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Weekly Rounds
Jennifer Hanscom, WSMA Executive Director/CEO
News and insights from WSMA CEO Jennifer Hanscom.

Weekly Rounds

A newsletter from WSMA CEO Jennifer Hanscom, sent to health care industry leadership and WSMA members.


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weekly_rounds_may_6_2022_roe_v_wade_in_the_balanceWeekly Rounds: May 6, 2022 - Roe v. Wade in the BalanceWeekly_RoundsShared_Content/News/Weekly_Rounds/2022/weekly_rounds_may_6_2022_roe_v_wade_in_the_balance<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-sm-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/Weekly%20Rounds/weekly-rounds-article-graphic-heshmati-645x425px.png" class="pull-right" alt="Nariman Heshmati, MD" /></div> <h5>May 6, 2022</h5> <h2>Roe v. Wade in the Balance</h2> <p> Nariman Heshmati, MD, WSMA Vice President </p> <p> On Monday, the national media outlet <a href="">Politico</a> released what appeared to be a leak of an initial draft majority opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court that indicated the justices were prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade. This was a historic breach of the court's protocols for a potentially even more historic change in the law. As expected, this report captured the news cycle and has prompted concern among physicians, health care workers, patients, and beyond. </p> <p> It's important to recognize several things. First, this is a draft opinion. It hasn't changed any laws or the ability of patients to have an abortion. Second, even if the final opinion from the court mirrors this draft opinion, abortion will still be legal in Washington state. In 1970, prior to Roe v. Wade, Washington state was one of the first states to decriminalize abortion, and there have been additional steps taken since then to reaffirm this right. </p> <p> This year, the Legislature passed and Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">Affirm Washington Abortion Act</a>, which notes that "it has also been longstanding public policy of the state to promote access to affordable, high-quality reproductive health care, including abortion care, without unnecessary burdens or restrictions" on patients, physicians, or other clinicians or facilities that provide abortion services. </p> <p> So how does this week's news and its implications impact us in Washington state? </p> <p> We likely will see more patients cross state lines to receive care. Speaking to the <a href="">Spokesman-Review</a>, Paul Dillon, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho, estimated that their health centers in Washington could see as much as a 385% increase in patients seeking abortion services if Roe v. Wade is overturned. </p> <p> We don't know if we have enough resources to meet this potential patient demand since we don't know yet what that demand is. What we do know is that the house of medicine supports a person's right to an abortion without interference. Last year, in response to the Texas law restricting abortions, the American Medical Association said, "<a href=",physician%20relationship%2C%E2%80%9D%20said%20AMA%20President">the American Medical Association stands firmly against government interference in the clinical exam room</a>." In response to the leaked draft opinion, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reiterated, "<a href="">We will continue to affirm that the ability of patients to access safe, legal abortion is critical for their health and well-being</a>." </p> <p> The WSMA affirms a <a href="[@]WSMA/About/Policies/Whats_Our_Policy/Abortion/Abortion.aspx?_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=JVVL8">person's right to an abortion as a medical decision to be made under the advice and guidance of a physician</a>, and strongly opposes any attempt to restrict the availability of abortion or other reproductive health care. As <a href="">noted by ACOG</a>, restrictive abortion access laws put physicians and clinicians in the unconscionable position of having to choose between upholding the law and providing appropriate patient care. </p> <p> We do not know what the future will hold. We do know abortion will remain legal in Washington state regardless of how the Supreme Court ultimately rules. We also know that we must continue to advocate at all levels of government, in this Washington and the other Washington, to protect our patients and their access to evidence-based health care services. </p> <p> <em>Nariman Heshmati, MD, is an OB-GYN and vice president of the WSMA. In addition to his role on the WSMA executive committee, Dr. Heshmati is the past chair of the Washington section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.</em> </p> </div>5/10/2022 10:31:29 AM5/10/2022 10:31:02 AM5/6/2022 12:00:00 AM
weekly_rounds_april_29_2022_prior_authorization_plagues_us_allWeekly Rounds: April 29, 2022 - Prior Authorization Plagues Us AllWeekly_RoundsShared_Content/News/Weekly_Rounds/2022/weekly_rounds_april_29_2022_prior_authorization_plagues_us_all<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-sm-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/Weekly%20Rounds/Weekly-Rounds-Article-Graphic-2021-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" alt="Weekly Rounds logo" width="645" height="425" /></div> <h5>April 29, 2022</h5> <h2>Prior Authorization Plagues Us All</h2> <p>Jennifer Hanscom, CEO</p> <p> If there's one issue that unifies all physicians-regardless of specialty, practice size, or employment status-it is their mutual loathing of prior authorizations. According to a 2021 survey from the American Medical Association, physicians complete an average of 41 prior authorizations per week, an administrative burden that consumes nearly two business days of physician and staff time. The burden has become so acute that 40% of physician survey respondents hired staff to work exclusively on prior authorization requirements. </p> <p> Getting authorized to provide services demands time and attention that would be better spent on patients and their care. After-hours navigation of ever-changing, non-reimbursable criteria only adds to the frustration. Physicians and staff are driven to madness by red tape while patients suffer potentially health-threatening delays in receiving approval for necessary treatment, even if-and that's a big "if"-at the end of a long and often arbitrary process the procedure or prescription is approved. </p> <p> Prior authorization undermines physicians' medical expertise and leads to considerable delays in patient care. According to that same AMA survey, 93% of physicians reported care delays associated with prior authorization, and 82% said these requirements can at least sometimes lead to patients abandoning treatment. Failure to administer medically necessary care can lead to poor health care outcomes. Most startlingly, 34% of AMA survey participants reported that prior authorization led to a serious adverse event, such as hospitalization, disability, and permanent bodily damage or death, for a patient in their care. </p> <p> On a macro level, because physician practices need to hire staff to work exclusively on prior authorizations, and with delays caused by the process sometimes leading to serious adverse events requiring higher levels of care, prior authorizations increase the cost of delivering care for everyone. </p> <p> The WSMA has worked hard to address prior authorization challenges in Washington. You may recall that <a href="">new rules</a> went into effect in 2018 that were intended to ease the administrative burden you face as you strive to meet the requirements of state-regulated insurers or their third-party administrators when seeking prior authorization of medical services. </p> <p> The rules set specific timelines and communication requirements and are <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">summarized here</a>. You'll also find guidance on 2015 rules covering prior authorization of prescription drugs. </p> <p> <strong>If you encounter an insurer or third-party administrator out of compliance with Office of the Insurance Commissioner's prior authorization requirements, you can easily file a complaint by utilizing the WSMA's Prior Authorization Navigator's <a href="">complaint form</a>. We urge you to take advantage of this tool.</strong> </p> <p> At the federal level, Congress is increasingly concerned about the negative impact of prior authorization on patients and physicians within federal health care programs. In fact, just this week a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">federal report</a> found that some people enrolled in private Medicare Advantage plans were denied necessary care. Helpfully, a bipartisan collection of House and Senate lawmakers have introduced H.R. 3173/S. 3018, the Improving Seniors' Timely Access to Care Act. The bill is sponsored by Washington's CD 1 Rep. Suzan DelBene, with other co-signers from our state including Reps. Schrier (CD 8), Smith (CD 9), Strickland (CD 10), Herrera-Beutler (CD 3), and Larsen (CD 2). </p> <p> The bill reduces unnecessary delays in care by streamlining and standardizing prior authorization under the Medicare Advantage program. Specifically, the bill would: </p> <ul> <li>Require Medicare Advantage plans to implement electronic prior authorization programs that adhere to newly developed federal standards and are capable of seamlessly integrating into electronic health systems (vs. proprietary health plan portals), as well as establish real-time decision-making processes for items and services that are routinely approved.</li> <li>Mandate that plans report to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on the extent of their use of prior authorization and the rate of approvals and denials.</li> <li>Require plans to adopt transparent prior authorization programs that are reviewed annually, adhere to evidence-based guidelines, permit gold carding, and include continuity of care for individuals transitioning between coverage policies to minimize any care disruptions.</li> <li>Hold plans accountable for making timely prior authorization determinations and providing rationales for denial.</li> </ul> <p> While the legislation would only apply to Medicare Advantage plans, it represents a major first step at the federal level toward combatting insurer oversteps. The WSMA continues to meet with our members of Congress urging a vote on the bill this calendar year. </p> <p> While we wait to see what action Congress will take, the WSMA continues to work on the issue in our state. Based on the WSMA's recent advocacy, plans in Washington are required to provide data on their prior authorization practices to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner. Data points include those medical/surgical services most frequently requiring authorization, those most frequently approved, and those where authorization is initially denied and then overturned on appeal. Carriers must also report on their average response time for prior authorization requests. This information will help increase transparency and strengthen WSMA's advocacy by improving lawmakers' understanding about the effect prior authorization has on access to care. </p> <p> Even as I write, we are working on our 2023 legislative agenda, and we anticipate our work is far from over on this topic. As we contemplate next steps on this and many other issues in advance of the 2023 legislative session, I hope you'll participate in our upcoming advocacy survey. Your voice-and your membership-matter. </p> </div>4/29/2022 9:58:04 AM4/29/2022 9:56:24 AM4/29/2022 12:00:00 AM
weekly_rounds_april_15_2022_take_action_today_to_influence_legislation_tomorrowWeekly Rounds: April 15, 2022 - Take Action Today to Influence Legislation TomorrowWeekly_RoundsShared_Content/News/Weekly_Rounds/2022/weekly_rounds_april_15_2022_take_action_today_to_influence_legislation_tomorrow<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-sm-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/Weekly%20Rounds/Weekly-Rounds-Article-Graphic-2021-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" alt="Weekly Rounds logo" width="645" height="425" /></div> <h5>April 15, 2022</h5> <h2>Take Action Today to Influence Legislation Tomorrow</h2> <p>Jennifer Hanscom, CEO</p> <p> Even though this year's state legislative session adjourned about a month ago, the WSMA's representation of medicine never ceases! Our work continues now with a focus on elections. With just months until the midterm elections, we already know that at least 18 Washington state lawmakers are calling it quits. Among those departing are many known to medicine, including Rep. Eileen Cody, long-time chair of the House Health Care and Wellness Committee, and Sen. David Frockt, vice chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and the Health and Long Term Care Committee. Coupled with more than 100 state legislative seats that will be on the ballot in November, there's a lot at stake for WSMA's legislative advocacy in this year's election. </p> <p> Over the next several months, through <a href="[@]WSMA/Advocacy/WAMPAC/WSMA/Advocacy/WAMPAC/WAMPAC.aspx?hkey=269c3c03-cf72-4568-be5b-7893557300a7&_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=7VeI8">WAMPAC</a>, WSMA's non-partisan campaign arm, we will be working to identify and develop the next generation of champions for the physician community. I hope you'll get involved in any of the following ways. </p> <h3>Money talks when it comes to legislative influence</h3> <p> To have a significant influence in electing candidates that support medicine, we need your help. Your contributions, both individually and from your medical groups, will help us elect candidates that support our agenda in the 2023 session and beyond. Legislative races are expensive. To be blunt, we need more resources to maximize our influence. </p> <p> WAMPAC's board of directors will be meeting with legislative leaders and candidates over the campaign season and making determinations on who to support financially. Please consider <a