Archive | May 2011

REMINDER: Licenses Expire on June 30; Physicians Urged to Renew Online

Members are urged to follow the directions in letters sent to them to renew on-line and to participate in a physician workforce survey. Licenses expire on June 30, 2011, unless renewed.

The BME is requesting that licensees complete a short workforce survey as part of the renewal process this year. The information sought is similar to that being sought in a legislative initiative, through A.2552, a bill introduced by Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D-7). By a narrow margin, MSNJ leadership chose not to support the bill that would have mandated a collection of this information on an ongoing basis. The BME is relying on its statutory authority to conduct this survey.  The survey contains twelve questions and can be completed in five minutes. If a physician is unable to answer a question, it may be skipped, though we encourage members to provide as much information as possible.

MSNJ leadership and staff have reviewed the survey and determined that the data collection could actually assist our advocacy efforts, particularly on: tort reform; Medicare participation; and, the anticipated physician shortage in New Jersey. It may also compliment the economic study on physician practices in New Jersey that were released this week. We believe that participating in the survey may also negate the need for a legislative mandate. We appreciate the BME’s effort to gather this general workforce information in an anonymous, minimally intrusive fashion and urge our members to complete the survey.

Some members have asked about the license renewal question seeking information on affiliations with surgical practices. According to the BME, the information is needed for two reasons: it needs more accurate information on the number of single operating room/physician offices; and, this information will be used to remind those licensees of their obligation to report complications. The BME believes that there may be significant underreporting by these licensees. Some members have expressed concern about the “waiver of rights” language in this request for information. That language is actually responsive to a lawsuit by MSNJ, resolved decades ago, wherein we sought this type of notice for our members.

Physicians who have not undergone the statutory criminal background check and finger-print process must take action now to avoid license suspension. Physicians wishing to renew must quickly submit to the fingerprint check. Physicians who are retiring, leaving the state, or who wish not to renew should select inactive status to avoid automatic statutory license suspension and the more onerous ramifications of non-renewal including submission of delinquent fees and retesting after five years of inactivity. Read this FAQ for further information on the criminal background check.

LAWRENCE DOWNS, ESQ. NAMED NEW CEO OF THE MEDICAL SOCIETY OF NEW JERSEY

The Medical Society of New Jersey (MSNJ) has just announced that Lawrence Downs, Esq. of Ocean County has been elected to the position of Chief Executive Officer of the state’s largest physician organization. Downs will continue to serve as General Counsel for the organization upon his installation.

Downs will fill the position previously held by Michael T. Kornett, who has served as CEO of the organization since 2004. Kornett has announced that he is to step down from the position effective June 30, 2011.

Downs currently serves as General Counsel & Director of Public Health to the Medical Society and Executive Director of the Institute of Medicine & Public Health of NJ – The MSNJ Foundation. He works on health policy initiatives, legislative and regulatory affairs, healthcare quality improvement, and public health matters.   As General Counsel, Downs advises the CEO and Board of Trustees on legal matters and coordinates the work of outside counsel to achieve the Society’s legal objectives.

Before joining MSNJ in 1996, Downs was Director of Cancer Prevention & Control at the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) New Jersey Division where he coordinated statewide public education campaigns on the prevention and early detection of cancers.  He regularly represented the ACS before local governments considering tobacco control ordinances.

Downs also has extensive experience in health policy, public opinion research and media advocacy.   From 1997 to 2006 he served as the Executive Director of the New Jersey Breathes (NJB) coalition. Under his leadership, the coalition of over 40 state-wide agencies was a leading project of the national SmokeLess States Program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Downs was one of the principal architects of New Jersey’s successful legislative efforts to increase the tax on tobacco products in 1998, 2002 and 2003 and the NJ Smokefree Air Act of 2006.

“We are happy to welcome Larry Downs as he assumes the position of CEO and continue to extend our thanks to Michael Kornett for his leadership and guidance over the years,” stated Dr. Niranjan Rao, a vascular surgeon from New Brunswick and recently installed 219th president of the society. “Larry has been a wonderful resource to both our Board of Trustees and our entire organization, and we are grateful for his continued leadership as we work on issues that affect not only physicians, but also the people of the State of New Jersey.”

Downs received a bachelor’s degree in public health from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and a juris doctor degree from Rutgers University School of Law – Camden.  He is a member of the NJ Bar Association’s Health & Hospital Law Section, the American Bar Association and the American Society of Medical Association Counsel. Additionally, Downs was elected to the Executive Board of the Litigation Center of the American Medical Association in 2009.

He currently resides in Cream Ridge, NJ with his wife and daughter.

