Published 5/24/2017 

Governor signs WSMA priority bill promoting safe, appropriate prescribing

Last week, Gov. Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1427 into law, WSMA priority legislation that will make it easier for physicians and other providers to get the information they need from the state’s prescription monitoring program to make informed decisions about prescribing. The bill’s prescription monitoring program provisions were based on recommendations from the WSMA and Washington State Hospital Association Joint Opioid Safe Practices Task Force, and seek to address inappropriate prescribing by leveraging data and traditional quality improvement methods as opposed to administrative mandates that act as barriers to patient care, like arbitrary pill limits.

While physicians and other prescribers can already access the prescription monitoring program database for their patients’ current and past opioid prescriptions, HB 1427 directs the program to send prescribing data reports to individual clinicians, allowing them to compare prescribing habits to established standards and guidelines and adjust behavior as needed. The bill also provides facilities and groups of five or more prescribers access to practice prescribing data for the purposes of quality improvement. The WSMA and WSHA will work with the Department of Health to create the prescribing data reports.

In another key provision, the legislation includes the establishment of an overdose notification system using the prescription monitoring program to alert all health care providers listed in a patient’s medical record when that patient has experienced a controlled-substance overdose. Timely notification of the patient’s primary care team is critical to identifying substance abuse issues, providing appropriate treatment and preventing overdose deaths.

HB 1427 also requires the Medical Quality Assurance Commission to adopt rules for prescribing opioids by 2019. The WSMA fought successfully to insert practicing physicians into the rulemaking process, to ensure the rules’ effectiveness and protect physicians’ ability to provide optimal patient care. The WSMA will work with the MQAC to include appropriate exemptions for physicians based on education, training, number of opioids prescribed, patient panel and practice environment, and will seek evidence-based rules that don’t increase administrative burden.

Click here to download a brief overview of the bill developed by the WSMA. Funding for the prescription monitoring program build-outs is contingent upon ongoing budget negotiations in Olympia. Both the Senate and House budget proposals released earlier this year contained funding for the bill’s provisions. Visit the WSMA Legislative Action Center for breaking news out of Olympia during the special legislative session.

Published 5/24/2017

Published 5/24/2017 

Funding available to support MAT services for opioid use disorder

Washington State Department of Social and Health Services is inviting organizations capable of providing medication-assisted therapy services to apply for funding to develop and implement a “hub and spoke” model in their community. The funding is available as part of the federal 21st Century Cures Act, landmark legislation enacted last year that included provisions increasing support for state efforts to fight opioid abuse.

Through its Targeted Response Hub and Spoke Project, the state is aiming to expand access to MAT (naltrexone, buprenorphine and methadone) through the development and support of six hub and spoke models to serve Medicaid-eligible or low-income adults with opioid use disorder. Organizations eligible for funding include public and private agencies who currently have MAT prescribing capacity. Successful applicants will receive up to $831,659 for services provided between July 2017 and April 2018.

Organizations interested in applying for funding must submit a letter of interest by June 1. Read more about the Targeted Response Hub and Spoke Project and how to apply for funds. For questions, contact Tom Fuchs, DSHS adult behavioral health treatment manager at 360.725.2290 or Thomas.fuchs@dshs.wa.gov.

Published 5/24/2017

Published 5/24/2017 

Summit on Reducing the Supply of Illegal Opioids in Washington, June 15-16 in Seattle

Don’t miss this free, two-day event, convened by the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, Washington State Patrol and Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys in response to Gov. Inslee’s executive order on the opioid crisis. Community leaders and policymakers from across the state will gather for two days of discussion on strategies to reduce the supply of illegal opioids (heroin and illicit prescriptions). Learn about best practices in field operations, innovative task force efforts and how partnering with public health can advance our state’s response to an epidemic that kills approximately 700 Washingtonians each year. View the agenda and register today.

