Press Room

Published 10/7/2016 

Washington State Medical and Hospital Associations Applaud Gov. Inslee's Leadership in Addressing the Opioid Crisis

The Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) and the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) announced today their support of Gov. Jay Inslee’s executive order aimed at ending the opioid crisis in Washington state.

 

WSMA PRESS STATEMENT
For Immediate Release
  CONTACT
Oct. 7, 2016   Graham Short, WSMA
206.441.9762
Mary Kay Clunies-Ross, WSHA
206.216.2894
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Washington State Medical and Hospital Associations Applaud Gov. Inslee's Leadership in Addressing the Opioid Crisis

The associations' Joint Opioid Safe Practices Task Force supports the governor's executive order and its coordinated approach to ending the opioid epidemic in Washington state


Seattle (Oct. 7, 2016) – The Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) and the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) announced today their support of Gov. Jay Inslee’s executive order aimed at ending the opioid crisis in Washington state.

“The governor’s executive order provides a path forward that brings together state agencies, health provider organizations, law enforcement and other partners in a coordinated and unprecedented effort to combat the opioid crisis in this state,” said Ray C. Hsiao, MD, WSMA immediate past president and a child psychiatrist and addiction specialist at Seattle Children’s.

Earlier this year, the WSMA joined with the WSHA to create the Joint Opioid Safe Practices Task Force, which is focused on improving and implementing safe prescribing practices and pain management as well as opioid abuse prevention and addiction support.

The Joint Opioid Safe Practices Task Force strongly supports the governor’s approach to addressing the opioid crisis and will continue to work closely with the governor’s office, the Department of Health and other partners to end the opioid epidemic in this state.

“The U.S. is in the grips of an opioid epidemic, and people’s lives are at stake,” said Cassie Sauer, WSHA executive vice president. “The Washington State Hospital Association is dedicated to doing our part to prevent and decrease opioid addiction. We have a responsibility to help improve prescribing practices, support patients in pursuing other effective options for pain control, and allow for safe disposal of unused medications.”

The WSMA and WSHA have already taken significant steps to help prevent opioid abuse, including leading statewide efforts to educate physicians on best practices for safe, effective and appropriate prescribing. The ER is for Emergencies program, which started in 2012, implemented several practices related to identifying patients who were struggling with addiction or pain management problems.

Both associations also strongly support the state’s prescription drug monitoring program and encourage physicians and other health care providers to use the program’s database to check a patient’s medical history for red flags that indicate potential for opioid abuse.

“Despite progress in some areas, more must be done to address the complex, multifaceted problem of opioid addiction and overdose,” said Dr. Hsiao, a member of the joint task force. “We stand a far greater chance of reducing opioid abuse by joining forces with others committed to implementing effective solutions.”

Sauer added, “The breadth of the problem demands widespread attention. We are very appreciative that the governor is marshalling the state’s agencies and resources to tackle this problem, and we look forward to working with the governor in being part of the solution.”

About the Washington State Medical Association

The Washington State Medical Association represents physicians, physician assistants, resident physicians and medical students throughout Washington state. Its vision is to make Washington the best place to practice medicine and to receive care. For more information on the WSMA, visit www.wsma.org.

About the Washington State Hospital Association

The Washington State Hospital Association works to improve the health of all Washington state residents by being active on key issues of policy and quality. WSHA represents more than 100 hospitals and health systems in the state, including those that are non-profit, investor-owned, and county, state and military hospitals. The Triple Aim guides our members and our work, as we strive to improve the patient experience, improve the health of populations and reduce the cost of health care. Visit www.wsha.org for more information.

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Published 10/07/2016

Published 10/5/2016 

Representative Riccelli honored by state medical assocaition



WSMA PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
 
Contact
October 5, 2016 Graham Short
Associate Director of Communications
(206) 441-9762 or
gfs@wsma.org



Representative Riccelli honored by state medical association

Seattle, Wash. -- Rep. Marcus Riccelli (D-Spokane) has been named the Washington State Medical Association’s 2016 Legislator of the Year for his support of the medical association’s legislative efforts, including the creation of a new medical school in Washington state and a bill to raise the legal smoking age. The representative, who represents the state’s 3rd Legislative District covering most of Spokane, received the award on Saturday, Oct. 1, at the medical association’s annual meeting at the Hilton Seattle Airport & Conference Center in Seattle.

