Massachusetts Medical Society: Blood Drug Carries High Risk of Meningococcal Disease

Blood Drug Carries High Risk of Meningococcal Disease



Soliris comes with high risk of meningococcal disease despite vaccination, CDC warns 

Patients receiving eculizumab (Soliris®) are at high risk for meningococcal disease despite vaccination, a report in MMWR suggests. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health advises that health care providers:

  • Could consider antimicrobial prophylaxis for the duration of eculizumab therapy to potentially reduce the risk of meningococcal disease
  • Should continue immunizing patients with meningococcal vaccines who receive eculizumab
  • Should maintain a high index of suspicion for meningococcal disease in patients taking eculizumab who present with any symptoms consistent with either meningitis or meningococcemia, even if the patient’s symptoms initially appear mild, and irrespective of the patient’s meningococcal vaccine or antimicrobial prophylaxis status

Eculizumab is associated with a 1000 to 2000-fold increased incidence of meningococcal disease. Sixteen cases of meningococcal disease in eculizumab recipients were identified in the U.S. 2008–2016. The CDC has issued a health advisory, and information for clinicians and patients.

New midlevel provider requirements for MassHealth reimbursements

From August 1, 2017, MassHealth requires the following providers to enroll in MassHealth to receive payment for services: Physician Assistants, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, Clinical Nurse Specialties, and Psychiatric Clinical Nurse Specialists. Nurse Practitioners are already required to fully enroll if they practice as independent certified nurse practitioners or as part of a group practice. Points to note: 

  • These providers will no longer be able to bill for services under the supervising physicians’ NPI.
  • If these providers are in your practice but do not provide services to MassHealth members, they are required to enroll as nonbilling providers.
  • Practices without a physician member cannot bill for PA services.
  • PAs and NPs wishing to become a PCP within a PCC group practice must fully enroll with MassHealth; contact Provider Support (below) for required actions.
  • Certain claim modifiers will be deactivated or changed.

For more information, and revised enrollment application and checklists, email or call (1-800) 841 2900. Get more information on the ordering, referring, and prescribing requirements. Register for an upcoming training webinar.

Benefit Buzz: Bridging the legal gap with Board of Registration in Medicine (BORIM) issues

Professional liability policies may not cover complaints that arise before the BORIM. Even if those are covered by your policy, the relevant benefits may be limited. Avoid financial caps during an investigation by utilizing the Legal Advisory Plan (LAP), which fills the insurance gap. The LAP is a members-only, affordable legal service plan, designed to offer expert advice from plan attorneys on BORIM matters. Enroll or renew for $70 a year* — a fraction of standard legal fees. *Additional enrollment discounts for groups of five or more. Click here to learn more. Questions? Email, or call (781) 434-7311.

ACA expanded community health centers: Dimock president features in new MMS video

Community health centers and their provision of care to underserved communities expanded under the Affordable Care Act, says Dr. Myechia Minter-Jordan, President and CEO of the Dimock Center, in a new 1-minute video from the MMS. Funding under the ACA enabled the Dimock Center in Roxbury, a model for care delivery that integrates physical and behavioral health and addiction recovery services, to grow ts adult medicine clinic and rehabilitate its health services facilities. Please watch and share the video on Facebook and Twitter.

Boston Medical Center grows first hospital rooftop farm in Massachusetts

Boston Medical Center (BMC) has created the largest rooftop farm in the city and a new source of fresh food for its patients. The formerly barren roof of BMC’s power plant building now contains 7,000 square feet of growing space, with flourishing crops of arugula, bok choy, radishes, Swiss chard and kale, and two beehives painted by BMC’s pediatric patients. The farm is expected to produce 15,000 pounds of food this growing season. “The goal with our rooftop farm is to provide fresh, local produce to as many of our patients, employees, and community members as possible,” said David Maffeo, BMC’s senior director of support services. “This initiative supports our mission to address social determinants of health by improving access to healthy fruits and vegetables, and it is a perfect example of BMC's dedication to sustainability and green efforts.” The farm will also enable BMC to reduce its carbon footprint and manage rainwater. Becker’s Hospital Review has named BMC one of the 50 greenest hospitals in America. Read about the rooftop farm in Boston magazine.

What's up at the State House

MMS advocates to eliminate discrimination against gay men in blood donations

The Massachusetts Medical Society this week provided testimony in strong support of eliminating discrimination in blood donations. The relevant bill would require blood donation facilities not to discriminate against prospective donors on the basis of sex, gender, or sexual orientation, while allowing those facilities to require proof of a negative HIV test prior to accepting donated blood. If passed, this bill would help to alleviate the current shortage of donated blood in Massachusetts. The MMS has a long history of advocating to remove discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and favors lifting the FDA deferral of blood donation for men who have sex with men. Read more at the MMS blog.