Published 5/24/2017

Published 5/24/2017 

WSMA applauds passage of telemedicine bill

With demand for telemedicine services by employers and patients growing, the WSMA is praising state lawmakers for the passage of legislation further clarifying reimbursement for use of the services. Assuring that physicians receive payment for these services and increasing the variety of settings where these services can occur will help meet this demand and ultimately increase access to care.

Signed into law by Gov. Inslee earlier this month, Senate Bill 5436, sponsored by Sen. Randi Becker (R-Eatonville), clarifies the definition of “home” for telemedicine services that qualify for reimbursement by Medicaid and commercial insurers. Under the legislation, “home” no longer applies only when patients are physically in their home but will also include “any location determined by the individual receiving the service.” This change will take effect Jan. 1, 2018.

The WSMA also applauds passage this spring of House Bill 1337, sponsored by Rep. Marcus Riccelli (D-Spokane), which calls for the adoption of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact that allows physicians to receive an expedited license to practice medicine in member states. Washington joins 19 other states, including Idaho and Montana, as members of the compact. The compact is another important tool for increasing access to health care for individuals in underserved or rural areas, in part by allowing patients to more easily consult medical experts across state lines using telemedicine technologies. The WSMA is celebrating the passage of HB 1337 as part of its Healthy Doctors, Healthier Patients initiative to decrease administrative burden.

Published 5/24/2017

Published 5/24/2017 

Learn more about health care policy outcomes of the 2017 legislative session

The WSMA’s Legislative Wrap-Up Webinar is now available for streaming on demand. While lawmakers continue to hammer out a two-year state operating budget in Olympia, it’s not too soon to celebrate the policy successes from the regular legislative session. Hear from WSMA's legislative experts Katie Kolan and Sean Graham on new legislation impacting the practice of medicine, as well as what's to come in Olympia as lawmakers continue their work. Find the wrap-up webinar on the WSMA Legislative Action Center homepage.

Published 5/24/2017

Published 5/24/2017 

Seats available in WSMA Physician Leadership Course this fall

The WSMA is committed to helping physicians develop the skills they need to thrive professionally, regardless of the type or size of their organization. We encourage physicians new to leadership training to enroll in the WSMA Physician Leadership Course. Cultivating core leadership competencies can strengthen clinician resilience, improve time and stress management and help you achieve greater workflow efficiency.

This unique 40-hour “Leadership 101” course is designed for maximum convenience for busy physicians—enrollees are required to attend only three classes in-person, with the rest of the course conducted online at your convenience. The fall 2017 course will be held Sept. 8 through Nov. 10. The in-person classes will be held Friday and Saturday, Sept. 8 and 9 in Seattle. Course participants will then have eight weeks of online instruction and interaction, finishing with a third in-person session on Friday, Nov. 10, also in Seattle.

The course is limited to 30 participants. Individuals or group/system teams are encouraged to apply. To apply, please submit a letter of interest along with your CV to Lynda Sue Welch at lyndasue@wsma.org or to the WSMA Seattle office, Attn: Lynda Sue Welch, 2001 6th Ave., Suite 2700, Seattle, WA 98121.The deadline to apply for the fall 2017 course is June 30.

If you have any questions about the course, please contact Lynda Sue at 206.956.3622 or at the email above. Visit the course webpage for additional information. This activity has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.

Published 5/24/2017

Published 5/24/2017 

Learning to lead and fun in the sun—a perfect combination

With beautiful Lake Chelan and the central Cascade mountains as the backdrop, the WSMA’s Leadership Development Conference kicked off last weekend with a dramatic Greek tragedy that addressed the vulnerabilities of life as physicians. From there, the conference progressed by building a framework of leadership with sessions on clinical excellence, effective communication, reduction of medical error, adaptive leadership, attributes of top-performing teams, implications of the AHCA and advocacy strategies.

Dedicated to growing leadership expertise and skills, nearly 150 WSMA members attended this year’s conference, making it a vibrant and engaging experience for all. As WSMA President Shane Macaulay, MD noted in his opening remarks, “Effective leaders are essential if we are to navigate a healthy way forward for our profession and our patients.”