href="[@]WSMA/Advocacy/WAMPAC/Give_to_WAMPAC/WSMA/Advocacy/WAMPAC/Give_to_WAMPAC.aspx?hkey=665ce949-b574-4ec7-8e5a-7a796233e5d7&_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=9VeI8">making a contribution to WAMPAC online</a> or by mailing a check to our Seattle office (WAMPAC, 2001 6th Ave., Suite 2700, Seattle, WA 98121) to help ensure that we are able to support candidates who will be supporting the house of medicine next session. Again, contributions from both individuals and medical groups are sincerely appreciated and there is no limit on how much a person or eligible business can contribute to WAMPAC. </p> <h3>Engagement influences candidate support</h3> <p> Besides financial contributions, we could use your professional participation, as well. If you want to help WAMPAC determine the best candidates to support this election cycle, consider applying to serve on the WAMPAC board. WAMPAC's board of directors is made up of physicians from across the state, each representing one of the state's 10 congressional districts, in addition to two at-large positions where participation of a resident and a medical student are prioritized. The board works to identify and support political candidates who share the house of medicine's policy priorities, build physicians' interest in campaigns, and help steer WSMA's political engagement. </p> <p> There are currently two vacancies on the board. The first is in the state's <a href="">8th Congressional District</a>, which is represented by Rep. Kim Schrier (D-Issaquah) and runs along I-90 from Issaquah to Ellensburg and up to Wenatchee. The second is in the <a href="">9th Congressional District</a>, represented by Rep. Adam Smith (D-Bellevue) and comprised of South Seattle and Bellevue, down through Kent and Federal Way and into Tacoma. </p> <p> The WAMPAC board meets roughly quarterly, with two meetings typically occurring in conjunction with regular WSMA events (the Annual Meeting of the House of Delegates and the Leadership Development Conference) and other meetings held via Zoom. The time commitment is less than an hour per month, and board members have opportunities to connect with elected officials, learn about the political landscape, and influence health care policy. </p> <p> For more information, contact Sean Graham, WSMA's director of government affairs, at <a href=""></a>. </p> <h3>Opinions shape WSMA's legislative priorities</h3> <p> While WAMPAC will be focusing on political races in the coming months, your WSMA leadership is already formulating our legislative agenda for the 2023 session that will begin next January. Priorities will include advocating for across-the-board Medicaid rate increases to apply to all specialties, opportunities to cut administrative burden by pushing back against prior authorization and other requirements, and fighting inappropriate scope of practice expansions from other health professions. </p> <p> We want to hear from you, as well. Soon, we will be surveying members to hear from you about the issues we should be engaged in. This feedback will be shared with WSMA leadership as we work to fine tune our 2023 legislative agenda. </p> <p> Your involvement in this work really does matter. As the largest physician professional organization in the state, we speak up for the house of medicine. Having your support and hearing from you ensures that we put our clout and influence where it matters most. </p> </div>4/15/2022 11:01:46 AM4/15/2022 11:00:09 AM4/15/2022 12:00:00 AM
weekly_rounds_march_30_2022_a_doctors_day_thank_youWeekly Rounds: March 30, 2022 - A Doctors' Day Thank YouWeekly_RoundsShared_Content/News/Weekly_Rounds/2022/weekly_rounds_march_30_2022_a_doctors_day_thank_you<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-sm-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/Weekly%20Rounds/doctors-day-2022-645x425px.png" class="pull-right" alt="National Doctors' Day logo" /></div> <h5>March 30, 2022</h5> <h2>A Doctors' Day Thank You</h2> <p>Jennifer Hanscom, CEO</p> <p> In honor of National Doctors' Day, I wanted to take a moment to say thank you for standing on the front lines of care in our communities. </p> <p> As I reflect on these past two pandemic years, I am in awe of each and every one of you. You are the caregivers in your communities. You show up-time and again-to bring health and healing to your patients. You lead the way with science and heart. And because you care, you make a difference. </p> <p> I'm so grateful that here at the WSMA everything we do drives toward supporting and advocating for you. As the world universally navigated an unimaginable pandemic, along with our families and loved ones, we have experienced your care. Because of your dedication and leadership, we have endured. </p> <p> It's my privilege to do this work on your behalf. By standing together, we're making Washington state the best place to practice medicine and receive care. </p> <p> When the hours are long and you grow weary, I hope you will remember that we are grateful. </p> <p> Thank you for all you do. </p> </div>3/30/2022 10:20:46 AM3/30/2022 10:15:37 AM3/30/2022 12:00:00 AM
weekly_rounds_march_18_2022_physicians_needed_to_lead_the_way_forwardWeekly Rounds: March 18, 2022 - Physicians Needed to Lead the Way ForwardWeekly_RoundsShared_Content/News/Weekly_Rounds/2022/weekly_rounds_march_18_2022_physicians_needed_to_lead_the_way_forward<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-sm-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/Weekly%20Rounds/Weekly-Rounds-Article-Graphic-2021-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" alt="Weekly Rounds logo" width="645" height="425" /></div> <h5>March 18, 2022</h5> <h2>Physicians Needed to Lead the Way Forward</h2> <p>Jennifer Hanscom, CEO</p> <p> This week, I have a direct request-or, more of an invitation. I'm inviting you to consider stepping into WSMA leadership by <a href="">nominating yourself or a colleague</a> for consideration for the WSMA board of trustees or executive committee. </p> <p> Backing up a bit: During a meeting this week with several medical group leaders, many of them physicians, I was again reminded of the importance of physician leadership. We talked in depth about how the practice of medicine and the world around us have changed in ways we could never have imagined. Yet it is our reality, and more than ever physician leadership is crucial to charting the path ahead. </p> <p> We depend on that strong physician leadership to effectively represent the voices of physicians, physician assistants, and patients as we seek to shape the future of health care in Washington state. Your voice, your leadership, and your service are key to influencing the medical profession and creating an environment where Washingtonians can access high-quality care. </p> <p> Here at the WSMA, we are so firmly committed to the importance of leadership that we offer top-ranked educational opportunities to the medical community through our <a href="[@]WSMA/Education/Physician_Leadership/WSMA/Physician_Leadership/Physician_Leadership.aspx?hkey=4a910f13-3bb1-4b95-853f-6f93e33637d2&_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=puUF8">leadership courses and conference</a>. </p> <p> After two tough years of battling COVID-19 and witnessing all the ways our health care workforce and patients' access to care have been decimated, we know physician leadership is essential to the rebuild. We will need creative and strategic approaches to address pent-up demand for care and ensure it is equitable, while at the same time confront a shrinking and fatigued workforce. It is essential for physicians to lead during these times to navigate a better way forward for the profession and patients. </p> <p> That's why today I'm personally extending the invitation for you to consider leadership here at the WSMA by nominating yourself or a colleague for consideration for the WSMA board of trustees or executive committee. </p> <p> Learn more about desired qualifications and find a roster of current board members, a nomination form, conflict of interest disclosure statement, and candidate information sheet <a href="[@]WSMA/About_Us/Leadership/Board_of_Trustees/WSMA/About/Leadership/Board_of_Trustees/Board_of_Trustees.aspx?hkey=0abc484b-c165-4fb1-90b5-1f72370b18d2&_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=ouUF8">on our website</a>. </p> <p> Here are a few things to note about the nomination process: </p> <ul> <li>The nominating committee meets in early June to prepare a slate of nominees.</li> <li>The slate is presented to the House of Delegates at this year's Annual Meeting, scheduled for Oct. 1-2 at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane.</li> <li>The deadline for nominations is April 29, although additional nominations may be made from the floor of the House of Delegates.</li> <li>In considering yourself or colleagues for nominations, consider whether you or they are:</li> <ul> <li>Well-informed</li> <li>Forward thinking</li> <li>Committed to the future of the profession</li> <li>Committed to service and the profession above oneself</li> <li>Experienced, enthusiastic, credible, and open-minded</li> <li>Able to put the WSMA above personal desires or agenda</li> <li>Capable of serving as a future president of our state medical association</li> </ul> </ul> <p> It takes bold leadership and a strong sense of service to tackle the challenges facing the profession, your patients, and our communities. If you believe in our mission to provide strong physician leadership and advocacy to shape the future of medicine and advance quality of care for all Washingtonians, I hope you will consider this opportunity. </p> </div>3/18/2022 12:03:01 PM3/18/2022 11:59:06 AM3/18/2022 12:00:00 AM
weekly_rounds_march_7_2022_a_moment_of_thanks_and_a_look_aheadWeekly Rounds: March 7, 2022 - A Moment of Thanks, and a Look AheadWeekly_RoundsShared_Content/News/Weekly_Rounds/2022/weekly_rounds_march_7_2022_a_moment_of_thanks_and_a_look_ahead<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-sm-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/Weekly%20Rounds/Weekly-Rounds-Article-Graphic-2021-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" alt="Weekly Rounds logo" width="645" height="425" /></div> <h5>March 5, 2022</h5> <h2>A Moment of Thanks, and a Look Ahead</h2> <p>Jennifer Hanscom, Executive Director/CEO</p> <p> Next Thursday, March 10 is the last day of this year's "short" 60-day legislative session. The state's final supplemental budget is still in flux and our team's advocacy continues. Among those efforts? Continued work seeking a fix to our state's balance billing legislation to ensure that physicians aren't at a disadvantage when contracting with carriers. How things will end is anyone's guess for now, but rest assured that we'll be providing updates in the days ahead. </p> <p> In fact, WSMA's government affairs team is hosting its annual post-session Advocacy Council meeting on March 11 at noon via Zoom. <a href="">Registration is required</a> for this virtual event. All WSMA members are welcome to join this session, where, in addition to reviewing outcomes of the 2022 session, you'll get the inside perspective from our team on the general dynamic heading into midterm elections. We look forward to connecting with you and will record the meeting for those who are unable to attend. If you have any questions regarding our post-session Advocacy Council meeting, reach out to Shelby Wiedmann at <a href=""></a>. </p> <p> As we close out this year's legislative session and look ahead to the rest of the year, it's a good time to stop and extend our thanks to so many of you!</p> <ul> <li>Thank you to each and every one of you who has engaged during the virtual session. As a member-driven organization, having your involvement and hearing your voice is critical. We do so hope that we will be able to gather together in person next session.</li> <li>I also want to thank all of you who have renewed your 2022 WSMA membership. We are pleased to report that we are close to achieving our goals, which is a good indicator that with your help we may have a record membership year!</li> <li>Many of our members pay their dues individually, while many others are part of medical groups in the state that choose to cover dues for physicians and physician assistants who are part of their practice, clinic, or system. Either way, thank you!</li> </ul> <p> While some groups cover WSMA membership for their physicians and PAs proactively, many will cover your dues if you ask. If you're in this category, don't leave this benefit on the table. Take a moment to check with your medical group leadership or medical staff office to find out if they will cover or reimburse you for your WSMA membership. You can also sign in and follow the membership tab to your profile to check your membership status. </p> <p> The WSMA is stronger with your involvement and engagement. I'd appreciate it if you would encourage your physician and PA colleagues to join us. If you are on social media, you'll see our "Why WSMA?" campaign featuring our own members on why they belong to the WSMA. Check out #WhyWSMA on <a href="">Twitter</a>, <a href="">Facebook</a>, and <a href="">LinkedIn</a>. </p> <p> Our strength at the WSMA not only comes from member engagement, it also comes through productive partnerships. One of those key partnerships is with WSMA's long-time partner Physicians Insurance A Mutual Company, the only professional liability company that we exclusively endorse. Since I'm thanking folks, here's a shout out and thank you to PI CEO Bill Cotter and his team. Not only do they provide <a href="[@]WSMA/Membership/Why_Join_the_WSMA_/Affinity_Program/Physicians_Insurance.aspx?_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=WE2E8">a discount</a> for our members, they are actively engaged in supporting and advocating on behalf of the physician and medical community. And in case you missed it in the chaos of COVID, PI has an abundance of risk management and educational courses available via <a href="">their website</a>. There, you can also read about current market trends impacting professional liability. Take a minute to check these resources out. </p> <p> Finally, thanks for staying with us! We are here for you and appreciate that you're here for us too. </p> </div>3/7/2022 9:45:57 AM3/7/2022 9:45:36 AM3/5/2022 12:00:00 AM