Reminders! Your news, AMA advocacy, international grants, and more 

Honors, accolades, appointments, publications? Share your news in Vital Signs

Vital Signs, the monthly print and online newsletter of the MMS, has two new columns—and we need you to fill them. Members on the Move lists your professional news, such as joining a new hospital, opening a practice, or a recent promotion. Honors and Accolades is where we share your other achievements: board appointments, speaking engagements, community outreach, or published works. We are currently seeking submissions for the September issue of Vital Signs. Please include your full name and title, medical school with graduation year, residency institution, hospital affiliation, recent update, and a high-resolution headshot. Send submissions to by July 19, 2017 (for the September issue).

Join our AMA delegation: The MMS Committee on Nominations is seeking candidates

The MMS Committee on Nominations is currently considering candidates for nomination as AMA Delegate and Alternate Delegate to the Massachusetts AMA Delegation. The deadline for submission of nomination applications is Thursday, August 17, 4:00 p.m. Visit to learn more about the qualifications and submit your application. Interviews with the Committee on Nominations will be held at MMS Headquarters, Waltham, on Thursday, September 14, 2017, 4:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m. Applicants should plan to be available on this date. Questions? Please contact Linda Healy (800) 322-2303, ext. 7008 or, or Karen Harrison at ext. 7463 or

MMS grants for international health studies: Apply this summer

Medical students and resident physician members of the MMS are eligible to apply for grants of up to $2,000 to defray the costs of studying abroad. The primary goal of these International Health Studies (IHS) grants, provided by the Massachusetts Medical Society and Alliance Charitable Foundation, is to encourage international education, particularly focusing on under-served populations. Preference will be given to projects providing health care-related work and/or training of staff, and to applicants planning careers serving underprivileged populations. Research projects that do not involve direct clinical care or teaching will not be considered. Programs must last at least three weeks to receive consideration. Applications are due by September 15, 2017; more information about the grants and application expectations.

Waiver training: Provide medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorder

This free training is for MDs, NPs, and PAs seeking a waiver to prescribe buprenorphine to treat opioid use disorder in their office. The curriculum includes the science of addiction as a brain disorder, the pharmacology of buprenorphine, and the regulatory requirements around prescribing this medication. Attendees will learn to screen patients for treatment with buprenorphine, and to manage the medication along with the patient's other medical needs in an office setting such as a primary care clinic. The training will be held in West Barnstable on July 28, 8:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m.; more info on content and accreditation, and registration.

Free personalized assistance from MMS for practice MACRA/MIPS strategies

Join us for FREE personalized assistance in developing your strategy for MACRA MIPS implementation in your practice. The program includes Mapping out MIPS: Keys to Success in 2017, which outlines measure selection and reporting requirements. It is designed for providers who are MIPS eligible and required to report for 2017 (check MIPS reporting requirements). Space is limited. Dinner is provided. The session will be led by Yael Miller, MBA, Director of Practice Solutions & Medical Economics at MMS, and Leila Volinsky, MHA, MSN, RN, Program Administrator at Healthcentric Advisors. Healthcentric Advisors is a CMS contracted organization and supports practices of all sizes in preparing for MIPS implementation. They have been helping hundreds of clinicians prepare for MACRA, and want to help you.

The session will be held July 27, 2017, 5:30-8:00 p.m., at MMS Headquarters, Waltham; register here. Your registration should include at least one clinician and one colleague/team member responsible for reporting. Questions? Please email Justin Sacramone at or Yael Miller at

Educational programs and events

Unless otherwise noted, all events are held at the MMS Headquarters, 860 Winter St., Waltham, MA. View our full calendar of upcoming live CME activities. 

Norfolk County Safe Prescribing and Dispensing Conferences
Thursday, September 14, 2017, 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Randolph, MA
Open to all Norfolk County registered prescribers and pharmacists

The above activity has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ 

Featured new online CME activities – Risk Management credit 

Comprehensive Cannabis Curriculum (Modules 1–5 now available)

The above activities have been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit

See our full listing of risk management online CME activities.

This week in health care  

Sign up for daily roundups of health news affecting Massachusetts.

Lahey Health, Beth Israel and others sign definitive deal for mega-merger

Lahey Health and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have overcome a hurdle that three times obstructed their attempt to merge: signing a definitive agreement that would create the second-largest health system in the state. The agreement was signed by Lahey, BIDMC, New England Baptist Hospital, Mount Auburn Hospital and Anna Jacques Hospital, as all five hospitals seek to create a new regional health system. 

