Gasline Newsletter June 2010

Volume 12, No. 2

President Signs Temporary SGR Fix into Law—21 Percent Cut Halted

On June 25, President Obama signed into law the “Preservation of Access to Care for Medicare Beneficiaries and Pension Relief Act of 2010.” The bill halted the mandated 21 percent Medicare physician payment cut and provides physicians a 2.2 percent positive payment update for services provided June 1 through November 30, 2010. The 2.2 percent increase is not retroactive to services provided January 1 – May 31.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has directed Medicare claims administration contractors to discontinue processing claims at the negative update rates and to temporarily hold all claims for services rendered June 1, 2010, and later, until the new 2.2 percent update rates are tested and loaded into the Medicare contractors’ claims processing systems. They expect to begin processing claims at the new rates no later than July 1, 2010. Claims for services rendered prior to June 1, 2010, will continue to be processed and paid as usual.

Claims containing June 2010 dates of service which have been paid at the negative update rates will be reprocessed as soon as possible. Affected physicians/providers who submitted claims containing June dates of service with charges less than the 2.2 percent update amount will need to contact their local Medicare contractor to request an adjustment. Submitted charges on claims cannot be altered without a request from the physician/provider. Physicians/providers should not resubmit claims already submitted to their Medicare contractor.

SB 726 on the Bar against the Corporate Practice of Medicine Moves Ahead

It took four roll calls for SB 726 to overcome opposition from CMA, CSA and other specialties and pass the Assembly floor last Monday. With 41 “aye” votes needed to pass, the final vote was 43 to 24 with 12 abstaining. Two weeks earlier, the measure could only muster 38 votes. SB 726 next returns to the Senate for a vote on concurrence in Assembly amendments, where medicine’s opposition will continue. While couched in terms of a pilot project, an Assembly staff analysis says SB 726 would allow the direct employment of physicians by 46 district hospitals and approximately 130 non-profit community hospitals and clinics. The bill also is opposed by free standing clinics that fear physicians now treating patients in rural and underserved areas will be lured away from their clinics to hospitals that can offer better pay and more supportive services. CMA and CSA have emphasized that SB 726 would undermine the existing “corporate bar” protections of physician independence from corporate and hospital CEO influences. CMA has offered compromises that would allow limited direct hiring of physicians by hospitals that document specific physician shortages. These offers have been rebuffed by the labor unions and hospital trade groups pushing the bill. CSA lobbyists Bill Barnaby Sr. & Jr. have supplied LPAD members with talking points and information to assist in urging their legislators to vote no. It is vital that lawmakers hear from their physician constituents on this important bill. As one of the session’s most contentious issues, the fight over the corporate bar continues.

CSA Past President Arthur O. McGowan, M.D.

On Thursday, June 24, a beloved Past President of the CSA passed away in his home. Dr. McGowan was President of the CSA 1986-1987 and served as the Editor of the CSA Bulletin from May of 1991 to May of 1997. He was a recipient of the CSA’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Award in 1998. The fall issue of the CSA Bulletin will include a remembrance of Dr. McGowan as a CSA leader and friend to many.

Propofol Shortage

The shortage of propofol continues since Teva Pharmaceuticals discontinued its production and Hospira has a mass recall in effect. APP Pharmaceuticals is the primary maker of the drug and is expanding its production to meet supply needs. More information can be found at the FDA site

2010 CSA Fall Hawaiian Seminar

Registration is open for CSA’s 2010 Fall Hawaiian Seminar, November 1-5, in beautiful Kona, Hawaii. Ronald Pearl, M.D. chairs a program of fascinating speakers and topics you will not want to miss.

Spring 2010 CSA Bulletin Online

The Spring 2010 CSA Bulletin is now online. It can be accessed from the CSA Home Page for three months from the date of mailing until the next issue of the Bulletin is published. The Bulletin is also archived on the Web site by individual article. You can find current and archived issues under Publications on the left-side navigation of the CSA Web Site.

Indexing Error on June 29—Not A Virus or Spam

You may have received an e-mail on June 29 that was sent to you in error. Please accept our apologies for this message. If you tagged the initial e-mail as spam, please un-do that since the server that sent it is the same one that houses the CSA website. Aeronet is the company that developed, manages and is upgrading the CSA website. The message you received was sent to you by mistake as they performed a synchronization routine between the new areas of the website and existing areas of the site. No data or membership information has been compromised. Thanks for your patience.

Narendra S. Trivedi, M.D.

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