Thursday, July 24, 2014

San Francisco Medical Society Blog


Providing news to the San Francisco Medical Community.

San Francisco Medical Society Hails Landmark Soda Tax Legislation to Fund Physician Education, Health, and Nutrition Programs

Legislation to create a tax of two cents per ounce on the distribution of soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages in San Francisco was officially placed on the November 4, 2014 ballot at today’s regular Board of Supervisors meeting.

The legislation has been endorsed by the San Francisco Medical Society and the California Medical Association to reduce the incidence of diabetes, obesity and tooth decay.

Dr. Lawrence Cheung, President of the San Francisco Medical Society stated, “As a forward thinking city, San Francisco is once again leading the nation in progressive public health policies. We will be the first major city in the country to actively decrease the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages as a way to combat our society's high rates of diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Revenue generated from this tax will go directly to programs that will improve our city's health and to those neighborhoods that need it most.

Dr. Shannon Udovic-Constant, a pediatrician who authored the pioneering California Medical Association resolution regarding sugar sweetened beverages stated, “Our members have been actively involved in the effort to put a soda tax on the ballot here in San Francisco and in helping to build a grassroots army of dedicated volunteers to help take this critical public health message to all San Franciscans. We are excited that the Board of Supervisors has taken this final step to place the soda tax on the November ballot.“

SFMS Executive Director Mary Lou Licwinko stated, “We are delighted with the actions of the Board of Supervisors to put this important issue before San Francisco voters. SFMS has long championed a soda tax and, once again, San Francisco is leading the country on an important public health issue.

The tax on the distribution of soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages in San Francisco is estimated to generate up to $54 million annually, which will be legally dedicated to fund active recreation and nutrition programs in schools, parks, and recreation centers; food access initiatives, drinking fountain and water bottle filling stations; and dental health services. Disadvantaged/low-income communities, including those most impacted by the diabetes and obesity epidemics, will be prioritized in funding decisions.

For more information, or for media inquiry, please contact Steve Heilig at (415) 561-0850 x270 or

8 Things You Should Know About the 2015 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Proposed Rule

If the policies set forth in the 2015 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule proposed rule take effect, physicians will be in for a lot of changes—many of them unfavorable—next year. Here are the top eight things that you should know:

  1. A 21% payment cut is scheduled for April 1. CMS observed in a fact sheet that current payment rates will apply through March as a result of a temporary payment patch enacted earlier this year and projected that payment rates will be cut by 20.9% April 1 unless Congress intervenes. The agency stated its support for repeal of the flawed sustainable growth rate formula that has triggered such large cuts.
  2. Global surgical packages will be eliminated. The rule proposes to discontinue all 10-day global surgical packages by 2017 and 90-day packages the following year. Packages instead would include only preoperative care and care given the day of surgery.
  3. Payments will be adjusted by the Value-Based Payment Modifier beginning next year. Despite continued AMA opposition, CMS plans to levy steeper payment adjustments and to continue basing the adjustments on costs and quality data two years before the adjustment is applied.
  4. Physicians in groups of 100 or more will see payment penalties or bonuses next year, determined by their group’s cost and quality performance in 2013. Bonuses and penalties based on 2014 performance will be applied to groups of 25-100 starting in 2016.

    All physicians will be subject to the modifier beginning in 2017, at which point the potential penalty will double to 4 percent. The pool of money available for bonuses depends on how much is collected in penalties so potential bonuses are not yet known.

  5. Quality reporting requirements will be increased in the face of penalties. CMS has reiterated a 2% payment penalty for physicians who don’t meet the 2015 Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) requirements and is proposing additional requirements physicians will need to fulfill.At the same time, the agency is proposing to cut the period physicians have to request an informal review of a PQRS penalty from 90 days to just 30 days.
  6. PQRS data will be publicly reported. The rule proposes making all 2015 measure data from group practices available in 2016. The agency also is hoping it will be able to publish later that year individual measures for all physicians on Physician Compare, a website plagued by accuracy and usability problems since it launched in 2010.
  7. Chronic care management services will be covered. Beginning next year, Medicare will pay $43.67 per patient per month for chronic care management provided by a physician’s office and $32.58 for care provided by a facility. Such services involve non-face-to-face care coordination for patients with multiple serious chronic conditions that are expected to last at least 12 months or until death.

  8. More telehealth services will be covered beginning in 2016. The proposed changes include greater access for patients in rural locations by expanding the number of rural sites.

  9. A new timeline for changing physician codes and service values would take effect in 2016. This revised timeline will mean physicians can submit recommendations no later than Jan. 15 for the following year.
  10. Source: AMA Wire, July 18, 2014 

California Physicians Affected by Blue Shield Data Breach

The Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) has notified physicians of a data breach that disclosed the social security numbers as well as names, business addresses, telephone numbers, medical groups, and practice areas of over 18,000 physicians who contract with Blue Shield of California.

DMHC discovered that Blue Shield of California had inadvertently included physician social security numbers in public rosters provided to DMHC. These rosters are generally public documents and subject to disclosure under the Public Record Act (PRA). As a result, DMHC produced the rosters, including the social security numbers, in response to 10 PRA requests made to DMHC between March 2013 and April 2014.

DMHC and Blue Shield have instituted additional protections to prevent any future disclosures of confidential physician personal information and recommend that physicians place fraud alerts on their credit files. Blue Shield is also offering affected physicians one-year of credit monitoring services though Experian’s ProtectMyID Alert.

Click here to view DMHC's data breach notification letter. 

Meaningful Use Public Health Measures – Free Webinar

CalHIPSO, the California Health Information Partnership and Services Organization, will be hosting a free webinar on how to meet 2014 meaningful use public health measures.

Wednesday, July 23


The presentation will provide information on all stage 1 and stage 2 public health measures, with a focus on ambulatory and outpatient EP.

Registration is NOT required. Click here to log onto the session on the schedule date/time (password is PH2014mu). For audio only, call toll-free (866) 469-3239 and use access code 927 578 614.

California Democratic Party Remains Neutral on Prop. 46

Backers of Proposition 46, the MICRA lawsuit measure, were dealt another severe blow this weekend when, despite their intense lobbying, the Executive Board of the California Democratic Party (CDP) rejected their efforts to gain an endorsement, instead voting to remain neutral.

Over the course of the three-day meeting, Democratic Party leaders and activists who reviewed Prop. 46 found that, if the initiative were to pass, health care costs would go up, access to care would go down, community clinics would be harmed and personal privacy will be put at risk.

Understanding its potentially devastating effects, traditionally Democratic groups such as the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the California Teachers Association, Planned Parenthood, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have all opposed Prop. 46, and advocated against the measure throughout the weekend, helping secure the neutral position. These groups were also joined by physicians, medical students and health care providers from around the state, including SFMS physician leaders Drs. Lawrence Cheung, Roger Eng, George Fouras, Richard Podolin, and Shannon Udovic-Constant.

The CDP has been a stronghold of the trial attorneys so getting it to take a neutral stand on the proposition is a big success for the No on 46 campaign.

More information about Prop. 46’s dangerous impacts, as well as a list of the unprecedentedly broad coalition opposing the measure, can be found at

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