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News & Press: Newsletter Archive

May-June 2014 Newsletter

Thursday, May 1, 2014  
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CSEPS 3
 
E-News for Colorado Ophthalmologists                                                                             May/June 2014
In This Issue
Membership - Are you in?

Together we are stronger and that's why we need you to renew your CSEPS membership. You should have already received your dues bill via mail. Please send it in today. Questions? Contact Chet in the CSEPS offices.

Raise Your Glasses Logo
Join CSEPS and COA for May 28 social mixer

Spring has sprung and it's time to shake off the winter blues and reconnect. CSPES is once again partnering with the Colorado Optometric Association to host a social mixer for Colorado ophthalmologists and optometrists. Join us at wine cellar in Brooks Steakhouse in the Denver Tech Center on May 28 for happy hours. This no-agenda get together offers you a chance to catch up with old friends and make some new ones. Register today by clicking here

Send us your best selfie!
 
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and at CSEPS we couldn't agree more. That's why we need your help. One of the best tools to help our advocacy efforts for you is, well, a picture of you. So send us your best selfie! We want pictures that show you in action - at your practice, in the exam room or the surgical suite. Our goal is to help put a face on the ophthalmology profession in Colorado. Whether you snapped it with your iPhone or engaged a professional photographer, send us your best pictures. Mind your HIPAA manners and be sure to include appropriate permissions and credits. Send your pictures to Chet Seward.
CSEPS pushes for changes to insurance exchange 90-day grace period
CSEPS joined the Colorado Medical Society and 10 other organizations to encourage Colorado Commissioner of the Division of Insurance Marguerite Salazar to make changes to proposed regulations regarding the 90-day grace period associated with potential non-payment of claims by patients that receive advanced premium tax credits through Affordable Care Act (ACA). When a patient enters into the second and third month of the grace period, the ACA requires that health plans notify the enrollee's physician, but the notification requirement is vague and does not indicate when such notification must be made. CSEPS advocated that health plans must alert physicians when patients enter the second or third month of the grace period through normal claims remittance advice information, and that such advice is binding on the carrier. Read the full letter sent to Commissioner Salazar here. The new regulation is set to go into effect on July 1, 2014. Learn more about what you need to know about the 90-day grace period and the state's health insurance exchange here.
AAO Mid-Year Forum Success
The American Academy of Ophthalmology's Mid-Year Forum featured not only hard-charging hill visits where physician leaders lobbied for ophthalmology's priorities, it also featured an excellent program covering a range of cutting edge topics. Highlights include payment reform, managing new EHR risks, health care integration, the latest on global ophthalmology trends and big data. Make plans now to attend next year's meeting, and since you missed this year's session please click here to review the report that covers all of the sessions. Be sure to check out this great resource. 
May is UV Safety Month

Accumulated ultraviolet exposure from the sun can heighten the risk of eye diseases such eye cancer and cataracts, a leading cause of blindness worldwide. Intense UV exposure can also cause temporary blindness known as photokeratitis, while extended sun exposure is linked to growths such as pterygium, or surfer's eye.

EyeSmart provides the following tips for your patients to protect their eyes from the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation:

  • Choose glasses that block 100 percent of UV rays.
  • Wear sunglasses even if it's cloudy.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim as well as sunglasses and sunscreen.
  • Certain medications may cause increased sensitivity to sunlight, so take extra precautions if using certain treatments.
  • When at the beach or in the pool, remember that rays reflected off sand, water or pavement can burn your eyes.
  • Don't rely on contact lenses; they may have UV protection but cannot protect the entire eye area from burning rays. Remember your sunglasses.

To learn more about UV safety, encourage your patients to visit the AAO's public education website at www.GetEyeSmart.org.

President's update
Mission of the Colorado Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons:
GeorgeUlrich
George Ulrich, MD
  • Promote excellence in patient care
  • Foster professional fellowship and continuing medical education
  • Be a strong advocate for patients and the physicians who serve them.

