Applications for CQ ‘U’ Now Being Accepted

As a North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) member you are eligible to participate in the Clinical Quality track of the Kanof Institute for Physician Leadership or CQ ‘U.’ Enrollment is now open – the deadline is Feb. 28, 2015 for the spring session. Learn more about this unique opportunity and apply today. Please direct questions to Erin Grover, 919-833-3836 X134.

Will The SGR Be Repealed in 2015? Stay Tuned…

Last year, the 113th Congress came closer than any previous Congress to repealing the Sustainable Growth Rate and presenting viable payment reforms. After a year of work, the relevant congressional committees had unanimous support for an SGR repeal bill that not only repealed the SGR and provided for a period of positive updates but also set the stage for a new generation of physician payment arrangements that promote quality and value while maintaining a viable fee-for-service system.   This was a significant accomplishment made possible by strong advocates within the Congress and a united front by organized medicine.
Unfortunately, this bipartisan, bicameral agreement failed to become law due to Congress’ persistent inability to agree on whether or how to offset additional costs to the current fictional budget baseline.  In March, Congress forced through a 17th SGR patch bill despite significant opposition.  Despite declarations from leaders on both sides of the aisle that work would proceed, there is no evidence that any serious efforts were made to resolve the budget issue.
There are only 37 days that the new Congress will be in session before the current SGR patch expires on April 1.  Fortunately, the 113th Congress left a blueprint for reform.  The AMA hopes legislators will build on the progress made last year so that medicine can focus on addressing other important health care policy issues.
Watch the Bulletin in the coming weeks for updates and talking points to let your representatives know this matter needs to be resolved for doctors and their patients.

Participating in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program? Prepare for Attestation

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reminds you that if you are an eligible professional participating in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program, you have until February 28, 2015 to attest to demonstrating meaningful use of the data collected during your EHR reporting period for the 2014 calendar year. If you are participating in the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program, please refer to the North Carolina deadlines for attestation information.
The CMS Attestation System is open and fully operational, and includes the 2014 Certified EHR Technology (CEHRT) Flexibility Rule options. Medicare eligible professionals can attest any time to 2014 data until 11:59 p.m. ET on February 28, 2015.
More details and helpful resources. North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) Director of Practice Improvement, Terri Gonzalez, also is available to answer questions, 919-833-3836 x123.

Flu Treatment and Prevention Key As Cases Reach Epidemic Proportions

With nine flu-related deaths last week alone and an increasing number of cases presenting in doctors' offices and emergency departments statewide, State Epidemiologist Megan Davies, MD, issued an update for all clinicians to reinforce important prevention and control measures for the remainder of the season. Flu activity has been early (for the third consecutive season) and more intense than usual, as measured by visits to emergency rooms and providers in the Influenza-Like Illness Network.
Read the updated guidelines for prevention and treatment.

ICD-10 News You Can Use

Volunteer for ICD-10 End-to-End Testing in April -- Forms Due Jan. 9

During the week of April 26 through May 1, 2015, a second sample group of providers will have the opportunity to participate in ICD-10 end-to-end testing with Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) and the Common Electronic Data Interchange (CEDI) contractor. The goal of end-to-end testing is to demonstrate that:

  • Providers and submitters are able to successfully submit claims containing ICD-10 codes to the Medicare Fee-For Service (FFS) claims systems
  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) software changes made to support ICD-10 result in appropriately adjudicated claims
  • Accurate remittance advices are produced

Approximately 850 volunteer submitters will be selected to participate in the April end-to-end testing. This nationwide sample will yield meaningful results, since CMS intends to select volunteers representing a broad cross-section of provider, claim, and submitter types, including claims clearinghouses that submit claims for large numbers of providers. Note: testers who are participating in the January testing are able to test again in April and July without re-applying.
Details on how to apply.

Results from November ICD-10 Acknowledgement Testing Week

CMS conducted another successful acknowledgement testing week last month. More than 500 large and small physician practices, suppliers, billing companies, and clearinghouses participated in the testing week last month. Acceptance rates improved throughout the week with Friday’s acceptance rate for test claims at 87 percent. Nationally, CMS accepted 76 percent of total test claims. Testing did not identify any issues with the Medicare FFS claims systems. This testing week allowed an opportunity for testers and CMS alike to learn valuable lessons about ICD-10 claims processing.