Each year, the statewide professional organization representing physicians, residents, medical students and physician assistants honors a legislator whose knowledge and influence does much to improve the health of people in Washington state.

As vice chair of the House Health Care Committee, Rep. Riccelli was instrumental in getting WSMA-supported bills scheduled for hearings, moved out of committee, and passed out of the House chamber. He also sponsored or co-sponsored bills that were top priority for the medical association, including in 2016 a bill to raise the legal smoking age to 21.

“In a tough political climate, Rep. Riccelli remained a staunch public advocate working with the WSMA to support raising the legal smoking age,” said Dr. Shane Macaulay, president of the WSMA. “While the bill did not pass this year, Rep. Riccelli’s dedication and leadership on the issue has helped bring much-needed attention to the issue and has moved us one step closer to keeping tobacco products out of teenagers’ hands and reducing nicotine addiction.”

In 2015, Rep. Riccelli was instrumental in the passage of House Bill 1559, which allowed for the creation of the Washington State University Medical School. When slated to open in 2017, the new medical school is expected to train an additional 60 physicians. A priority issue for the WSMA is supporting efforts to increase the number of physicians in the state, particularly in rural and underserved locations.

Rep. Riccelli was praised by the association for his contribution to WSMA’s successful legislative efforts in Olympia on behalf of physicians and patients.

“Rep. Riccelli’s open door policy and open lines of communication have been critical at times, particularly as our priority issues advanced through Olympia’s often chaotic political process,” said Dr. Macaulay.

Rep. Riccelli lives with his wife Amanda and their two children in Spokane.


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Published 10/05/2016

Published 10/3/2016 

Bellevue radiologist named president of state medical association

Dr. Shane Macaulay, a radiologist from Bellevue, was elected president of the Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) at the association’s annual meeting in Seattle, Sunday, Oct. 2. Click here for a print-ready photo of Dr. Macaulay.

WSMA PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
 
Contact
October 3, 2016 Graham Short
Associate Director of Communications
(206) 441-9762 or
gfs@wsma.org

Seattle radiologist named president of state medical association

Seattle, Wash. -- Dr. Shane Macaulay was elected president of the Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) at the association’s annual meeting in Seattle, Sunday, Oct. 2. The WSMA represents physicians, resident physicians, medical students and physician-assistants throughout Washington state.

Dr. Macaulay, who lives in Bellevue, is a musculoskeletal and body radiologist for the Center for Diagnostic Imaging, which provides outpatient medical imaging and radiology services. He also serves as medical director for the Center for Diagnostic Imaging’s Kirkland location.

Dr. Macaulay received his medical degree from the University of California at San Diego. He completed his residency in radiology and fellowship in abdominal imaging and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) research at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Dr. Macaulay is a member of multiple professional associations, including the American Medical Association, American Association of Physicians and Surgeons, American College of Radiology, Washington State Radiological Society and King County Medical Society. He has authored and co-authored numerous peer-reviewed articles in industry journals, and has held appointments as a clinical associate faculty and as an acting instructor at the University of Washington.

The following physicians were also elected as officers at the association’s annual meeting: Dr. Donna Smith, Seattle pediatrician, president-elect; Dr. Tom Schaaf, Spokane family physician, 1st vice president; Dr. Bill Hirota, Tacoma gastroenterologist, 2nd vice president; Dr. Nathan Schlicher, Tacoma emergency physician, secretary-treasurer; Dr. Mika Sinanan, Seattle surgeon, assistant secretary-treasurer. The seventh officer of WSMA’s Executive Committee is past-president Dr. Ray Hsiao, Seattle child psychiatrist and addiction specialist, who will serve as committee chair.


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Published 10/03/2016

Published 7/6/2016 

Washington State Medical and Hospital Associations Launch Opioid Task Force

The Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) and the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) announced today the launch of a joint task force to develop solutions to address the growing opioid epidemic, with an eye towards ways physicians and hospitals can play a more active role in tackling this issue.

WSMA PRESS STATEMENT
For Immediate Release
  CONTACT
July 6, 2016   Graham Short, WSMA
206.441.9762
Mary Kay Clunies-Ross, WSHA
206.216.2894
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Washington State Medical and Hospital Associations Launch Opioid Task Force

Associations join forces to tackle opioid addiction and overdose in Washington state


Seattle (July 6, 2016) – The Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) and the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) announced today the launch of a joint task force to develop solutions to address the growing opioid epidemic, with an eye towards ways physicians and hospitals can play a more active role in tackling this issue.

