Archive | June 2012

MSNJ Press Release: Affordable Care Act (ACA) Supreme Court Decision

Today’s Supreme Court decision finding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) constitutional will have a significant impact on healthcare delivery in the United States.

While the Medical Society of New Jersey (MSNJ) did not support the passage of national healthcare reform legislation, largely because it did not address the sustainability of the Medicare and Medicaid programs and tort reform, MSNJ has a long history of supporting access to both affordable healthcare and affordable healthcare insurance.

Earlier this year, MSNJ supported the creation of a Health Insurance Exchange (Exchange) in New Jersey. This could increase competition and remove barriers in the healthcare insurance market so that more uninsured New Jersey residents may purchase affordable healthcare insurance with transparent terms. We stand ready to work with the Governor and the New Jersey Legislature to establish a robust Exchange. MSNJ fully supports expanding the availability of affordable healthcare insurance to our residents.

We are pleased for our patients that key provisions of the ACA, supported by MSNJ, were upheld by the Court including:

The elimination of pre-existing conditions as a barrier to coverage;

  • The right of parents to insure their children on their existing policies up to age 26; and
  • The elimination of maximum life-time caps on benefits.

MSNJ continues to have concerns about whether New Jersey has the physician capacity to treat all patients who will become eligible for Medicaid with expanded eligibility requirements. Because New Jersey has among the lowest payment rates for Medicaid in the nation, together with the highest practice costs, there is already a shortage of physicians who treat Medicaid patients. Expansion of the insured population through the Exchange and Medicaid will worsen the physician shortage.  We will further analyze the Court’s opinion and work with the Governor and the Legislature to address the needs of our state’s neediest population.

MSNJ is a tireless advocate for a sustainable Medicare program. We have advocated for a repeal of the broken funding and payment formula. We know that the cost of caring for our seniors must be reduced and we intend to be part of the solution by providing quality, cost-effective, coordinated care. MSNJ supports physician-led integrated care models to provide cost efficient, quality care.

Health Information Technology (HIT) – President’s Message: June 26

By Dr. Mary Campagnolo, MSNJ President

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services/Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, health information technology (health IT) makes it possible for health care providers to better manage patient care through secure use and sharing of health information.

Health IT includes the use of electronic health records (EHRs) instead of paper medical records to maintain people’s health information.

Improving Patient Care

With the help of health IT, we as health care providers will have:

  • Accurate and complete information about a patient’s health. That way we can give the best possible care, whether during a routine visit or a medical emergency.
  • The ability to better coordinate the care we give. This is especially important if a patient has a serious medical condition.
  • A way to securely share information with patients and their family caregivers over the Internet, for patients who opt for this convenience. This means patients and their families can more fully take part in decisions about their health care.
  • Information to help doctors diagnose health problems sooner, reduce medical errors, and provide safer care at lower costs.

Improving Our Nation’s Health Care System

Widespread use of health IT can also:

  • Make our health care system more efficient and reduce paperwork for patients and doctors.
  • Expand access to affordable care.
  • Build a healthier future for our nation.

For one-stop access to information on health IT from the U.S. Government visit HealthIT.gov.

MSNJ Member in the News: “New Brunswick & Lumberton Physicians Share Health IT Story in the Nation’s Capital”

Now that Drs. Frank Sonnenberg, Robert Wood Johnson Medical Group, and Kennedy Ganti, Virtua Lumberton Family Physicians, have successfully implemented their electronic health record (EHR) systems, they are ready to share with the rest of our nation’s healthcare community how this technology has improved patient care. Dr. Sonnenberg (New Brunswick, NJ) and Dr. Ganti (Lumberton, NJ) are two of 82 healthcare providers from across the country whose progress in health IT will be recognized by the White House and Health and Human Services (HHS) at two events in Washington, D.C. on June 18-19, 2012.

NJ Health IT Coordinator, Colleen Woods, acknowledges, “Dr. Ganti and Dr. Sonnenberg are two of our great Health IT leaders in New Jersey.  They are remarkable physicians who saw the benefit of EHR’s early on, and seized the opportunity to improve their patients’ care.  They are an inspiration to all of us working in healthcare.”

The New Jersey Health Information Technology Extension Center’s (NJ-HITEC) Executive Director, Bill O’Byrne adds, “NJ-HITEC is very proud of the hard work and excellent example that Drs. Sonnenberg and Ganti have set in the community of doctors. They have earned this distinction and we celebrate in their achievements that advance the timely delivery of high quality medical care to the people of this State. It should also be noted that these two fine doctors are also representatives of the thousands of doctors that are NJ-HITEC members that have also committed to improving the delivery of healthcare to their patients through the use of health information technology.”

The HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) is hosting a Health IT Vanguard Conference in which a variety of health care professionals will share lessons learned in adopting and implementing electronic health records. As designated MUVers, Dr. Sonnenberg, Dr. Ganti, and others of the Meaningful Use Vanguard (MUVers) will discuss solutions for a variety of health IT barriers, including privacy and security and the challenges of building systems that can “talk to each other.” Some will discuss ways of leveraging health IT to promote better health in communities. MUVers throughout the country have been recognized for their leadership in local efforts that will eventually move the nation toward an electronically enabled healthcare system.

Dr. Sonnenberg explains, “One of the biggest challenges we face in the implementation of healthcare information technology is the disconnect from providers who are using a different types of EHR technology.  Even if two physicians are using the same technology, there can still be difficulties in sharing information.  We need to discuss and adopt a universal interchange.”

Dr. Ganti adds, “Meaningful Use is the single most important initiative since President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society programs in the 1960’s.  The ability to view and harness the vast amounts of health information through EHR technology assists doctors in providing true comprehensive care.  Moreover, my patients leave with their personal healthcare summary so they can review what was discussed during their visit.  This is so important because in the 10 to 15 minutes that a patient spends with a doctor, so much information is reviewed.  The patient healthcare summary provides the status of an individual’s health, past and current medication lists as well as referral information to further engage a person in his/her healthcare management.

At the White House Health IT Town Hall on June 19, senior White House and HHS officials will discuss progress and barriers to a national Health IT system with MUVers in attendance. In addition to discussing the Meaningful Use of EHRs, providers will share their insight on the important role that Health IT programs, such as the Regional Extension Centers (RECs), have played in helping them implement EHR technology. Over 132,000 primary care providers, almost half in the country, are partnering with RECs to overcome the significant barriers that primary care and rural providers face in EHR adoption.

O’Byrne states, “We are the Garden State’s sole Regional Extension Center working with providers to assist them in achieving Meaningful Use.  With a membership close to 6,000, we have assisted over 835 providers successfully achieve Meaningful Use.  These providers have received over $15 million federal incentives. We are committed to a health IT and assisting our members improve healthcare in New Jersey through EHR technology.”

About NJ-HITEC
NJ-HITEC is the primary care provider’s trusted advisor in the timely delivery of high quality healthcare through the selection, implementation, and achievement of Meaningful Use of an accredited Electronic Healthcare Record (EHR) system. NJ-HITEC is the federally designated Regional Extension Center (REC) for New Jersey established by the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and funded through the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  To learn more about NJ-HITEC or to become a member, visit us at http://www.njhitec.org or call (973) 642-4055.

NJ-HITEC Media Contact:  Denise Anderson, denisea@adm.njit.edu, 732-618-3867.

MSNJ’s Marathon for Out-of-Network Physicians – President’s Message: June 22

By Dr. Mary Campagnolo, MSNJ President

MSNJ is “running a marathon” to protect the rights of out-of-network physicians to continue to provide medical treatment and be adequately compensated. We have actively advocated on this issue for years, not just for physicians, but also to ensure that patients may avail themselves of the benefits for which they have paid dearly.

We have:

  • Stopped a bill that would have criminalized the waiver of deductibles and co-insurance
  • Convinced the sponsor of the pending bill to remove a provision that could have forced facility-based providers to accept any payment offered by an insurer.

To come this far, we have:

  • Testified twice in 2012 and three times in 2011
  • Held dozens of meetings with legislators and stake-holders
  • Participated in a multi-member coalition
  • Provided written testimony on recent amendments to pending legislation.

In the words of John Poole, MD, the Chair of MedAC and JEMPAC and Secretary of AMPAC, on the issue of pending out-of-network legislation, “this is a marathon and we are only at the beginning of the race.”

MSNJ chose to submit written comments to be introduced into testimony on Monday, June 18, before the Assembly Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee on A-2751, legislation that seeks to reform how out-of-network care is delivered and paid for. Our representatives, who were present at the committee, signed-in to oppose the legislation and delivered our written comments on the amendments under consideration that day.  We were able to do so because Monday’s committee amendments were available on June 7 to MSNJ, and the coalition of physician groups which has been advocating on this issue for several years. The amendments were discussed and analyzed extensively during MSNJ’s open-to-the-public Board of Trustees meeting on Sunday, June 10.

