Published 4/11/2018 

Groundbreaking UW study illuminates health disparities among states

The years of life lost in Washington due to opioid use disorders increased more than 400 percent over the last several decades; however, years of life lost to motor vehicle road injuries dropped more than 30 percent over the same period. Nationally, Washington is seventh in the nation for lowest rates of years of life lost, with lower rates found only in Minnesota, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, New York and Massachusetts. These findings are just several of many in a new ambitious study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington that represents the most comprehensive state-by-state health assessment ever undertaken.

The study, published in JAMA, is part of the Global Burden of Disease study, a comprehensive effort to attempt to quantify health internationally, covering 333 diseases and injuries and 84 risk factors. The study includes estimates of prevalence, incidence, death, life expectancy and several other summary health metrics for all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the nation overall.

Other Washington state findings include:

  • Low back pain topped the list of problems causing Washington residents to live with years of disability in 2016, followed by major depression and other musculoskeletal disorders.
  • While diabetes ranked fifth on this list, at 154 percent, it represents the largest increase in nonfatal health loss in the state over the 26-year period.
  • In addition, years of life lost from cirrhosis due to alcohol use and cirrhosis due to hepatitis C both increased more than 140 percent between 1990 and 2016.
  • High body-mass index remained the number one risk factor causing both death and disability in Washington in 2016. Others in the top five are (in order) smoking, high fasting plasma glucose, high systolic blood pressure, and drug use.

Access the study via the JAMA Network website and read the press release from the IHME. Stay tuned for more coverage of this insightful look at the state of our state and national health in the July/August issue of WSMA Reports.

Published 4/11/2018

Published 4/11/2018 

WASCA to hold briefing on new certificate of need requirements for ASFs

In January, the Department of Health announced a change in its previous interpretation of certificate of need rules related to ambulatory surgery facilities. The DOH's new interpretation narrowed the certificate of need exemption available to ASFs, forcing nearly all surgical facilities to obtain a certificate of need, posing a significant threat to the ambulatory surgical industry as well as the affordability and quality of the state’s health care delivery system. WASCA is hosting a briefing on June 1 to update affected health professionals on the status of the new requirements and efforts to find a legislative solution.

The briefing is scheduled for 8 a.m. on Friday, June 1, and will cover:

  • The implications of Interpretive Statement No. CN 01-18 for existing certificate of need exempt ASFs and certificate of need approved ASFs;
  • The certificate of need review requirements for new ASFs and ASFs undergoing changes in ownership, management or physical environment; and
  • WASCA’s ongoing efforts related to the certificate of need ASF exemption.

Those interested in learning more need to join WASCA or renew their membership at WASCA.net to register for the briefing (membership is available to anyone interested in these issues). Register for the briefing online. If you have questions, please contact Emily R. Studebaker, Esq. at estudebaker@hallrender.com.

Published 4/11/2018

Published 4/11/2018 

Hub and spoke opioid use disorder resources for physicians and practices

Washington state continues to build out resources to help physicians and communities fight opioid use disorder (OUD). As part of its Washington State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis effort, the state is implementing a “hub-and-spoke” model for expanding access to medication-assisted treatment (naltrexone, buprenorphine and methadone) to serve Medicaid-eligible or low-income adults with opioid use disorder. Hub-and-spoke networks are now available in 12 of the state’s 39 counties and an updated network directory is available.

The state’s hub-and-spoke networks offer collaborative, tiered levels of behavioral and physical health care to address OUD. The care is provided at the regional level by a "hub" agency supported by five or more contracted behavioral health treatment, primary care, warp around or referral agencies (the "spokes"). The networks receive federal grant funding to employ nurse care managers and care navigators who help patients navigate the network and assist with medication-assisted treatment, reducing the administrative and clinical burdens of the physicians prescribing medications for OUD. In addition, the hubs are working to train more providers within some spokes to prescribe and administer medication-assisted treatment, expanding the availability of these treatments.

The available networks are primarily located on the west side of the state, though new funding in the state’s supplemental budget will go toward adding more sites in Eastern Washington. Download an updated network directory with information on the available networks, their geographic reach and detailed contact information for referrals.