Hospital association calls Tufts strike 'harmful' 

As union members and lawmakers joined striking nurses in Boston, a hospital trade group ripped the nurses' action at Tufts Medical Center, saying the nurses had put their interests over patients. Following the strike, 1,200 Tufts nurses were locked out of the hospital.The Massachusetts Nurses Association represents 1,200 RNs at Tufts and says the strike, the first in the state in more than 30 years, was needed to draw attention to what they call the lack of respect for nurses and patient safety at Tufts.

Central Mass. doctors group scooped up 

Reliant Medical Group is slated to become part of OptumHealth, a subsidiary of $185-billion healthcare conglomerate UnitedHealth, also a for-profit company, giving the Worcester-based physician group similar advantages. The sale of Reliant, the region's largest independent physician group with roughly 500 providers, was approved by Reliant doctors in May and is subject to regulatory review. 

Marijuana billboard in South Boston called 'insensitive' 

While waiting at a stoplight on East Broadway in South Boston last week, Sheila Greene looked up at a billboard and was stunned. In white letters against a black background, a message read: "States that legalized marijuana had 25% fewer opioid-related deaths.''

Drug-pricing debate continues 

Amid efforts at the state level to find a way to control health care costs, prescription drugs have been singled out as one of, if not the, biggest drivers of growth in spending for consumers and businesses. But whether increasing transparency of drug pricing can serve as a catalyst for lower prices, or if the market itself can be trusted to respond to public pressure remains a point of contention.

Iranian researcher set to work at Children's Hospital sent back to his country 

Iranian cancer researcher Dr. Sayed Mohsen Dehnavi and his family were put on a flight back to Iran Tuesday night, per U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Boston Children's Hospital.

Mass. AG: Boston home health operators stole $3M from MassHealth

Two people have been arrested for allegedly defrauding MassHealth out of nearly $3 million, the state's attorney general announced. Boston resident Elena Kurbatzky, 44, and Burlington's Natan Zalyapin, 43, were arrested on Monday and indicted by a grand jury for Medicaid false claims and larceny over $250 by false pretenses. Kurbatzky was additionally charged with Medicaid member eligibility fraud.

Natick's Allurion bags $27M, floats 2018 trial of weight loss balloon

Allurion Technologies, a 35-employee Natick company that makes an ingestible balloon designed to help people lose weight, has raised $27 million as it ramps up for a U.S. trial of the device next year. Privately-held Allurion said that the Series C round was led by Boston-based Romulus Capital. Some of the money will be used to fund a year-long, 400-patient study of the company's Elipse Balloon, a capsule attached to a thin tube that is swallowed and then filled with liquid.

New wheelchairs make Hampton Beach more accessible

For the first time on Hampton Beach, people who use wheelchairs will be able to enjoy all that a beach day has to offer — including a dip in the ocean. "Walking by and I saw this and I went, 'wow,'" said Wanda Wilson of Troy, New Hampshire. It was a pleasant surprise for Wilson when she saw the new beach-accessible wheelchairs.

Animal rights group raps UMass Medical School on rat testing 

The researcher failed to properly monitor paralyzed rats, did not properly report rat deaths, performed electronic shock and surgery on rats without approval and did not document giving rats pain medication, records generated by UMass show. "The University of Massachusetts Medical School needs to make a public statement of no tolerance for failures to comply with federal regulations," Michael A. Budkie, co-founder of Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!, wrote.

Prosecutor: Southie double-slay suspect knew luxe apartment's layout 

Doctors Richard Field and Lina Bolanos died of "massive trauma" the night of May 5, in separate areas inside their $2 million home atop the Macallen Building in South Boston, according to John Pappas, chief trial counsel for the Suffolk District Attorney's Office.

What is a rape kit? A close look at one of the most difficult tests you hope to never have to take (Masslive)

In Massachusetts, a victim of a sexual assault can go to any emergency room across the state and receive an identical sexual assault evidence collection kit — more commonly known as a rape kit — administered by a nurse who has been trained in a publicly-run program. 

New England now home to oldest population in America, Census data shows 

The region is now home to the top three states in the nation with the oldest median populations. The median age of residents in Maine is 44.6 years old, according to newly released U.S. Census Bureau data, the highest median age in the nation.

Mother recounts ugly backlash after sharing Children's Hospital bill

Chandra said she quickly gave up trying to reason with "some of the haters."

"No one was listening," she wrote. "No one seemed willing to stop shouting long enough to realize that there was a real person on the other side of the screen."

State delays Partners' deal to acquire Mass. Eye and Ear

The state's health care watchdog, the Health Policy Commission, said it wants to further study the acquisition. The commission is concerned the deal might consolidate market power so much that the hospital could inflate prices in negotiations with insurers, and could change quality or access to the specialty hospital.

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