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2014 Message from MSNJ President, Ruth Schulze, MD

MSNJ –HAPPY 2014!

As we begin a New Year, it seems like a perfect time to look back on 2013 and all that MSNJ has been doing.  At my inaugural last May, I suggested 5 initiatives as part of our strategic plan:

  1.                 Outreach for Hospital Staff and Large Group Membership
  2.                 Increased Student Participation
  3.                 Community Partnership
  4.                 Quality Certification for Medical Liability Insurance Reduction
  5.                 Coalition Building with Specialty Societies

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While we have made progress in all these areas, our mission and battles continue.  But isn’t that a prime reason for MSNJ’s existence- to defend physicians in their professional battles – to be the representative voice of the physician community- to be the watchdog protecting the back of the medical profession.

Scope of practice, out-of-network payments, maintenance of certification, insurance network adequacy, physician exclusions, SGR repeal, ICD-10 conversion, medical liability reform and the prevention of bad legislation are all on MSNJ’s daily “to do “ list.

The MSNJ BOT was recently asked a visioning question at our November board retreat:

If there were no financial or staffing constraints, “I would like my medical society to….”

Board members consistently answered; Increase Effective Communication, Redefine Membership Options, Partner with Community Groups & Organizations, Promote Quality Medicine, Rebrand MSNJ, Create a Public Relations Campaign, Recapture Physician Esteem and ultimately, Increase MSNJ Relevance to Physicians.

These issues are of critical importance to NJ physicians, but interestingly, they are also the same issues which our neighboring states are tackling as well.  Physicians everywhere are struggling with similar issues and feeling equally frustrated and threatened by our flawed medical system.  So much of the daily practice of medicine seems like a fight- insurers, lawyers, legislators, administrators and sometimes even colleagues are all attacking us.  This onslaught has made many physicians jaded and negative. We, the entire physician community, need to recapture the positive side of medicine and reaffirm the healing aspect of our profession.

To that end, I have asked the MSNJ Foundation to help establish a physician led community outreach program targeting adolescent and young adult multicausational  health problems. This public health initiative is modeled after a similar program in Delaware entitled “OBVIOUS”.  I look forward to sharing more details as this program takes shape over the next months.  MSNJ is also introducing a “Women in Medicine” discussion series and CME program this March with a follow-up “Collaborative Health Team” event anticipated for the fall of 2014.  We are also facilitating scheduled quarterly meetings of all specialty societies so that the “Medical Voice” of NJ physicians can be one of unity and well-being.

Such programs are just the beginning of our campaign to revitalize our society and create,

“ The New MSNJ – The Voice of NJ Physicians”.

In February, the BOT will meet for Part 2 of our yearly retreat to establish our 2014 organizational strategic plan.  While there are less than 5 months left in my presidency, our collective mission has no endpoint.  MSNJ’s mission is not a destination but rather an ongoing journey.  Just as in 1766, MSNJ as  the physician voice, is speaking to protect our profession and promote the betterment of public health.  Individually our physician message is important but only heard by a select few.  Together, our physician voice can be powerful ,so let’s “Get Loud” in 2014 as MSNJ becomes “The Physician Voice” in NJ.

– Ruth Schulze, MD
MSNJ President

Sport Injury Prevention – President’s Message: October 10

By Dr. Mary Campagnolo, MSNJ President

Over 3.5 million children ages 14 years and under receive medical treatment for sports injuries each year, according to Safe Kids, USA, a group of organizations that work together to prevent unintentional childhood injury.  As the fall athletic pre-season is about to begin at schools throughout New Jersey, it is important to note that 62 percent of sports-related injuries happen during practice rather than games.

The National Institutes of Health’s MedlinePlus makes the following recommendations for reducing the risk of sports injury:

  • Getting a physical to make sure you are healthy before you start playing your sport
  • Wearing the right shoes, gear and equipment
  • Drinking lots of water
  • Warming-up and stretching
  • Recovering from old injuries completely before starting-up your sport again. If possible, protect the injured part of your body with padding, a brace or special equipment. When you do start playing again, start slowly.

The National Institutes of Health’s web site MedlinePlus, is a free resource available for patients and their families. Produced by the National Library of Medicine, it offers information about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues.

Help Our Team in the Fight Against MS! – President’s Message: September 24

By Dr. Mary Campagnolo, MSNJ President

ImageI am leading an MSNJ team – MSNJ Heroes and Healers –  for Bike MS: City to Shore Ride taking place this weekend, September 29 & 30.  We’ve formed this team for Bike MS because, let’s face it – riding 150 miles is nowhere near as difficult as confronting a lifetime with multiple sclerosis!

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.

If you are interested in participating as a cyclist in this year’s ride or are interested in making a donation to our cause, visit the MSNJ Team Page today!

Make a difference today, join us in our Fight Against MS!

 

 

Water Safety – President’s Message: August 2

By Dr. Mary Campagnolo, MSNJ President

As the summer heat continues, it is important to share the critical importance of water safety with your patients. According to a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 10 people die from unintentional drowning every day. Of these drowning victims, two are children age 14 or younger. Drowning is the leading cause of injury death among children ages 1-4, and occurs most commonly in a swimming pool.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Pool Safely campaign is a national public education effort to reduce child drownings, near-drownings and entrapments in swimming pools and spas. The campaign’s message is that Simple Steps Save Lives.

Simple water steps that could help families avoid a tragedy include:

Rule #1 – Never leave a child unattended around a pool, spa, bathtub or any body of water.

When visiting a pool or spa:

  • Teach children basic water safety skills.
  • Learn how to swim and ensure your children know how to swim as well.
  • Avoid entrapment by keeping children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings.
  • Have a phone close by at all times when visiting a pool or spa.
  • If a child is missing, look for the child in the pool or spa first, including neighbors’ pools or spas.
  • Share safety instructions with family, friends, babysitters and neighbors.

 If you have a pool:

  • Install a 4-foot fence around the perimeter of the pool and spa, including portable pools.
  • Use self-closing and self-latching gates; ask neighbors to do the same if they have pools or spas.
  • If your house serves as the fourth side of a fence around a pool, install and use a door or pool alarm.
  •  Maintain pool and spa covers in good working order.
  • Ensure any pool or spa you use has compliant drain covers; ask if you do not know.
  • Have life-saving equipment such as life rings, floats or a reaching pole available and easily accessible

 At home:

  • Always keep a young child within arm’s reach in a bathtub. If you must leave, take the child with you.
  • Don’t leave a baby or young child in a bathtub under the care of another young child.
  • Never leave a bucket or basin containing even a small amount of liquid unattended.
  • Always empty and store buckets where young children cannot reach them.
  • Consider placing locks on toilet seat covers in case a young child wanders into the bathroom.

Visit www.PoolSafely.gov  for more information.

Fireworks Safety– President’s Message: July 3

By Dr. Mary Campagnolo, MSNJ President

The Fourth of July is rapidly approaching! According to the latest report from the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), there were reports of three fireworks-related deaths and an estimated 8,600 hospital emergency room treated injuries in 2010. In 2009, CPSC had reports of two deaths and an estimated 8,800 injuries. In 2008, CPSC had reports of seven deaths and an estimated 7,000 injuries.

As responsible physicians concerned about the health of the public, we encourage all to review and follow these important tips. Safely enjoy our country’s celebration of independence and freedom!

The CPSC has released the following Fireworks Safety Tips:

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

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’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.