August 4, 2017

Physician Advocacy Institute Launches Free MACRA QPP Physician Education Initiative

The Physicians Advocacy Institute (PAI) has developed educational resources to help physician practices succeed under the Medicare Quality Payment Program (QPP), enacted as part of the MACRA law of 2015.
PAI is sharing this comprehensive array of resources free of charge to help any physician practice, regardless of its level of readiness or knowledge, assess its preparedness and determine the best approach to succeed under the MACRA QPP payment rules.
PAI collaborated with Healthsperien, a Washington D.C.-based health care consulting firm to develop the resources, which are housed on the PAI website.

The resources include:

  • Taped webinar tutorials
  • Summary and in-depth information on all aspects of the QPP
  • A step-by-step guide for physicians who are new to these types of programs
  • A searchable Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) resource that answers the questions that many physician practices have or will have.  

To access these resources and others including the LSMS 5-step MACRA checklist, visit

2018 Membership Dues Invoices - UPCOMING CHANGES

We are only a few weeks away from the beginning of the billing cycle for 2018 membership dues. As a reminder, per the 2017 House of Delegates, joint membership in the LSMS and the Parish Medical Societies will no longer be required. With this bylaws change, your 2018 dues invoice will contain only the LSMS portion of dues. Membership in both organizations is encouraged but you will receive a separate invoice for the Parish portion. Also, included on the 2018 invoice are new auto-payment credit card options - $35/monthly, $105/quarterly, $400/annually. As always, please contact the membership department with any questions, or 225.763.8500x1.

Medical Student and Resident/Fellow News

Video-game developer says med ed should go outside the box

"In medical education, you learn all these things, just like any other education process, and then you are told to go out in the real world and apply them to real people," he said. "But what you miss is that you actually have to work with those real people to find the solution to the problem. It's not just about applying the knowledge that you learn from the books and the things that people teach at you about medicine and medical fields." Click here to read more from the AMA Wire.

USMLE Step 3: Diagnose respiratory failure in Alzheimer's Patient

If your're preparing for the USMLE Step 3, click here to read this month's stumper from the AMA and Kaplan Medical.

Louisiana Patient's Compensation Fund

The PCF Board is seeking a physician nomination from the LSMS. The Fund was created in 1975 to provide an affordable and guaranteed medical malpractice coverage system for the private healthcare providers in the state. Its role is that of an "excess insurer" of private health care providers. The vast majority of health care providers, including LSMS members, are enrolled in the Patient's Compensation Fund and pay surcharges for the coverage and protection provided. Click here for details regarding time commitment, meetings, and reimbursements. To be considered for nomination, please forward your CV and contact information to

Senate HELP Committee Advances HHS Nominees

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has announced that the Committee approved August 2, five nominees for positions within the Department of Health and Human Services.  The Committee approved the following nominations:  (1) Lance Robertson to serve as Assistant Secretary for Aging; (2) Dr. Brett Giroir to serve as Assistant Secretary for Health; (3) Dr. Robert Kadlec to serve as Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response; (4) Dr. Elinore F. McCance-Katz to serve as Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use; and (5) Dr. Jerome Adams to serve as Surgeon General of the Public Health Service.

Chairman Alexander urged the Senate to quickly confirm the nominees, noting he believes they "have a thorough understanding of the mission of the department in which I hope they will soon serve."  Click here to read the full statement by Chairman Alexander.

CMS Issues Final FY 2018 IPPS and Long-Term Acute Care Hospital PPS Rule

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the FY 2018 Medicare Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) and Long-Term Care Hospital (LTCH) Prospective Payment System (PPS) final rule. CMS states that the final rule "relieves regulatory burdens for providers, supports the patient-doctor relationship in healthcare, and promotes transparency, flexibility, and innovation in the delivery of care for Medicare patients."
The final rule provides that the increase in operating payment rates for general acute care hospitals paid under the IPPS that successfully participate in the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program and are meaningful electronic health record (EHR) users is approximately 1.2 percent.  CMS projects that the rate increase, together with other changes to IPPS payment policies, will increase IPPS operating payments by approximately 1.3 percent and that changes in uncompensated care payments will increase IPPS operating payments by an additional 0.7 percent. Other additional payment adjustments will include continued penalties for excess readmissions, a continued 1 percent penalty for hospitals in the worst performing quartile under the Hospital Acquired Condition Reduction Program, and continued upward and downward adjustments under the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program. CMS projects that total Medicare spending on inpatient hospital services, including capital, will increase by about $2.4 billion in FY 2018.
According to the related Press Release,  CMS is increasing the amount of uncompensated care payments made to acute care hospitals by $800 million in FY 2018, to approximately $6.8 billion.  This change reflects CMS' finalized proposal to incorporate data from its National Health Expenditure Accounts into its estimate the percent change in the rate of uninsurance.  CMS is also finalizing its proposal to begin incorporating uncompensated care cost data from Worksheet S-10 of the Medicare cost report in the methodology for distributing these uncompensated care funds. Specifically, for FY 2018, CMS will use Worksheet S-10 data from FY 2014 cost reports in combination with Medicare and Medicaid low income days data from the two preceding cost reporting periods to determine the distribution of uncompensated care payments. Other information on the uncompensated care changes can be found in the rule.
The final rule also:
  • Establishes new requirements or revises existing requirements for quality reporting by specific Medicare providers (acute care hospitals, PPS-exempt cancer hospitals, LTCHs, and inpatient psychiatric facilities).
  • Establishes new requirements or revises existing requirements for eligible professionals (EPs), eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs) participating in the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs. 
  • Updates policies relating to the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program, the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, and the Hospital-Acquired Condition (HAC) Reduction Program.
  • Makes changes relating to transparency of accrediting organization survey reports and plans of correction of providers and suppliers; electronic signature and electronic submission of the Certification and Settlement Summary page of the Medicare cost reports; and clarification of provider disposal of assets.
  • Addresses termination notices, the rural community hospital demonstration extension, and other related issues.
The final rule is effective October 1, 2017.  Additional information can be found in the related Fact Sheet and Press Release.  The final rule, which is 2,456 pages is length, can be viewed here.

