Wednesday, August 20, 2014

San Francisco Medical Society Blog


Providing news to the San Francisco Medical Community.

Cascade of Bills Out of Appropriations; Many Due for Floor Votes This Week

The Assembly and Senate appropriations committees last week approved hundreds of bills for floor votes, including dozens of health-related ones.

Some of the bills impacting health care are:

  • AB 2533 (Ammiano) and SB 964 (Hernandez) are aimed at ensuring health plans coverage is timely as well as adequate, and requires insurers to pay out-of-network charges for services they don't provide in a timely manner in-network.
  • SB 18 (Leno) would require the Department of Health Care Services to accept a $6 million grant from the California Endowment. The state in May turned down that money -- and its matching $6 million in federal funding -- which is earmarked for Medi-Cal renewal and enrollment assistance.
  • AB 1552 (Lowenthal) would make the Community Based Adult Services program an ongoing Medi-Cal benefit. CBAS is the program providing adult day health care services for frail and elderly Californians.  
  • SB 1052 (Torres) would require the board of Covered California to provide web links on the exchange website to health plans' drug formularies, and to create a search tool on the site for consumers to compare health plans' cost and coverage of particular drugs.
  • SB 492 (Hernandez) was approved, but not before huge chunks of the bill were amended at the urging of CMA/SFMS. SB 492 originally intends to expand scope of practice for optometrists to allow scalpel and laser surgery. The newly amended bill limits optometrists to provide certificates of immunizations. The amended bill text has not yet been released.
  • SB 1054 (Steinberg) brings back grants for the Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction program. Those grants are for counties that develop a cost-effective system of prevention, intervention and incarceration for mentally ill offenders.

Source: California Healthline, August 18, 2014.

Legislative Update: SB 492 (Optometry Scope of Practice)

SB 492 (Hernandez) moved out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Thursday, only after the CMA advocacy team successfully stripped the most egregious language from the bill. However, SB 492 will still allow Optometrists to administer flu and shingles vaccines.

CMA/SFMS and many physicians expressed grave concerns about the bill, as it allows optometrists to perform scalpel and laser surgical eye procedures and medication injections without training. SB 492 removes accountability and standards in eye care while putting patients at risk. And for these reasons, CMA and SFMS are opposing the bill and urging California legislators to reject this bill.

Click here to view more information on SB 492

Open Payments System Back Online, Review Period Extended

CMS announced that the Open Payments System (OPS) is back online, about 11 days after it was taken down to investigate a reported data issue.

The Open Payments System, which is required under the Affordable Care Act’s Sunshine Act, aims to boost transparency by making public what payments health care providers have received from pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers. It has been scheduled to launch on September 30.

However, media reports discovered mistakes in the information that could undermine a health care providers' professional reputation, such as incorrectly listing drugmaker payments. Last week, the American Medical Association and more than 100 other medical professional groups in a letter asked CMS to delay the launch of the database by six months, expressing concern that the database “will not be ready and will likely lead to the release of inaccurate, misleading and false information”.

CMS Announcement

CMS said OPS is available again for physicians and teaching hospitals to review and contest payment data before the system goes public. The review period has been extended to September 8, with a 15-day correction period to follow.

A CMS spokesperson said the agency would provide more details about the OPS relaunch on today.

Asian Health Services Dedicates New Clinic to Long-time SFMS Member Rolland Lowe, MD

Asian Health Services received a $1 million donation from Dr. Rolland Lowe and Kathryn Lowe.

“My wife, Kathy, and I are happy to make this gift to Asian Health Services,” Dr. Lowe said in a statement. “The gift goes toward the new clinic and will benefit many medically underserved patients in our community.”

The Rolland & Kathryn Lowe Medical Center is a 15,000 sq. ft. facility on 3 floors. It houses 20 exam rooms and serves 10,000 patients annually at full capacity. It features a Geriatric Center of Excellence and a Family Medicine Center.

Dr. Rolland Lowe, a long-time member of the San Francisco Medical Society, has long been a leader not only in the community but in the medical profession as well. He was the first Asian-American President of not only the San Francisco Medical Society, but of the California Medical Association. At CMA, he spearheaded the founding of their community foundation, which continues to conduct many health-related projects of note.

While in medical practice, Dr. Lowe cared for some 20,000 patients in more than four decades of practicing medicine in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Even though some of his patients had no insurance coverage, no one was ever turned away. He helped form the Chinese Community Health Care Association, which grew to include more than 150 practicing physicians to provide culturally sensitive and affordable, even free care, in the San Francisco Chinatown community. He has also been a longtime key supporter of Chinese Hospital, a facility providing quality care for the Chinese and greater Asian communities in San Francisco.

Kathryn Lowe was also an active civil rights leader in the community. She was the Board Chair of Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), Square & Circle, and the Chinese Hospital Auxiliary. 

The San Francisco Medical Society is proud and honored to participate in this dedication of the Rolland & Kathryn Lowe Medical Center. It is a fitting tribute to visionary leaders who have dedicated their lives to the betterment of our community and medicine.

CME Certification Now Available Online

SFMS members can now take advantage of the CME certification service offered by the Institute for Medical Quality (IMQ).

The Medical Board of California requires physicians to complete 50 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ during every two-year period, with reporting deadlines based on the physician’s personal license renewal date (the last day of the month of the physician’s birthday).

IMQ’s CME Certification Program documents and verifies physicians’ CME activities. When certified by IMQ, physicians’ CME credits will automatically be accepted by the California Medical Board. Additionally, IMQ provides documentation of physicians' CME in the event of a medical board audit.

The CME Certification service helps physicians demonstrate to the public their dedication to high-quality medical care through a commitment to lifelong learning. Users are able to check the status of CME credits, keep track of their progress, and print their transcripts at their convenience from IMQ's online CME certification user portal.

IMQ's CME certification is $30 for CMA members, $55 for nonmembers. Physicians also can request that their CME certification information be sent to hospitals, health plans, specialty societies, and others for credentialing or membership renewal purposes at no additional charge.

Click here for more information about IMQ services.

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