Published 11/22/2017 

Your membership matters. Renew today!

You should have received your 2018 WSMA membership renewal notice in the mail recently. Thank you to those who have already renewed. If you haven’t done so yet, we encourage you to continue your investment in your WSMA and renew by Dec. 31. Membership support is the engine that powers the WSMA and we are grateful for your continued partnership.

By standing together, WSMA members help influence and shape the future of medicine and protect the well-being of patients. As a member-driven organization, your dues dollars make this important work possible on state, federal and local levels. We encourage you to stay involved and let your voice be heard.

Renew your membership online today or return the renewal notice that was mailed to you. For personal assistance, email membership@wsma.org or call 206.441.9762.

Published 11/22/2017

Published 11/22/2017 

Dec. 6 lunchtime webinar: MACRA “Quality Payment Program Year 2” Overview

Join us on Wednesday, Dec. 6 at noon for a free one-hour webinar addressing the CMS 2018 final rule changes for MACRA. The rule provides updates for the second and future years of the Quality Payment Program, with new flexibilities and incentives for physicians participating in the program's two payment pathways: The Merit-based Incentive Payment System or Advanced Alternative Payment Models. Attend this free webinar to understand the changes coming to the program in 2018 and how they will impact your practice. Dr. Nancy Fisher, chief medical officer of CMS Region 10, and Lauri Tan, health insurance specialist, will be the presenters. Register online.

Published 11/22/2017

Published 11/22/2017 

Not too late to avoid 2019 MACRA penalty—let Qualis Health help (it’s free)

The clock is ticking for physicians to participate in MACRA’s Quality Payment Program for 2017. It's not too late to avoid a 4 percent penalty in 2019 by submitting one quality measure, one improvement activity or the base score of the Advancing Care Information category. To learn more or for assistance, reach out to Qualis Health, whose team of experts is available to help answer your questions at no cost to you. Email QPP@qualishealth.org or call 877.560.2618.

To help ensure small (15 or fewer physicians), underserved and rural practices are prepared for success under MACRA, Qualis Health will be reaching out to you by phone and we encourage you to take their call. Please alert your administrative staff (even receptionists!) to be on the alert for these “cold calls.”

For more information and resources, visit the Qualis Health’s QPP resource center.

Published 11/22/2017

Published 11/22/2017 

Webinar and slides covering new prior authorization rules now available on demand

Nearly 200 physicians and practice staff attended our webinar last week covering the new OIC prior authorization rules. The archived webinar is now available for those who couldn’t attend.

During the session, WSMA Associate Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs Jeb Shepard explained how the new requirements, many of which go into effect on Jan. 1, may impact your practice and how you can adjust workflows to take advantage of the new rules. Jeb also discussed current OIC rules concerning prescription drugs and introduced webinar attendees to the WSMA Prior Authorization Navigator—a mobile-friendly tool to help physicians and staff quickly reference the new requirements and send feedback to the OIC when insurers are out of compliance.

View the broadcast on demand from the Navigator website, where you can also download the webinar slides. For questions on the new OIC rules or the WSMA Prior Authorization Navigator, contact Jeb at jeb@wsma.org.

Published 11/22/2017

Published 11/22/2017 

Register today for the 2018 WSMA Legislative Summit

The Legislative Summit is the WSMA’s yearly event held in the state capital that gives members a chance to learn about legislative issues critical to the practice of medicine and to help us take our advocacy message directly to legislators. Registration is now available for the 2018 Legislative Summit, scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 31, and is free for all WSMA members and members of Medical Group Management Association of Washington State.

At the 2018 Summit, you will:

  • Hear some of the state’s top health care leaders give their perspectives on the landscape of health care in Washington and what they see going forward.
  • Find out which legislative and budget items the WSMA believes will benefit most from your support.
  • Receive coaching on how to meet with legislators and effectively deliver our message.

Lunch will be provided, followed by personal meetings with your legislators in the afternoon, as scheduled by WSMA staff. For more information and to register, visit the WSMA website.

Published 11/22/2017

Published 11/22/2017 

DOH discussion draft of opioid rules now available; public meetings continue

The Washington State Department of Health has posted a “discussion draft” of proposed rules for opioid prescribing, as the agency continues to hold public meetings to collect input on rulemaking resulting from House Bill 1427. WSMA staff are reviewing the draft, which the DOH posted after its recent public meeting in Yakima. The DOH is still soliciting feedback on its rulemaking, and a number of meetings remain on the calendar for 2017-18.

Remaining public meetings are:

  • Kent, Dec. 12, CenterPoint Conference Center.
  • Vancouver, Jan. 8, Fort Vancouver Regional Library.
  • Everett, Feb. 9, Everett Community College.
  • Tumwater, Mar. 14, WA State Dept. of Labor & Industries Building.

For more information on the rulemaking or these meetings, visit the DOH website. For additional background on HB 1427, view this WSMA/WSHA webinar on how to prepare your practice for the law’s implementation.

Published 11/22/2017

Published 11/22/2017 

New CDC initiative seeks to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescribing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched Be Antibiotics Aware, an educational initiative to raise awareness about the importance of safe antibiotic prescribing and use. As part of its initiative, the CDC is urging health care professionals to prescribe antibiotics only when necessary—and is offering a variety of resources to help spread the word to professionals and patients.

