Feb. 1, 2016
Zika virus: Colorado Medical Society guidance to physician members

The World Health Organization (WHO) rang a global alarm over the Zika virus at the end of January and today declared it a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern." WHO indicates the disease is spreading explosively in the Americas and as many as four million people could be infected by the end of the year. Since last spring, more than 20 countries have reported locally acquired cases of Zika. Global health authorities face the delicate task of alerting the world to the dangers of Zika without provoking panic. The growing concern is infections in pregnant women and the subsequent risk of an infant born with microcephaly.

Health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have taken a lead in the U.S. in terms of research on Zika virus, its spread, and guidelines for prevention, testing, and diagnosis.

The Colorado Medical Society (CMS) will be assisting physicians with information and guidance as this situation progresses both in the U.S. and internationally. Currently, the CDC recommends reassuring patients that the vast majority of those who are exposed to the virus never have symptoms and that the risk of a homegrown outbreak is very low, largely because of more effective mosquito control and the type of mosquito that transmits the virus. For the average American who is not traveling to the affected area, there is nothing to worry about. The greatest danger is risk of infection in pregnant women, especially in the first trimester, and this is a difficult task for physicians to explain to their patients.

Read more on CMS.org.

AMA urges all physicians subject to the 2015 Medicare MU program to apply for exemption

Prior to adjourning for the holidays in December 2015, Congress passed the Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act (PAMPA), which directed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to make changes to the Medicare EHR Incentive Program hardship exception process that allows physicians to avoid a Meaningful Use (MU) penalty in 2017. The American Medical Association supported these changes.

The AMA is encouraging ALL physicians subject to the 2015 Medicare MU program to apply for the hardship.

The federal CMS has stated that it will broadly accept hardship exemptions because of the delayed publication of the program regulations. Applying for the hardship will not prevent a physician from earning an incentive, it simply protects a physician from receiving a MU penalty. Therefore, physicians who believe that they met the MU requirements for the 2015 reporting period should still apply for the hardship protection. Note that the program operates on a two-year look-back period, meaning that physicians who are granted an exception for the 2015 program will avoid a financial penalty for 2017.

View step-by-step instructions for completing the hardship exception application here.

Federal CMS releases guide to preventing readmissions among racially and ethnically diverse Medicare beneficiaries

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health released a new Guide to Preventing Readmissions among Racially and Ethnically Diverse Medicare Beneficiaries. It is designed to assist hospital leaders and stakeholders focused on quality, safety and care redesign in identifying root causes and solutions for preventing avoidable readmissions among racially and ethnically diverse Medicare beneficiaries.

The guide provides:

  • Action-oriented guidance for addressing avoidable readmissions in this population by providing an overview of the issues related to readmissions for diverse Medicare beneficiaries;
  • A set of seven key recommendations that hospital leaders can take to prevent avoidable readmissions in this population;
  • Concrete examples of initiatives and strategies that may be applied to reduce readmissions in diverse populations.

Download the guide here.

Save the date: Drug Take Back Day - April 30

Share this information with your patients: The next National Drug Take Back Day, coordinated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), will be held on Saturday, April 30, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. On this day, local and state law enforcement will provide convenient locations for the public to drop off excess, unused and expired controlled substances and other medications from their medicine cabinets to help keep them out of the hands of people who would misuse or abuse them. The DEA will provide collection bags and posters, help orchestrate the pickup of drugs obtained on the collection day, and dispose of all drugs. Stay tuned for more details.

COPIC 2016 Office Staff Seminars
Risky Practices: A Human Resource Management Workshop

COPIC's Risky Practices program provides information and resources for individuals responsible for human resource (HR) management. This full-day program is intended to keep attendees informed of current HR practices and help reduce the risk of employment practice litigation. The programs will be held July 14 in Colorado Springs, July 19 in Boulder, and July 28 in Grand Junction, all 8 a.m. - 3 p.m. with breakfast and lunch included.

This program is complimentary to all COPIC insured practices. One physician per practice will receive 3 COPIC points for a practice representative attending. The registration deadline is five days prior to each program date. To RSVP, please complete and return a registration form.

Colorado Division of Workers' Compensation Level I Accreditation Seminars

Need Level I accreditation in workers' comp? The Colorado Division of Workers' Compensation will hold a Level I seminar to assist medical professionals in understanding their administrative, legal and medical role in the Colorado Workers' Compensation system.

The following Level I seminars have been scheduled for 2016: Feb. 12 in Denver, April 1 in Denver, May 20 in Grand Junction, and July 22 in Pueblo. The fee for the course is $200. Accreditation is for a three-year period. Download a flyer here. And save the date for the Level II accreditation seminar, April 15-16, 2016.

Colorado Practice Transformation Network informational webinars

TCPi Colorado Practice Transformation Network (PTN) presents an opportunity for 2,000 clinicians in Colorado to receive practice support as they prepare for new payment models. The Colorado Medical Society encourages all physicians -- primary care and specialists -- to stay up to date on Medicare payment reform and consider taking advantage of this federally funded support to help your practice thrive in the evolving health care landscape.

Join TCPi for a weekly informational webinar on Wednesdays, Feb. 3 - March 2, to learn more about the Transforming Clinical Practices Initiative and the Colorado Practice Transformation Network. Register here. Questions? Email Barbara.Martin@state.co.us or visit www.colorado.gov/healthinnovation/tcpi.

Get covered with COPIC

COPIC Insurance Company is Colorado's leading medical liability insurance provider. Three out of four physicians choose COPIC for this critically important coverage. CMS members receive a 10 percent premium discount from COPIC.

For more information, call (720) 858-6000 or visit www.callcopic.com.

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