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MSNJ Supports Medical Liability Reform Legislation as it Advances out of Committee

MSNJ supported medical liability reform in the Assembly Health Committee this week. A1831, sponsored by Chairman Conaway, would prohibit the addition of defendants using fictitious names at least 120 days prior to the date on which the action is set for trial. This bill also clarifies the existing legal immunity for health care professional who volunteers to respond in good faith to an emergency at a hospital or health care, removing the requirement that the service be provided without payment.

The bill provides that an insurer cannot increase the premium of any medical malpractice liability insurance policy based on a claim of medical negligence or malpractice against an insured unless the claim results in a medical malpractice claim settlement, judgment or arbitration award against the insured. Finally, the bill also prohibits an insurer from increasing medical malpractice insurance premiums, if the alleged malpractice occurred in certain charitable or emergency situations. The trial lawyers oppose the bill. Read the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance’s support letter and flier on the benefit of reform on women’s health.

Congress Must Act to Avert Medicare Fee Cuts Before January 1

The annual rite of organized medicine seeking congressional action to avert steep Medicare fee cuts before January 1 is upon us. However, this year is different. Not only is a 27% fee cut scheduled to occur because of the flawed SGR formula, but physicians will also be subject to an additional 2% fee cut under the sequestration. Next week Congress and the President will return to Washington to face the fiscal cliff, in addition to resolving the annual Medicare fee issue. In anticipation of this, MSNJ joined virtually all of organized medicine to support SGR Transition Principles in personal letters to the New Jersey delegation. We previously gained the personal support of many of our delegation. (See MSNJ e-News dated February 16, 2012). Members are asked to watch for a strategically timed grass-roots “call to action” on this issue.

Health Insurance Exchange Dominates Early Healthcare Politics

The 215th legislature barely came to order last month before the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee had scheduled Health Insurance Exchange legislation for a vote.  The bill, A-2171 (Conaway, D – Burlington), would create a Health Insurance Exchange (HIX) in, but not of, the Department of Banking and Insurance, meaning its Board of Directors would be free to act independently of the DOBI Commissioner.  Committee amendments would create a separate advisory panel consisting of provider and payer representatives to assist the board in its operations.  Once established, the exchange will provide a one-stop marketplace for purchasers of small employer and individual health benefits and it could help better spread risk.

The most contentious issue in the HBE debate thus far is over the matter of “active purchasing” versus “passive purchasing.”  Both A-2171 and its Senate counterpart S-1319 (Gill, D – Essex), provide for active purchasing, meaning the Board can decline applicant insurers the ability to sell products through the Exchange.  Proponents of passive purchasing argue that meeting state and federal requirements should be sufficient to qualify for access to the exchange.  MSNJ is currently supporting active purchasing, provided that proper measures are adopted to prevent larger insurers from exploiting the exchange to further consolidate market power.

According to the Affordable Care Act, states must have certified HIX operational by 2014, or delegate that authority to the federal exchange.

Call to Action: Repeal New Jersey’s Unfair Cosmetics Tax

Important legislation that would repeal New Jersey’s unfair tax on cosmetic medical procedures is just ONE STEP away from the Governor’s Desk!  But first, the full Assembly needs to vote on the measure before they adjourn on January 9. Now, we need your help to get the bill posted at the January 9 Assembly voting session.

Step 1: Please call the Speaker of the Assembly Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange) at (973) 395-1166 and ask that she post A-3656/S-1988 at the January 9 voting session.

Step 2: Click here to find your local Assembly members and call them too! Introduce yourself as a concerned physician in their district, and ask that they encourage Speaker Oliver to post the bill.

Tell them you agree with the sponsor, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, when he said “This tax has proven ineffective and an administrative hardship to New Jersey residents and businesses,” and “This phase-out will gradually alleviate the financial and administrative burdens associated with the tax. Since it was imposed, the tax has increased overall costs for recipients of cosmetic medical procedures, and imposed an administrative burden on the medical offices billing the procedures and the state agencies charged with the administration and enforcement of the tax. It’s time to get rid of it.”
When enacted, the bill will gradually phase out this unfair tax over three years, but the time for you to act is NOW!

e-News Roundup- June 16, 2011

Medicare Changes Annual Enrollment Process
This year, Highmark Medicare Services will not mail CDs to Medicare providers alerting them to the open enrollment period and providing other information. Instead, Highmark will mail post cards. Read more.

Five-Minute Survey on Palliative Patient/Family Interactions & Pain/Symptom Management
Palliative medicine, a relatively new and growing medical subspecialty, is focused on improving quality of life–and quality of care–for seriously ill patients and family caregivers from the time of diagnosis, during aggressive treatments and beyond.  Aging baby boomers are expected to double the approximately 90,000,000 Americans now living with serious and life-threatening illness over the next 25 years. While there were almost no palliative care programs in U.S. hospitals just 10 years ago, the Center for the Advancement of Palliative Care (CAPC) reports that, “In the last five years alone, access to palliative care in our nation′s hospitals has more than doubled.”

