CMS board acts on issues that impact all physicians
Report from the May 1 board meeting

The CMS Board of Directors met on Friday, May 1, to hear the results of a comprehensive communications audit of CMS conducted by Communications Strategy Group; continue the discussion about the regulation of managed care plans, specifically issues related to network adequacy and out-of-network care; and discuss the findings of a medical marijuana focus group. Additionally, the board recognized the American Medical Association for their work to repeal the flawed Medicare sustainable growth rate formula.

Please review more below and contact us about any of the items in this newsletter. Your comments are important to us!


- CMS Speaker Robert Yakely, MD and Vice-Speaker Brigitta Robinson, MD
1. CSG presents results of communications audit

Shannon Fern, a principle with the Communications Strategy Group (CSG), presented the final report of the CMS communications audit ordered by the board of directors last year. CSG conducted in-person and telephone interviews with current, past and prospective members in a variety of target groups - young physicians, employed physicians, private practice physicians, etc. - to get a sense of their values and needs from a professional organization.

CSG found that members largely rely on CMS for advocacy and communications and they recommended the society strive to become THE authority on these two areas. The way to do this is through research - maintaining comprehensive data on Colorado physicians and their needs and priorities so that nonmembers and outside organizations seek out CMS. This approach, if approved, will require a content shift, rebranding our identity with a new logo, look and feel; developing a new messaging platform that more clearly articulates the society's value proposition; changing CMS's "voice" to more clearly articulate how an issue will impact physicians; and expanding content delivery to engage younger member audiences.

Because the ongoing communications audit and findings and governance reform activities of the board are closely aligned, CMS staff and leaders will synchronize the communications recommendations with the recommendations from the Governance Reform Task Force at the November board meeting, or perhaps as early as the September meeting.

2. Board approves managed care network adequacy action plan

CMS CEO Alfred Gilchrist gave a presentation on the opportunities and threats associated with a state-sponsored interim study that stems from a bill on out-of-network provider charges that was unsuccessful during the 2015 legislature. Though CMS opposed the bill, the Society pushed for an interim study that will bring together physicians, health plans and consumer representatives in a facilitated meeting to address out-of-network issues as well as matters related to network adequacy. Mr. Gilchrist told the board that the study presents a great opportunity to surface and address physician pain points when dealing with health plans and to find solutions to these issues. Click here to read a joint letter from Alfred Gilchrist and Ben Price, executive director of the Colorado Association of Health Plans, to Sen. Irene Aguilar, author of SB 257, about the interim study.

The board voted to amend the 2014-2015 BOD work plan on Regulation of Managed Care Plans to include an objective that directs staff to develop recommendations for the BOD and HOD related to consumer protections and potential excessive charges specific to situations where a provider is out of network in an in-network facility. The board also voted to add a strategy to take full advantage of the interim study, meaning identification of issues impacting all physicians that can be addressed through public policy advocacy. The CMS Committee on Physician Practice Evolution will oversee the important aspects of the project including policy development and issue prioritization.

3. Board discusses results of marijuana focus group

The board discussed the results of a March 25 focus group with CMS members that explored physicians' needs for a set of products or initiatives related to the implications and consequences of legal marijuana. The input provided through the focus group will be used by CMS to understand how big of a legal problem marijuana is presenting for physicians, whether there is a need for more education, and to prioritize those needs and determine how quickly the education needs could be met. The focus group included 10 physicians from different domains, including allergy/immunology, toxicology, public health, family medicine, addiction psychiatry, ob/gyn, dermatology, ophthalmology and emergency medicine.

They examined issues related to patient care, practice management, referrals, delivery mechanisms, community impact, children and other special populations, and existing and desired resources. The focus group determined that there is a lack of validated data or research on marijuana use and effects; there is a lack and need for educational materials for practice staff and patients; there is a need for a public health campaign to challenge the perception that marijuana is not a problem; and there is a widespread challenge facing providers regarding the lack of integration of the mental health and substance use systems. View the full results of the focus group here.

4. 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.

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2015, Colorado Medical Society