weekly_rounds_february_19_2022_icymi_news_you_need_to_know_from_last_weekWeekly Rounds: February 19, 2022 - ICYMI: News You Need to Know from Last WeekWeekly_RoundsShared_Content/News/Weekly_Rounds/2022/weekly_rounds_february_19_2022_icymi_news_you_need_to_know_from_last_week<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-sm-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/Weekly%20Rounds/Weekly-Rounds-Article-Graphic-2021-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" alt="Weekly Rounds logo" width="645" height="425" /></div> <h5>February 19, 2022</h5> <h2>ICYMI: News You Need to Know from Last Week</h2> <p>Jennifer Hanscom, Executive Director/CEO</p> <p> It's been another busy week! I can hardly believe we are more than two years into the pandemic, more than halfway through this year's legislative session, and 50 days into 2022. Time surely flies, and the news never stops, either. Here are five quick news items I wanted to flag for you from this past week. </p> <h3>Changes to statewide mask mandate</h3> <p> On Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced his intent to rescind several elements of the statewide mask mandate effective March 21. Here are the changes in a nutshell: </p> <ul> <li>As of that date, face masks will no longer be required in most settings, including K-12 schools and childcare facilities.</li> <li>Masks will still be required in health care settings such as hospitals, outpatient and dental offices, long-term care settings, and correctional facilities.</li> <li>Beginning March 1, vaccine verification for large events will no longer be required.</li> <li>Businesses and local governments will still be able to choose to implement vaccination or face mask requirements for workers or customers, and school districts can still choose to have students and teachers wear masks.</li> <li>Federal law still requires face masks in certain settings such as public transportation and school buses.</li> </ul> <h3>Applications due for AMA's wellness program</h3> <p> The WSMA Foundation is committed to strengthening physician wellness and restoring the joy in medicine. A key Foundation objective is to develop and deliver organizational-level intervention plans to reduce burnout and improve wellness. The goal is to identify best practices that improve physician and physician assistant well-being at work and reduce burnout and invite health care organizations and systems to pledge to meet the criteria. </p> <p> To that end, the American Medical Association is accepting applications from health care organizations for its <a href="">2022 Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program</a>. This program, now in its third year, engages health systems with a demonstrated commitment to reducing work-related burnout among care teams. I hope you'll consider applying! Past awardees in Washington state include Confluence Health (2021) and Virginia Mason Medical Center (2019). The <a href="">application process</a> closes on March 31. </p> <h3>COVID-19 therapies and antiviral medications available for high-risk patients</h3> <p> COVID-19 therapeutics including monoclonal antibodies Sotrovimab, Bebtelovimab, and Tixagevimab/Cilgavimab (Evusheld) and antiviral medications Molnupiravir and Paxlovid are available in Washington state through allocations from the federal government. The medications are available by prescription only. Currently all therapeutics are being underutilized and there is an overstock of Molnupiravir. The Washington State Department of Health is encouraging physicians to prescribe these therapeutics when clinically indicated for individuals at high risk for hospitalization and death consistent with state and national guidance. For more information, <a href="">click here</a>. </p> <h3>WSMA annual leadership conference returns in person</h3> <p> We are excited to be returning to Campbell's Resort on Lake Chelan for the 2022 Leadership Development Conference, May 20-21. With COVID-19 safety protocols in place, space will be limited, so be sure to <a href="[@]@/WSMA/Events/LDC/leadership_development_conference?hkey=c7532c38-057a-4568-8a3c-078182469222">register today</a>! </p> <p> No matter your official role, this leadership conference is for you! As we clearly saw during the pandemic, we are all leaders, regardless of title, hierarchy, or work setting. This year's theme focuses on building strong teams, and includes an emphasis on diversity, well-being, and sustainability. We hope you can join us. </p> <h3>2022 Legislative Session Update: Week 6</h3> <p> We're past the halfway point in this year's 60-day legislative session. Every week, our team in Olympia reports out via video updates on what happened during the week. We had some good news to report this week, so don't miss WSMA Associate Director of Legislative and Political Affairs Alex Wehinger's <a href="">video update</a> on bills that are considered "dead" for the 2022 legislative session, including several scope of practice bills that the WSMA opposed. </p> <p> I also want to call out for you that we anticipate several calls to action in the weeks ahead, particularly as we enter the budget writing phase of session. For more information on advocacy, check out our <a href="[@]WSMA/Advocacy/Advocacy_During_a_Virtual_Legislative_Session/WSMA/Advocacy/Advocacy_During_a_Virtual_Legislative_Session/advocacy_during_a_virtual_legislative_session.aspx?hkey=45525c27-972f-4263-9669-5f7584463668&_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=clLC8">resources and tips</a>. </p> <p> Our work for you, your patients, and the profession never stops. We press on, raising up the physician voice everywhere we can. I hope if you haven't already renewed your membership with the WSMA that you'll <a href="[@]WSMA/Membership/Join_Renew/WSMA/Membership/Join_Renew/Join_Renew.aspx?hkey=37a820cf-9d05-4812-b9dd-c29b9a75356d&_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=dlLC8">take a moment to do so right now</a>. We are stronger together and you belong with us! </p> <p> Have a great weekend. </p> </div>2/23/2022 10:31:40 AM2/23/2022 10:31:19 AM2/19/2022 12:00:00 AM
weekly_rounds_february_4_2022_creating_community_through_shared_actionWeekly Rounds: February 4, 2022 - Creating Community Through Shared ActionWeekly_RoundsShared_Content/News/Weekly_Rounds/2022/weekly_rounds_february_4_2022_creating_community_through_shared_action<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-sm-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/Weekly%20Rounds/Weekly-Rounds-Article-Graphic-2021-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" alt="Weekly Rounds logo" width="645" height="425" /></div> <h5>February 4, 2022</h5> <h2>Creating Community Through Shared Action</h2> <p>Jennifer Hanscom, Executive Director/CEO</p> <p> One of the things I love the most about my work is building and fostering community. That's what we do and who we are at the WSMA. By coming together and belonging with each other, we put forth a united physician voice that speaks volumes. And we create pathways for engagement, like the four items I want to share with you this week. </p> <h3>Engage: Get the inside scoop on issues in Olympia</h3> <p> The 2022 legislative session is well under way as we wrap up week four of this 60-day "short" session. With hundreds of bills already in play, there is a lot to know about what issues are virtually being debated in both the House and Senate. We will provide you the inside scoop at our virtual Legislative Summit coming up this Monday, Feb. 7 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. </p> <p> Along with hearing from our team in Olympia about all the health care issues that are up for debate, we'll hear from Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler and Washington Health Care Authority Director Sue Birch. </p> <p> This event is free for WSMA membersone of the many benefits made possible by your dues dollars. There's still time to <a href="[@]WSMA/Events/Legislative_Summit/WSMA/Events/WSMA_Legislative_Summit/Legislative_Summit.aspx?hkey=795731a5-79ba-45b0-b78b-b9dfbfc336e5&_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=l6NA8">register</a>! </p> <p> If you are unable to join us on Monday evening, there are still several ways in which you can engage in legislative advocacy. The WSMA has an advocacy resource page with tips and information on how to stay informed on our issues and communicate our positions with your local legislators. Click here to learn more about how to be a voice for medicine and our patients. </p> <h3>Learn: Health Equity M&M Webinar Series</h3> <p> The WSMA is committed to providing continuing professional development as a benefit of membership. Next Friday, Feb. 11 at noon we are launching our Health Equity M&M Webinar Series. Think "morbidity and mortality," but with a focus on health equity. Free for WSMA members, the webinars will be held on the second Friday of even-numbered months at noon. </p> <p> These Health Equity M&M discussions will provide a framework for recognizing and examining our own biases and identifying the ways systemic racism exists in our organizations. You'll take away new tools with which to think critically and identify when to advocate for your patients from historically marginalized communities, ensuring they receive the highest quality clinical care. </p> <p> Learn more about this <a href="[@]WSMA/Education/Upcoming_Webinars/WSMA/education/Upcoming_Webinars/Upcoming_Webinars.aspx?hkey=b760d6bd-1833-412d-b681-babf251792a8&_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=n6NA8">new webinar series</a>. </p> <h3>Inform: Urge patients to get fully vaccinated</h3> <p> As omicron continues to surge in our state, please be sure to keep talking to your patients about getting fully vaccinated. We know that physicians are trusted voices in their communities. That is why we worked to leverage the physician voice in our "<a href="[@]Shared_Content/News/Membership_Memo/2021/September_24/wsma_launches_covid_19_vaccination_confidence_campaign.aspx?_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=o6NA8">Talk to Your Doctor</a>" COVID-19 vaccine confidence campaign targeting rural communities and featuring WSMA member physicians. Aligned with that campaign, we produced a patient education brochure titled "Information About the COVID-19 Vaccine" in English and Spanish. These brochures feature several Tri-County (Pend Oreille, Ferry, and Stevens counties) physicians, and are available at no charge to all physicians and physician practices in the state. <a href="[@]WSMA/Resources/COVID-19/COVID-19_Vaccine_Patient_Brochure/COVID-19_Vaccine_Patient_Brochure.aspx?_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=q6NA8">Download, review, and order the brochures here</a>. </p> <h3>Be well: Take care of you, too</h3> <p> I know how mentally exhausted I feel after two years of responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency. I can only imagine what many of you are experiencing. If you need support, assistance, or simply a moment to vent, please consider some of these <a href="[@]WSMA/Resources/COVID-19_Response/Care_for_the_Caregiver_During_COVID-19_Outbreak/WSMA/Resources/COVID-19/Care_for_the_Caregiver_During_COVID-19_Outbreak/care_for_the_caregiver_during_covid_19_outbreak.aspx?hkey=997ed483-e3fa-466e-bd81-a66e0fc1575b&_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=s6NA8">resources we've compiled</a>. </p> <p> I often use the war analogy when describing what we've all gone through over these past two years. Facing one battle after another, we haven't even had a moment to start to rebuild or consider lessons learned. And for physicians and health care workers in the trenches, the ongoing trauma has taken its toll mentally and physically, with little time between surges to catch a break, rest, and recharge. </p> <p> The COVID-19 saga continues, but I believe there is hope. When else have we ever seen a miracle like a vaccine be developed and delivered in mere months? When else in our lifetime has humanity collectively experiencedand survivedsomething like this? When else have we seen health care come together like never before? </p> <p> People make the difference. Your heart, compassion, and care make the difference. </p> <p> My rallying cry to each of you is to stay engaged, just as you are by reading this email. Bring your stories to legislators and policymakers. Share your ideas for policy change with the WSMA. Continue to talk to your patients about their concerns related to the vaccines. We know that physicians are a trusted voice, especially in times like these. You play a huge role in communicating public health messages and fighting against harmful false information. </p> <p> Physicians are the best people to lead health care as we rebuild. I believenow more than everin the WSMA mission: To provide strong physician leadership and advocacy to shape the future of medicine and advance quality care for all Washingtonians. </p> <p> Together with each of you, I know we can do it! </p> </div>2/9/2022 1:16:03 PM2/4/2022 9:40:20 AM2/4/2022 12:00:00 AM