Things going on right now:

  • Coding seminar - The intent of CODEquest was to focus on ICD 10 implementation and coding requirements.  We were fully prepared to do this.  Due to the abrupt delay of ICD 10 we chose to cancel this event.
  • TARGET initiative - We have begun implementing our Teach Ask Respond Grow Educate Transform initiative that is focused on growing membership by 30% and increasing engagement with existing members. As part of this initiative our next CSEPS Connect event is coming up so please plan on joining us.
  • CSEPS Connect in Fort Collins.  Delayed due to spring break conflicts. To be re-scheduled. 
  • We are totally revamping our web site to better serve you.
  • CSEPS Membership - working toward including a large group of ophthalmologists from Kaiser Permanente.
  • Legislation and election cycle. 
    • We are monitoring a prescription early refill bill.
    • We now have our PAC and small donor committees registered with the Secretary of State We are soliciting for all our physicians and other eligible persons to contribute to the PAC and the small donor committee.  Please contact Chet for information about how you can contribute and how you can help as we go into the 2014 election cycle.
    • If you know any candidates or anything about any candidates (positive or negative) please share it with Chet and me to help us analyze the races.

Things coming up:

  • Mixer with optometrists - We are partnering with the Colorado Optometric Association again to hold a no-agenda social mixer on May 28. Plan on attending

CSEPS represents more than 50% of Colorado ophthalmologists. Everyone needs to be a member. We want to grow our membership:

  • We fight for our priorities in the state legislature. All of our funding for advocacy comes from membership dues.
  • We have dealt with numerous issues during this legislative session.  We express opinions in the best interest of our profession and the patients we serve.
  • Organization and numbers gives us credibility and influence. 
  • The more members we have, and the stronger our organization - the more effective we are in promoting our profession.

If you are not a member, please join, participate and contribute. Click here for an online application. If you prefer to support the organization and mission without joining you can send a check to CSEPS c/o Chet Seward, 7351 E. Lowry Blvd, Denver, CO 80230. If you are a member - talk to non-member ophthalmologists you know about the importance of joining. Have them contact our executive Chet Seward at 303-810-8689.

 

Legislative update
Dick Brown
by Dick Brown, CSEPS lobbyist

Monday, April 28, marks the 111th day of the 2014 Legislative Session - at the end of Monday, we will have no more than 9 calendar days remaining before adjournment sine die. Everything on the status of bills table is current through the close of business, Friday, April 25.

We carefully are watching one bill HB14-1359 which would authorize insurance carriers to establish mechanisms whereby patients with multiple prescriptions could have their refill dates synchronized for convenience. In addition we participated in the build up and ultimate passage of SB14-187 that would create a Colorado Commission on Affordable Health Care. This Commission will to look at the health care cost drivers, access to care, evidence based health care and other issues and make recommendations to the General Assembly for statutory changes. Learn more about the commission here

 

Be sure to check out all of the latest information on bills we are tracking by clicking on the status of bills table here.

 
The state conventions of the Democrats and the Republicans were recently held. At those conventions, candidates for statewide office were selected. As expected Governor Hickenlooper was nominated for reelection, as was US Senator Mark Udall. On the Republican side, we have some interesting races shaping up. Former Congressman Tom Tancredo has been certified for the Republican primary by virtue of a petition drive rather than convention nomination.  Former Congressman Bob Beauprez also filed petition signatures and the Secretary of State has now verified his candidacy.  Incumbent Secretary of State, Scott Gessler, secured a position on the ballot at the convention. Gessler opted to run for Governor rather than seek reelection as Secretary of State. Former State Senator Mike Kopp also made the primary ballot at the convention, and in a bit of a surprise got the top line over Gessler.  The Republicans have a 4 person primary and a plurality is all that is needed to determine the party's nominee to face Governor Hickenlooper.  The winning candidate could get the nomination with a plurality of between 26% and 30%. We will be actively involved in the upcoming election season so if you're interested in participating in helping us champion ophthalmology's priorities then email me here and we will get you plugged in!
Medicare physician pay data release: Don't ignore it, understand it and be prepared to explain it

Medicare recently released a massive trove of physician payment data to the public. Your patients need to know what this data really means and you should take steps now to ensure that they get the full story.