The task force will focus on driving appropriate prescribing and other best practices to help reduce prescription opioid addiction and overdose. The group also plans to advance key legislative proposals and policy initiatives.

“As physicians, we recognize the medical profession must take a leading role in reversing the potential crisis facing our state and nation,” said Ray Hsiao, MD, WSMA President. “We see firsthand the terrible toll these drugs can take on patients and their families, and we want to work with others who are committed to identifying and implementing effective solutions.”

Drug overdoses – most of them involving opioids – recently surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of accidental death in our state and nationwide. Approximately 600 people die each year in Washington state from overdosing on prescription and illicit opioids.

“The U.S. is in the grips of an opioid epidemic, and people’s lives are at stake,” said Gregg Davidson, WSHA board chair. “The Washington State Hospital Association is dedicated to doing our part to prevent and decrease opioid addiction. We have a responsibility to help improve prescribing practices, support patients in pursuing other effective options for pain control, and allow for safe disposal of unused medications.

The WSMA named three physicians on its leadership team to the task force:

  • Ray Hsiao, MD: WSMA president, child psychiatrist and addiction specialist, Seattle Children’s Hospital in Seattle
  • Tom Schaaf, MD: family physician and hospitalist, Providence Medical Group in Spokane
  • Nathan Schlicher, MD, JD: emergency physician, St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Tacoma

The WSHA also named three members to the task force:

  • Scott Kennedy, MD: chief medical officer, Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles
  • Sean Dobbin: pharmacy director at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane
  • Tom Staiger, MD: chief medical officer, UW Medical Center in Seattle

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee today praised the new task force.

"The medical community—from the frontline providers to our health care systems—experience firsthand the devastating effects of opioid addiction and overdose on our communities," Gov. Inslee said. "I am pleased to see the Washington State Medical Association and Hospital Association step up to partner with the state, public health and law enforcement to lead the charge and help end this epidemic in our state."

The WSMA and WSHA have already taken significant steps to help prevent prescription opioid abuse, including leading statewide efforts to educate physicians on best practices for safe, effective and appropriate prescribing. The ER is for Emergencies program, which started in 2012, implemented several practices related to identifying patients who were struggling with addiction or pain management problems. Both associations also strongly support the state’s prescription drug monitoring program and encourage physicians and other health care providers to use the program’s database to check a patient’s medical history for red flags that indicate potential for opioid abuse.

These and other efforts are showing results. In Washington state, there has been a steady decline since 2008 in hospitalizations and deaths from unintentional overdose involving prescription opioids – a major reversal after many years of steady growth. But there is still more to be done.

“This is a national problem, but we know that our cooperative approach is effective in making improvements for Washington state residents,” said Davidson. “WSHA and WSMA worked together to develop ER is for Emergencies, which has been effective in helping patients and reducing costs, and I’m confident that this task force will help us enhance and accelerate this work.

“Despite progress in some areas, more must be done to address the complex, multifaceted problem of opioid addiction and overdose,” said Dr. Hsiao. “We stand a far greater chance of reducing opioid abuse by joining forces with others committed to implementing effective solutions, including educating patients about appropriate pain management and supporting the responsible disposal of unused medication.”

About the Washington State Medical Association

The Washington State Medical Association is the only professional organization that represents the interests and priorities of all physicians in the state. Its vision is to make Washington the best place to practice medicine and to receive care. For more information on the WSMA, visit www.wsma.org.

About the Washington State Hospital Association

The Washington State Hospital Association works to improve the health of all Washington state residents by being active on key issues of policy and quality. WSHA represents more than 100 hospitals and health systems in the state, including those that are non-profit, investor-owned, and county, state and military hospitals. The Triple Aim guides our members and our work, as we strive to improve the patient experience, improve the health of populations and reduce the cost of health care. Visit www.wsha.org for more information.

 

 

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Published 7/06/2016

Published 1/20/2016 

Washington State Medical Association responds to House Bill 2447

A statement from Jennifer Hanscom, CEO of the Washington State Medical Association, in response to the introduction of House Bill 2447, which would prohibit balance billing and impose binding arbitration on physicians and insurance carriers unable to come to agreement on payment for out-of-network care.

