Weekly Roundup: In Case You Missed It
July 16, 2021
COVID-19 Updates

Blue Shield of California has identified a system issue that caused COVID-19 vaccine administration claims for patients aged 12–17 to be denied in error. This error affected claims processed between May 12 and June 21, 2021 and resulted in a claim denial with a message that the claim line was denied per CMS/Blue Shield guidelines. Blue Shield has corrected the system edit causing the denials and is working to reprocess all affected claims. No further action is required by physician practices. Blue Shield advised that physicians will begin seeing the reprocessed payments by August 13. Read more about the issue here.
 
Applications are open for CalVaxGrant, a new program administered by Physicians for a Healthy California (PHC) that offers grant funding, one-on-one myCAvax support, and vaccine administration resources for physician practices. Through this program, physicians can receive up to $55,000 to support vaccination efforts. To be eligible, you must enroll in myCAvax and complete Section A of the myCAvax application. If you are not already enrolled in myCAvax and need help enrolling, email your practice and contact information to vaccinenetwork@cmadocs.org for support. For those enrolled in myCAvax, the CalVaxGrant application is available at calvaxgrant.org through August 13, 2021. 

On Friday, public health departments in Alameda and Contra Costa counties and in the city of Berkeley issued a joint advisory recommending that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in public indoor places. COVID cases have increased locally as a result of the highly transmissible Delta variant.
 
Contra Costa County reported on Thursday that 80% of residents 12 years and older have received at least one COVID vaccine dose, and 74% are fully vaccinated.
 
Alameda County reported on Thursday that 83% of residents 12 years and older have received at least one COVID vaccine dose, and 70% are fully vaccinated.
 
Alameda County reports that it has administered more than 2,107,000 doses as of July 15. As of July 15, ICU capacity in the county is at 37% with 26 confirmed COVID patients hospitalized.

Contra Costa reports that it has administered more than 1,469,000 doses as of July 15. As of July 15, ICU capacity in the county is at 23% with 13 confirmed COVID patients hospitalized.

As of July 15, Statewide ICU capacity is 2,060 beds, a 0.5% decrease from the day before.
CMS Releases Surprise Medical Billing Interim Final Rule
 
On July 2, the US Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Treasury, and Labor issued an interim final regulation implementing Part 1 of the No Surprises Act, which Congress passed in December 2020. The legislation bans balance billing for out-of-network services starting in 2022 to protect patients and establishes a baseball arbitration-style independent dispute resolution (IDR) process to allow physicians and insurers to resolve their payment differences. To learn more, click here.
Federal Government Reopens Rule-Making on Public Service Loan
Forgiveness Benefits
 
The US Department of Education has reopened its negotiated rule-making process to make changes to the Higher Education Act, which includes the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). The California Medical Association (CMA) and the Texas Medical Association (TMA) have for years been urging the department to correct an unjust denial of the PSLF benefits to physicians in California and Texas because of conflicting state laws. CMA is aggressively pursuing both legislative and regulatory fixes to the issue so California and Texas physicians are not precluded from participating in the loan forgiveness program. For more information, click here.
2022 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Proposed Rule
 
The 2022 Medicare conversion factor would be reduced by approximately 3.75% from $34.8931 to $33.5848. This is largely a result of the expiration of a 3.75% increase to the conversion factor at the end of calendar year 2021, as averted for 2021 by Congressional action. The CMA and the AMA are strongly advocating that Congress avert this significant cut and extend the 3.75% increase for 2022. A payment impact chart by specialty can be assessed here.
Want to Become a Great Physician Leader?
 
Today’s dynamic health care environment requires effective physician leaders to ensure organizational and individual success. The Physician Leadership Program, developed in 2016 by physician leaders in collaboration with faculty from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and Haas School of Business, is a structured course that builds upon the deep knowledge that clinicians already have of complex systems such as the human body, families, and communities, as well as their experience of exerting influence through clinical encounters and clinical team leadership. Participants will enhance their leadership effectiveness, learn from nationally recognized experts, expand their network with local colleagues, and gain practical skills and insights directly applicable to their practice opportunities and challenges. Participants can earn a Certificate of Completion and up to 24 hours of CME credit. To find out more and to register, go to learning.accma.org/leadership.
Duration of Status Retained for J-1 Visa Holders 
 
The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has withdrawn its proposed rule to eliminate duration of status as an authorized period of stay for J‑1 visa holders and replace it with the program end date. Last fall, the AMA strongly urged DHS against this rule as it related to J‑1 International Medical Graduates. If implemented, the rule would have significantly disrupted the specialty and subspecialty training of foreign medical graduates.
2021 MIPS Exception Application Window Open Through Dec. 31
 
Physicians are encouraged to apply for the “extreme and uncontrollable circumstances” exception to request reweighting of 2021 MIPS performance categories due to the COVID‑19 public health emergency. Those who apply, whether reporting traditional MIPS or the APM Performance Pathway (APP), will be held harmless from a penalty of up to ‑9%. Click here to learn more.
WEBINARS & EVENTS
Available on demand
Member $29.00 | Non-member $79.00

Now available! Current and new staff can receive on-demand training on HIPAA, OSHA, and customer service. Intended for all staff encountering patients in person or by telephone, this course covers customer service techniques, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). For questions, contact Jenn Mullins, Education and Event Associate, at jmullins@accma.org.
 
Click here to register. 
July 20 – December 14
Free to attend | CME Available | Presented by CMA
 
The California Medical Association's (CMA) wellness program (CMA Wellness) is pleased to launch free, online wellness engagement groups for health care providers who conduct patient screenings for adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Treating patients with multiple ACEs or toxic stress can potentially impact your personal wellness and increase feelings of burnout. CMA Wellness's engagement groups will support providers by offering subject matter experts, best practices, and an open forum to share experiences, facilitated by trained, volunteer physicians. Each monthly webinar is organized around a prevailing theme with a stakeholder co-host to provide a variety of perspectives with a general discussion and breakout rooms. Registration is required, and providers will be joining the Tuesday series for a 6‑month duration.
 
For more information and to register, click here.
Thursday, August 26 | 6:15–7:30 PM
FREE | CME Available
 
Using data and stories, together in conversation, we will focus on yourself, as well as your potential new directions and skills, and your “team,” whether at home or professionally.
 
Speaker: Linda Clever, MD, MACP
 
Click here to register.
Thursday, September 23, 2021, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm
Hybrid meeting: In person (Los Angeles) and virtual
 
State of Reform, one of the most important statewide events in California health care, pulls together practitioners, thought leaders and policymakers — each working to improve our health care system in their own way — into a unified conversation in a single place. Choose to attend in person or virtually; registration fee varies. CMA members receive a 20% discount on registration with promo code CMA20.
 
For more information and to register, click here.
September 21 – January 18
CME Available
 
Registration is now open for the 2021–2022 Physician Leadership Program, from the Alameda-Contra Costa Medical Association (ACCMA), is an innovative program developed in 2016 by physician leaders in collaboration with faculty from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and Haas School of Business. Participants will enhance their leadership effectiveness, learn from nationally recognized experts, expand their network with local colleagues, and will gain practical skills and insights directly applicable to their practice opportunities and challenges. Participants can earn a Certificate of Completion and up to 24 hours of CME credit.
 
Discounts for medical society members and groups are available! Find out more and register here.
ACCMA's On-Demand Library

To access all on-demand programs, go to learning.accma.org.

QUESTIONS/CONCERNS?
Please contact ACCMA at 510-654-5383 or accma@accma.orgwith any questions or concerns you have.