Sept. 9, 2016
Annual Meeting is next week! It's not too late to join us in Keystone

Just a week remains before the Colorado Medical Society kicks off the 2016 Annual Meeting. Register online before noon on Tuesday, Sept. 13 to guarantee your spot at the reengineered meeting. Members will participate in interactive discussions and workshops on the hottest topics in Colorado medicine -- including ColoradoCare and physician-assisted death -- plus social events with great refreshments and giveaways. As a bonus, you can earn up to 8.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ and COPIC points. CMS will also provide child care Friday night and Saturday, and events for the whole family throughout the weekend.

Registration is free and includes member meals and admission to all sessions and social events. Go to CMS's online registration portal and register before noon on Tuesday, Sept. 13.

Apply for Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+) through Sept. 15
The application period for the Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+) initiative is open until Sept. 15. Colorado was selected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as one of 14 regions nationwide to participate in this practice transformation initiative.

CPC+ is a five-year primary care medical home model beginning January 2017 that will enable primary care practices to care for their patients the way they think will deliver the best outcomes and to pay them for achieving results and improving care. CPC+ is an opportunity for practices of diverse sizes, structures and ownership who are interested in qualifying for the incentive payment for Advanced Alternative Payment Models through the proposed Quality Payment Program. The federal CMS estimates that up to 5,000 primary care practices serving an estimated 3.5 million beneficiaries could participate in the model.

CPC+ dovetails with Colorado SIM efforts currently underway. The application for the second SIM cohort is coming soon. Find more information on the CPC+ application and the SIM cohort 2 application here:
Feds announce major MACRA change at urging of AMA, CMS

Andrew Slavitt, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, announced in a Sept. 8 blog post that the agency will heed concerns expressed by the American Medical Association, the Colorado Medical Society and other physician organizations about the proposed start date for performance reporting by physicians under the new payment systems created by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, or MACRA.

In a draft regulation issued last April, the federal CMS proposed to require physicians to begin reporting under the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) or through the advanced alternative payment model (APM) option on Jan. 1, 2017, even though final regulations promulgating MACRA's sweeping payment system changes would not be issued until the fall.

The agency announced that the final MACRA regulation will exempt physicians from any risk of penalties if they choose one of three distinct MIPS reporting options in 2017, in addition to the option of participating in an advanced APM:

  • Full-year reporting that begins on Jan. 1;
  • Partial year reporting for a reduced number of days; or
  • A "test" option under which physicians can report minimal amounts of data.
Physicians who report in 2017 may be eligible for bonus payments in 2019, depending on which option they choose. Those who opt for full-year reporting will be eligible to receive a "modest positive payment adjustment;" those who choose partial year reporting will be eligible for a "small positive payment adjustment." Physicians who choose the "test" option will not be subject to any payment adjustments. Qualified participants in advanced APMs will be eligible for 5 percent incentive payments in 2019.

The AMA issued a statement immediately after the blog posting praising Acting Administrator Slavitt and HHS Secretary Burwell for listening to physicians and providing the flexibility needed for a successful launch of the new MACRA payment systems.
ICD-10 grace period ends Oct. 1

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently updated an FAQ on requirements related to the ICD-10 transition, reminding physicians that the flexibility program, announced July 2015, is ending Oct. 1. The agency announced the flexibility program last year after pressure from the American Medical Association and other organizations. The flexibility period ensured that doctors would not be penalized with claims denials or quality-reporting penalties as long as they select a diagnosis code from the right family of codes for the first year of implementation.

The federal CMS indicates in the FAQ that they will not extend additional flexibility guidance beyond Oct. 1. "Providers should already be coding to the highest level of specificity. ICD-10 flexibilities were solely for the purpose of contractors performing medical review so that they would not deny claims solely for the specificity of the ICD-10 code as long as there is no evidence of fraud. These ICD-10 medical review flexibilities will end on Oct. 1, 2016. As of Oct. 1, 2016, providers will be required to code to accurately reflect the clinical documentation in as much specificity as possible, as per the required coding guidelines."

The agency also recently promoted their ICD-10 Assessment and Maintenance Toolkit, which they say can help you maintain your ICD-10 progress. Visit the federal CMS ICD-10 website for the latest news and official resources, including a contact list for provider Medicare and Medicaid questions. You can also sign up for ICD-10 email updates.

Help Louisiana flooding victims: Donate to LSMS Disaster Relief Fund
In light of recent devastating flooding in Louisiana, the Louisiana State Medical Society (LSMS) has created a disaster relief fund. These funds will be used to assist with the needs of the affected communities through parish medical societies. Please click here to donate to the LSMS Disaster Relief Fund. If you would like to donate a different amount than those listed, please make checks payable to LSMS ERF, 6767 Perkins Road, Ste. 100, Baton Rouge, LA 70808. For more information or questions regarding the fund, please contact Kayne Daigle,
U.S. Surgeon General: "Turn the Tide" on the opioid epidemic
Every day, more than 75 people in the United States die from a prescription drug or heroin overdose. In 2013, nearly 249 million prescriptions were written for opioids -- enough for every adult in America to have a bottle of pills. In a letter sent to more than 2.3 million health care practitioners and public health leaders in August, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA, asked for help to solve the opioid epidemic.

"It is important to recognize that we arrived at this place on a path paved with good intentions," he wrote. "Nearly two decades ago, we were encouraged to be more aggressive about treating pain, often without enough training and support to do so safely. This coincided with heavy marketing of opioids to doctors. Many of us were even taught - incorrectly - that opioids are not addictive when prescribed for legitimate pain."

"I know solving this problem will not be easy. We often struggle to balance reducing our patients' pain with increasing their risk of opioid addiction. But, as clinicians, we have the unique power to help end this epidemic. As cynical as times may seem, the public still looks to our profession for hope during difficult moments. This is one of those times."

He urges all clinicians to join the campaign to "turn the tide." Visit the campaign website at for practical tools, information, and in-the-trenches stories from colleagues offering their insights into the epidemic. Then take the pledge at
White House drug policy director urges opioid treatment training for doctors
In a letter sent to all 50 U.S. governors in August, Michael Botticelli, director of National Drug Control Policy, wrote about the urgent need for more doctors to be trained and certified to treat people with prescription opioid and heroin use disorders. The Obama Administration is offering free buprenorphine trainings for providers all across the country and online. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which includes the use of FDA-approved medications like buprenorphine, has proven more effective at helping people with opioid use disorders enter into long-term recovery. Other FDA-approved medications to treat individuals with opioid use disorders are naltrexone and methadone.

As of February 2016, however, 1,489 counties did not have at least one physician with a buprenorphine waiver or someone to dispense buprenorphine from a doctor's office. The vast majority of need for these treatments is in rural areas.

Oct. 21 and 28: Digital Marketing for Docs
The Denver Medical Society, Colorado Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons, and Society of Physician Entrepreneurs presents "Digital Marketing for Docs," a two-session seminar designed to provide practitioners with the knowledge and skills they need to build their brand using social media. The event will be held Oct. 21 and Oct. 28, 7-9 a.m. and breakfast is included. The registration fee is $99 for both sessions for DMS, SoPE or CSEPS members or $199 for non-members. Register at: View a flyer here.
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