the first step in implementing the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA).
HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell says the legislation is an effort to "advance a health care system that rewards better care, smarter spending and healthier people."
The proposal is designed to replace Medicare's current patchwork of programs that all too often fail to accurately measure the value and quality of care provided by doctors and other clinicians. The new streamlined approach is aiming to move from payments based on volume to payments based on value.
The AMA is launching online resources to help physicians navigate the nuts and bolts of the new system. You can find them at:
HHS will accept comments on the proposal until June 27 of this year.
Speaking of Medicare - a Chance to get a Jump on the Changes
CMS and several other health organizations will conduct a day-long conference on the Medicare changes and other related issues. The seminar will take place on May 24 at the CMS Central Office, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Virtually all Philadelphia Businesses Now Under City's "Ban the Box" Ordinance
"Ban the Box" describes an international campaign aimed at removing from job applications the check box that asks if applicants have criminal records. Philadelphia has had such an ordinance since 2011.
It has now amended the ordinance, to give job seekers with criminal backgrounds even more benefit of the doubt. The amendment puts almost all businesses in the city under the ordinance, even those that have just one employee.
Employers may run a criminal background check only after a conditional job offer is made, with the final hiring dependent on the background check. The only reason an employer can reject a qualified job applicant based on a criminal history, is if the record indicates that the applicant is an "unreasonable risk." A rejected applicant gets 10 days to appeal that decision.
Thousands of Doctors in England Walk off the Job
Junior doctors walked picket lines outside hospitals throughout England for two days in the last week of April. It was the first all-out strike in the history of Britain's National Health Service.
The work stoppage caused the cancellation of more than 125,000 appointments and operations. The head of the medical association that called the strike, said senior consulting physicians provided emergency care during the picketing. The walkout was the result of a long-running dispute with the government over whether day shifts on Saturday should be treated as a normal work day, or call for extra pay.
A newspaper poll taken right after the strike ended found that 58% of those surveyed supported the doctors.
Pa. Physician General Promotes Use of the Overdose Antidote, Naloxone
Dr. Rachel Levine is visiting pharmacies across the state to promote the fact that a doctor's prescription is no longer needed to get naloxone, the life-saving drug overdose antidote.
Dr. Levine has issued a standing order to all of the state's pharmacies to supply naloxone to people with overdose risks, and to family members and third parties who may need to revive those people.
DOH Floors the Vaccination Pedal
Right now parents have up to eight months - almost to the end of the school year -- to get all the vaccinations their children are supposed to have on the first day of school. The Pa. Dept. of Health thinks that a provisional period that's almost as long as a pregnancy is a bad idea, since it leaves children exposed to a variety of illnesses while in school. So, DOH wants parents to have only five days to get their kids immunized, after the first day of school.
DOH is also launching a statewide campaign to encourage parents to get their children vaccinated over the summer. Dr. Karen Murphy, secretary of the Pa. Dept. of Health, said, "vaccines help protect children against 14 childhood diseases that can be very serious or even deadly."
The new proposed regulations steered clear of the most controversial ways parents opt out of vaccinations for their kids -- religious or philosophical reasons.
Pa.'s New Medical Marijuana Law-- You Still Can't Smoke 'em if you got 'em
That medical marijuana law Governor Wolf signed in April does not legalize pot smoking. It does allow a variety of other marijuana substances, such as oils and pills, to be used to help relieve about two dozen serious medical conditions.
Physicians do not have to participate in the program. Those who wish to, must apply to the Dept. of Health to become a registered medical marijuana practitioner. Instead of writing a prescription, a participating doctor would sign a certificate that would verify that the patient has one of the medical conditions covered in the law.
The law is expected to go into effect in about 18 months.
Parting Gifts for New Moms
Temple University Hospital is kicking off a program designed to help cut the infant mortality rate in North Philadelphia. The hospital's maternity nurses and pediatrics department are working together to give the new moms leaving the hospital with their infants, baby boxes that can function as bassinets.
The boxes contain a sheet, a mattress, a fleece, cotton clothing, a baby book, diapers, a thermometer, nasal aspirator, baby wash, and educational materials and resource information. Temple University Hospital serves North Philadelphia, which has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country.
Temple's Dr. Darilyn Moyer Elected President of the American College of Physicians
Dr. Moyer is taking the reins of the largest medical specialty organization and the second largest physician group in the Unites States. ACP members include 143,000 internal medicine physicians and related subspecialists.
Dr. Moyer has worked in a number of challenging positions for the College before becoming president. Along with her latest job she continues to work as a professor of medicine, executive vice chair for education in the Department of Medicine, internal medicine residency program director, and assistant dean of graduate medical education at Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University.