Got MACRA? Three Ways to Make it Through

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Got MACRA? AMA, MMS, and QIN-QIO are Here to Help

AMA: New video shows physicians how to avoid Medicare payment penalties

The AMA and the MMS are looking to help physicians avoid a negative Medicare payment adjustment in 2019—an effort that may be particularly relevant to physicians who have not previously participated in Medicare reporting programs, and/or physicians in smaller practices. The AMA has designated the week starting June 26, 2017 as Pick Your Pace Week, and will broadly disseminate simple instructions on how to report “one patient, one measure, no penalty.” The new materials, available on the AMA website, include:

  • A short video: One patient, one measure, no penalty: How to avoid a Medicare payment penalty with basic reporting.
  • A sample CMS-1500 claim form
  • Links to quality measures on the CMS website
  • A link to the CMS MIPS eligibility tool

MMS: Free personalized assistance 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.

Two sessions will be held—July 11 or July 27, 2017, 5:30-8:00 p.m.—at MMS Headquarters, Waltham (participants need attend only one session); register here. Your registration should include at least one clinician and one colleague/team member responsible for reporting. Questions? Please email Justin Sacramone at jsacramone@healthcentricadvisors.org or Yael Miller at ymiller@mms.org.

QIN-QIO: Join the QPP Open Call sessions for expert guidance

Join the New England QIN-QIO's Quality Payment Program (QPP) team as they review frequently asked questions about participation in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) or an Alternative Payment Model (APM). These calls will include time for open discussion and sharing about all things QPP. The calls are open to providers, clinicians, office managers, practice administrators, quality improvement specialists, and anyone else who is involved in quality program reporting. Calls will be offered bimonthly on the following dates, 11:30 a.m.—12:30 p.m.:

  • Wednesday, June 21
  • Wednesday, July 12
  • Wednesday, July 26
  • Wednesday, August 9
  • Wednesday, August 30

Sign up for calls here. An email with instructions will be sent the day before the call. Questions? Contact Leila Volinsky at lvolinsky@healthcentricadvisors.org.


More News and Announcements

MassHealth ACO providers need RBPO certification: Learn the process

Find out whether or not RBPO certification applies to you. This one-hour webinar is designed to help carriers and provider organizations learn the Risk-Bearing Provider Organization certification process that relates to the development of MassHealth ACO contracts. The webinar, by the Division of Insurance, answers these questions:

  • Which entities currently have Risk Certificates?
  • Do related provider organizations need to obtain a new RBPO certificate?
  • What’s the process for organizations to file?
  • What’s the process for the Division to review applications?

The webinar is offered twice (covering the same material each time). To join a meeting, use these links on the relevant day/time:

  • Webinar I: Thursday, June 29, 2017 (1PM to 2PM); join the meeting
    • Meeting number 622 480 549
    • Meeting password YpW2mP3W
    • Also dial 1-877-820-7831 and enter Participant Code 627192 to join the call that will be part of the webinar
    • To join from a video system or application, dial 622480549@massdoi.my.webex.com
  • Webinar II: Thursday, July 6, 2017 (1PM to 2PM); join the meeting
    • Meeting number 622 364 129
    • Meeting password Vm9TMf9d
    • Also dial 1-877-820-7831 and enter Participant Code 627192 to join the call that will be part of the webinar
    • To join from a video system or application, dial 622364129@massdoi.my.webex.com

Questions? Contact Niels Puetthoff at niels.puetthoff@state.ma.us or (617) 521-7326, or Kevin Beagan at kevin.beagan@state.ma.us or (617) 521-7323.

Mandated reporters: The elder abuse reporting system is being centralized

The elder abuse reporting system will be centralized to a single hotline number starting June 30, 2017. The line is staffed 24/7 every day. Callers will connect to one location with specially trained intake workers in Massachusetts. While the initial intake will be centralized, all reports will continue to be referred to local Protective Services Agencies for screening, investigation, and service planning. The Executive Office of Elder Affairs notes that mandated reporters will be most impacted. Questions? Contact Alec Graham, Director of Protective Services, at Alec.C.Graham@MassMail.State.MA.US.

  • Elder abuse hotline: 1-800-922-2275


The Latest in Health Policy Advocacy

“Partial fill” legislation promotes responsible opioid prescription use

The MMS provided testimony to the Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery in strong support of legislation allowing the “partial fill” of opioid prescriptions. The bill would allow patients to partially fill opioid prescriptions at pharmacies, with the option of filling the remainder of the prescription at a later date without additional cost to them. The Society’s prescribing guidelines for opioids include the key recommendation that “the starting dose should be the minimum necessary to achieve the desired level of pain control and to avoid excessive side effects”—a strategy designed to reduce the potential for opioid dependence in patients and the diversion of unused drugs. The “partial fill” approach is an important means of reducing the volume of opioids dispensed at pharmacies in cases where the lowest effective dosage is difficult to determine. The bill includes a requirement that pharmacists communicate to physicians whenever a prescription is partially filled.

Supervised injection facilities work, the MMS president tells Boston

Dr. Henry Dorkin, president of the MMS, testified at a Boston City Council hearing on the value of medically-supervised injection facilities (SIFs) for reducing overdose fatalities and other harms associated with illegal drug use. “We urge Massachusetts, as a world leader in pioneering, compassionate healthcare, to establish a state-led task force to consider piloting SIFs in the Commonwealth,” Dr. Dorkin said. His testimony outlined the evidence that led the MMS (and, this month, the AMA) to support the development of pilot SIFs. Such facilities are proven to reduce overdose deaths and improve access to drug treatment. In addition, they may ameliorate the street violence and disease associated with unsafe injection practices, and reduce public spending associated with drug use. In countries that have established SIFs, concerns about negative consequences have not borne out.

