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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: Seeing This Through

Posted By Chet Seward, Friday, April 3, 2020

Chet Seward,
Executive Director

As I look back on the last few weeks and reflect on the COVID-19 pandemic I must confess that I am still a bit dazed and disjointed. At quiet times, late at night, as I peer into the future, I will also say that sometimes I am still a little scared. These emotions are both expected and normal. That’s exactly what I have heard from many CSEPS members like you since the outbreak really took hold in Colorado in March. To be clear, I and my loved ones are ok and it is my sincere hope that yours are too. That said, the phone calls, the texts, the emails from Colorado ophthalmologists have all been important to me not only because of the strengthened personal connections, but also because of the determination and dedication many of you have shown in the face of these trying times.

 

I know that it is tough right now. I also want you to know how grateful we are for your professionalism and your care of patients in need.

 

While looking ahead is a perilous task at this moment, one thing is clear. At CSEPS we are right there with you, your practice and your community. We will see this through.

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COVID-19 response volunteer opportunities

Posted By Chet Seward, Friday, April 3, 2020

Medical professionals and administrators are urgently needed to donate their time to provide free telehealth visits to the hundreds of thousands of currently uninsured and underserved Coloradans. This work will be performed entirely from home, primarily via telephone and/or video calls. Callers will provide their symptoms over the phone, and those who need medical attention will be triaged to a queue for telephone-based care.  

 

The Colorado Covid-19 Innovation Response Team setup by Gov. Polis is specifically looking for volunteers:

  • Medical professionals (Doctors, Nurses, Mental Health professionals)
  • Trained administrators (familiar with SOAP notes, triage, scheduling, etc.)
  • Fluent in English
  • Fluency in a second language is highly desirable
  • Medical professionals must carry active licenses for their profession (retired professionals can reinstate their licenses pursuant to recently updated DORA regulations)
  • Medical professionals must carry malpractice insurance.  COPIC will provide malpractice insurance for volunteer physicians (MD and DO).
  • Volunteers will need a phone and a computer with internet access

 

Even a few hours a week could make a meaningful difference for the people who need it most. Sign up now.

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COVID-19 resources

Posted By Chet Seward, Friday, April 3, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, CSEPS remains focused on providing you with the resources and information you need to safely care for your patients and preserve the viability of your practice.

 

Nationally, CSEPS continues to partner closely with the American Academy of Ophthalmology who has an excellent site. Rather than reinventing the wheel and filling up your inbox with even more email, we are collaborating locally with the Colorado Medical Society (CMS) and other state specialty societies to compile more state-specific resources. CMS has a nice set of information broken down by relevant areas including general questions, telehealth, care protocols, PPE, testing, workforce and financial support. There is also a secure physician-only discussion board that has rich dialogue and practical advice from doctors across the state on issues related to current practice and the COVID response.

 

Besides current problems relating to COVID testing and the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE), CSEPS staff has fielded a number of questions from members centered on Governor Polis’ executive order pausing voluntary and non-essential surgeries and procedures,  and practice viability issues given the striking downturn in patient visit volume. This useful list from AAO will help ophthalmologists determine what is and isn’t essential as they work to comply with the executive order (also see this FAQ from DORA). The recently passed CAREs act to help stimulate the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak had important components that can aid your practice with keeping staff on payroll using a Small Business Administration loan that can be forgivable. Get details here and here. In addition to suspending the 2% sequestration cuts to Medicare payments from May 1 until Dec. 31, Medicare also announced accelerated, advanced payments to physicians due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This program might also be a way to weather the financial storm in your practice, but be aware these advance payments must be paid back within a certain time period. Read the fact sheet here.

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CSEPS co-sponsors COVID town hall featuring Sens. Bennet and Gardner

Posted By Chet Seward, Friday, April 3, 2020
Sen. Michael Bennet
Sen. Cory Gardner
CSEPS co-sponsored a special, physician, virtual town hall by the Colorado Medical Society that focused on the recently enacted $2 trillion CAREs act. Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner presented detailed information about the bill and fielded questions from physicians, emphasizing their recent work to ramp up delivery of PPE and expand testing especially for health care workers. Both senators repeatedly thanked physicians like you and other clinicians for your service during the pandemic. They encouraged physicians to contact their offices and welcomed the opportunity to serve as a resource. The program ended with a status update from Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment Chief Medical Officer Eric France, MD, MPH, who reported that as of 4/1/2020 Colorado had 3,342 positive case reported, with 620 hospitalized and 80 deaths. Modeling suggests that Colorado can expect peak surge during the second or third week of April. Dr. France reported that current data indicate that social distancing may be having a positive impact on flattening the curve.

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Stressed because of COVID?