CSEPS fielded a number of media inquiries and coordinated closely with AAO to formulate a response that emphasized that ophthalmologists strongly support data sharing for the purposes of performance improvement. Importantly, these raw Medicare data only tell part of the story. Specifically:

  • Ophthalmology has one of the highest percentages of elderly patients among medical specialties and common expensive diseases occur in this age group.
  • Payments released are gross payments and do not reflect the fact that ophthalmology carries one of the highest overheads of any specialty.
  • Data includes Part B drugs that account for about 20 percent of all ophthalmology payments. This is a big reason why ophthalmology is so prominent within the Medicare database.

CSEPS encourages you to take proactive steps rather than dismissing this release. The

Catherine Hanson

following adapted recommendations from former AMA Sr. VP for Public and Private Sector Advocacy and former California Medical Association General Counsel Catherine Hanson originally appeared in the April 16, 2014, edition of ASAP from the Colorado Medical Society.

 

What physicians should do?

"Review your data! This is not the time to put your head in the sand. The 'transparency' genie is not going back in the bottle - ever. And of course, where Medicare goes, private payers usually are not far behind. 

 

As discussed below, there are a number of steps physicians can and should take to protect themselves from the potential adverse consequences of this publicity. But if you don't know what has been published about you and where you really rank..., (then) you can't protect yourself.

 

The first step is to look at your numbers and confirm whether they are correct. Historically, there have often been major data errors in databases of this type. If CMS has it wrong, you should get the information corrected as soon as possible. (Read more here.)
Federal advocacy: CSEPS leaders press for change in Washington, D.C.

CSEPS physician leaders Drs. David Johnson and Alan Kimura took to Capitol Hill during the second week of April to push for a number of critical ophthalmology reforms. Key advocacy items included permanent repeal of the SGR, relieving burdens of electronic health records

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Alan Kimura, MD, MPH, (left) and David Johnson, MD, take a break between Hill visits.

(EHR), truth in advertising and promoting vision-research funding. The hill visits were part of AAO's Midyear Forum, an excellent opportunity for Colorado physicians to make their voices heard in Washington, DC. Plan on attending next year.

The cherry blossoms were in bloom but the beauty of the moment couldn't replace the strong disappoint in the latest failure by Congress to repeal the SGR. "Kicking this can, yet again, is incredibly disheartening, especially in light of the strong momentum that the former bipartisan, bicameral legislation had to fix this fatally flawed formula," said Alan Kimura, MD, MPH. During hill visits Drs. Kimura and Johnson strongly encouraged Colorado Congressional leaders to get back to work and not miss this important opportunity to finally put this issue to bed. They also advocated for:

  • the passage of the Electronic Health Records Improvements Act (H.R. 1331) would provide exemptions for small practices and physicians nearing retirement to avoid workforce shortages;
  • support for the Truth in Healthcare Marketing Act (H.R. 1427) would protect patients by strengthening the Federal Trade Commission's authority to challenge misleading marketing by health care providers; and
  • adequate funding for vision research is essential to advance the quality of eye care, including $730 million for the National Eye Institute and $10 million for the Department of Defense Peer Reviewed Vision TraumaResearch Program. 
CSEPS is the Colorado ophthalmology society 
Join us in helping to ensure excellence in Colorado eye care. Maybe you think you're already a member. Check the CSEPS website to confirm you are a member. If you're not, please contact Chet Seward in the CSEPS offices by e-mail or by phone at (720) 858-6336 to renew or join today.
The Colorado Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons is the Colorado ophthalmology society representing Colorado ophthalmologists who specialize in the medical and surgical treatment of eye disease. This newsletter is published by the CSEPS communications division, which works with CSEPS physician leadership and the American Academy of Opthalmology to advocate on behalf of physicians. Please direct questions to cseps@cms.org or call (720) 858-6336.

We want to hear from you! Contact CSEPS at 720-858-6336 or cseps@cms.org Link

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