MMS Stands for Universal Health Care Coverage: President Dorkin Commends the ACA

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MMS NEWS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS

Universal access to health insurance: MMS President commends the Affordable Care Act

Henry L. Dorkin, MD, FAAP, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, issued this statement on Friday, July 28:

“This morning's vote (a demonstration of due democratic process) against a so-called ‘skinny’ repeal of the Affordable Care Act helps protect the health care of millions of America’s patients. From coast to coast, including here in the Commonwealth, Americans have voiced their concern about, and opposition to, outright repeal of the ACA. We are grateful to the majority of US Senators, including Senator Ed Markey and Senator Elizabeth Warren, who demonstrated their commitment to fighting on behalf of their constituents' access to health care. We also thank Senators Collins, Murkowski, and McCain, and applaud their efforts to keep any Americans from losing their health care access. 

“It is long-standing policy of the Massachusetts Medical Society that we advocate for universal access to insurance coverage. None of the legislative options presented in recent months – neither straightforward repeal, repeal-and-replace, nor this ‘skinny’ repeal – would have advanced the mission of promoting reliable, affordable, effective insurance coverage for our patients. A health care bill should actually improve the health of Americans, not worsen it.

“Once again, we urge Congress to join representatives of the medical community in collaborating on legislation that would improve, strengthen, and sustain the Affordable Care Act, which has extended health coverage to record numbers of Americans. Now is the time to abandon efforts at repeal and instead focus on how to make the ACA work even better for more of our neighbors and patients.”

Correction: Boston has two women chiefs of surgery 

In last week's Vital Signs This Week, we erroneously announced that Jennifer F. Tseng, MD, MPH, Chief of Surgery at Boston Medical Center and Chair of the Department of Surgery at Boston University School of Medicine, was the first woman chief of surgery at a major Boston hospital. We were wrong. Patricia Roberts, MD, chairs the Division of Surgery at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center, and is professor of surgery at Tufts University School of Medicine. Apologies to Dr. Roberts, and congratulations to Dr. Roberts, Dr. Tseng, and to all who blaze a trail in medicine. The September issue of Vital Signs is dedicated to the voices of women at varying stages of their medical careers in Massachusetts. The theme of this year's Women in Medicine Month (a September tradition initiated by the AMA) is Born to Lead.

New Medicare Card: What you and your patients need to know

CMS is removing Social Security Numbers from Medicare cards to help fight identity theft and safeguard taxpayer dollars. The new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier number will be randomly generated. CMS is referring to this as the New Medicare Card (previously, it was known as the Social Security Number Removal Initiative, or SSNRI). To help you find information quickly, CMS has a new home page linking you to the latest details, including how to talk to your Medicare patients about the New Medicare Card. Please review and bookmark the New Medicare Card home page and Provider web page, so you have the information you need by April 1, 2018, when the new numbering system goes into effect.

Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System 2.0: the upgrade

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced  VAERS 2.0 (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System 2.0), the national adverse event reporting system for monitoring the safety of U.S.-licensed vaccines. VAERS 2.0 includes a new reporting form and a new website that allows users to:

  • Easily submit a VAERS report electronically;
  • Access VAERS data;
  • Learn more about how CDC and FDA monitor the safety of vaccines.

Additionally, there are now  two ways to report an adverse event following vaccination to VAERS:

  • Use the online reporting tool;
  • Complete a writable VAERS PDF form and upload it onto the new VAERS website.

By the end of 2017, CDC and FDA will phase out the old VAERS-1 paper form and fully transition to the new VAERS 2.0 electronic submission process. Accommodations will be made for persons unable to submit reports electronically. Additional assistance is available via email at  info@vaers.org or by phone at (800) 822-7967. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Immunization Program at (617) 983-6800.

ACOG: Free immunization webinars for all 

To recognize National Immunization Awareness Month in August, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Immunization Program is offering two immunization-focused webinars. Both webinars are free, offer 1 CME credit, and are open to all (not limited to ACOG fellows). Please note that you need to create an ACOG account and take a pre-test before registering for the webinars.

  • Best Practices to Improve Maternal Immunization will be held on Monday, August 7, 2017, at 12:00 p.m. This webinar will provide updates on current recommendations and the future of maternal immunizations, practical tips to incorporate immunizations into your practice, and immunization resources for providers and patients;  information and registration.

  • Don’t Wait, Vaccinate! Tips and Resources for Communicating with Adult Patients about Vaccination, provided jointly with the CDC, will be held on Thursday, August 17, 2017, at 12:00 p.m. This webinar will focus on tips, resources, and tools available to providers of adult health care to encourage vaccination and to assist in implementation of immunization practice standards. This webinar will cover the importance of incorporating a strong recommendation for vaccination into routine practice, as well as effective strategies for addressing common patient questions and concerns; information and registration.


What's up in the State House

MMS opposes scope of practice proposal

The Medical Society  submitted testimony on Monday in opposition to a sweeping proposal by Gov. Baker to expand the scope of practice for many health care providers in Massachusetts. The  legislative proposal, filed just last week, would expand the scope of practice of psychiatric nurses, nurse practitioners, certified nurse anesthetists, optometrists, and podiatrists. The proposal was strongly opposed by the Medical Society and by several other state medical specialty societies.  The bill also suggests increasing premium differentials for tiered network plans, a plan opposed by MMS. The legislation was filed by Baker in tandem with budget proposals of reforms to MassHealth, to the commercial insurance market, and to employer-sponsored insurance policies.