To those who attended, thank you for being there, and for being among those effective leaders guiding the way to the future.

For those of you who weren’t able to make it this year, mark your calendars now for May 18-19, 2018 to grow your leadership skills, reconnect with your peers, enjoy time with your family and to renew your spirits.

Photos by Andrea Peer for WSMA


With producer Byran Doerries (far right), actors Marjolaine Goldsmith and Glenn Davis presented selected scenes from Sophocles’ Ajax—a 2,500-year-old play about the suicide of a warrior. This “Theater of War” uses scenes from ancient Greek tragedies to convey struggles marked by betrayal, abandonment, moral dilemmas and fear, so that participants can experience “permission” to reflect on how that relates to their lives.


Following the performance, audience members shared deep emotions as they responded to Doerries’ question: “What was Sophocles trying to do when he staged this for his community?” For those in the packed room, the play created a safe space for candid dialogue and reflection, in addition to creating a renewed sense of community, understanding and compassion.


Shari Harley presented a dynamic and engaging session that provided participants with strategies and skills for speaking up effectively in the workplace. As an international training consultant, her sessions helped equip leaders to have crucial conversations in a positive and direct way.


Participants practiced with Harley’s “candor questions,” designed to prompt direct and honest feedback.


During breaks and free time, LDC participants relaxed and visited along the shores of Lake Chelan.


While WSMA members worked on their leadership skills, their families enjoyed the perfect weather and all the outdoor activities that are available at Campbell's Resort. 

Published 5/24/2017

Published 5/24/2017 

Cybersecurity for physician practices: Resources and guidance

This month’s ransomware attack is a reminder for all medical groups and physician practices—regardless of size—to ensure they are protected. While the recent attack was massive in scale and targeted large hospital health systems, smaller practices are not immune, particularly those using older software platforms.

Tips to protect yourself

  • Be sure your operating systems are up to date, even if it means investing in new equipment.
  • Encourage your staff to exercise a general sense of caution before opening attachments from unknown or suspicious entities. If you are unsure about a sender or attachment, call them (first looking online for a legitimate phone number) before opening the document.
  • Back up your data frequently and test to be sure your back up was successful.
  • Install anti-virus software.
  • If you suspect your computer is infected, disconnect immediately from your network and/or turn off your computer. Call your IT specialists for help.

You can also add protection against a breach with coverage from Physicians Insurance A Mutual Company, WSMA's endorsed professional liability company. PI offers a comprehensive program for physicians’ practices before and after a breach occurs. Contact Physicians Insurance at 800.962.1399 or janet@phyins.com for rate information about standard and higher limits coverage.

Federal guidance on incidents to guard against and actions to take

Published 5/24/2017

Published 5/24/2017 

MACRA update: MIPS eligibility and reporting registries

The WSMA continues to support our members and practice staff on their transition to MACRA’s new payment models, primarily via our publications and our dedicated MACRA webpage. If you have questions on the next steps for you and your practice, please contact Bob Perna, director of the WSMA Practice Resource Center at rjp@wsma.org or 206.441.9762.

Eligibility for MIPS 2017 performance year

Physicians unsure as to whether they are eligible to participate in MACRA’s new Merit-Based Incentive Payment System should note that CMS is sending letters to practices clarifying clinician eligibility for the MIPS 2017 performance year. These letters are being mailed no later than May 31 (most practices should have received theirs by now).

CMS is sending the letters to the practice identified by its taxpayer identification number and addressed to the representative specified in Medicare’s PECOS database. The letter has three parts:

  • Cover letter.
  • Attachment A, listing the participation status for each National Provider Identifier for the clinicians associated with the taxpayer identification number, according to the PECOS database.
  • Attachment B, including important Q&As.

After receiving the letter, we advise practice leadership to review Attachment A and advise the clinicians assigned to your TIN whether they are either eligible for MIPS or exempt.