weekly_rounds_january_21_2022_through_the_ups_and_downs_the_wsma_is_with_youWeekly Rounds: January 21, 2022 - Through the Ups and Downs, the WSMA is With YouWeekly_RoundsShared_Content/News/Weekly_Rounds/2022/weekly_rounds_january_21_2022_through_the_ups_and_downs_the_wsma_is_with_you<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-sm-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/Weekly%20Rounds/Weekly-Rounds-Article-Graphic-2021-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" alt="Weekly Rounds logo" width="645" height="425" /></div> <h5>January 21, 2022</h5> <h2>Through the Ups and Downs, the WSMA is With You</h2> <p>Jennifer Hanscom, Executive Director/CEO</p> <p> Last week, <a href="">this article by Becker's Hospital Review Editor-in-Chief Molly Gamble</a> nailed the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on health care professionals. The article's headline, "Healthcare workers can't get off the COVID-19 rollercoaster," certainly reflects the experience of our members over these past two years. Here at the WSMA, we've been strapped in right alongside you on that rollercoaster. </p> <p> The most recent stomach-churning episode has been over these last several weeks with the omicron surge. We've been loudly speaking up (or should I say shouting?) on behalf of our overworked and overwrought physician and physician assistant members since December, when we even pushed <a href="[@]WSMA/Resources/COVID-19_Response/COVID-19_Patient_Education/WSMA/Resources/COVID-19/COVID-19_Patient_Education/covid_19_patient_education.aspx?hkey=1883b646-8a34-48dc-926d-c9711850a7cd&_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=3vj88">our message</a> out through paid advertising across the state's newspapers. </p> <p> As the rollercoaster accelerated into the new year, we implored Gov. Jay Inslee and Secretary of Health Umair Shah, MD, to meet with us so they could hear first-hand accounts of what's been happening on the front lines. Physician leaders from the Washington Chapter - American College of Emergency Physicians joined us at the table, and we are gratified that the governor and secretary of health took <a href="[@]doc_library/news/letter-to-inslee-shah-crises-resources.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">our message</a> to heart and <a href="[@]Shared_Content/News/Membership_Memo/2022/January_14/governor_responds_to_crisis_facing_overwhelmed_eds_and_hospitals.aspx?WebsiteKey=c182ff6d-1438-4899-abc5-614681b54927&_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=5vj88">took action</a>, providing National Guard to help on site and resources to discharge patients to more appropriate care facilities. He also moved forward-contrary to our opposition-with limiting "non-urgent" surgeries and procedures in all hospitals for the next four weeks; however, he emphasized that <a href="[@]Shared_Content/News/Membership_Memo/2022/January_14/governor_responds_to_crisis_facing_overwhelmed_eds_and_hospitals?_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=7vj88">physician discretion is still permitted when weighing harm to patients</a>. </p> <p> After almost two years of fighting this pandemic, we know you are exhausted, both mentally and physically. We know the days ahead will be long and will feel endless. In case you missed it, I hope you'll give yourself a moment of quiet and view WSMA President Dr. Mika Sinanan's <a href="">message of encouragement</a> for each of you. </p> <p> To do our part to lessen the impact on our local emergency departments, we've produced a <a href="">public service announcement</a> featuring two emergency physicians, Nathan Schlicher, MD, JD, past president of the WSMA, and C. Ryan Keay, MD, president of the Washington chapter of ACEP. In the 45-second video message, Drs. Keay and Schlicher encourage patients to get vaccinated or boosted if they're not already, and to only come to the ED if they are experiencing very serious or life-threatening conditions. If you are not testing at your practice, please encourage your worried patients to use at-home COVID-19 tests or the state's testing sites and to not present to the ED unless they are experiencing life-threatening symptoms. If patients can't access testing, encourage them to stay home and monitor their symptoms. Use <a href="">Department of Health-produced materials</a> with your patients. </p> <p> At the end of Gamble's article, she quotes Peter Pronovost, MD, PhD, chief quality and clinical transformation officer of University Hospitals in Cleveland, as he addressed how to cope with this rollercoaster ride: "We need authentic leadership, the balance of hopeful and humble. Hopeful that we will get through this. But also the courage to confront our current reality: It sucks. Let's not pretend this isn't really hard. Now how can we make your work better?" </p> <p> That is a question we regularly ask WSMA leadership and our members. Let us know how we can help as we face everything that is really hard right now. Meanwhile, thank you. For everything. </p> </div>1/21/2022 9:25:13 AM1/21/2022 9:23:30 AM1/21/2022 12:00:00 AM
weekly_rounds_january_7_2022_wsma_calls_on_state_leaders_to_declare_crisis_take_actionWeekly Rounds: January 7, 2022 - Health Care, Overwhelmed by Omicron Surge, Raises AlarmWeekly_RoundsShared_Content/News/Weekly_Rounds/2022/weekly_rounds_january_7_2022_wsma_calls_on_state_leaders_to_declare_crisis_take_action<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-sm-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/Weekly%20Rounds/Weekly-Rounds-Article-Graphic-2021-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" alt="Weekly Rounds logo" width="645" height="425" /></div> <h5>January 7, 2022</h5> <h2>Health Care, Overwhelmed by Omicron Surge, Raises Alarm</h2> <p>Jennifer Hanscom, Executive Director/CEO</p> <p> As 2022 launches, we are painfully aware of the ongoing crisis COVID is causing in our emergency departments, urgent care centers, and hospitals. The pressure on the system is beyond unsustainable. </p> <p> I want you to know that the WSMA is standing with you through it all. Earlier today we urged Gov. Jay Inslee and Secretary of Health Umair Shah, MD, to officially declare Washington state in crisis and to immediately take action to aid overwhelmed emergency departments and hospitals across the state. <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">Read the letter</a>, co-authored with the Washington Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians and delivered to state officials as well as state media. (This press release and a PDF of the letter are also available on the <a href="[@]Shared_Content/News/Press_Release/2022/wsma_calls_on_state_leaders_to_declare_crisis_take_action.aspx?_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=Ia978">WSMA website</a>.) </p> <p> In my email to Gov. Inslee and Dr. Shah I wrote: </p> <p> "On behalf of the state's physicians we ask for assistance and resources to tend to the immediate crisis happening in our state's emergency departments and hospitals. As frontline workers, we are in a desperate situation of providing care to an overwhelming number of patients in less-than-ideal conditions. We understand that a meeting is being pulled together to discuss our previous outreach, but the situation we are facing as frontline workers is untenable and we need help now. </p> <p> We are available to share our perspectives as emergency physicians to help you understand what is happening in emergency departments around the state and how it is impacting patient care and to again, outline solutions we believe will take pressure off the systems and free up staff and bed capacity so that we can handle the flow coming through our doors. </p> <p> We appreciate your efforts to urge patients to take advantage of testing sites and at-home tests and your continued support for masking and social distancing. We appreciate local hospitals doing what they can to postpone elective care. But combined that simply isn't enough to help us manage the days ahead. </p> <p> On behalf of our state physicians, we urge you to provide resources now to address this crisis." </p> <p> Further, we delivered this letter along with a press release to statewide media. We know it's more important than ever for physicians to lead public conversations with what they're experiencing in our stressed health care settings. We are raising the alarm on every front. </p> <p> We know we need solutions now. We will continue the effort to make it so. </p> </div>1/7/2022 10:14:10 AM12/29/2021 10:55:21 AM1/7/2022 12:00:00 AM
weekly_rounds_december_29_2021_wsma_advocacy_pays_offWeekly Rounds: December 29, 2021 - WSMA Advocacy Pays OffWeekly_RoundsShared_Content/News/Weekly_Rounds/2021/weekly_rounds_december_29_2021_wsma_advocacy_pays_off<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-sm-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/Weekly%20Rounds/weekly-rounds-article-graphic-jeb-shepard-645x425px.png" class="pull-right" alt="Weekly Rounds graphic with Jeb Shepard" /></div> <h5>December 29, 2021</h5> <h2>WSMA Advocacy Pays Off</h2> <p>Jeb Shepard, WSMA Director of Policy</p> <p> Chances are, you've had experience in your personal or professional life with a pharmacy or other third-party health care benefit manager. These entities administer various benefits from radiology to pharmaceuticals on behalf of insurance carriers, perform key functions like utilization management, and are among several industry players at the center of debate on rising health care costs and challenges with accessing care in our country. </p> <p> While their stated mission is to efficiently deliver benefits to patients at lower costs to the system, many observers-including WSMA's members, patients, and members of the Legislature, among others-have raised concerns they are doing just the opposite. To our way of thinking, benefit managers add additional layers of complexity to the delivery system, place barriers to patients receiving appropriate care, drive up costs, and are void of transparency and accountability due to a lack of state regulatory oversight. </p> <p> In response to such concerns, the Legislature passed a law in 2020 that grants the Office of the Insurance Commissioner regulatory authority over benefit managers doing business in our state. WSMA-supported <a href="">Senate Bill 5601</a> establishes registration requirements, including licensure fees and penalties for violations, and requires contracts between benefit managers and insurance carriers to be filed with the OIC. </p> <p> This measure is a first major step in the regulation of benefit managers, as it establishes a regulatory basis from which policymakers may address current and future concerns with the industry. </p> <p> So, problem solved, right? Unfortunately, no. As is often the case with new laws, there are unintended consequences that need to be addressed before the law can perform as designed. After the fanfare of a bill signing, the hard work of implementing a new law begins. </p> <p> In the case of SB 5601, the WSMA heard from medical group practices and health systems that utilize delegated credentialing arrangements with insurance carriers that they are being told they are subject to the new law and must register as a benefit manager. On hearing this news, the WSMA connected with our contacts at the OIC to report concerns regarding the insurance carriers' interpretation of the law. We expressed that as supporters of this measure, delegated credentialing arrangements were never intended to be included. </p> <p> In its <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">recently issued response</a>, the OIC states that its interpretation of the law is that medical groups and health systems are exempt from the registration and contract filing requirements when the delegated activity from the carrier to the practice is restricted to performing credentialing services. </p> <p> The WSMA's advocacy on this was effective in that most delegation arrangements will be exempt and practices will not be required to register and pay the associated fees. Our advocacy on your behalf matters! But this is another great example of our partnership with you: We were able to be effective on this because WSMA members took time to alert us to this concern. </p> <p> We're in this work together. We stand ready to respond to your questions about complex state and federal laws, regulations, and policies, and to advocate on your behalf when necessary. I hope you'll keep us informed about any health policy-related unintended consequences by writing <a href=""></a>. </p> <p> In the meantime, we wish you a happy new year! </p> </div>12/29/2021 10:45:53 AM12/29/2021 9:26:40 AM12/29/2021 12:00:00 AM
weekly_rounds_december_18_2021_governors_budget_release_portends_new_state_spendingWeekly Rounds: December 18, 2021 - Governor's Budget Release Portends New State SpendingWeekly_RoundsShared_Content/News/Weekly_Rounds/2021/weekly_rounds_december_18_2021_governors_budget_release_portends_new_state_spending<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-sm-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/Weekly%20Rounds/Weekly-Rounds-Article-Graphic-Sean-Graham-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" alt="Weekly Rounds logo with Sean Graham" /></div> <h5>December 18, 2021</h5> <h2>Governor's Budget Release Portends New State Spending, Start of Legislative Session</h2> <p> Sean Graham, WSMA Director of Government Affairs </p> <p> This week Gov. Jay Inslee released his 2022 state budget plan, proposing around $4 billion in new investments in housing, education, and climate, among other areas. In what is the legislative equivalent of a holiday tradition, the unveiling of the governor's budget proposal signals that session is just around the corner. The proposal makes adjustments to the $59 billion, two-year budget approved by legislators during the 2021 session that took effect on July 1 and serves to start the conversation on legislative budget discussions. </p> <p> In the health policy arena, highlights of the governor's budget include: </p> <ul> <li>More than $30 million in health care workforce investments to increase funding for the education and training of nurses and other health care professionals; health care simulation labs; the recruitment of students of color for health care professions; and the Opportunity Scholarship Program.</li> <li>$6.6 million to free up hospital capacity by supporting the transfer of patients out of acute care hospitals and into long-term care facilities.</li> <li>$300 million for COVID-19 response and $18 million for public health services.</li> <li>$18 million to stand up a program to help provide affordable health insurance coverage to undocumented residents of the state.</li> <li>$25 million to help address the opioid epidemic, including funding to bundle opioid treatment provider payments based on current Medicare Part B rates for opioid use disorder treatment services.