Volume 113, No. 5Top
May 2017 Edition

They Said It...

"In the 25-years I served in the United States Congress, Republicans never, ever, one time agreed on what a health care proposal should look like. Not once." Former House Speaker John Boehner, Republican from Ohio.

In the News... 
Health Care Update: AMA to House Republicans - Go Back to the Drawing Board A1

The president of the American Medical Association has blasted the House for passing the American Health Care Act, the bill designed to replace the Affordable Care Act.

AMA President Andrew Gurman, M.D., said the House-approved bill "will result in millions of Americans losing access to quality, affordable health insurance, and those with pre-existing health conditions will face the possibility of going back to the time when insurers could charge them premiums that made access to coverage out of the question."

Dr. Gurman urged the Senate to craft a bipartisan solution so "all American families can access affordable and meaningful coverage, while preserving the safety net for vulnerable populations."

It's in the Mail... A2

You should be getting a letter from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on the new Quality Payment Program (QPP) and whether you are eligible for the new Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS).

If you have any questions regarding the eligibility letter, or regarding QPP in general, go to the QPP website or contact the Quality Payment Program at 1-888-288-8292.

Independence Blue Cross Changes Its Drug Fee Schedules A3

The health insurance giant has also amended its Professional Provider Agreement.

The information is available on the NaviNet web portal. You can access the documents on Independence NaviNet Plan Central by selecting Fee Schedules on the right-hand side under Provider Tools.

Philadelphia Drug Task Force Report Almost Ready A4

A task force draft is now being written. The date has not yet been set for its release. The immediate past president of PCMS, Dr. Michael DellaVecchia, is a member of the task force.

New Philadelphia Halfway House Policy A5

Community Behavioral Health, which manages behavioral health services in Philadelphia for Medicaid, has written a new policy on halfway houses in the city.

Those houses must also uphold the anti-discrimination requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act concerning individuals on MAT (medication assisted treatment). MAT individuals must have equal opportunities to participate in treatment. The policy goes into effect on June 1.

Pharmacy Students Lobbying Philadelphia Pharmacies to Stock Naloxone A6

Pharmacy students from the University of the Sciences, have found that many pharmacies in Philadelphia do not stock naloxone on a regular basis.

The students are visiting about 100 stores in the city zip codes with the highest number of overdoses, to educate pharmacists on what a life saver naloxone has proven to be, and that they should always have it in stock.

PDPH to Health Care Providers: Prescribe Opioids in Smaller Amounts A7

The Phila. Dept. of Public Health (PDPH) says a crucial way to fight the opioid epidemic is to have health care providers prescribe opioids to fewer patients, in smaller amounts and for shorter periods of time.

In a recent letter to Philadelphia health care providers, the PDPH listed guidelines based on CDC research:
  • When prescribing opioids for acute pain, use short-acting forms for three days or less.
  • Opioids should not be used as routine therapy for chronic pain. They should be reserved for cancer-related pain and palliative care.
  • Don't prescribe benzodiazepine and opioids at the same time.
  • Always check the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) before prescribing opioids or benzodiazepine.
Jefferson Develops Advancement for Infants in Danger of Withdrawal A8

Researchers at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University say they have found that the drug buprenorphine cuts in half the amount of time that babies need to take opioids to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

Babies born to women who have used opioids at any point during pregnancy could suffer withdrawal symptoms. The current treatment is a 30-day regimen of morphine at the hospital.

The research team gave 30 infants morphine, and 33 infants buprenorphine. The babies who took morphine needed an average of 28 days before withdrawal symptoms were under control. The infants on buprenorphine were free of the symptoms on an average of 15 days.

"The beauty of our results is that the drug is immediately readily available, unequivocally effective, non-invasive and safe," said Michelle E. Erlich, M.D., who initiated the research with Walter Kraft, M.D., professor and director of the Clinical Research Unit in the Dept. of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at Jefferson.

AMA Applauds Court Rejection of Anthem-Cigna Merger A9

The American Medical Association said the U.S. Court of Appeals decision to block the Anthem and Cigna merger is a big victory for patients and physicians.

The AMA had submitted an amicus brief in the case to help prevent the $54 billion merger.

"The appellate court sent a clear message to the health insurance industry," AMA President Andrew Gurman, M.D., said. "A merger that smothers competition and choice, raises premiums and reduces quality and innovation is inherently harmful to patients and physicians."

When Your In-Laws Want to Move in With You... A10

Could be a great idea. The Wolf administration has proposed putting the departments of Aging, Health, Drug and Alcohol Programs, and Human Services all under one roof.

A draft of the bill that would do the job, has just been released. The administration has also launched a website that features among other things, electronic versions of the proposed Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) organizational charts and a mechanism for the general public to provide feedback. The address is: governor.pa.gov/hhs.

Governor Wolf says the merger will deliver health services more efficiently. Legislators on both sides of the aisle have voiced concerns about the proposal.

Citizenship 101... A11

There are a lot of bills simmering in the Pa. legislature that could have a big impact on your work and your patients. They're bills written largely by lawmakers who are not physicians. Those senators and representatives could use your advice.

To help them, the Pa. Medical Society (PAMED) is sponsoring Advocacy Day in Harrisburg on May 23. The day would give you the opportunity to offer input to legislators on such issues as prior authorization, credentialing and non-compete regulations. PAMED is especially hoping that young physicians, residents and medical students will take advantage of this day.

You can get more information on the trip to Harrisburg, and how to register, by going to www.pamedsoc.org/AdvocacyDay. Alternatively, visit our Dating Service below for details.

Dating ServiceDatingService

23 - PAMED Advocacy Day

Date: Tuesday, May 23
Time: 8:00 AM - 1:30 PM
Place: The Pennsylvania State Capitol, 501 N 3rd St, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120

Medical students, residents, and early career physicians will have the opportunity to advocate to legislators who want to hear your perspective on issues that impact you and Pennsylvania patients.

24 - Philadelphia Public Grand Rounds: Poverty and Public Health: Addressing the Causes and Consequences

Date: Wednesday, May 24
Time: 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Place: College of Physicians, 19 South 22nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Attendance at this program will give you a better understanding of the causes of poverty and the impact of poverty on growth, development, and health, as well as possible solutions to the problems.

6 - Gun Violence: An Approach to Better Understanding and Violence Prevention

Date: Tuesday, June 6
Time: 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Place: The Philadelphia County Medical Society, 2100 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130

This program is for physicians and healthcare professionals. Topics covered include violence prevention and the critical role physicians and hospitals play in overcoming the gun violence crisis.

15 - Nourish Seminar and Award Presentation

Date: Thursday, June 15
Time: 3:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Place: Philadelphia County Medical Society and MANNA, Philadelphia, PA 19130

MANNA's annual Nourish event honors the accomplishments of health care leaders who strive to incorporate nutrition services into our health care landscape. The MANNA Nourish Award will be presented to Secretary Ted Dallas for his commitment to supporting innovative policies that recognize the role of nutrition in managing health.

17 - President's Installation and Awards Night

Date: Saturday, June 17
Time: Reception: 6:00 PM | Program and Dinner: 7:00 PM
Place: The Philadelphia Country Club, 1601 Spring Mill Road, Gladwyne, PA 19035

Celebrating the Inauguration of Cadence A. Kim, MD, FACS as the 156th President of The Philadelphia County Medical Society.

Philadelphia County Medical Society | stat@philamedsoc.org
215-563-5343 | http://philamedsoc.org