MSNJ & Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice Survey have teamed up to poll physicians on their confidence level in addressing these issues. Click here to take the five-minute survey

The next Policy & Strategy Panel (PSP) meeting is scheduled for Thursday June 23 at 4:30 P.M. at the Medical Society of New Jersey Conference Center, located at 2 Princess Road in Lawrenceville, NJ. The PSP is a joint meeting of MSNJ’s administrative councils and committees that meets approximately six times per year to develop organizational policy on topics important to the health and healthcare in New Jersey. The physician members of the PSP investigate issues and topics in healthcare and recommend specific policy statements or actions to the MSNJ Board of Trustees. The PSP is co-chaired by the first vice president and president-elect of MSNJ.

The June 23rd agenda includes:

  • “Safety Features for High School and Collegiate Football: A Plan to Alter or Eliminate Kickoffs,” presented by Vincent K. McInerney, MD, Chair, MSNJ Committee on the Medical Aspects of Sports, with a special appearance by former New York Jets quarterback, Ray Lucas
  • Discussion of determinations of physician scope of practice by health insurers
  • E-prescribing principles and pending eRx legislation
  • Update on legislation

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. Read more.

AMA Names Dr. James Madara New EVP/CEO

Chicago – The American Medical Association (AMA) today named James L. Madara, M.D., as its new Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Madara will assume leadership of the nation’s oldest and largest physician group on July 1.

Dr. Madara, 60, is an accomplished academic medical center physician, medical scientist and administrator who served as Timmie Professor and Chair of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine before assuming the Thompson Distinguished Service Professorship and deanship at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine,  where he was the longest serving Pritzker dean in the last 35 years. Subsequently, he added the responsibility of CEO of the University of Chicago Medical Center, bringing together the university’s biomedical research, teaching and clinical activities. As CEO, he engineered significant new affiliations with community hospitals, teaching hospital systems, community Federally Qualified Health Centers on Chicago’s South Side, as well as with national research organizations including the Janelia Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Bethesda and the Ludwig Foundation of New York.

“The AMA is a venerable institution, and I am honored to lead it during this challenging and exciting time,” Dr. Madara said. “The AMA has been at the forefront working to improve public health, physician practice, patient care and our American health care system for the past 164 years. Today more than ever, America’s patients and physicians need a strong and vibrant AMA to tackle the many challenges facing them. I look forward to leveraging my skills and experience to help the AMA succeed and fulfill its core mission to promote the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health.”

While at the University of Chicago from 2002-2009, Dr. Madara oversaw a significant renewal of the institution’s biomedical campus, including the Comer Children’s Hospital, the Gordon Center for Integrative Science, a new adult hospital pavilion, and the Knapp Center for Biomedical Discovery. His deanship also extended to the University’s renowned Biological Sciences Division.

“The American Medical Association is thrilled to have a proven medical leader like Dr. Madara serve as our next EVP/CEO,” said Ardis D. Hoven, M.D., chair, AMA Board of Trustees. “Dr. Madara is a strong strategic thinker and planner who has a track record of bringing people together to accomplish significant, ambitious, health-related goals and projects. Having overseen a $1.6 billion integrated academic medical center, Dr. Madara understands many of the complex clinical, academic and business-related issues confronting medicine and health care today. His insight and perspective will be invaluable in helping the AMA tackle its agenda.”

Dr. Madara is a noted academic pathologist and an authority on epithelial cell biology and on gastrointestinal disease.  He has published more than 200 original papers and chapters, making important contributions to understanding the biology of the cells that line the digestive tract. His work has garnered both national and international awards.

Dr. Madara has served as President of the American Board of Pathology, as Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Pathology, has received a prestigious MERIT Award from the NIH,  has been elected to membership in the Association of  American Physicians, and recently received the Davenport Award for lifetime achievement in gastrointestinal disease from the American Physiological Society.

Most recently, Dr. Madara served as senior advisor with Leavitt Partners, a highly innovative health care consulting firm started by former Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt.

Dr. Madara earned his medical degree from Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia. He completed his internship and residency at New England Deaconess Hospital in Boston. He subsequently completed a fellowship in anatomy and cell biology at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston (now Brigham and Women’s Hospital). Following his fellowship, Dr. Madara joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School where he rose to a full tenured professor and served as director of the Harvard Digestive Diseases Center.

Dr. Madara is married to Vicki M. Madara. They have two children: Alexis and Max.


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:

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.