</li> <li>$60 million to increase access to behavioral health services through the Medicaid program.</li> </ul> <p> The WSMA is pleased to see the proposed investments in the health care workforce but will be advocating for legislators to include provisions for broader investments in its budget proposals, including increased funding for physician residencies. We will also continue to advocate for Medicaid rate increases to be applied across the physician community to include specialty care providers in the interest of facilitating access to care for all residents of our state. </p> <p> More broadly, the governor's budget proposal would spend $800 million to address homelessness and housing, $900 million in education and schools, $250 million to reduce poverty, and $600 million to address climate change, including decarbonization of the building sector. </p> <p> Typically, "supplemental" budgets are used to make tweaks to state spending rather than significant new investments, but the state's fiscal outlook is strong and has been buttressed by federal stimulus funds, leading Gov. Inslee to propose substantial new spending. Legislative Republicans countered that the state's positive financial standing should be used to fund tax cuts. Expect that dynamic tension between spending and saving or tax cuts to continue in the coming months. </p> <p> In addition to consideration of fiscal issues, the 60-day 2022 legislative session that begins on Jan. 10 will see plenty of policy proposals. The 700 or so bills that were introduced in the 2021 session and failed to pass into law will be automatically reintroduced when session begins, and we expect to see at least 1,000 new bills to be proposed next year. </p> <p> As was the case with this year's session, the 2022 iteration will take place largely online, with legislative committee hearings being convened over Zoom. Many legislators do plan to be at the Capitol to debate and vote on bills, and some are indicating they will be holding meetings with constituents and lobbyists in person. As with most aspects of our lives, all subject to change based on the progression of the pandemic. </p> <p> What we do know is that in deference to public health guidelines and the state Capitol being closed to events next session, the 2022 WSMA Legislative Summit will take place over Zoom on Feb. 7 and 8. Plan to join us from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Feb. 7 for updates from your government affairs team on everything happening in Olympia, and to hear from key state policymakers. Then put that knowledge to use on Feb. 8 in virtual meetings with your legislative delegation, arranged by WSMA staff. <a href="[@]Shared_Content/Events/Event_Display.aspx?EventKey=LEGSUM22&_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=j0m58">Register now to secure your spot at the event</a>. </p> </div>12/21/2021 9:53:26 AM12/21/2021 9:51:02 AM12/18/2021 12:00:00 AM
weekly_rounds_december_3_2021_preparing_for_the_new_yearWeekly Rounds: December 3, 2021 - Preparing for the New YearWeekly_RoundsShared_Content/News/Weekly_Rounds/2021/weekly_rounds_december_3_2021_preparing_for_the_new_year<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-sm-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/Weekly%20Rounds/Weekly-Rounds-Article-Graphic-2021-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" alt="Weekly Rounds logo" width="645" height="425" /></div> <h5>December 3, 2021</h5> <h2>Preparing for the New Year</h2> <p>Jennifer Hanscom, Executive Director/CEO</p> <p> Our members often ask how they can become more involved in raising concerns, shaping policy, or taking action to make a difference for the profession. Of course, by being a member of the WSMA, you are already part of a powerful collective voice for change. But individual action and participation are critical to transformation, as well. I wanted to take a moment to highlight several upcoming opportunities that I hope you'll consider. </p> <p> I'm sure you're aware that the 2022 legislative session is just weeks away, with the opening session on Jan. 10. It's set to be a "short" session, which means it should run for 60 days, with an anticipated closing date of March 10. </p> <p> We're hearing from folks in the Legislature that this session will take place in a hybrid format, with committee hearings being held online and votes being cast in person on the House and Senate floors. We anticipate that the limitations on visits and meetings due to COVID-19 safety precautions will make for an interesting environment for connecting with legislators, but nonetheless your WSMA lobbying staff will be everywhere the legislators are. </p> <p> The WSMA's annual pre-session webinar offers a great opportunity for you to learn more about the upcoming legislative session. This insider's view on what's expected during session is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 15 at noon. WSMA's Olympia team will provide an update on priorities for the profession and issues the WSMA will be tracking. As a bonus, we'll hear directly from WSMA's 2021 Legislator of the Year, Rep. Marcus Riccelli (D-Spokane), who will share his insights on health care issues and the 2022 session and answer your questions during a Q&A. We'll also leave time to hear from you about concerns your practice is facing, so be sure to join us and speak up. <a href="">Register online</a> today. </p> <p> The <a href="[@]WSMA/Events/Legislative_Summit/WSMA/Events/WSMA_Legislative_Summit/Legislative_Summit.aspx?hkey=795731a5-79ba-45b0-b78b-b9dfbfc336e5&_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=Q1148">2022 WSMA Legislative Summit</a> is another opportunity to make your voice heard. The event will be held virtually again this year, with an initial overview hosted by WSMA's Olympia team on Monday Feb. 7, in addition to time for members to meet virtually with their representatives on Tuesday, Feb. 8. Registration will be open soon. </p> <p> There are several other opportunities where WSMA members can lend their voices including: </p> <ul> <li>The <strong>Legislature's Tax Structure Work Group</strong> is interested in hearing from individual taxpayers and businesses about different scenarios for changing Washington state's tax structure. Take this <a href="">short survey</a> to provide your input. While completing the survey, you may reference the work group's tax calculator to see how these ideas might impact the taxes that you pay. Both household and business tax calculators are available. The work group's goal is to improve Washington's tax structure for individuals, families, and businesses and is focused on changing the types of taxes to provide the same total amount of money to the state (revenue). Please note that it is not looking at options that will increase the amount of overall revenue, but rather, who and what the state taxes and how it collects revenue.</li> <li>The <strong>Washington State Board of Health</strong> is seeking individuals with a background in health and sanitation to serve on the board. Board members are appointed by the governor and serve three-year terms. The board is a public forum to inform the development of health policy, and it has broad statutory authority to adopt public health and sanitation rules on topics such as immunizations, prenatal and childhood screenings, disease surveillance, food and drinking water safety, and more. The board also completes health impact reviews and makes policy recommendations to the governor and Legislature. More information about the board and its work can be found on <a href="">its website</a>. Interested applicants can fill out an application on <a href="">Gov. Jay Inslee's website</a>.</li> <li>The <strong>Washington Medical Commission</strong> is currently accepting applications to fill upcoming vacancies. The commission helps make sure physicians and physician assistants are competent and provide quality medical care. The commission is looking for people willing to study the issues and make decisions in the best interest of the public. Member selection reflects the diversity of the profession and provides representation throughout the state. On July 1, 2022 the commission will have openings for the following positions: <ul> <li>One physician representing Congressional District 3</li> <li>One physician representing Congressional District 5</li> <li>One physician representing Congressional District 9</li> <li>One physician-at-large</li> <li>One physician assistant</li> <li>Three public members</li> </ul> </li> </ul> <p>To determine what congressional district you live in, visit the <a href="">U.S. House of Representatives</a> webpage and enter your ZIP code. Applications are due to the commission on Friday, March 25. For additional information on the commission's application process, you can view its <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">official notice of recruitment</a>. </p> <ul> <li>There are also three open spots on the <strong>WAMPAC board</strong>, which is WSMA's nonpartisan campaign arm. The board comprises one physician or physician assistant from each of the state's 10 congressional districts, plus a slot for a medical student and resident. If you're interested in politics, board membership provides an excellent opportunity to gain a better understanding of campaigns, as well as to connect with elected officials and candidates for office. Currently there are openings in the 8th and 9th congressional districts, as well as the resident slot. If you're interested in applying to the board or want to learn more, contact WSMA's Government Affairs Director Sean Graham at <a href=""></a>.</li> </ul> <p> As you can see here, there are many ways to jump in, get involved, and have a voice in shaping what's happening in medicine in Washington state. I hope, in addition to <a href="[@]renew?_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=X1148">renewing your WSMA membership today</a>, you'll also consider engaging in one of these opportunities! </p> </div>12/3/2021 9:58:10 AM12/3/2021 9:56:03 AM12/3/2021 12:00:00 AM
weekly_rounds_november_22_2021_focusing_efforts_on_health_equityWeekly Rounds: November 22, 2021 - Focusing Efforts on Health EquityWeekly_RoundsShared_Content/News/Weekly_Rounds/2021/weekly_rounds_november_22_2021_focusing_efforts_on_health_equity<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-sm-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/Weekly%20Rounds/Weekly-Rounds-Article-Graphic-2021-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" alt="Weekly Rounds logo" width="645" height="425" /></div> <h5>November 20, 2021</h5> <h2>Focusing Efforts on Health Equity</h2> <p>Jennifer Hanscom, Executive Director/CEO</p> <p> With the holidays upon us, planning for family and festivities is underway. However, that is isn't the only thing on our minds these days at the WSMA. Even as I write, we are putting the final touches on our 2022 strategic plan and operating budget. Next Tuesday evening, the WSMA board of trustees will meet virtually to finalize that work and areas of focus for next year. </p> <p> A large part of that agenda will be continuing our work on health equity. We are working on that in conjunction with the WSMA Foundation for Health Care Improvement. In June 2020, the Foundation added health equity to its strategic plan, hiring Edwin Lindo, JD, to serve as a consultant to facilitate a strategic planning process with the foundation's board (board members can be found on the <a href="[@]WSMA/About_Us/WSMA_Foundation/WSMA/About/WSMA_Foundation/WSMA_Foundation.aspx?hkey=5695f210-6aa1-4eaf-94f0-ddea2e6c6261&_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=JUt28">foundation's webpage</a>). Through that effort, health equity is being woven into our foundation's mission, vision, and values. Health equity strategies, goals, and objectives will be added to both the WSMA and the foundation's strategic plans. The foundation board will soon review these draft revisions that include an emphasis on advancing health equity in all communities by:</p> <p>Addressing health inequity gaps through education and clinical transformations. Together in 2022 the WSMA and its foundation will: </p> <ul> <li>Host a health equity leadership development course and launch a health equity M&M series.</li> <li>Launch a program that shares best practices/guidelines on assuring needed access and culturally sensitive care for diverse communities.</li> </ul> <p>Build relationships of trust with diverse communities to improve care and mitigate the harm perpetuated throughout medicine.</p> <ul> <li>Develop a plan to provide opportunities for physicians and physician assistants to actively engage with diverse communities to build authentic relationships of trust through mentorship, education, and community support programs.</li> </ul> <p>Support diversity in the field of medicine by funding and operating an endowment to provide scholarships to medical students from racially marginalized communities.</p> <p> These activities will complement other efforts at the WSMA to diversify our membership, including the continuance of our Latinx advisory council and a proposal before the WSMA board to create a DEI committee to inform our policy work. </p> <p> While these efforts will be incorporated into the WSMA and foundation's 2022 operating budgets, you can support this work right now by making a contribution to the foundation. Next Tuesday is <a href="">#GivingTuesday</a>, a global giving movement in which millions of people come together to support and champion the causes in which they believe and the communities in which they live. </p> <p> On this Giving Tuesday, we're inviting members to invest in health equity by making a tax-deductible <a href="[@]WSMA/About/WSMA_Foundation/Give_to_the_Foundation.aspx?_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=LUt28">donation to the WSMA Foundation</a>. </p> <p> At its recent strategic planning session, the foundation focused its work on not only health equity, but also a commitment to improving physician wellness and continued efforts to improve care at the end of life. </p> <p> The foundation's mission is to create transformational health care change at all levels-individual, organizational, and statewide. With your help, we can achieve our vision of a future where physicians are healthy and fulfilled; where physicians, the health care team, and patients are partners; and where all Washingtonians experience equitable, quality care that aligns with their needs, goals, and values. </p> <p> The new stated values of the foundation included: </p> <ul> <li>Well-being: We promote the well-being of physicians so that we can fulfill our high calling of caring for our patients.</li> <li>Health equity: We commit to health equity and eliminating disparities to improve health care in Washington.</li> <li>Patient voice: We uphold the patient-physician partnership, creating equitable health care settings where conversations are mutual and care decisions are shared.</li> <li>Service: We serve our patients, communities, and each other with compassion in the pursuit of wellness and equity for all Washingtonians.</li> <li>Collaboration: We work with diverse stakeholders to generate high-impact equitable results that improve care in Washington state.</li> <li>Legacy: We build upon the vision of forward-thinking physician leaders to ensure an equitable, thriving medical profession and a healthy population.</li> </ul> <p> Learn more about the <a href="[@]WSMA/About_Us/WSMA_Foundation/WSMA/About/WSMA_Foundation/WSMA_Foundation.aspx?hkey=5695f210-6aa1-4eaf-94f0-ddea2e6c6261&_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=JUt28">WSMA Foundation for Health Care Improvement</a> and stay tuned as new programs launch in 2022. Thank you in advance for the <a href="[@]WSMA/About/WSMA_Foundation/Give_to_the_Foundation.aspx?_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=LUt28">support you offer</a> on #GivingTuesday. </p> </div>11/22/2021 11:05:44 AM4/30/2021 10:04:32 AM11/20/2021 12:00:00 AM