WSMA PRESS STATEMENT
For Immediate Release
  CONTACT
Jan. 20, 2016   Jennifer Hanscom
(206) 441-9762 or jen@wsma.org


Washington State Medical Association responds to House Bill 2447


Seattle, Wash. – A statement from Jennifer Hanscom, CEO of the Washington State Medical Association, in response to the introduction of House Bill 2447, which would prohibit balance billing and impose binding arbitration on physicians and insurance carriers unable to come to agreement on payment for out-of-network care.

“The Washington State Medical Association does not support House Bill 2447, which would prohibit balance billing. We share lawmakers’ concerns about patients facing high out-of-pocket costs, but this bill has the potential to do more harm than good. Currently, physician groups are generally able to come to agreeable contract terms with insurers. This legislation could discourage contracting, resulting in more out-of-network situations for patients across the state. As a physician community, we want a health care system that adequately compensates physicians while getting patients the care they need. We look forward to working with lawmakers to find alternative policy solutions.”

About the Washington State Medical Association (WSMA)
The Washington State Medical Association is the only professional organization that represents the interests and priorities of all physicians in the state. Its vision is to make Washington the best place to practice medicine and to receive care. For more information on the WSMA, visit wsma.org. #

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Published 1/20/2016

Published 9/29/2015 

Seattle psychiatrist named president of state medical association

Dr. Ray Hsiao, a child psychiatrist and addiction specialist from Seattle, was elected president of the Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) at the association’s annual meeting in Spokane, Sunday, Sept. 27. Click here for a print-ready photo of Dr. Hsiao.

WSMA PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
 
Contact
September 28, 2015 Jennifer Hanscom
Chief Executive Officer
(206) 441-9762 or
jen@wsma.org


Seattle psychiatrist named president of state medical association


Seattle, Wash. – Dr. Ray Hsiao was elected president of the Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) at the association’s annual meeting in Spokane, Sunday, Sept. 27. The WSMA represents physicians, resident physicians, medical students and physician-assistants throughout Washington state.

Dr. Hsiao is a child psychiatrist and addiction specialist at Seattle Children’s, where he also serves as the co-director of the adolescent substance abuse program. In addition to his responsibilities at Children’s, Dr. Hsiao serves as an associate professor and director of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residency Training Program at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Dr. Hsiao received his medical degree from Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. He completed his residency at University of Washington and is triple board certified in psychiatry, addiction psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry.

Dr. Hsiao is also a member of multiple professional associations including the American Psychiatric Association, Washington State Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association. He has received the American Association of Directors of Psychiatry Residency Training William Sorum Award, as well as multiple teaching awards from the University of Washington School of Medicine and the American Medical Association Foundation.

The following physicians were also elected as officers at the association’s annual meeting: Dr. Shane Macaulay, Bellevue radiologist, president-elect; Dr. Donna Smith, Seattle pediatrician, 1st Vice President; Dr. Tom Schaaf, Spokane family physician, 2nd Vice President; Dr. Bill Hirota, Tacoma gastroenterologist, Secretary-Treasurer; Dr. Nathan Schlicher, Tacoma emergency physician, Assistant Secretary-Treasurer. The seventh officer of WSMA’s Executive Committee is past-president Dr. Brian Seppi, Spokane internist, who will serve as committee chair.


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Published 9/28/2015

Published 9/28/2015 

Senator Frockt honored by state medical association

Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle) has been named the Washington State Medical Association’s 2015 Legislator of the Year for his efforts to address access to physicians in rural and underserved areas. Click here for a print-ready photo of Sen. Frockt.

WSMA PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
 
Contact
September 28, 2015 Jennifer Hanscom
Chief Executive Officer
(206) 441-9762 or
jen@wsma.org


Senator Frockt honored by state medical association


Seattle, Wash. – Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle) has been named the Washington State Medical Association’s 2015 Legislator of the Year for his efforts to address access to physicians in rural and underserved areas. The senator, who represents the state’s 46th Legislative District covering Seattle, Kenmore and Lake Forest Park, received the award at the association’s annual meeting on Saturday, Sept. 26, at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane.

Each year, the statewide professional organization representing physicians, residents, medical students and physician assistants honors a legislator whose knowledge and influence does much to improve the health of people in Washington state.

During the 2015 legislative session, Sen. Frockt was instrumental in working with the WSMA to advance legislation to re-fund the Health Professional Student Loan Repayment and Scholarship Program—a key incentive program that recruits health professionals to practice in underserved communities in Washington state. Sen. Frockt is the lead Democrat on the Senate Health Care Committee.

