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SlitLamp provides illuminating e-news for Colorado ophthalmologists. It keeps you in the know on the evolving Colorado health care scene by detailing the latest legislative and regulatory happenings. It also spotlights the information and resources you need for your practice.

 

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Executive director's update: Forward

Posted By Chet Seward, Monday, December 11, 2017

At this time of year, I enjoy looking back on the things I have done and learned over the past 12 months. Thinking back on the year’s adventures prompts many an ear-to-ear grin. Sometimes it is not all laughs, because if you’re like me it can devolve into a laundry list of “things yet to be done.” But I guess that is the spirit of work because we are never done. As Dr. Kimura has taught me this year it is the cadence, discipline and ultimately the intent of that work that lead to purpose.

So as 2017 comes to a close I am grateful for our collective, CSEPS purpose. I am grateful for your individual participation. And I am proud of never being done. CSEPS continues to move forward in championing the priorities of Colorado ophthalmologists and the patients they serve.

Here’s to the joy in that work of moving forward. I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday season. Onward to 2018!

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Rep. Buckner experiences a day in the life of an eye surgeon

Posted By Chet Seward, Monday, December 11, 2017

Dennis O'Connell, DO, and Rep. Janet Buckner (Aurora)

Rep. Janet Buckner (D-Aurora) has a history and a future in health care. Before starting her service in the Colorado House of Representatives, she had a long career in medical sales. As a member of the House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee, she is helping to set the future of health policy in Colorado. Even with her past professional experience and current policy expertise, Rep. Buckner had an “eye-opening” experience in late October when she shadowed Aurora retina surgeon Dennis O’Connell for a morning in the operating room. Dr. O’Connell expertly performed a pars plana vitrectomy with peeling of internal limiting membrane and then a pars plana vitrectomy with pars plana lensectomy. 

Setting public policy is important, complex work. Making sure that policymakers understand the operating-room context of their decisions is one of the objectives of the CSEPS (i)mmersion Day. The project partners legislative leaders, like Rep. Buckner, with practicing ophthalmologists to get a first-hand look at the passion, innovation and impact that eye physicians and surgeons have with their patients. It also helps to build lasting relationships, as witnessed by the end of this visit when Rep. Buckner and Dr. O’Connell were swapping lists of favorite current movies. Check out more photos from the day here. If you are you interested in hosting a legislator at your practice then please contact Chet Seward in the CSEPS offices. Thank you Rep. Buckner for your time, your interest in the practice of ophthalmology and your leadership.

Rep. Buckner and Dr. O'Connell debrief between surgeries. Dr. O'Connell performs surgery.

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Health care transparency: Physicians must post their prices starting in 2018

Posted By Chet Seward, Monday, December 11, 2017
Physicians must post their prices for at least the fifteen most common health care services provided beginning January 1, 2018, because of a 2017 law passed by the Colorado legislature. The Transparency in Health Care Prices Act (CRS 25-49-103) requires providers to conspicuously posting these prices, which are defined as the price before negotiating any discounts. These prices must include both a plain English description, along with the relevant CPT code, and must be updated annually. In addition, a disclosure has to be included that explains that the prices for services are estimates and that actual charges for services are dependent on the specific circumstances related to care delivered. Check out a fact sheet on the new bill from the Colorado Medical Society. Don’t miss the deadline. Make sure to have your list of your top 15 services ready by the start of the new year.

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Former Congressman Tom Tancredo and AG Cynthia Coffman join race for Governor, Brauchler pivots to pursue Attorney General seat

Posted By Chris Howes, Monday, December 11, 2017

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman

Conservative Tom Tancredo scared the heck out of all the other Republicans running for governor by announcing his candidacy on Halloween. Tancredo has served in the Colorado State House and as Colorado’s representative from the 6th congressional district from 1999-2009. He ran unsuccessfully for governor back in 2010 and then again in 2014. He actually even made a short-lived run for US President in 2007. Just a week later and after months of conjecture, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman threw her hat in the ring too, but many observers wonder if her campaign has been very effective in November. 