weekly_rounds_november_5_2021_the_wsma_matters…to_youWeekly Rounds: November 5, 2021 - The WSMA Matters…to YouWeekly_RoundsShared_Content/News/Weekly_Rounds/2021/weekly_rounds_november_5_2021_the_wsma_matters…to_you<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-sm-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="/images/Newsletters/Weekly%20Rounds/Weekly-Rounds-Article-Graphic-2021-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" /></div> <h5>November 5, 2021</h5> <h2>The WSMA You</h2> <p>Jennifer Hanscom, Executive Director/CEO</p> <p> We've heard a lot since the onset of the pandemic about physicians, physician assistants, and front-line health care workers being heroes. I can imagine there are plenty of days when you're not feeling so heroic. But as you face the daily challenges of caring for your patients, containing a virus, and protecting your own health and well-being, I hope you know that the WSMA is right there beside you doing the work of supporting you and protecting your interests. </p> <p> We're able to do that work because of the membership investment you make with us. When you partner with us, we are empowered to raise up your voice with the clout of being the largest physician professional association in this state. Our size, credibility, influence, and stature within the community mean that we are part of the highest-level health care conversations in Washington. </p> <p> Thanks to you-and in some cases your medical group's leadership-the WSMA had a record-setting 6% increase in membership this year. We hope to build on that growth as we launch our 2022 membership efforts. There truly is strength in numbers. By standing together, the WSMA has a powerful collective voice with which we speak up for what matters to medicine. With your membership, you're making a direct investment in professional fulfillment and leadership development-which, ultimately, is an investment in quality care and better patient outcomes. </p> <p> You are at the heart of our work. I'm ever mindful of how busy you are, and I know that news about what we're working on and how it impacts you, your patients, and your practice may get overlooked. </p> <p> That's why we utilize every communication channel we can to keep you filled in on the good work we're doing on your behalf. We reach out to you in print with our flagship, nationally recognized magazine, <a href="[@]WSMA/News_Publications/Latest_News/WSMA_Reports/WSMA/News_Publications/Newsletters/WSMA_Reports.aspx?hkey=b19e8949-47e1-4478-be31-53621de96ecc&_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=x0B18">WSMA Reports</a> and digitally with our email newsletter, <a href="[@]WSMA/News_Publications/Latest_News/Membership_Memo/WSMA/News_Publications/Newsletters/WSMA_Membership_Memo.aspx?hkey=9d095dd3-4eb8-4e08-902b-06f694114103&_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=21B18">Membership Memo</a>. For those of you on social media, be sure to follow our <a href="">Twitter</a>, <a href="">Facebook</a>, <a href="">LinkedIn</a> feeds. Of course, our website hosts an abundance of information about our work and is updated daily. </p> <p> Knowing you are busy, we compiled some of our achievements in our Impact Report which you can <a href="[@]WSMA/Membership/Why_Join_the_WSMA/Our_Impact/WSMA/Membership/Why_Join_the_WSMA_/Our_Impact.aspx?hkey=4cbb82b9-b1fe-4983-8e98-9208c0f6fe95&_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=71B18">access here online</a> for some quick insights into our work. </p> <p> We're kicking off the 2022 membership year now. Individual and group renewal notices will be in the mail soon. In the meantime, if you pay your dues online, <a href="[@]renew?_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=A1B18">pay now and save</a> $25 off the full-physician dues rate. Also, when making an individual payment online, you can enroll in WSMA's auto-pay program to select a one-time annual payment or monthly installments. </p> <p> As always, thanks for your commitment to, and support of, the WSMA as we strive to achieve our vision of making Washington the best place to practice medicine and to receive care. Standing together, I know we can do it! </p> </div>11/5/2021 9:59:25 AM11/5/2021 9:34:42 AM11/5/2021 12:00:00 AM
weekly_rounds_october_29_2021_five_updates_from_the_other_washingtonWeekly Rounds: October 29, 2021 - Five Updates from the Other WashingtonWeekly_RoundsShared_Content/News/Weekly_Rounds/2021/weekly_rounds_october_29_2021_five_updates_from_the_other_washington<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-sm-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="/images/Newsletters/Weekly%20Rounds/Weekly-Rounds-Article-Graphic-2021-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" /></div> <h5>October 29, 2021</h5> <h2>Five Updates from the Other Washington</h2> <p>Jennifer Hanscom, Executive Director/CEO</p> <p> The adage "never a dull moment" continues to ring true in the health care space, even as the pandemic wears on and another fall flu season rolls around. No surprise then that in a meeting this week with large group leaders, to a person, we heard that staffing, supply chain, burnout, cost containment, and access to care still lead the list of deep concerns in our community. As always, the WSMA is here to help, and hearing from these leaders goes a long way toward helping shape our advocacy agenda. </p> <p> While most of our work is focused here in Washington state, we do keep an intentional eye on the other Washington, as well. With that in mind, I wanted to flag several federal items you need to know about. </p> <h3>Federal COVID-19 public health emergency extension impacts you</h3> <p> The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' extension of the federal COVID-19 public health emergency until Jan. 16, 2022 means many of the waivers that public and private payers have instituted remain in place. The extension of the public health emergency allows the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to maintain several COVID-19-related Medicare <a href="">waivers and flexibilities</a>, including paying the same rate for telemedicine visits as for in-person visits, and allowing use of audio-only telemedicine services. </p> <p> The extension also means private health insurers' copayments related to COVID-19 testing (though not necessarily treatment) and related to any forthcoming vaccinations will be waived. </p> <p> Certain <a href="">HIPAA enforcement actions</a> also will continue to be relaxed. Specifically, physicians who use certain telemedicine platforms in good faith will not be penalized for noncompliance. </p> <h3>Take action to oppose Medicare cuts</h3> <p> Since last spring, organized medicine has been working with Congress to avoid the <a href="">Medicare payment</a> cuts expected to go into effect Jan. 1. The cuts, if allowed to go into effect, amount to about a 10% reduction. The cuts include: </p> <ul> <li>Expiration of the current reprieve from the <a href="">2% sequester</a> stemming from the Budget Control Act of 2011.</li> <li>Imposition of a 4% statutory pay-as-you-go sequester resulting from passage of the American Rescue Plan Act, presumably for at least another 10 years.</li> <li>Expiration of the congressionally enacted 3.75% temporary increase in the <a href="">Medicare physician fee schedule</a> (PFS) conversion factor to avoid pay cuts associated with budget-neutrality adjustments tied to PFS policy changes.</li> <li>A statutory freeze in annual Medicare PFS updates under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act that is scheduled to last until 2026, when updates resume at a rate of 0.25% a year indefinitely-a figure well below the rate of medical or consumer price index inflation.</li> </ul> <p> More to come on this in the coming weeks. If you haven't done so already, <a href="">click here</a> to write your congressional representative directly. </p> <h3>Crack down on EFT fees needed</h3> <p> The WSMA has joined the American Medical Association and other state medical associations in urging the Biden administration to crack down on fees insurers charge when paying physicians by electronic funds transfer. </p> <p> In a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, we requested that the administration issue guidance that "affirms physicians' right to choose and receive basic EFT payments without paying for additional services." </p> <p> The letter notes that an increasing number of physicians have reported "being forced to incur mandatory, percentage-based fees" on such transactions. In fact, a recent <a href="">Medical Group Management Association poll</a> found that 57% of medical practices reported that health plans, when paying the practice by EFT, charged fees the practice didn't agree to. Of that group, 86% reported being charged either 2% or 3% of their total payment. </p> <h3>MIPS deadline extended</h3> <p> The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reopened its reweighting request period for performance categories during the 2020 <a href="">Merit-based Incentive Payment System</a> program year. </p> <p> CMS acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt practice operations and many physicians did not have time to submit an extreme and uncontrollable circumstances exception request before the previous March 31 deadline for the 2020 MIPS program, which affects 2022 Medicare payments. Under the EUC policy, physicians, groups, virtual groups, and alternative payment model entities have through Nov. 29 to submit a request for the reweighting of one or more of the MIPS performance categories, which are: quality, cost, promoting interoperability, and improvement. Find out more <a href="">here</a>. </p> <h3>Speak up about telehealth gaps and opportunities</h3> <p> The WSMA is working with the American Medical Association on a Telehealth Immersion program for our members. We are working to identify gaps or opportunities in telehealth. If you deliver care via telehealth, please inform the future of telehealth by sharing your experience. Your insights will shape future telehealth programs, research and advocacy efforts, resource development, and continued support for physicians, practices, and health systems. Your voice matters, so I hope you'll take 10 minutes right now to <a href="">complete the survey</a>. </p> <p> We will continue to keep you posted on further developments via our Membership Memo and our website. In the meantime, thank you for all you do! </p> </div>11/5/2021 1:28:12 PM10/29/2021 10:14:58 AM10/29/2021 12:00:00 AM