“With insurance coverage expanding in our state, some patients in rural communities are having trouble getting in to see a physician,” said Dr. Brian Seppi, immediate past president of the WSMA. "Senator Frockt’s dedication and leadership supporting health professional loan repayment will help these communities attract the physicians they need to meet increased patient demand.”

In addition to his work with the loan program, Sen. Frockt joined with the WSMA to support efforts to regulate certain tobacco products and secure reimbursement for telemedicine services.

Senator Frockt was praised by the association for his efforts representing physicians and their patients.

“His passion and commitment to the health of our patients will have positive, lasting, real-world effects—and for that we are truly grateful” said Dr. Seppi. “It’s a pleasure to be able to recognize the efforts of Senator David Frockt and to honor him for his investment in the future of patient care in our state.”

Senator Frockt lives with his wife Rebecca and their 11-year-old twins in North Seattle.


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Published 9/28/2015

Published 8/6/2015 

WSMA responds to King v. Burwell decision

A statement from Brian Seppi, MD, president of the Washington State Medical Association, in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling this morning in King v. Burwell affirming the legality of the Affordable Care Act's federal subsidies to low- and middle-income individuals in states that did not set up their own health insurance exchanges.

WSMA PRESS STATEMENT
For Immediate Release
  CONTACT
June 25, 2015   Graham Short
(206) 956-3633 or gfs@wsma.org


Washington State Medical Association responds to King v. Burwell decision


Seattle, Wash. – A statement from Brian Seppi, MD, president of the Washington State Medical Association, in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling this morning in King v. Burweli affirming the legality of the Affordable Care Act's federal subsidies to low- and middle-income individuals in states that did not set up their own marketplaces.

“Increasing access to care for the people in our state has been a priority of the Washington State Medical Association for decades. Today in a 6–3 ruling the U.S. Supreme Court upheld federal subsidies that make health insurance more affordable, preserving insurance coverage for millions of Americans and providing stability to access to care across the country. This ruling is a win for all patients, allowing everyone the opportunity to develop long-term stable relationships with physicians to ensure they get the care they need, when they need it, in the appropriate setting. The WSMA remains committed to improving access to quality, safe care.”

The Washington State Medical Association is a professional association representing nearly 10,000 physicians and physician assistants in the state. Its vision is to make Washington the best place to practice medicine and to receive care. For more information on the WSMA, visit wsma.org.
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Published 6/25/2015

Published 6/18/2015 

Coalition of leading health care organizations receive national grant to expand Choosing Wisely® program to eliminate wasteful and potentially harmful care

A coalition of leading health care organizations in the state today announced that it received a 34-month grant from the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation to expand work on Choosing Wisely®, a national initiative that encourages clinicians and patients to discuss which medical tests and procedures may be unnecessary for their condition, and in some instances, can cause harm.

PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
  CONTACT
June 18, 2015   John Gallagher
Washington Health Alliance
206.454.2957
jgallagher@wahealthalliance.org


Coalition of leading health care organizations receive national grant to expand Choosing Wisely® program to eliminate wasteful and potentially harmful care


Seattle, Wash. – A coalition of leading health care organizations in the state today announced that it received a 34-month grant from the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation to expand work on Choosing Wisely®, a national initiative that encourages clinicians and patients to discuss which medical tests and procedures may be unnecessary for their condition, and in some instances, can cause harm. The Washington Health Alliance (Alliance) and the Washington State Medical Association (WSMA), both previous recipients of Choosing Wisely grants, will continue to partner on efforts to reduce wasteful – and potentially harmful – care. Joining them on the new grant will be Group Health Cooperative and Swedish Health Services, both of which will undertake bold efforts to significantly reduce the overuse of antibiotics for acute upper respiratory viral infections, imaging for uncomplicated headaches, and overly frequent Pap tests for women.

The grant will build on the work of the Washington State Choosing Wisely Task Force, which is co-sponsored by the Alliance, WSMA and the Washington State Hospital Association and consists of physician leaders from 22 of the largest health care organizations in the state. The Task Force had previously issued the nation’s first statewide report measuring select Choosing Wisely recommendations, based upon specifications developed by the Task Force and drawing upon the Alliance’s claims database of 3.9 million people in Washington state.