MSNJ has been a leader on this issue since its outset, which is why we are recognized by policy makers as one of the most prominent stakeholder representatives in the debate. Our leadership goes far beyond committee testimony.  MSNJ empanelled our own working group of out-of-network providers in early 2010 to provide guidance on this issue. We are part of a multi-member coalition that has actively advocated for out-of-network physicians, in the trenches, for years. We participated in dozens of meetings with legislators and stakeholder groups prior to the initial introduction of this legislation, and worked hard to defeat less favorable bills, such as one that would have criminalized the waiver of co-insurance.  In fact, it was our testimony last month that convinced the sponsor to remove a provision that could have forced facility-based providers to accept any payment offered by an insurer.

We’ve met countless times with our coalition partners, specialty societies, ambulatory facility representatives, and the New Jersey Hospital Association to help foster and preserve a unified provider voice. We delivered our message to the Speaker of the Assembly, Senate President, and Senate and Assembly Minority Leaders more times than anyone can accurately recall.

Our 246 years of advocating for physicians gives us the experience to know that this is not a sprint. The time we’ve spent on this issue gives us the wisdom to recognize that while the bill was improved on Monday, its impact as written remains very much the same and deserving of our continued opposition. Our steadfast leadership on behalf of all physicians continues to give us confidence that the outlier business practices of a small number of out-of-network providers can be addressed in legislation that doesn’t harm the vast majority of physicians who are billing in good faith.

MSNJ has been and will continue to be your voice before the legislature, administration, and the courts on this and all other matters impacting your practice, profession and patients.  We appreciate your faith and support, and look forward to our continued advocacy success together.

Read archived updates on MSNJ’s advocacy efforts on this issue.

Model Policy for Maintaining Professionalism While Using Social Media

The Federation for State Medical Boards (FSMB) has released guidelines highlighting the appropriate use of social media and social networking websites for physicians and other health care professionals. FSMB’s Model Policy Guidelines focus on the importance of an appropriate physician-patient relationship and the professional and ethical standards that should be followed throughout the medical profession.

A 2011 study reported that 87 percent of physicians use a social media website for personal use and 67 percent use it for professional purposes.  While social media has enormous potential for both physicians and their patients, the benefits must occur within the proper framework of professional ethics.  These guidelines address physicians’ concerns about social media, provide examples of proper social media physician-patient relationships, and provide information about social media policy.

MSNJ understands the importance of social media guidelines and is currently developing guidelines for its members.

National Cancer Survivors Day – President’s Message: June 5, 2012

By Dr. Mary Campagnolo, MSNJ President

The courage and determination of cancer survivors is an inspiration to all.  National Cancer Survivors Day, coordinated by the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation, took place on Sunday, June 3 to honor cancer survivors who are living with and beyond cancer, and to recognize those professionals who are helping to fight the battle against cancer.

According to the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation, major advances in cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment have resulted in longer survival, and therefore, a growing number of cancer survivors. However, a cancer diagnosis can leave a host of problems in its wake. Physical, financial and emotional hardships often persist after diagnosis and treatment. Survivors may face many challenges such as hindered access to cancer specialists and promising new treatments, inadequate insurance, financial hardships, employment problems and psychological struggles. In light of these difficulties, our community needs to focus on improving the quality of life for cancer survivors.  For more information visit, www.ncsd.org.

“Get Fit!” President’s Message: June 1, 2012

By Dr. Mary Campagnolo, MSNJ President

Get Fit!

Though we’re already one day into June, it’s important to note that May was National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, & Nutrition has challenged all of us to include 30 minutes of physical activity as part of our schedules each day. Remind your patients that physical activity not only increases their chances of living longer, it also reduces the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and some types of cancer. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week. Moderate activity includes walking fast, dancing, or raking leaves. Strengthening activities, like situps and pushups, should be done at least 2 days a week. Getting active results in better sleep, stronger bones, and a lower risk of depression.

Help Our Team in the Fight Against MS!
May is also National Bike Month and I wanted to let you know that I am leading an MSNJ team for Bike MS: City to Shore Ride taking place September 29 & 30.

There are currently 400,000 people living with multiple sclerosis in the United States.  Although there have been incredible advances in research, the world is still only able to offer disease management drugs and therapies to those confronting this disease.  I am proud that MSNJ is supporting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. In addition to research projects around the world, they also provide much needed education, programs, and services for those affected by MS.

I will continue to post updates on the MSNJ Bike MS team. If you are interested in participating as a cyclist or to make a donation, visit the MSNJ Team Page