weekly_rounds_october_15_2021_concerning_trajectory_for_health_care_cost_containment_effortWeekly Rounds: October 15, 2021 - Concerning Trajectory for Health Care Cost Containment EffortWeekly_RoundsShared_Content/News/Weekly_Rounds/2021/weekly_rounds_october_15_2021_concerning_trajectory_for_health_care_cost_containment_effort<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-sm-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="/images/Newsletters/Weekly%20Rounds/Weekly-Rounds-Article-Graphic-2021-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" /></div> <h5>October 15, 2021</h5> <h2>Concerning Trajectory for Health Care Cost Containment Effort</h2> <p>Jennifer Hanscom, Executive Director/CEO</p> <p> For several years, the unsustainable, rising cost of health care has been the subject of intense discussion in the hallways of Olympia. The WSMA is a steadfast advocate for physicians and patients in these negotiations, supporting efforts that seek to reduce costs while maintaining current or improving levels of service and opposing initiatives that would have the net result of reducing quality or access to care. </p> <p> To that end I want to make you aware of the state's latest and potentially most consequential work on this topic: the creation of a health care cost transparency board. </p> <p> The board has been meeting since early 2021, and your WSMA monitors and participates in these conversations. While certainly well-intended, we are concerned about the aggressive approach the board is pursuing, which seems to ignore that we are still fighting a global pandemic that has upended our delivery system and distorted the market in countless ways, many of which you are intimately familiar with: hospitals at full capacity, loss of life, unmanaged chronic care, postponement of elective surgeries, delaying or forgoing of routine care, an increasing need for mental health services, an exacerbated environment of limited services like affordable housing and other stressed social drivers, and situations where care has been delayed or denied due to a lack of space, staff, or other factors. </p> <p> The approach is similar to those adopted by <a href="">five other states</a> (pre-pandemic, I'll point out) including Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Rhode Island. As with these states, the WSMA expects the board's reports to have significant influence on state health care policy decisions. Unlike some of these states, the board does not wield an enforcement mechanism, nor does it have the ability to levy financial or other penalties. The Legislature may choose at some future date to grant this authority to the board. </p> <p> But as of today, the board is intended to help reduce the state's health care cost growth by: </p> <ul> <li>Determining the state's total health care expenditures.</li> <li>Setting a health care cost growth benchmark for providers and payers.</li> <li>Identifying cost trends and cost drivers in the health care system.</li> <li>Reporting annually to the Legislature, including providing recommendations for lowering health care costs.</li> </ul> <p> The board will publicly identify health care providers, including health systems and physician practices, and payers that exceed the established benchmark with the aims of: </p> <ol> <li>Making health care costs more transparent to the public and policymakers.</li> <li>Encouraging providers and payers to keep costs at or below the benchmark.</li> <li>Reducing the overall trend of health care cost growth in Washington state.</li> </ol> <p> The board is required to review and consult with entities that exceed the benchmark before publicly identifying them. Determining entities that are subject to the benchmark is the topic of forthcoming work by the board. The WSMA will advocate that certain practices, especially smaller and in rural areas, are at high risk for being adversely impacted by the benchmark and should be carved out. </p> <p> The board comprises 14 members representing various government agencies and industries. In general, most members of the board represent purchasers of health care. Physicians, providers, health systems, and insurance carriers do not have representation on the board. Rather, these perspectives are considered during meetings of an <a href="">advisory committee of health care providers and carriers</a>, a subcommittee of the board, and then reported out by staff and a member of the advisory committee who serves as a non-voting member of the board. </p> <p> The WSMA is an engaged and constructive partner in this important work. WSMA president Mika Sinanan, MD, PhD, represents the WSMA on the advisory committee. The WSMA created a work group to help Dr. Sinanan and WSMA staff navigate and participate effectively in this work. The work group includes: </p> <ul> <li>Donald Benz, MD</li> <li>Monica Blykowski-May, MD</li> <li>Carrie Horwitch, MD</li> <li>Mark Mantei</li> <li>Christine Palermo, MD</li> <li>Ralph Rossi, MD</li> </ul> <p> The board has been meeting monthly since February 2021. At its September 2021 meeting, the board voted to set the following aggressive total cost of health care benchmarks:</p> <ul> <li>2022-2023: 3.2%</li> <li>2024-2025: 3.0%</li> <li>2026: 2.8%</li> </ul> <p> The WSMA believes that for this endeavor to be successful, benchmarks should be meaningful, supported by evidence, and achievable to maintain credibility and garner confidence and support from stakeholders. While we understand and share the desire of the board to reduce health care costs, the WSMA is concerned by lack of evidence or sufficient rationale to support such an aggressive reduction-especially in the face of a pandemic that has devastated capacity in the system. </p> <p> We fear that setting unrealistically high expectations undermines future recommendations to the Legislature and might lead entities subject to the benchmark to ignore the work of the board, or worse, force them to initiate changes that have the effect of degrading access to high quality health care. </p> <p> The WSMA and many advisory committee members believe that a stable, five-year benchmark would provide the flexibility needed to work toward the admirable and challenging target of 3.2% (half of our recent growth rate) in a responsible way. Despite this recommendation, the board has adopted the declining benchmark growth rate target. The WSMA has requested the board adjust its benchmark to align with the advisory committee's recommendation, or that it recommend to the Legislature that it delay application of the benchmark until the global pandemic is behind us, at least until 2023 or 2024. </p> <p> The WSMA will continue to offer critical perspectives on these points and the upcoming work of the board which will include identifying cost trends and cost drivers in the health care system, and what entities will be subject to the benchmark. <strong>To advocate well, we need to hear from physician practices of all types and specialties about what this work means for you practice and your patients.</strong> Real world examples are very helpful! For example, what actions would you need to take at your practice to come in under the 3.2% growth benchmark in 2022? What steps would you need to take to ensure your costs do not exceed 2.8% in 2026? Let us know at <a href=""></a>. </p> </div>10/19/2021 10:26:57 AM10/19/2021 10:26:34 AM10/19/2021 10:26:57 AM
weekly_rounds_september_30_2021_what_makes_us_physiciansWeekly Rounds: September 30, 2021 - What Makes Us PhysiciansWeekly_RoundsShared_Content/News/Weekly_Rounds/2021/weekly_rounds_september_30_2021_what_makes_us_physicians<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-sm-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/Weekly%20Rounds/weekly-rounds-article-graphic-sinanan-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" alt="Dr. Mika Sinanan" /></div> <h5>September 30, 2021</h5> <h2>What Makes Us Physicians</h2> <p> <em>Dr. Mika Sinanan celebrates the art of medicine in his inaugural address as WSMA president on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021.</em> </p> <p> It is a pleasure and honor to address you as your president. I fully acknowledge that you and the WSMA membership at large have taken on a bit of risk, putting a surgeon again in this role that has been discharged with so much skill and grace by my immediate predecessors, Nathan Schlicher, Bill Hirota, Tom Schaaf, and Donna Smith. I did note while working with them that they all have something of a "surgical" demeanor, and I mean this in the kindest possible way. Alas, they do hail from different, nonsurgical specialties. That said, the WSMA has had surgeons serve previously as president with distinction. I recall introducing Nick Rajacich, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon from Tacoma, to present to the UW Physicians board of trustees, serving as a great advocate for our organization. These are all very big footprints to fill … I hope to justify the risk you've all taken. </p> <p> A little about me: I was born in Finland and grew up in the West Indies, the US, and Vancouver, BC. My father was an ear, nose, and throat surgeon; my mother a former nurse and homemaker, and a great cook! I completed medical school at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, and my general surgical residency at the University of Washington. I completed a PhD in physiology at the University of British Columbia and have spent the last 33 years on faculty at the UW with a practice focused on gastrointestinal and complex abdominal surgical disorders. My research interests have been in the areas of surgical robotics and simulation training, and the objective measurement of surgical performance, working with the WISH Surgical Simulation Division and engineers in the biorobotics lab at the UW Department of Electrical Engineering. </p> <p> I am grateful for a wonderful set of clinical and research partners at the University of Washington, as well as an inspiring and dedicated cadre of residents in our department who I am helping to train to take great care of me-and you-and our community, when we need it! After all, everyone should have at least one major operation in their lifetime! All of this is built on the foundation of an incredibly supportive family: two sons, Josh and Reilly, who are carving their own paths outside of health care, three great Brittany spaniels, and my wonderfully supportive and patient spouse of 41 years, Jenny. I have also been blessed with great mentors through my career. It is only by standing on their shoulders that I am before you today. </p> <p> The duties of the president are outlined in the WSMA bylaws: to preside at all general meetings of the association, to serve as a member of the executive committee, chair the board of trustees, and ex officio on all other WSMA committees except the nominating committee and judicial council. Most importantly, the president serves as the spokesperson for our profession to our state and to all component county societies. That means I serve you all, and I ask and expect you to call on me for help and support in any way that I and our great executive team can be of assistance. </p> <p> I want you to know that I have been preparing for this role. I've instructed my family that calling me "Mr. President" around the house is not necessary, at least not more than a half dozen times a day. The welts on my head and back that followed this suggestion are a testament to their measured response, but also probably the best preparation for the coming year. Clearly the titles of "Excellency" or "Chosen One," as Nathan and Bill were rumored to have tried out at home, won't be sustainable. </p> <p> In all seriousness, we all-all of the nearly 12,000 physician and physician assistant members of the WSMA, representing over half of the practicing physicians in Washington state-are challenged as we "live in interesting times." This saying is thought to be a loose translation of the Chinese proverb: "Better to be a dog in times of tranquility than a human in times of chaos." I'm not sure that my dogs would agree! But our times do seem chaotic with challenges that assail us all as we strive to meet our WSMA mission: to "Provide strong physician leadership and advocacy to shape the future of medicine. To advance quality care for all Washingtonians." </p> <p> Access to safe, effective, available, and affordable health care remains out of reach for too many in our community. We have not yet developed the tools to effectively address those social determinants of health that drive, to such a high degree, the health and health care needs of our patients. We face great disparities in income AND structural inequity across races and ethnicities in our communities and even within our own health care workforce. As Walter Cronkite, the journalist, noted, our health care system is too often not "healthy, caring, nor a system," fragmented and sometimes incomprehensibly complex. </p> <p> Coming into yet another wave of the COVID epidemic we face capacity and safety challenges with a stressed and stretched workforce who are, themselves, at risk of the illness that we are treating. Dr. Schlicher eloquently reviewed this in his presidential address last year. The ravages of climate change evident through reports of drought, previously "100 year" weather events that are now annual, heatwaves, and wildfires-are all a constant reminder of an even more complex future. New climate-related illnesses, population shifts due to rising sea water levels, and changes in the food supply will undoubtedly have a profound effect on our society, health care needs, and our resources to deliver that care. </p> <p> Any one of these topics could be a focus of an entire talk. Fortunately, they are well represented in the WSMA strategic plan and have been the subject of careful review by our board of trustees and select WSMA committees. They also undergird many of the resolutions brought forward for consideration through the House of Delegates as well as in our advocacy and regulatory agendas. We have much more work to do, but we should pause briefly and reflect on this past, enormously successful year. </p> <p> Our WSMA leadership team-led by CEO Jennifer Hanscom-has worked tirelessly to retain and expand our membership and maintain strong relationships with both smaller practice groups and larger organizations, all while holding the line on expenses. The thoughtful, constructive governance changes proposed by our Executive Committee and board of trustees-if approved by the House-will certainly make the WSMA more nimble, representative, and stronger. [See update at bottom.] And just as we achieved our own clinical pivot to telemedicine, the WSMA made a graceful move to virtual meetings and training without missing a step. </p> <p> The 2021 legislative session focused on the COVID pandemic. Despite a virtual format, the WSMA brought forward an ambitious agenda and achieved a 100% success rate in passing our priority bills and funding requests, truly remarkable work by Sean Graham, Jeb Shepard, and the entire advocacy team with help from many of you! </p> <ul> <li>We secured the first Medicaid reimbursement rate increase in memory, $140 million more for primary care, behavioral health, and pediatric services.</li> <li>Foundational Public Health Services were funded at $147 million over the next two years with a promise for twice that amount in the next biennial budget.</li> <li>Audio-only telemedicine is now a covered service, supporting our ability to reach rural, lower income, and older patients.</li> <li>Liability protections for care delivered or delayed due to COVID were instituted.