Candidate George Brauchler saw the writing on the wall in the crowded field for governor, and within a week had changed his plans over to running for the now vacant attorney general seat. If you think this is confusing, just remember we still have a full eleven months to go before voting begins! 

As for the Democrats, Congressman Jared Polis is getting the most Colorado media coverage and can easily self-fund his campaign due to his formidable personal net worth. Lieutenant Governor Donna Lynne is also in the race and looking for support from the pro-business Democrats in Denver who have supported her current boss, Governor John Hickenlooper. Her call earlier this week for universal healthcare may not do much to help in that effort. Recent commentary surrounding the Lynne campaign is that her message will essentially be: Stay the current course set by Hickenlooper. 

Have a very merry holiday season everyone!

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Another national leader from Colorado: Braverman graduates from AAO program

Posted By Chet Seward, Monday, December 11, 2017

AAO LDP Director Linda Tsai, MD, (left) and AAO Senior Secretary for Advocacy Daniel Briceland, MD, (right) recognize Rebecca Braverman, MD (center).

Colorado's standing on the national ophthalmology stage took another step higher thanks to the leadership of CSEPS Councilor to AAO Rebecca Braverman, MD. Dr. Braverman was recognized in November for completing her participation in the Academy’s Leadership Development Program (LDP) XIXI, Class of 2017. Dr. Braverman was among a select group of nineteen participants chosen for the LDP XIX, Class of 2017, from among a large group that was nominated by state, subspecialty and specialized interest societies.The class also included an international participant from Turkey who represented the International Council of Ophthalmology. When asked to reflect on the experience, Dr. Braverman was quick to respond. "The AAO LDP made me appreciate the work done by AAO and CSEPS members to protect the integrity of our profession and the well-being of our patients. Despite our past successes, now is not the time to rest on our laurels. I would encourage anyone interested in increasing their leadership skills and becoming more involved in the AAO or CSEPS to apply for the LDP. I learned a lot, and it was great fun!"

As with any good leadership training program participants had to work on a project and Dr. Braverman spearheaded work to revamp the CSEPS strategic plan to help ensure that the organization remains responsive to and focused on Colorado ophthalmology’s priorities. Congratulations Dr. Braverman and thank you for your service!

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Stephen Petty, MD, awarded as 2017 AAO Outstanding Humanitarian

Posted By Chet Seward, Monday, December 11, 2017

Colorado’s Stephen Petty, MD, received the prestigious Outstanding Humanitarian Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology in November in recognition of his years of service for the underserved around the world. 


Stephen Petty, MD, (center) is awarded the 2017 AAO Outstanding Humanitarian Award by AAO President Cynthia Bradford, MD, (left) and AAO CEO David W. Parke, II, MD.

CSEPS and ophthalmologists across the state celebrate Dr. Petty’s leadership, service and example to the rest of the profession. What started as a first year of medical school trip to Tijuana, Mexico, turned into a life’s calling of more than 100 trips across the globe. Over the span of 40 years Dr. Petty brought sight-saving vitreoretinal surgery to places where it did not previously exist and trained ophthalmologists from South America to Africa to Asia. In addition to direct care and provider training, Dr. Petty has also raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of these mission trips. Read CSEPS President Dr. Alan Kimura’s full nomination of Dr. Petty here. 

Congratulations Dr. Petty and thank you for being such a shining example of the profession.

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Stepping up efforts to prevent opioid abuse

Posted By Chet Seward, Sunday, October 15, 2017

By the time you read through this newsletter another person will have died from a drug overdose in the USA; one every 10 minutes or 63,000 people every year. The problem knows no regional, gender, age, income or other bounds. It is an an epidemic claiming more lives than at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis in 1995, and odds are that you, your family or your friends have been affected. In 2016 504 Coloradans died because of opioid overdoses. But strikingly, as Director of the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Robert Valuck, PhD, RPh, FNAP, notes, for every one death there are 10 treatment admissions for abuse, 32 ER visits for misuse or abuse, 130 people who abuse or are dependent and 825 non-medical users. Last, but certainly not least, 70% of non-medical opioid users get their drugs from the medicine cabinet. Excess supply of prescribed opioids left in the medicine cabinet is being diverted and is helping to drive the epidemic. 