Mark your calendar for upcoming acknowledgement testing weeks on March 2-6, 2015 and June 1-5, 2015. In addition to the special testing weeks, providers are welcome to submit acknowledgement test claims anytime up to the October 1, 2015 implementation date. Contact your Medicare Administrative Contractor for more information.

NCTracks ICD-10 Trading Partner-Provider Testing

In the spring of 2015, NC Tracks will begin working with select Trading Partners and Providers in testing ICD-10 with NCTracks.  Trading partners or providers interested in participating in ICD-10 testing should email [email protected].  Trading partners and providers will be selected to participate in testing that represent a broad cross-section of provider types. The State expects to complete the selection of trading partners and providers and notify them by mid-February 2015. Selected participants will receive an orientation and instructions regarding the testing.

North Carolina Drug Card Helps with Rising Costs of Generic Drug Prices

According to a recent article in The Chicago Tribune, the price of generic medication is getting less affordable each year. The latest numbers from Catamaran, which provides pharmacy benefit management services, show consumers and insurers paid an average of $13.14 per prescription for the 50 most popular generics in 2010.  In 2014, they paid $62.10, a 373 percent increase.
Physicians can help by educating their patients about the North Carolina Drug Card, which is a free statewide prescription assistance program.  The North Carolina Drug Card can be used for savings of up to 75 percent on prescription medications at more than 56,000 pharmacies nationwide. The card discounts both brand and generic prescription medications for individuals without prescription coverage. Those who have prescription drug coverage may still qualify and receive discounts on medications not covered by their insurance plan. There’s no application to complete, no membership restrictions, no income requirement, and no age limitations.
Patients may visit to print a free North Carolina Drug Card, search for participating pharmacies and compare medication pricing. Physicians may request a supply of custom cards mailed directly to their office at no cost by contacting the program’s development director, Milton Perkins, at [email protected] or 704-785-5533.

NCMS CEO Part of Business NC Economic Forecast Roundtable

In advance of the New Year, North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) CEO Robert W. Seligson, participated in the Business North Carolina Economic Forecast 2015 Round Table discussion held Monday, Dec. 15, at the Campbell University Law School. Seligson was joined by leaders in other industries including John Loyack of the newly formed NC Economic Development Partnership, Richard Reich from the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Tony Smith of the NC Association of Realtors and Rep. David Lewis.
Business North Carolina publisher, Ben Kinney, served as moderator for the discussion, which addressed questions for each sector on the direction for the state’s economy in the coming year, how companies should prepare, economic concerns and opportunities in the coming months as well as questions on health care legislation and workforce outlook.
The Dean and professors from Campbell University’s Lundy Fetterman School of Business, co-sponsor of the event, also participated in the lively discussion. Edited excerpts from the conversation will be published in the February 2015 issue of Business North Carolina.

NCMS Director of Rural Health Initiatives Speaks at Recruitment and Retention Summit

20140918_ncms0569The North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) Director of Rural Health Initiatives Franklin Walker was among the participating faculty at the Physician Recruitment and Retention Summit, Dec. 9-10, 2014, in Philadelphia. He spoke about the NCMS Foundation’s Community Practitioner Program, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, and presented a video of current CPP participants talking about their part in the program. He also demonstrated the FutureDocs forecasting tool developed at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill with the support of The Physicians Foundation and the help of the NCMS Foundation.
The summit brought together various recruitment and business development executives to discuss how to build a retention program that meets the needs of a community and how to bring in the best and brightest physicians.

Linda Carter Retires After 42 Years of Service to the NCMS

141216_as_or_126-X2On Dec. 16, a who’s who of North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) past and present leadership and staff gathered at the NC State Club to celebrate and honor Linda Carter on her retirement after 42 years of service to the NCMS as Executive Assistant to the CEO. The luncheon included an appearance by the NC State mascots, a video produced by NCMS CEO Bob Seligson tracing Linda’s life from growing up on the family farm outside of Rocky Mount through her years at the NCMS as well as speeches remembering Linda’s commitment to the society and its members. She was presented with the NCMS’ John Huske Anderson Award and the state honored her with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
Being the Christmas season, Santa was on hand to give Linda her retirement gift. Her many NCMS friends contributed to a $30,000+ check to take nine years off Linda’s mortgage. A surprised and tearful Linda expressed her gratitude at the conclusion of the party.