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 The Weekly e-News of the Western Carolina Medical Society 

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January 9, 2013

In This Issue:
Doctor Directory - Sponsor Message
2013 WCMS Annual Celebration (1/26)
Women In Medicine - February Social (2/20)
11th Annual HeartStrings (2/23)
Project Access Update
Volunteers needed!! 2013 Medical and Palliative Care Project to Zambia
Where can I find updates on important news on a daily basis?
Check out WCMS' health care reform web page to keep you up to date!
WCMS Physician Liaison Program
Use of Antivirals for Severe Influenza Infections
AMA Update on Medicare Payment Rates
Hold Insurers Accountable
Member Announcements
Job Board & Classified Ads


2013 WCMS Annual Celebration (1/26)

All physician members, Board of Directors, Practice Managers from our 100% Member Practices, BCMS Alliance Members, their spouse/partners or guests are invited to attend the 2013 WCMS Annual Celebration! This year's event is graciously hosted and sponsored by BMW of Asheville; a long-time community supporter whose facility has become a premier event location in the area! Catered by Frankie Bones, and featuring live music by Chris Rhodes. 


Saturday, January 26th, 2013 

BMW of Asheville on Airport Rd. in Fletcher


This event is free, but you must RSVP (Click Here) to attend!



Also, you could win a trip for 2 to go to the BMW Performance Center in Greenville, SC!



Women In Medicine - February Social (2/20)

SAVE THE DATE! All women in medicine are invited to attend the next Women in Medicine Social on Wednesday, February 20th from 5:30-7:00pm at the residence of Dr. Lorena Wade. More details to follow. 

11th Annual HeartStrings (2/23)


HeartStrings title only

Saturday, February 23 1-4 PM

Asheville Racquet Club (downtown location)

  • Spinning and 30 minute family- friendly classes
  • Workout in the state of the art facility, swim, play tennis
  • Free babysitting
  • Family and Practice Teams encouraged (max 5 to a team)

Register now at www.mywcms.org/HeartStrings2013


Project Access Update

Due to being short staffed for a variety of reasons for the past several months, we are experiencing a backlog of patients waiting to be screened. Please be assured that we are currently addressing the situation. We have just hired a new navigator and anticipate catching up by the beginning of February. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns please contact Sharon Lewis at Sharon@mywcms.org or 828-274-2267, ext 305.


Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Volunteers needed!! 2013 Medical and Palliative Care Project to Zambia 

This project is coming to fruition through a partnership with the Palliative Care Association of Zambia (PCAZ), Four Season Palliative Care and the Peace Corps volunteers of Zambia. The details of this project scheduled for April 15-May 29, 2013 are described in the link below. Medical volunteers are needed for this project (physicians, mid-level providers, nurses and medical social workers). Zambia is a country located in southern Africa. It is one of the poorest nations and lags behind the world in providing basic safe sanitation and ... Keep reading.

Where can I find updates on important news on a daily basis? 

WCMS strives to keep you up to date weekly with Vital Signs, but there's more news than can fit into a weekly newsletter. If you want daily updates, check out our Twitter feed and our Facebook page. 

Check out WCMS' health care reform web page to keep you up to date! 

Did you know that WCMS has a webpage devoted to Health Care Reform, which includes articles and presentations on the implications of ACA, how physicians can play a leadership role in accountable care, payment reform, and more? Even better, WCMS is a member of NCMS' Toward Accountable Care Consortium and Initiative for the purpose of providing the medical community with the knowledge and tools needed to understand, participate in, navigate, lead, and succeed in a value-driven health care system. Check out these resources today. 

WCMS Physician Liaison Program

Today is the opening day of the State Legislative Session. Now that we know who will be in office for the next few years we are deploying our physician liaisons to go out and build relationships with their assigned legislators. Our goal is for our liaisons to serve as the go-to physician for their legislator on healthcare related issues. Click on this link to find out who your physician liaisons are in WNC!  


Use of Antivirals for Severe Influenza Infections 

To:        All North Carolina Health Care Providers
From:    Megan Davies, MD, State Epidemiologist
RE:        Use of Antivirals for Severe Influenza Infections

The Division of Public Health has received reports of severe and even fatal influenza cases in which antiviral medications were delayed or withheld due either to false negative rapid influenza diagnostic test results or to the belief that antivirals are not effective if started more than 48 hours after illness onset. We would like to remind all providers of the following:

As a reminder, antiviral treatment is recommended as early as possible for patients with suspected or confirmed influenza (regardless of vaccination status) who: 

  • are hospitalized;
  • have severe, complicated, or progressive illness; or
  • are at higher risk for complications (e.g. persons with certain chronic medical conditions, persons 65 or older, children younger than 2 years, and pregnant or postpartum women).