“We are very excited to join with our partners to expand the groundbreaking work of Choosing Wisely in Washington state,” said Nancy A. Giunto, executive director of the Alliance. “Because of the collaborative efforts and hard work of the Task Force, Washington has taken a leadership role in the national campaign to reduce unnecessary care and potential harm to patients.”

“Sometimes conducting another test is not the answer. Choosing Wisely is about doing the right thing for patients and avoiding care that could do harm,” said Brian Seppi, MD, president of the WSMA. “It’s about open communication between physicians and their patients and improving patient outcomes. Our organizations have already done great work in this area and we look forward to expanding those efforts.”

Under the grant, Group Health Cooperative and Swedish Health Services will undertake multiple system changes to reduce overuse in three areas: antibiotics for upper respiratory viral infections, imaging for uncomplicated headaches and overly frequent Pap tests for women. The overall effort, called the Change Three Things initiative, will require the two health systems to rely upon clinical data to establish a baseline and monitor progress and to offer providers the tools and support necessary to implement changes in their practices.

“Group Health is thrilled to continue to be an incubator for Choosing Wisely in Washington. This grant will help support better conversations between patients and their doctors. Providing patients with choices about how they are treated should improve quality outcomes and ultimately create a more affordable health care system,” said Dr. Matt Handley, medical director for quality, Group Health Cooperative.

“We are excited to partner with Group Health, WHA and WSMA to further improve the health and well-being of the patients we serve,” said Dr. Christopher Dale, medical director of quality and value at Swedish Medical Group. “We will work with our caregivers and patients to help patients make the best decisions possible for their health. For example, this may involve working to decrease the use of antibiotics in conditions where they might not be appropriate, like in patients with a cold or the flu.”

The goal of the grant is to demonstrate success within Group Health Cooperative and Swedish Health Services and then spread their learnings to other medical systems around the state. The WSMA will work closely with the other grant partners to develop and deliver clinical education both within the selected health systems, as well as more broadly across the state. To support the work being done by clinicians, the Alliance will engage consumers, purchasers and payers to encourage their alignment with the Change Three Things initiative. The Alliance will also continue to support public statewide reporting of Choosing Wisely measures using its claims database.

The Choosing Wisely grant program, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, brings together health care organizations from across the country that have built strong multi-stakeholder alliances to focus on implementation of at least three Choosing Wisely recommendations. Since the campaign was launched in 2012, more than 100 national, regional and state medical specialty societies, health collaboratives and consumer groups have released more than 70 lists of tests or procedures they say are overused or inappropriate in their specialty, and that clinicians and patients should discuss.

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About the Washington Health Alliance
As a purchaser-led, multi-stakeholder collaborative with more than 185 participants, the Washington Health Alliance is committed to leading health system change in Washington state. The Alliance has a bold vision: physicians, other providers and hospitals in the region will achieve the top 10 percent in performance nationally in the delivery of quality, evidence-based care and in the reduction of unwarranted variation, resulting in a significant reduction in medical cost trends. To achieve this goal, it will require the aligned efforts of those who give, get and pay for health care. A cornerstone of the Alliance’s work is the Community Checkup, a regional report to the public comparing the performance of clinics and hospitals for basic measures of quality care (www.wacommunitycheckup.org).

About the Washington State Medical Association
The WSMA represents nearly 10,000 physicians and physician assistants throughout Washington state. The WSMA’s vision is to make Washington the best place to practice medicine and to receive care. For more information about the WSMA please visit www.wsma.org.

About Group Health
Group Health is a unique health care system linking care delivery and insurance coverage in order to achieve one goal – affordable, quality health care for all. Our innovative approach has made us a national leader in a new era of health care reform, and our goals have remained the same since we began serving patients in 1947. As a nonprofit organization, Group Health helps nearly 600,000 patients throughout Washington state achieve better health. Our focus on preventive care, combined with medical education, a charitable foundation and a nationally recognized research institute, advances health in the community in a way no one else can. Group Health supports events, programs, and organizations that share this commitment to strengthening health in our communities. For more information about Group Health, visit www.ghc.org.