Be Antibiotics Aware focuses on prescribing antibiotics only when needed, and at the right dose for the right duration and at the right time. The initiative encourages health care professionals to:

  1. Follow clinical guidelines when prescribing antibiotics.
  2. Remember to prescribe the right antibiotic, at the right dose, for the right duration, and at the right time.
  3. Protect your patients. Only prescribe antibiotics when they are needed. You can do harm by prescribing antibiotics that aren’t needed.
  4. Tell your patients why they don’t need antibiotics for a viral infection, what to do to feel better, and when to seek care again if they don’t feel better.
  5. Talk to your patients and their families about possible harms from antibiotics, such as allergic reactions, C. difficile, and antibiotic-resistant infections.
  6. Watch for signs of sepsis, which can be life threatening. If you suspect sepsis, start antibiotics immediately. Signs include confusion or disorientation, shortness of breath, high heart rate, fever, or shivering or feeling very cold, extreme pain or discomfort, clammy or sweaty skin.
  7. Follow hand hygiene and other infection prevention measures with every patient.

Be Antibiotics Aware has resources to help health care professionals in outpatient and inpatient settings educate patients and families about antibiotic use and risks for potential side effects. Find those resources and more at www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use.

Published 11/22/2017

Published 11/22/2017 

Hone your leadership skills–enroll in spring WSMA Physician Leadership Course

The heap of new regulatory and marketplace developments necessitates effective physician leadership. To encourage our members to get on a leadership track, we’ve designed a unique 40-hour “Leadership 101” course for maximum convenience to fit into your busy schedule: Enrollees are required to attend only three classes in person, with the rest of the course conducted online at your convenience. Applicants for our spring course are now being accepted.

In-person dates for the upcoming WSMA Physician Leadership Course are March 9, 10 and May 11 in Seattle, with eight weeks in between for online instruction and interaction. To apply, contact Lynda Sue Welch at lyndasue@wsma.org or 206.441.9762. Course details can be found online. This activity has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.

Published 11/22/2017

Published 11/22/2017 

Health Care Authority certifies decision aids for knee or hip surgery

The Health Care Authority has announced that its review of patient decision aids for joint replacement or spinal care resulted in its certification of four decision aids. These certified aids will assist people with hip or knee osteoarthritis who are considering joint replacement surgery.

Decision aids support health literacy and are part of the shared decision-making initiative under Healthier Washington, a process through which clinicians and patients work together to make decisions and select tests, treatments and care plans based on clinical evidence. The discussion is designed to balance risks and expected outcomes with a patient’s preferences and values. Washington is a leader in promoting shared decision-making and is the only state to develop a process to certify patient decision aids.

To learn more, review the HCA’s materials:

For questions, contact Bob Perna at rjp@wsma.org.

Published 11/22/2017

Published 11/22/2017 

American Heart Association releases new hypertension guidelines

The American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology and several other health organizations have released highly anticipated updated guidelines with recommendations regarding the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of hypertension. The new guidance lowers the target for blood pressure treatment to 130/80 mmHg to emphasize the importance of early prevention, detection and treatment to reduce future cardiovascular risk.

The guidelines will replace the 2003 guidelines published by the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. Highlights of the new guidance include:

  • High blood pressure is now defined as readings of 130 mmHg and higher for the systolic blood pressure measurement, or readings of 80 and higher for the diastolic measurement. That is a change from the old definition of 140/90 and higher, reflecting complications that can occur at those lower numbers.
  • In the first update to comprehensive U.S. guidelines on blood pressure detection and treatment since 2003, the category of prehypertension is eliminated.
  • While about 14 percent more people will be diagnosed with high blood pressure and counseled about lifestyle changes, there will only be a small increase in those who will be prescribed medication.
  • By lowering the definition of high blood pressure, the guidelines recommend earlier intervention to prevent further increases in blood pressure and the complications of hypertension.

To prepare health care providers for a productive dialogue with patients, AMA and AHA launched the Target: BP Improvement Program, a suite of tools and resources that incorporates the new guidance. This new program also offers access to the latest guideline information, making it a single source of guidance to achieve improved blood pressure control among your adult patient populations.

For more information on the guidelines, visit the AHA website.

Published 11/22/2017

Published 11/22/2017 

New rules for mandatory paid sick leave spell out requirements for employers in 2018

Mandatory paid sick leave in Washington starts in just over two months. As a result of voter-approved Initiative 1433, employers are required to provide paid sick leave starting Jan. 1. The Department of Labor & Industries released new state requirements on how the paid sick leave law will be implemented.

The newly adopted rules provide details on how the law will be carried out, covering topics like how employees accrue paid sick leave, what they can use it for, when they can use it and how to calculate rates of pay for paid sick leave. Review the schedule of online training sessions, being held Nov. 16-29. Register online.

Along with mandatory paid sick leave, Initiative 1433 also increases the state minimum wage annually over the next three years. In 2018, the state minimum wage will climb to $11.50 an hour. The initiative also ensures that employers pay tips and service charges to their employees.

A second phase of rulemaking on mandatory paid sick leave is just getting underway, which will detail how the new law will be enforced. Additional background is posted on L&I’s website.

Published 11/22/2017

Published 11/22/2017 

New Medicare card: Help notify your patients

CMS has begun its education campaign about the new Medicare card. You can help educate your patients by displaying a poster in your office and giving your patients tear-off sheets or flyers.

You can register and order these free color products:

  • Poster, 11”x17” (Product #12009-P) – limit 10
  • Pad of 50 tear-off sheets, 4”x 5.25” (Product #12006) - limit 25
  • Flyer English, 8.5”x11” (Product #12002) – limit 100
  • Flyer Spanish, 8.5”x11” (Product #12002-S) – limit 50

You can also print these products on 8.5”x11” paper. The poster and tear-off sheets will be available in Spanish later this year.

Published 11/22/2017