Physician Practices Make Significant Economic Impact on NJ Economy

LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ – Employment in medical practices in New Jersey grew steadily through much of the past decade despite two recessions and contributes significantly to the state’s economy, according to an Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy study.

The report estimates there are approximately 9,100 private practice physicians’ offices employing nearly 70,000 medical professionals and other staff in NJ as of 2009.  In addition to providing vital health care services, the ongoing annual expenditures associated with operating private practices result in significant annual economic and fiscal benefits to the state’s economy. This occurs directly through the employment of staff and the purchase of materials, equipment and services, and indirectly, through the multiplier, or ripple effects, of these expenditures throughout the general economy.

The study finds the industry directly employs more people than comparable professional and other industries including offices of lawyers, the accounting and engineering sectors, and the amusement and recreation sector.

Estimates of the direct and indirect contributions of physicians’ practices in New Jersey to the state economy include:

  • Nearly 113,000 jobs
  • $7.3 billion in annual income
  • $10.7 billion in annual gross domestic product for the state
  • $334 million in annual state tax revenue
  • $353 million in annual local tax revenue

The sector’s economic growth has been significantly stronger than that of the state as a whole, and the industry was not strongly affected by the deep job losses of the 2007-2009 recession.  To the contrary, while total state employment declined by almost 3% from 2001 to 2009, employment by physicians’ offices grew by over 20% (about 12,000 jobs) and total annual wages in the industry grew by almost 50%.

This strong performance is consistent with the private healthcare sector as a whole, which saw employment growth of approximately 23% at state and national levels over the same period.  As of 2009, physicians’ offices in New Jersey directly employed nearly 70,000 people with a total payroll of $5.5 billion.

“The annual economic contributions of medical practices to the New Jersey economy are significant,” said Dr. Joseph J. Seneca of Rutgers’ Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, a co-author of the study.  “In addition,  the broader benefits resulting from effective health care and treatment  by physicians and their offices, such as reduced morbidity and mortality, improved quality of life, and decreased pain and suffering are undoubtedly enormous and should be properly added to our estimates of economic and fiscal impacts,” he added.

The complete study can be found here: http://www.policy.rutgers.edu/reports/other/MSNJ_FINAL_REPORT_10May2011.pdf.

A special session to present these findings will be held at the MSNJ Annual Meeting on Friday, May 13 at 4:00 pm at the Hyatt Regency New Brunswick.

Biennial Licensing: Renew On-Line Before June 30

Letters from the Attorney General, Division of Consumer Affairs, outlining the biennial license renewal process are in the mail to physicians licensed in New Jersey. This year, there are three important points of information for our members:

* Physicians are urged to participate in the Board of Medical Examiners’ (BME)  physician workforce survey that will precede the online renewal;
*  Physicians are urged to renew online; and
*  Physicians who have not undergone the criminal background check must take action now to avoid statutory suspension.

The BME is requesting that licensees complete a short workforce survey as part of the renewal process this year. The information sought is similar to that being sought in a legislative initiative, through A.2552, a bill introduced by Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D-7). By a narrow margin, MSNJ leadership chose not to support the bill that would have mandated a collection of this information on an ongoing basis. The BME is relying on its statutory authority to conduct this voluntary survey.  The survey contains twelve questions and can be completed in five minutes. If a physician is unable to answer a question, it may be skipped, though we encourage members to provide as much information as possible.

MSNJ leadership and staff have reviewed the survey and determined that the data collection could actually assist our advocacy efforts, particularly on tort reform, Medicare participation, and the anticipated physician shortage in New Jersey. It may also compliment the economic study on physician practices in New Jersey which will be released on May 13. We believe that participating in the survey may also negate the need for a legislative mandate. We appreciate the BME’s effort to gather this general workforce information in an anonymous, minimally intrusive fashion.

Current licenses expire on June 30, 2011. Physicians are urged to renew online. There are detailed instructions in the letter for on-line renewal and the option to visit the Newark or Trenton office, with a photo ID, and receive personal assistance to renew on-line. You may also request a paper renewal application by calling 973-272-8090.

Physicians who have not undergone the statutory criminal background check and finger print process must take action now to avoid license suspension. The BME has identified approximately 2, 000 licensees who are delinquent on this statutory requirement and are at risk of license suspension. Letters have been sent to these physicians. Immediate action is necessary. Physicians wishing to renew must quickly submit to the fingerprint check. Physicians who are retiring, leaving the state, or who wish not to renew should select inactive status to avoid automatic statutory license suspension and the more onerous ramifications of non-renewal including submission of  delinquent fees and retesting after five years of inactivity. Read this FAQ for further information on the criminal background check.