Vaccination remains the best way to prevent flu. We encourage providers to continue offering flu vaccine throughout the remainder of the winter and early spring. Additional guidance and information about influenza activity in North Carolina is available at http://www.flu.nc.gov/


 AMA Update on Medicare Payment Rates

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 was signed into law Jan. 2, 2013. The new law averts the 26.5% Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) cut for all of 2013 and the 2% sequester for the next two months. It also extends the work Geographic Practice Cost Index (GPCI) floor for a year. Yesterday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released an announcement regarding updated 2013 Medicare payment amounts, claims processing, and reopening of the participation enrollment period.

Some carriers are not expected to post the new rates on their websites until at least next week and possibly later. The 2013 fee schedule amounts you received from your carrier in November include both the SGR and GPCI reductions, and thus significantly understate the current Medicare fee schedule.

In the meantime, some practices are asking what they should charge. By law, Medicare is required to pay physicians the lesser of the submitted charge or the Medicare approved amount. In addition, most commercial health insurer physician contracts contain language that similarly sets the billed charge as the cap on payment. Thus, physicians who accept assignment should review their retail fee schedules and update them to reflect their current practice costs before they bill Medicare in 2013. Access AMA's "Defensible fee schedule" toolkit to assist you with this effort. The AMA recommends physicians either defer submission of claims for 2013 dates of service until the new 2013 rates are published, or bill their updated retail rates.

In addition, due to relative value changes that will affect some 2013 payment amounts and limiting charges, for unassigned claims practices should probably wait to bill patients directly for cost-sharing amounts until the new 2013 rates are published. 

The National Alliance of State Health CO-OPs yesterday criticized a provision in the fiscal cliff deal signed 1/3/13 by President Obama that prohibits HHS from distributing remaining loan money for consumer oriented and operated plans. NASHC said cutting such loans -- which were established under the Affordable Care Act -- was a win for large health insurers and did little to address federal spending. Meanwhile, hospital officials are speaking out about the inclusion of a provision that increases the statute of limitations on nonfraudulent Medicare overpayments from three to five years. Hospital officials also warned that public hospitals that serve a large numbers of uninsured individuals would not be able to sustain the cuts to disproportionate share payments included in the deal. (Sources: The Hill's "Healthwatch," 1/3; The Hill's "Healthwatch," 1/3; Modern Healthcare, 1/3) 

Hold Insurers Accountable

In a statement yesterday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius urged states to hold insurers accountable by reviewing and acting to block unreasonable health insurance rate increases, two days after the New York Times reported that some insurers are seeking and receiving approval for "double-digit increases" in premiums for certain consumers. (Source: CQ HealthBeat, 1/7 [Subscription Required]) 
Member Announcements

New Pediatric Practice Now Open at Reynolds Mountain


Are you a WCMS Member who is opening a new practice? Are you a 100% Member Practice who has hired a new physician? Send us your announcements and we will post them for you in our new Member Announcements section of Vital Signs to keep other members informed about what's happening in our WCMS community!    

Job Board & Classified Ads

Internal Medicine Practice: Physician 


Orthopedic Surgery Practice: Physician Assistant 


Plastic Surgery Center: Medical Biller


Office Space Available - Arden


To find out how you can post a Job or Classified Ad Click here.


WCMS is a thriving 900-plus member professional association of the physicians of western North Carolina and a chartered component medical society of the NC Medical Society and the AMA. The WCMS is an organization run by physicians for physicians.

Our Mission
The WCMS is the physicians' voice advocating for the health of the medical profession, the health of the patient, and the health of the community.

Our Vision
To be a dynamic physician community dedicated to a healthy, vibrant Western North Carolina.

About WCMS
The purpose of WCMS is: 

  • To strengthen the voice of WNC physicians in advocating for the health of the medical profession, the health of the patient, and the health of our region
  • To inform, educate and prepare physicians for rapidly occurring changes in health care at national, state, and local levels
  • To share legislative and policy information and advocate on behalf of physicians in areas of mutual interest
  • To share available resources in areas of mutual interest
  • To promote physician-to-physician communication and dialogue in an open, honest and safe environment

We hope you enjoy our weekly e-newsletter. If you have questions or suggestions please feel free to contact me.

Sincerely,Miriam Schwarz, CEO


Miriam Schwarz signature


Miriam Schwarz, MPA

WCMS CEO/Executive Director