Published 4/11/2018

Published 4/11/2018 

Help close the addiction treatment gap—become certified in addiction medicine

Nearly 20.5 million Americans 12 or older have a substance use disorder, yet only an estimated 1 in 10 people with the disorder receive treatment. To raise awareness and support for addiction treatment, the American Society of Addiction Medicine has designated April 23-29 as National Addiction Treatment Awareness Week and is calling on all interested physicians to become board certified in addiction medicine subspecialty, and offering resources to help.

During National Addiction Treatment Awareness Week, the ASAM will offer educational resources for doctors interested in becoming certified in addiction medicine, including a free webinar on April 25 at 3 p.m. PDT. The webinar will address the role of the addiction medicine specialist, the different settings in which an addiction medicine clinician can work, and the future pathways physicians have to become ADM-certified. Register online for the free webinar. This activity has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.

To learn more about addiction medicine and resources offered through the American Society of Addiction Medicine, visit their website at TreatAddictionSaveLives.org.

Published 4/11/2018

Published 4/11/2018 

Medicare to reprocess claims due to GPCI 1.0 work floor and therapy caps

The WSMA has confirmed with Noridian that there will be a reprocessing of 2018 claims that were paid at less than the 1.0 work geographic price cost index floor, or were denied due to the therapy cap. While the reprocessing began on April 2, adjustments will be occurring over some six months. We’ll pass along more details as those become available.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 permanently repealed the Medicare outpatient therapy caps and extended certain physician payment policies, including the physician work GPCI 1.0 floor, which lapsed at the end of 2017. The localities affected by the replacement of the 1.0 GPCI floor are listed starting on page seven of CMS’ official instruction to Medicare Administrative Contractors. These policies are retroactive to Jan. 1, and the MedLearn Matters text explains that MACs will automatically reprocess the claims impacted by this legislation.

Published 4/11/2018

Published 4/11/2018 

Reminder: Transition to new Medicare card has begun

On April 1, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services began mailing Medicare cards with new Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers to everyone with Medicare coverage. Nationally, current Medicare beneficiaries will get their new cards on a rolling basis over the coming months; Washington state beneficiaries should begin receiving their new cards after June 2018. The MBI will replace the Social Security number-based Health Insurance Claim Number for transactions including billing, eligibility status and claim status. Physician practices should get ready to accept MBIs. Individuals who become newly eligible for Medicare as of April 1 will only get a card with the MBI. For more information on the new cards, review the CMS overview webpage.

Published 4/11/2018

Published 4/11/2018 

Innovation in health care leadership focus of next month’s Leadership Development Conference

WSMA’s annual Leadership Development Conference is just around the corner—May 18 and 19 at Campbell's Resort on Lake Chelan. This year’s conference theme—innovation in health care leadership—is timelier than ever, with clinicians facing unprecedented shifts in how health care is delivered, how it’s paid for, and the policies that help define it. Physicians, physician assistants and administrators of all leadership levels are encouraged to attend to take advantage of the top-quality programming and continue cultivating the skills needed to influence the future of health care decision-making.

At the conference, you’ll hear from leading national experts who will inspire new ways of thinking about how to lead during challenging times. Presenters include Jason Hwang, MD, MBA, an internal medicine physician with deep expertise in health care innovation, who will present this year’s Thomas J. Curry Leadership Keynote Address, “The Innovator’s Prescription: A Disruptive Solution for Health Care;” and Susan Reynolds, MD, PhD, a physician leadership coach and former emergency physician, CEO and White House health care advisor, who will present “Effective Communication to Build a Collaborative Team.”

You’ll also hear from local health system leaders who are seeing results from innovative team models that reduce costs and improve workflow, patient access and patient and provider satisfaction, including Brian Seppi, MD, chief medical officer for Providence Medical Group; Stuart Freed, MD, chief medical officer of Confluence Health in Wenatchee; and Elise Ernst, MEd, MSW, vice president of practice management at The Polyclinic in Seattle.

These are just a few highlights of what promises to be a powerful and productive event. Visit the WSMA website for the full conference agenda, registration information and area activities for your family to enjoy. Be sure to book your accommodations at Campbell’s Resort on Lake Chelan soon—a limited number of rooms at the WSMA discounted rate are available (the deadline is next Wednesday, April 18 to receive the discount).

The WSMA is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The WSMA designates this live activity for a maximum of 10.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

This activity meets the criteria for up to 10.25 hours of Category I CME credit to satisfy the relicensure requirements of the Washington State Medical Quality Assurance Commission.

