CMS board addresses issues important
to your practices and patients

Report from the Nov. 14 board meeting

Our new president and colleague, Dr. Tamaan Osbourne-Roberts, promised the board at the September meeting that he'd return to Denver and hit the ground running. It was a promise kept. In the external environment, two items are particularly noteworthy and both resulted in board actions at their meeting on Friday, Nov. 14.

First, in the week immediately following the Annual Meeting, Aspen Public Radio contacted our president and wanted a response to an article in the Denver Business Journal on anticipated health insurance premiums in 2015. The article rather extensively quoted the state's insurance commissioner, Marguerite Salazar; part of her reasoning for anticipated lower premiums in 2015 was the narrowing of networks and the insurance commissioner added that the department was in the process of studying these networks to assure quality of care. In Dr. Osbourne-Roberts' public response on our behalf, he called out the narrow network issue and sent the insurance commissioner a heads-up about what CMS was saying to the press along with a request for a meeting to discuss narrow networks.

Within two weeks, he, President-elect Dr. Mike Volz, former CMS board member Dr. Jim Regan, Denver Medical Society Executive Director Kathy Lindquist-Kleissler, and CMS lobbyists Susan Koontz and Jerry Johnson met with Commissioner Salazar and discussed the patient care implications of physician de-selections when networks are narrowed and presented her with our new House of Delegates policy that was passed in September. Seizing this opportunity, the board voted at our meeting on Friday to use these dynamics to achieve enhanced patient and provider protections for network adequacy of health insurance plans. Click here to read the full action item and the background material that informed the board's discussion. Click here to read Dr. Osbourne-Robert's response to Aspen Public Radio.

Second, with the Ebola virus on America's doorstep and even closer to home in Dallas, Texas, the issue spiked in the run up to the general election. Our new president organized a kitchen cabinet of advisers that included two board members, both local public health officials, Drs. Christine Nevin-Woods and Mark Johnson, along with Dr. Mike Volz, Immediate Past President Dr. John L. Bender, and ADEMS President Dr. David Markenson. These physicians provided staff with guidance in building out educational materials for our members (see; coordinating with CDPHE, the state agency responsible for preparedness; participating in a CDPHE press conference; and representing CMS at a special legislative hearing at the state capitol.

The state's CMO, Dr. Larry Wolk, updated the board on Friday and following discussion, the board voted to aggressively support efforts to ensure that public health, health systems and health care professionals and other partners are prepared to recognize a potential Ebola case; to halt its transmission efficiently and quickly, and to protect our frontline health care providers. The board also voted to appoint a board advisory committee on Ebola to be headed by Drs. Nevin-Woods and Johnson. Click here to read the document that informed the board's discussion and the full action item.

Internal to CMS, the board voted on several items important to HOD members - read more below.

We encourage you to contact us any time about the actions of the board or the House. Your comments are important to us!


- CMS Speaker Robert Yakely, MD and Vice-Speaker Brigitta Robinson, MD
1. Board approves plan for governance reform

As you will recall the 2014 HOD amended the CMS strategic plan and approved all of the board's recommendations on governance reform except for one. You will also recall that the board's report directs that all issues must be voted on by the 2015 HOD before they are final. To move governance reform forward, our CEO, president, and president-elect developed a plan, including a special conference call with the component executives to get their input. The board received additional input from ADEMS. Click here to read the tactics approved by the board on Friday for moving forward and the board's clarified goal for governance reform this year. Please note the extensive outreach to component societies, past presidents, and opportunities for delegates to participate. Please take time between now and September 2015 to stay informed on developments and to give us your thoughts -- early and often is preferable.

2. Board approves plan for reassessing scope of practice strategies

Click here to review the scope of practice plan adopted by the board on Friday. In January the board will discuss and act on the tactics for moving forward. This discussion has been an incredibly methodical and well-executed internal process. In review:

  • The board held a strategic discussion on scope of practice in May. This discussion was held because of new information given to the board about how scope battles are playing out across the country and in Colorado, namely that medicine is losing ground and potentially hurting our standing and therefore our ability to be effective on a broader range of issues.
  • The board decided that a duty existed to inform the HOD and to get the guidance of delegates. We directed the CEO to get the perspective of the Council on Legislation and to arrange a strategic discussion with delegates in September.
  • The delegates in September, after reading background materials, hearing a presentation by the facilitator that included the view of the Council on Legislation, and a Q&A session, voted 90 percent to 10 percent that the board should reexamine our strategies and tactics on scope of practice.
Given this input from the House, click here to read the goal, objective, and strategy the board approved on Friday for moving forward; the tactics will be brought to the Board for action in January. Scope of practice is an important issue to our members and delegates are urged to follow this discussion closely. All recommendations will be brought to the HOD in 2015 for discussion and votes.

3. Board discusses medical clean claims

The Clean Claims Initiative is a project of the State of Colorado strongly supported by CMS that will save money in the health care system, reduce the administrative burdens of running a medical practice, and create more time for physicians to spend with patients. In September, the board voted to aggressively continue efforts to standardize commercial plans' claims edits and payment rules (HOD Policy) by participating in and providing leadership to the Colorado Clean Claims Task Force. The board received an update on possible barriers to the task force ultimately achieving its goal. While the board received the report for information, the issue will likely be an action item in January. Stay tuned.

4. Informational items

The board received updates on many additional issues.

  • Applications are now being accepted for the new CMS Blue Ribbon Task Force on Health Care Costs and Quality, which will engage with the Colorado Commission on Affordable Health Care. Click here to apply; the deadline is Dec. 12.
  • Click here to read an evaluation of the 2014 Annual Meeting.
  • Dr. Mike Volz invited all members to save the date for the 2015 spring conference, May 1-3 in Vail. The theme will be "breaking down barriers." Please contact Dr. Volz if you have a topic to suggest for the conference.
  • The board approved the roster of council and committee members. Click here to view them.
  • The Chaffee County Medical Society met in October for the first time in 35 years. They recently elected officers and a member to the CMS board. Click here for a news story.
  • Because he ran on a platform on greater bilateral engagement between CMS and components, Dr. Osbourne-Roberts provided board members with a document outlining ways components can engage with the board. Click here for that document.
  • Dr. Katie Lozano announced her candidacy for 2015-2016 president-elect. That election will take place in September 2015. Additional members interested in running for an elected position should contact Dean Holzkamp.
  • CMS staff reviewed a dozen proposals for a communications audit to make CMS's communications and engagement with members more effective. Staff interviewed three finalists and chose one: Communications Strategy Group of Denver. They will have their first discovery meeting with staff on Nov. 24. The communications audit was an outcome of the board's strategic planning retreat in January and was approved by the 2014 HOD as a strategic plan update.
  • CMS gives an early holiday gift: Click here to read a letter to component and specialty society presidents from the CMS president providing access and use of our new physician wellness toolkit.
5. Upcoming CMS meetings
The Sounding Block is a periodic electronic publication from the CMS Speaker and Vice-Speaker of the House to members of the House of Delegates to keep you informed of the society's business and concerns throughout the year.

Questions? E-mail

2014, Colorado Medical Society