Reminders! Women's Leadership Forum, legal advice, AMA, and more

Save the date: 2017 Women’s Leadership Forum

The Women’s Leadership Forum on Friday, September 15, 2017, will focus on building communication skills for professional and personal advancement. The event—Confident Communication Toward Socially Intelligent Leadership—features interactive sessions, experiential work, discussion of workplace applications, panels, and networking opportunities. Participants will learn skills for effective, compassionate, assertive leadership. The Forum is hosted by MMS and its Committee on Women in Medicine (CWIM). “On behalf of the CWIM, I strongly encourage you to honor us with your presence,” says Helen Cajigas, MD, FCAP, Chair of the Committee on Women in Medicine. This program welcomes individuals from all genders and backgrounds, and includes an awards luncheon with a keynote address. It will take place at MMS Headquarters in Waltham. For more information, contact Erin Tally at  etally@mms.org or (781) 434-7413.

Benefit Buzz: Open Enrollment for Legal Advisory Plan

This valuable members-only benefit, Legal Advisory Plan (LAP), provides enrolled members with legal assistance in the event of a Board of Registration in Medicine investigation. Don't miss your opportunity to take advantage of it. Renew or enroll in the LAP for July 2017 through July 2018 for $70 a year* — a fraction of standard legal fees. *Additional discount for groups of five or more. Learn more. Questions? Email  lap@massmed.org, or call (781) 434-7311.

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 www.massmed.org/amanoms 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 lhealy@mms.org, or Karen Harrison at ext. 7463 or kharrison@mms.org.


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


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.

Baker Won't Say Whether He'll Veto Health Care Spending Measure

By wide margins, lawmakers passed a measure to impose new fees on employers to help fund the state Medicaid program, called MassHealth. But they rebuffed Baker's proposals for containing MassHealth costs, in part by shifting some low-income adults off of the program.

Here's Where the Real Danger in 'Skinny Repeal' is for Massachusetts

The trimmed down version of efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act known as "skinny repeal" was voted down in the US Senate early Friday morning. But as part of the health care bill that never seems to die, the way things are going, some version of it may yet resurface.

Rewriting the Pot Law was a Breeze Compared to What Comes Next

Governor Charlie Baker is set to sign the recreational pot measure on Friday, setting in motion a high-stakes, 11-month sprint to license retail marijuana establishments by next summer and regulate what's expected to become a billion-dollar-a-year industry.

Protection for Pregnant Workers Bill Signed in Massachusetts 

A new Massachusetts law signed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker assures that women won't be forced to choose between a healthy pregnancy and keeping their jobs, according to advocates for working women. 

Baker Seeks Expanded Roles for Health Care Providers

Gov. Charlie Baker wants to give optometrists, nurse practitioners and podiatrists more responsibilities as part of a broader effort to reduce health care costs and improve coverage, but the plan is opposed by the state's medical society

Scope of Practice on the Table in Fight over Health Costs

Under a bill Gov. Charlie Baker filed to address health care costs, some medical practitioners would see their scope of practice expand, consumers could see bigger discounts for buying tiered insurance plans, and a state agency would provide "consumer-friendly cost information for common procedures." 

These 13 Nasty Pollutants In MA Drinking Water Put Your Health At Risk 

When water flows out of the faucet and into a glass, it usually appears clean and healthy. A report, though, found hundreds of harmful contaminants across the American water supply that can cause cancer, developmental issues in children, problems in pregnancy and other serious health conditions. 

Prescription Problems: Not What the Doctor Ordered 

Therapeutic substitution is based on the belief and the clinical evidence that different drugs in the same drug family should have similar enough effects, that it's safe to interchange them.

Mass. Doctors Group Hashes out Cannabis Curriculum 

Massachusetts doctors are getting a new kind of higher education, with the Massachusetts Medical Society now offering a continuing education curriculum on marijuana. 

Allegations That Medical School Dean Led Drug-Fueled Secret Life Stun Many in Boston

Dr. Carmen Puliafito was once among Boston's most prominent physicians, building a clinic from scratch before leaving more than a decade ago for prestigious roles in Miami and then in Los Angeles. Now the Harvard-educated eye surgeon, who became dean of the University of Southern California's medical school, is in the spotlight after a sensational report in the Los Angeles Times revealed that Puliafito essentially led a double life.

AP Explains: Baker, Democrats Spar Over Medicaid Shakeup

The stakes are high. Baker and legislative leaders agree on the need to rein in the escalating costs of MassHealth. But the governor's plan is getting pushback from some Democrats who argue it has not been properly vetted and would hurt tens of thousands of low-income families. 

Key Part of Opioid Legislation is Not Working 

More than a year after a comprehensive law was passed to address the state's opioid epidemic, few patients appear to be taking advantage of a key provision designed to help them connect with addiction treatment after an overdose, according to a Globe survey of emergency room doctors. 

MA Nurses Association Criticizes Use of Replacements During Nurse Strike 

Tufts' hiring of the replacement nurses alarmed the Massachusetts Nurses Association, which said in a release that the action endangered patients because the replacements were not familiar with the medical center and did not have the level of specialization that the Tufts nurses had. 

300 Workers at Western Mass. Hospital Vote to Join Union 

The workers — mainly administrative, housekeeping, transport and food service workers — join the growing health care union, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. The union currently has 56,000 members in Massachusetts alone, and will now begin to form a bargaining committee with those employees and start negotiating the first contract. 

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