Published 4/11/2018

Published 4/11/2018 

Washington State Opportunity Scholarship program expands reach for health care awards

For the first time since the program’s inception in 2011, the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship program will expand its innovative STEM and health care scholarship program. The program will expand to two new populations of students: (1) Students pursuing sub-baccalaureate professional and technical degree and certification programs offered at our state’s 34 community and technical colleges; and (2) students pursuing high-demand graduate medical education programs who complete a service obligation in rural or underserved communities. The program’s expansion is the result of legislation passed during the 2018 state legislative session and supported by the WSMA. Learn more about the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship program at waopportunityscholarship.org.

Published 4/11/2018

Published 4/11/2018 

Serve the profession of medicine in Washington: Nominations for WSMA leadership due April 30

Only through the participation of dedicated physician volunteers can the WSMA continue to deliver strong leadership and advocacy that is patient focused and physician driven. Serving as a WSMA officer, trustee or delegate gives you an opportunity to get involved and help ensure Washington continues to be the best place to practice medicine and receive care. The WSMA is now accepting nominations for these positions and more for 2018-19. If you or someone you know is interested in serving, please visit the WSMA website to learn more. The deadline for nominations is April 30.

Published 4/11/2018

Published 4/11/2018 

DOH seeks psychiatrist to serve on Medical Commission (formerly MQAC)

The Department of Health is seeking a psychiatrist to fill a vacancy on the Washington State Medical Commission (formerly the Medical Quality Assurance Commission). The Medical Commission is tasked with helping to ensure physicians and physician assistants are competent and provide quality medical care. The Medical Commission meets about eight times a year, usually on Thursday and Friday every six weeks. There is an expectation to review multiple disciplinary cases between meetings, and additional meetings or hearings are often necessary. Find the application on the DOH website. If you have questions, contact Daidria Amelia Underwood at 360.236.2727 or daidria.underwood@doh.wa.gov.

Published 4/11/2018

Published 4/11/2018 

Free Qualis Health webinars: Using Improvement Activities To Enhance Performance Scores

The MIPS performance category “improvement activities” is a critical component of your overall performance score, based on how much you participate in activities that improve clinical practice. Choosing the right activities can benefit your patients and help you earn a good MIPS score. Geared to smaller practices, this free webinar will focus on understanding how to choose and leverage your improvement activities to enhance your overall performance score. During the presentation, a panel of experts will review the types of improvement activities you should be considering, discuss how improvement activities are scored and offer suggestions for how to leverage your improvement work to enhance your MIPS scores in other areas. This webinar will be presented twice; register online for either the April 17 or April 19 event.

Published 4/11/2018

Published 4/11/2018 

WSMA introduces Physician Practice Helpline

The WSMA understands the unique challenges faced by our members’ practices. For your practice to succeed, your services need to translate into revenue. From simple to complex issues, WSMA’s staff experts—now available via our new Physician Practice Helpline—have the know-how, connections and expertise to help make that happen.

The WSMA Physician Practice Helpline can assist you with a range of issues including coding, payer audits, recovery requests, claim processing and adverse payer actions. If your practice needs assistance with an issue, we are ready to help with:

  • Payment advocacy with insurers
  • Qualified guidance on a variety of practice operations issues
  • Timely assistance with code selection and payment policies
  • Denied or underpaid claims

To contact the helpline, call 206.441.9762 or 800.552.0612 and ask for Bob Perna, MBA, FACMPE, Practice Resource Center director or Michelle M. Lott, CPC, CPMA, associate director and health insurance coding specialist, or email rjp@wsma.org or mml@wsma.org.

Published 4/11/2018

Published 4/11/2018 

Deadline extended to April 16 for WSMA Salary and Benefits Survey—please participate!

More than 120 practices so far have participated in the WSMA’s first Salary and Benefits Survey, a great turnout! Don’t be left out—we’ve extended the deadline to Monday, April 16. Participants will receive a free copy of the survey results, which we expect to have available in July.

While similar surveys have been performed locally and at the national level, this will be the first such survey conducted by the WSMA to benefit Washington physicians and their practices. We strongly encourage you to participate in this process! Use this web link to initiate the survey and input your 2017 salary and benefits data. For questions, contact Michelle Lott, CPC, CPMA at the WSMA Physician Practice Helpline at 206.441.9762 or mml@wsma.org.

Published 4/11/2018