It's overly simplistic to point to one solution to this multi-faceted problem, but physicians in general and ophthalmologists specifically can take steps to help prevent and reduce this scourge.

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The 21st century health care revolution

Posted By Chet Seward, Sunday, October 15, 2017
 
Dr. Williams reviews marketplace trends. 

The September CSEPS Connect event on the ins and outs of private equity firms purchasing ophthalmology practices was a rousing success. The room was packed and attendees stayed late to continue the conversation with AAO Past-president and EyeNet Editor Ruth Williams, MD, about this new trend and the larger evolutions occurring across ophthalmology. 

What began with the premise of why venture capitalists have their sights set on ophthalmologists, grew into an expansive, integrated and interactive presentation about how eyeMDs can help lead the current health care revolution. Dr. Williams reviewed the impacts of rapidly changing marketplace, increasing prices and decreasing reimbursements, demographic demands, evolving requirements due to the multi-generational workplace and the pervasive impacts of disruptive technology. Any one of these is a challenge, but taken together they represent a complex crux of questions about what to do next in order to survive. Dr. Williams’ expertise and experience shown through here with practical tips, real-world examples and much-needed perspective to remain curious, creative and committed to excellence whether you are pursuing a marriage with a venture capital firm or managing an independent practice. Check out her full deck here.

CSEPS thanks Dr. Williams for her dynamic leadership and her tireless willingness to share insights and perspectives to help colleagues.

CSEPS members pack the room to discuss why private equity firms are buying eyeMD practices and more.

 

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New CSEPS strategic plan

Posted By Chet Seward, Sunday, October 15, 2017
 
Leonard Seibold, MD,
president-elect 

CSEPS has a new strategic plan to help guide the organization into the future and stay focused on what is important to Colorado ophthalmologists. The plan, which was approved by the CSEPS board of directors during their meeting in September, is informed by the past, balanced by present needs of the profession in Colorado and focused on a future of the only organization in the state dedicated to championing Colorado’s ophthalmology priorities. It is the result of months of work, a statewide membership poll and dedicated time by your board of directors.

The plan continues to center on advocacy, communication and education, the top three identified priorities of members. It also seeks to keep the Colorado eyeMD community connected through social events and grounded through a new program to give back to the community through charity care.

As your CSEPS president-elect, I’m excited about the new plan and I encourage you to review it. I am always interested in hearing what you think, so send me a note about why the new plan is important to you and how you would like to help turn this plan into a reality. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Resolving Medicaid payment problems

Posted By Chet Seward, Sunday, October 15, 2017
In March of this year Colorado Medicaid officially switched over to new vendor (DXC Technology) to administer claim payments. The build up to and roll out of the system have been riddled with issues that have caused many problems for ophthalmologists. After hearing from numerous practices and discussing the issue further, the CSEPS board of directors joined other physician organizations in calling for immediate changes to resolve systems issues and interest payments to physicians for late payment of clean claims. CSEPS has heard from some members that are owed more than $100,000 in unpaid claims and as a result have had to divert staff, take out loans, skip personal paychecks and quit participating in Medicaid. In spite of efforts to lay blame elsewhere, the state continues to be pilloried for these ongoing problems, with regular media exposes and biting legislative hearings documenting the systemic problems within the system. CSEPS continues to work in concert with other specialty societies and the state medical society to get these issues resolved. Members are encouraged to visit the special “Known Issues & Updates” web page that Medicaid has developed. If your practice is experiencing dire problems with Medicaid billing and payment issues then please contact CSEPS Executive Director Chet Seward.

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