About Swedish
Founded in 1910, Swedish is the largest non-profit health provider in the Greater Seattle area. It is comprised of five hospital campuses (First Hill, Cherry Hill, Ballard, Edmonds and Issaquah); ambulatory care centers in Redmond and Mill Creek; and Swedish Medical Group, a network of more than 100 primary-care and specialty clinics located throughout the Greater Puget Sound area. In addition to general medical and surgical care including robotic-assisted surgery, Swedish is known as a regional referral center, providing specialized treatment in areas such as cardiovascular care, cancer care, neuroscience, orthopedics, high-risk obstetrics, pediatric specialties, organ transplantation and clinical research. In 2014, Swedish provided more than $133 million in community benefit in Western Washington. For more information, visit www.swedish.org, www.facebook.com/swedishmedicalcenter, or www.twitter.com/swedish.

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Published 6/18/2015

Published 4/1/2015 

Washington State Medical Association responds to Senate budget

Leaders in the Washington State Senate released a budget proposal today that attempts to fund education and make needed investments in health care without raising taxes on physicians. Senate leaders unveiled a $38 billion two-year state budget that requires no new revenue, and in addition to increasing funding for education, provides needed dollars to address projected health care workforce needs, particularly in primary care.

WSMA PRESS STATEMENT
For Immediate Release
  CONTACT
March 31, 2015   Susan Callahan
WSMA Director of Communications
(206) 794-4706 or susan@wsma.org


Washington State Medical Association responds to Senate budget


Olympia, Wash. – Leaders in the Washington State Senate released a budget proposal today that attempts to fund education and make needed investments in health care without raising taxes on physicians. Senate leaders unveiled a $38 billion two-year state budget that requires no new revenue, and in addition to increasing funding for education, provides needed dollars to address projected health care workforce needs, particularly in primary care.

“The WSMA is thankful that leaders in the Senate were able, through careful calculations, to address our future workforce needs without imposing additional taxes on independent practices,” remarked Dr. Brian Seppi, president of the state medical association.

The Senate budget proposal funds critical state programs that train primary care physicians and encourage physicians to practice in rural and underserved areas. Washington state is facing an estimated shortage of nearly 1,700 primary care physicians by 2030. Right now there are not enough physician training positions (residencies) in our state to meet the demand for care. That means many medical school graduates must leave the state to complete their residency training. The Senate budget includes funding for graduate medical education at $16.3 million—which will fund more training slots for medical students going into primary care. The Senate’s proposal also provides $9.4 million to replenish the Health Professional Student Loan Repayment Program, which provides incentives for physicians to practice in rural and underserved areas.

“We applaud the Senate’s recognition that investments in our health care workforce are desperately needed. Not only is our state growing, it’s growing older—and so too are physicians. Over two-thirds of physicians practicing in rural areas are over the age of 55. Not only do we need opportunities for physicians to train in our rural communities, we need to encourage younger physicians to practice in these areas. Provisions included in the Senate budget help us achieve this goal. The number one predictor of where a doctor will practice is where they complete their residency,” added Dr. Seppi.

Both House and Senate budgets provide substantial and necessary funding for improvements in the state’s mental/behavioral health care system. Yet absent from both the Senate and House budget proposals were funds needed to continue Medicaid reimbursement at Medicare levels, necessary to improve access for the 1.7 million patients currently on the state’s health care assistance program, including more than 750,000 children. As a result, both chambers’ budgets leave a serious gap at the front end of the primary care system where physicians have a chance to detect and address mental illness before it becomes a crisis. This gap also undermines potential savings to the state that result from the integration of physical and mental health services at the point of care.

“Our organization is grateful that the Senate is addressing future physician workforce and patient needs without adding additional taxes,” said Jennifer Hanscom, CEO of the WSMA. “However, neither the Senate nor House budget address the critical needs of Medicaid patients today who are having trouble accessing care in their local communities.”

State financing has a crucial role in the functioning of its health care system, and not providing adequate funding for health care could have serious ramifications for all Washington residents, including those children we seek to educate.

“Having access to insurance does not ensure access to care. Without a commitment by the state to support physicians who care for Medicaid patients, the burden is shifted to physician practices, which must decide whether to subsidize patient care at an economic loss—putting their entire practice at financial risk—or limiting the number of Medicaid patients they treat,” said Dr. Seppi.

In a recent study of primary care practices, large clinics and health systems conducted by the WWAMI Center for Health Workforce Studies, about one-in-five primary care physicians—and 74 percent of small primary care practices—reported they would reduce or stop seeing current Medicaid patients if payments revert to pre-2013 levels.

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Published 3/31/2015