If you believe the information provided in Attachment A is inaccurate, contact the Quality Payment Program either by email at QPP@cms.hhs.gov or by calling 866.288.8292 (Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-8 p.m. ET). TTY users can call 877.715.6222. Locally, you can contact Qualis Health at QPP-SURS@qualishealth.org. CMS has engaged Qualis Health as one of a handful of organizations nationally to assist in these educational efforts.

CMS announces registries for MIPS reporting

CMS has released its 2017 list of approved qualified registries for MIPS-eligible physicians and other clinicians reporting individual or group data.

Reporting data during the 2017 performance year can avoid a negative 4 percent penalty and could earn a small incentive bonus in 2019 payment year.

Here are your options for reporting MIPS data:

  • Test: If you submit a minimum amount of 2017 data to Medicare (for example, one quality measure or one improvement activity for any point in 2017), you can avoid a downward payment adjustment.
  • Partial: If you submit 90 days of 2017 data to Medicare, you may earn a neutral or positive payment adjustment and may even earn the maximum adjustment.
  • Full: If you submit a full year of 2017 data to Medicare, you may earn a positive payment adjustment.
  • Choose not to participate in the Quality Payment Program: If you don’t send in any 2017 data, then you will receive a negative 4 percent payment adjustment in the 2019 payment year.

The MIPS payment adjustment is based on the data submitted. The best way to get the maximum positive MIPS payment adjustment is to participate for a full year. By participating the full year, you have the most measures to pick from to submit, more reliable data submissions and the ability to get bonus points.

But if you only report 90 days, you could still earn the maximum adjustment—there is nothing built into the program that automatically gives a reporter a lower score for 90-day reporting.

More WSMA MACRA resources

Qualis Health, in collaboration with the WSMA and the Washington State Hospital Association, has introduced a new Quality Payment Program Resource Center. The webpage offers a new interactive toolkit to help you succeed with MACRA’s MIPS pathway.

You’ll also find the MIPS Minutes, an online learning series with brief topic-specific guidance, and the MIPS Tracking Tool, designed to offer clinicians an opportunity to develop a MIPS reporting plan and track results throughout the year. The tool also provides the ability to estimate (or model) how their performance on each MIPS category will eventually translate into a MIPS Final Score for Performance Year 2017.

Published 5/24/2017

Published 5/24/2017 

2017 WSMA membership directory now available for purchase

WSMA members should have recently received their complimentary copy of the 2017 WSMA Membership Directory, a guide to our more than 10,000 physician and physician assistant members, showing name, medical specialty, address, phone and fax. A limited supply of copies of this valuable resource is now available for order.

With separate sections organized by county and location, clinics and hospitals, and by specialty, the directory serves as a valuable reference guide for physicians, practice staff, hospital personnel and other health care professionals. There is also a section of products and services specific to the health care industry.

Directories are $55 each plus tax (for members and non-members; shipping is included). Order online.

WSMA members can check their public listing on our website by using our Physician Locator. Call the WSMA at 206.441.9762 or email membership@wsma.org with questions, or to update contact information or to let us know if you prefer we no longer mail future editions of the directory to you.

Published 5/24/2017

Published 5/24/2017 

Nominations requested for WSMA Judicial Council

The WSMA is accepting nominations to fill two positions on the WSMA Judicial Council, the standing committee which meets as needed to interpret the medical ethics of the WSMA and to offer opinions to the WSMA House of Delegates. Terms on the council are for five years and members are limited to one term. Nominees must be current active members of the WSMA and must have been active members for 10 or more years. Nominations can be sent to Shannon Bozarth (slb@wsma.org) at the WSMA Seattle office or faxed to 206.441.5863 no later than August 31. A curriculum vitae must be submitted with each nomination. For more information about the work of the council, contact Denny Maher, MD, JD, in our Seattle office at 206.441.9762 or denny@wsma.org.

Published 5/24/2017