Posted By Chet Seward, Friday, April 3, 2020

Whether you’re on the frontlines or sidelined and deeply concerned about the viability of your practice given mandatory closures because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the truth is that the level of anxiety and stress permeating the health care system right now is amazing. CSEPS encourages you to remember and prioritize your wellbeing. If you or a colleague are struggling, then consider calling the new COVID-19 Care Line by the Colorado Physician Health Program (CPHP). Call the Care Line at 720-810-9131, you will be linked with a physician peer who will listen and discuss stresses associated with the COVID-19 crisis and caring for those suffering from the disease. This free service is not treatment, but rather an opportunity for peer support in a confidential environment. Get more information here.

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Calls for COVID expanded liability protection

Posted By Chet Seward, Friday, April 3, 2020

CSEPS joined the Colorado Medical Society and other state and county medical societies in a letter to Gov. Polis strongly advocating for a new executive order that would provide liability immunity protections for confirmed, potential and suspected COVID-19 cases. Ophthalmologists and other physicians have answered the call all over the state to help with the response to the pandemic. The letter calls for the extension of those same protections for physicians who are operating under crisis standards of care or who are providing care outside of their normal practice location or outside of their primary practiced specialty or sub-specialty in response to workforce surge needs during this public health emergency. Read the letter here.

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Executive Director's Update: Thanks, I Forgot

Posted By Chet Seward, Thursday, February 6, 2020

If you have kids, then perhaps this scenario sounds familiar. In the past as one of my children ambled out the door in the dead of winter (frequently in short sleeves), I would ask, “Did you grab a coat?” I would often get a gruff harrumph in retort, but sometimes I would get, “Thanks, I forgot.” While my kids are far too old now for nagging, I was reminded of that reply recently when talking with a CSEPS member who is glaucoma specialist about the eyedrop early refill bill that CSEPS helped to pass in 2016. Except in this instance the roles were reversed, as I was the one doing the thanking while muttering about my memory.

This law provides important protections for patients, especially those with chronic eye conditions like glaucoma that require regular eyedrops. If patients run out of drops because of unintentional wastage before the prescription is due, then they can get a refill within certain time frames. It sounds pretty commonsense, but it required some savvy CSEPS advocacy to pass the bill.

But here’s the thing – many patients and even some ophthalmologists don’t know about these protections for eye health. Whether they never knew or just had a memory lapse, it is important to educate and remind people about this law. Here is a one-page fact sheet for you to hand out to your patients and display in your waiting room. So if your patients are experiencing problems getting their eyedrops refilled by pharmacists or health plans then encourage them to use this resource so that they can get the medicine they need. Bottom line, when good work gets done, we want to ensure that your patients continue to reap the benefits. Who knows maybe you will even get a thanks – just don’t forget your coat. It’s cold out there.

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Coronavirus: Information to be prepared

Posted By Chet Seward, Thursday, February 6, 2020

While concerns about the new 2019-nCoV coronavirus are growing, authorities are emphasizing the need to be informed and prepared. Now is the time to ensure that you and your practice are prepared for an outbreak and there are good resources available from the state health department to bring you the latest news and provide you as a physician with the important resources including assessments, checklists and the latest clinical guidelines.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology has also shared important ophthalmology-specific information related to the new 2019-nCoV coronavirus.

CSEPS encourages you to review all of this information. 

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Call Congress: Fix prior auth headaches

Posted By Chet Seward, Thursday, February 6, 2020

Are you tired of paying staff extra to deal with Medicare Advantage prior authorizations or getting claims finalized? A bipartisan bill working its way through Congress, H.R. 3107 the Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act, may help solve some of these problems but grassroots pressure is needed to move it along. Use this link to learn more about the proposed act and to contact your member of the Colorado Congressional delegation to support federal HR 3107.

This is what it would do:

  • Establishing an electronic prior authorization (ePA) program for Medicare Advantage plans;
  • Prohibiting MA plans from requiring additional PA on any surgical or invasive procedure that was performed during an already-authorized procedure or a procedure that did not require PA;
  • Creating a process for “real-time decisions” for services for which PA requests are routinely approved;
  • Establishing beneficiary protections under MA plans; and
  • Developing transparency requirements for MA plans to abide by.

Feel free to share the link on other physician social media groups: http://www.votervoice.net/Shares/BAAAAAupACMTQAtlwwV7FAA

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Surprise bill legislation: Out-of-network data now available

Posted By Chet Seward, Thursday, February 6, 2020
One of the most highly contested bills (HB 19-1174) from the 2019 legislative session focused on how to protect patients from surprise bills for health care services from out-of-network providers. The legislation designated the Colorado All Payer Claims Database (CO APCD) as a data source for determining payment for out-of-network provider and emergency services. The CO APCD is specifically being used to calculate the 50th percentile paid (allowed) amounts for Emergency Department visits and 60th percentile paid amounts for Professional/Anesthesiology services by region and statewide. The bill went into effect on January 1, 2020, and the first datasets generated by CIVHC and other related resources are now available on the Division of Insurance (DOI) website. If you provide out of network services then be sure to review these resources. 

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