</li> <li>Health equity CME for all state health care professionals, based on recent House of Delegates resolutions, will be starting in 2024.</li> <li>We also avoided any new taxes targeted at physicians or inappropriate expansion of scope of practice, holding a safe line on expanded prescriptive authority for naturopathic physicians and parity in reimbursement for ARNPs while embracing modernization of practice agreements for our PA partners.</li> </ul> <p> As I have pointed out, our profession and our society are being forced to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. In the next legislative session, I urge you to help us maintain this tremendous momentum. Topline issues include: </p> <ul> <li>Improved Medicaid funding for ALL physician specialty services.</li> <li>Support and replenishment of our COVID-ravaged workforce guided by principles of inclusion and diversity that, with physician leadership, will deliver a more robust delivery system and better patient experience.</li> <li>Promoting development of public health infrastructure and the efficacy of vaccines.</li> <li>Starting to meaningfully address the social determinants of health: income inequity, pollution, racism, and poor access to nutritious foods, these and other structural issues that determine overall health and chronic illness.</li> <li>Supporting our community response to climate change.</li> </ul> <p> We should all be proud of our present success while looking forward to next year's priorities. But I believe that preserving a historical perspective is also important in guiding our path to the future. </p> <p> The roots of the WSMA run deep and long in our state. In the historical compilation "Saddlebags to Scanners," which documented the first 100 years of medicine in Washington state, providing for the health of our community was a key consideration when the state of Washington was first established. The WSMA was formed in some of the first articles of state incorporation. The Washington Territorial Medical Society was founded in 1874, and renamed the Washington State Medical Association in 1894, to "represent the interest of physicians in matters of public policy and professional practice." Indeed, WSMA had a key role in developing some of the first capitated health model plans in the US and helping establish the UW School of Medicine in 1945. We, the WSMA, have been woven into the fabric of our community from its early days. We should be proud of our accomplishments and poised to build on them! </p> <p> In the past year, we have quite appropriately focused on the science, on public health measures, on team practice, on deploying electronic tools in support of coordinated care and excellent communication. It was clearly the right approach, but as we continue pursuing the science, we must not lose sight of those essential attributes of our art that brought so many of us into medicine. </p> <p> I would like to close with my own very personal observation and request to us all. Donna Smith, in her presidential address to the WSMA, noted, "We cannot lose sight of the why, why we came to medicine, why we remain, why we are effective as we touch lives around us." </p> <p> I, like so many of you, find my inspiration in the wisdom, courage, and calm endurance of our patients. Every patient I take to the operating room is putting their faith in me and my team while they surrender their autonomy under anesthesia. That is a sacred trust. It is a simple thing, but I acknowledge this trust by holding the hand of each patient as they're going under anesthesia and then being present when they wake up so that they know that I was there with them from beginning to end as I had promised. Many of my patients have mentioned that this simple gesture was memorable and comforting at a time of fear and uncertainty. </p> <p> Today, we continue to use the tools, data, and technology of public health in pursuit of the best health for all. But that is only part of the solution. William Osler, in his 1904 collection of addresses, "Aequanimitas," described the critical ability to listen and hear the experience and suffering of the soul before us, that these human skills are essential to good diagnosis but also to healing. President Theodore Roosevelt observed, "No one cares what you know until they know you care." Our knowledge and training equip us for the technical aspects of our profession. However, it is our caring and compassion, our ability to touch with empathy and skill that sustains a common bond of humanity with our patients, that makes us physicians-and pretty good surgeons-instead of technicians, and that sustains all of us in the WSMA as a community. I relish the challenges before us-so much opportunity!-and look forward to working in the coming year with you all as your president. </p> <p> Thank you. </p> <p> <em>In a postscript to my speech on Sunday, your leadership's attempt to bring more voices into our policymaking and to create a more diverse and inclusive organization - whether based on race, geography, or practice setting - had strong support but did not quite make the 2/3 threshold to pass the House of Delegates. However, this is just one of many steps we are taking on this important topic. Please stay tuned!</em> </p> </div>9/30/2021 10:49:10 AM9/30/2021 10:47:21 AM9/30/2021 12:00:00 AM
weekly_rounds_september_17_2021_let’s_do_our_part_to_prevent_physician_suicideWeekly Rounds: September 17, 2021 - Let’s Do Our Part to Prevent Physician SuicideWeekly_RoundsShared_Content/News/Weekly_Rounds/2021/weekly_rounds_september_17_2021_let’s_do_our_part_to_prevent_physician_suicide<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-sm-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/Weekly%20Rounds/Weekly-Rounds-Article-Graphic-2021-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" alt="Weekly Rounds logo" width="645" height="425" /></div> <h5>September 17, 2021</h5> <h2>Let's Do Our Part to Prevent Physician Suicide</h2> <p>Jennifer Hanscom, Executive Director/CEO</p> <p> As the pandemic grinds along month after month, we're all well aware that what was once an acute, emergent disaster has evolved to a long-haul, chronic event. No wonder we're hearing more about how exhausted, frustrated, and burned-out health care workers are. It's a sprint that's turned into marathon after marathon, and sustaining the pace is impacting your health, your heart, and your well-being. </p> <p> Today is National Physician Suicide Awareness Day. #NPSADay is both a reminder and a call to action intended to help us all do our part to prevent physician suicide. We all have a role to play, individually and through health organizations, health systems, hospitals, medical societies, and practices. It’s time we get comfortable discussing mental health concerns and provide safe spaces whereby our family, friends, and colleagues can say “I’m struggling” before it becomes a crisis. Let’s take time to talk and to act so physicians’ struggles don’t become mental health emergencies. </p> <p> One way to do that is to engage with others who are working on this. The Physicians Foundation, Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation, and #FirstRespondersFirst have united to equip you to help prevent physician suicide through <a href="">Vital Signs: The Campaign to Prevent Physician Suicide</a>. </p> <p> Vital Signs curates six actions anyone can take to help physicians in distress seek mental health care, ultimately helping prevent suicide: </p> <ul> <li>Learn the Vital Signs.</li> <li>Share suicide prevention resources.</li> <li>Prepare before a moment of crisis.</li> <li>Check in with a physician.</li> <li>Understand structural barriers.</li> <li>Create a culture of well-being.</li> </ul> <p> Being intentionally attentive as the pandemic wears on is critically important. A recent survey by the Physicians Foundation shows that during the COVID-19 pandemic, more than six in 10 physicians (61%) <a href="">reported</a> they experienced feelings of burnout. When left untreated, burnout can cause more cases of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance use, and lead to suicidal thoughts for physicians, directly impacting physician suicide rates. </p> <p> The WSMA is committed to raising awareness of the physician suicide epidemic and galvanizing physicians, colleagues, and loved ones to create a culture of well-being that prioritizes reducing burnout, safeguarding job satisfaction, and viewing seeking mental health services as a sign of strength. </p> <p> We are fortunate in Washington state to have physician leaders committed to addressing burnout. The Medical Officer Collaborative, co-sponsored by the WSMA and the Washington State Hospital Association, has a call to action to reduce administrative burden and promote evidence-based interventions to address the drivers of burnout. Senior physician leaders from around the state will convene on Nov. 30 for a workshop on engaging, retaining, and sustaining the health care workforce with <a href="">Dave Logan</a> and <a href="">Ashleigh Rodriguez</a>, co-founders of Care4th. Their work focuses on addressing organizational drivers of burnout. </p> <p> In the meantime, I hope you’ll join the #NPSADay effort. Visit the <a href="">campaign website</a> to learn more about ways to take action and use #NPSADay on social media to spread the word. </p> </div>9/17/2021 9:51:50 AM9/17/2021 9:36:54 AM9/17/2021 12:00:00 AM
weekly_rounds_september_3_2021_learning_from_crisis_past_and_presentWeekly Rounds: September 3, 2021 - Learning from Crisis, Past and PresentWeekly_RoundsShared_Content/News/Weekly_Rounds/2021/weekly_rounds_september_3_2021_learning_from_crisis_past_and_present<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-sm-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/Weekly%20Rounds/Weekly-Rounds-Article-Graphic-2021-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" alt="Weekly Rounds logo" width="645" height="425" /></div> <h5>September 3, 2021</h5> <h2>Learning from Crisis, Past and Present</h2> <p>Jennifer Hanscom, Executive Director/CEO</p> <p> More than 18 months in and COVID-19 remains top of mind for us all. Just this week, the WSMA held another COVID Q&A with key physician leaders geared toward answering the questions that are top of mind for you these days. Nearly 200 of you attended that presentation (if you missed it, you can <a href="[@]WSMA/education/On_Demand_Webinars/covid_19_q_and_a_session_august_30_2021.aspx?_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=KRJr7">view it here</a>). Our panelists-SheAnne Allen of the Washington State Department of Health and Drs. Scott Lindquist, Lisa Jackson, Yuan-Po Tu, and Jason Goldman-fielded as many of your questions as they could during the hour-long webinar. </p> <p> Across all these months, and especially now, I know you're all confronting difficult situations, including how best to allocate resources as critically ill patients increase and equipment, supplies, staffing, and hospital beds are stretched thin. </p> <p> While this pandemic is-as we've heard too often-unprecedented in our lifetime, facing crisis medical situations, sadly, is not. Tragedies happen, and tough decisions are made in the midst of them. </p> <p> We've heard a lot this week about Hurricane Ida, which slammed New Orleans on the 16th anniversary of the unforgettable Hurricane Katrina. That 2005 "perfect storm" blasted communities into crisis mode, including medical response across the region. </p> <p> In her book "Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital," Pulitzer Prize-winning author Sheri Fink, MD, PhD, documented what happened at one hospital and what went horribly wrong in those five days. Since then, she's reported on many medical crises, and most recently has been reporting on COVID-19 for the The New York Times during these many months of response. </p> <p> Dr. Fink is our keynote speaker at this year's WSMA Annual Meeting, being held virtually Sept. 25 and 26. You won't want to miss hearing her observations and our discussion of ethical dilemmas facing medical leaders during times of crisis. </p> <p> All WSMA members are invited to this online event. <strong>If you haven't yet registered, <a href="[@]EventDetail?EventKey=ANNMTG2021&_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=LRJr7">you can do so here</a>.</strong> </p> <p> In addition to what I anticipate will be a riveting keynote address from Dr. Fink, we'll also transition WSMA's leadership as we welcome Mika Sinanan, MD, PhD, as our 2021-2022 president, present our Apple Award winners, and do the business of policymaking for our organization. </p> <p> Your voice matters in our policymaking! There are now more than 20 resolutions posted to our website along with a bylaws proposal that would transform our governance. I hope you'll visit our secure discussion forums and make your opinion known on these proposals. Your testimony in our virtual reference committees does matter and will be taken into consideration by the reference committee members as fully as if you were testifying in person at the Annual Meeting. These online forums give every physician and physician assistant across our diverse membership a voice in our policymaking. Please take advantage of this opportunity to help your colleagues craft good policy on behalf of your patients and the practice of medicine. You can review and comment by visiting <a href="[@]iCore/Communities/ForumDefault.aspx?iUniformKey=c103fd78-d661-4c1d-835d-4d912d8653b3&WebsiteKey=c182ff6d-1438-4899-abc5-614681b54927&_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=NRJr7">Reference Committee B</a> (professional and internal affairs) and <a href="[@]iCore/Communities/ForumDefault.aspx?iUniformKey=1669ef97-c803-4b87-b0e7-daf631556fcb&WebsiteKey=c182ff6d-1438-4899-abc5-614681b54927&_zs=B3aFd1&_zl=ORJr7">Reference Committee C</a> (legislative affairs and health care economics/reform). </p> <p> Here's hoping I'll see you-even if virtually-in September at our annual meeting. </p> </div>9/3/2021 10:55:16 AM9/3/2021 10:54:45 AM9/3/2021 12:00:00 AM
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