Strengthening the Senate marijuana bill

The MMS wrote to the Senate in support of several amendments to the marijuana bill that passed this week. The Senate bill is designed to amend the ballot initiative passed by voters in November that legalized recreational marijuana and put in place a framework for implementation. The amendments address:

  • Child and adolescent substance use prevention and treatment
  • The packaging and labeling of marijuana and marijuana products
  • The advertising, marketing, and branding of marijuana and marijuana products

While the Society continues to oppose the legalization of recreational marijuana as a potential risk to public health, we remain engaged in discussions with policymakers to advocate for approaches that will help mitigate that risk. In crafting this new policy, the Medical Society identified priorities for guiding an evidence-based approach to public health and safety. These priorities include: preventing youth access to marijuana, funding research on the health effects of recreational marijuana, mitigating the risks of marijuana-impaired driving, promoting education about the health effects of recreational marijuana, and setting safety and quality standards for marijuana products. Read about the Society's approach to marijuana advocacy (Vital Signs, Summer issue).

Additional Testimony

  • The MMS provided testimony in support of a bill that would allow health care facilities to administer a scheduled psychotropic medication without prior written informed consent in certain circumstances.
  • The MMS provided testimony in support of a bill designed to ensure that health insurers offer patients access to evidence based non-opioid and non-pharmaceutical pain options where appropriate.
  • The MMS provided testimony in opposition to a bill that would remove the existing statutory framework underlying the relationship between physicians and psychiatric nurse practitioners, and would allow psychiatric nurse mental health clinical specialists to issue written prescriptions and order and interpret tests.


Reminders! 

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 vitalsigns@mms.org by July 10, 2017 (for the September issue).


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 Online CME Activities – Risk Management Credit 

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.

Mass. Senate passes marijuana bill
Taking a far lighter hand to the law than did the House, the Senate retained the underlying law's stipulation that voters hold the power to ban pot shops in their city or town. The House hands the power to local officials. Under both versions, using, possessing, and growing limited amounts of pot will still be legal. Both also combine oversight of the recreational and medical marijuana sectors.

The House-Senate marijuana showdown is finally official
The Senate voted 30 to five to keep the 12 percent tax rate for retail marijuana outlined in the Question 4 ballot question approved by voters last November. The House's bill ups the tax to 28 percent and allows municipal legislatures to bar pot shops from opening in their city or town. The House also altered how the new Cannabis Control Commission would be structured and the process for issuing licences for cultivators, manufacturers and retailers.

Girl's intense medical journey intersected with Mayor Walsh's
If the mayor of Boston has become something of a hero for Kyla Smith-Howell, he is in competition for that title with Dr. Scott Elisofon, the medical director of the liver transplant program at Children's.

Gift certificates for guns Saturday at Worcester church
Along with this program, the Massachusetts Medical Society and Attorney General Maura Healey have issued a set of information for physicians about how and why to talk to patients about gun ownership and responsibility.

Fentanyl 'game changer' in public-health opioid battle
Botticelli, now executive director of the Grayken Center for Addiction Medicine at Boston Medical Center, told the Massachusetts Health Council that the time it takes to die of a fentanyl overdose is "dramatically shortened" from other opioid overdoses and fentanyl users are more likely to consume the drug alone.

Lawmakers want more money for local hospitals
Some lawmakers say current funding isn't enough. They're pitching a plan to boost the community hospital trust fund by charging large physician groups, such as Burlington-based Atrius Health, a $20 million annual assessment.

Doctors write fewer prescriptions after sunshine laws reveal drug company payments
Comparing Massachusetts physicians' prescriptions with the prescriptions written by physicians in the control group(s), they found a 48-59 percent decrease for name-brand statins, a 46-54 percent decrease for branded antidepressants and a 40-45 percent decrease for branded antipsychotics. 

Former Macy's Home, Sports Authority sites are new home to Reliant Medical
Reliant Medical Group is planning to open a new doctor's office in a mall, where it is consolidating its Millbury and Auburn offices into a former Macy's Home store in the Auburn Mall.

Rep. Keating authors Lyme disease legislation
Last week, Congressional Rep. Keating authored the Tick-Borne Disease Prevention Act, which will direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to publish two sets of materials specific to Lyme disease and tick-borne illnesses

Massachusetts saw highest rates of opioid-related hospitalizations in 2014
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's statistical brief, which looked at the latest available data from 44 states on inpatient stays and 30 states on emergency department visits, found that Massachusetts was the only one that consistently saw high rates of opioid-related hospitalizations, regardless of a patient's gender or age.

Amid opioid crisis, a drug company's strategy in Massachusetts
A review of state campaign contributions by WGBH News found that Alkermes has donated to dozens of Massachusetts political campaigns – including that of Governor Charlie Baker, House Speaker Bob DeLeo and Senate President Stan Rosenberg.

Harsh reception for supervised drug injection in Boston
Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) issued a report in April that endorsed SIF pilots. But doctors were criticized several times during the city council hearing for taking that position. City officials expressed concerns.

Teladoc acquiring Boston medical consultation firm in $440M deal
The New York-based telehealth provider (NYSE: TDOC) provides care to patients virtually. The company said it will utilize Best Doctors, a medical consultation company that often contracts with large employers, to broaden its platform and increase its analytical capabilities, offering patients a virtual, patient-centric way to resolve health care issues.

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