White House Opioid Commission Interim Recommendations

The President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis issued an interim report on July 31, with recommendations for action by the President.  The Commission recommended that the President "declare a national emergency" that would empower Cabinet members "to take bold steps" and "force Congress to focus on funding and empowering the Executive Branch even further" to deal with the loss of life associated with opioids and drug addiction.

Other policy recommendations include the following:  (1) grant all states waiver approval to eliminate treatment barriers from the Medicaid Exclusion for Institutes for Mental Diseases; (2) mandate prescriber education assistance with the assistance of medical and dental schools, and amend the Controlled Substances Act to require Drug Enforcement Administration registrants to take a course in proper pain management; (3) provide federal funding to enhance access to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT); (4) provide states with model legislation to enhance access to naloxone; (5) provide states with federal funding and support to enhance data sharing among Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs; (6) better align patient privacy laws specific to addiction; and (7) create a standardized compliance tool to enforce the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. 

The Commission will issue further recommendations this Fall.  Issues under consideration by the Commission include:  development of a national prevention strategy; evidence-based school prevention programs; use of pain level as a criteria for patient satisfaction with health care providers; treatment program improvements; research initiatives with federal agencies and "pharmaceutical partners;" patient information regarding the risks and benefits of prescription opioids; and reducing commercial insurance barriers to MAT.

Click here to read the interim report to the President.

CMS Releases Medicaid Managed Care Network Adequacy Toolkit

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a toolkit on July 31 for states to use in creating Medicaid and CHIP managed care network adequacy and service availability standards. The toolkit contains strategies, analysis techniques and data sources for states.   The toolkit was prepared by a CMS contractor, and addresses issues including:  (1) identifying the needs of enrollees and matching needs to provider supply; (2) developing provider network standards; (3) monitoring network adequacy and supply; and (4) addressing specialized providers and services, including pediatric dental care care.

The agency emphasized in the memorandum announcing the toolkit that it believes "states are in the best position to develop meaningful and appropriate network adequacy and service availability standards that reflect the scope of their programs, the populations served, and the unique demographics and characteristics of each state."  

Click here to view the toolkit.

Senate Consideration of S. 204 Right to Try Act & S. 581 Jesse's Law

Below, please find the text and summaries of two health-related bills that have been hotlined by the Senate and are waiting to clear. The first bill is a substitute amendment to S. 204, the Trickett Wendler Right to Try Act of 2017, legislation to authorize the use of unapproved medical products by patients diagnosed with a terminal illness in accordance with State law." S. 204 was introduced by Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) and currently has 46 bipartisan cosponsors - 43 Republicans and 3 Democratic Caucus Members. The second measure is S. 581, Jessie's Law, legislation to include information concerning a patient's opioid addiction in certain medical records. S. 581 was introduced by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and currently has 3 bipartisan cosponsors - 1 Republican and 2 Democrats. Senate-drafted summaries of the legislation are also included below.

Other Federal News & Information


Advance Care Planning/LaPOST Updates

Since 2010, the Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum has championed advance care planning and the Louisiana Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (LaPOST) document with a commitment to educate health care professionals, patients and caregivers. The  LaPOST website features an array of tools that are available for health care training purposes as well as information for health care consumers. 
  • One of the newest resources is an 11-minute video entitled, Having the Conversation. This informational program is designed to help patients, family members and caregivers discuss and document health care wishes at the end of life.
  • The LaPOST initiative will host a free informational webinar for health care professionals about advance care planning and the LaPOST document. LaPOST Coalition Chair Susan Nelson, MD, will lead the session. The webinar will be offered on three different dates:  Wednesday, Aug. 16 at noon; Thursday, Sept. 21 at 8 a.m. and Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 8 a.m. Health care professionals may register for the webinar by clicking here. Registration is limited to 150 participants per session. If you have any questions, please contact Cynthia Michael, LaPOST Project Director, at
  • You can order padded LaPOST documents (100 copies per pad) from the website free of charge and pay only shipping/handling fees. Click here for more information or to place an order.

Medicaid State Fact Sheets - Kaiser Family Foundation

Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provide health and long-term care coverage to more than 70 million low-income children, pregnant women, adults, seniors, and people with disabilities in the United States. Medicaid is a major source of funding for hospitals, community health centers, physicians, and nursing homes. Federal policy proposals to restructure Medicaid could fundamentally change the scope and financing of the program. The two-page fact sheets provide a snapshot with key data for Medicaid in every state related to current coverage, access and financing. What percentage of people are covered by Medicaid/CHIP in Louisiana? Click here to view the fact sheet for Louisiana.

Other State News & Information


How can PTSD trigger Alzheimer's disease? Study sheds light

More and more evidence is suggesting that developing post-traumatic stress disorder early in life can raise the risk of dementia in old age. New research finds a molecular link between the two conditions, which paves the way for new therapies.

An increasing number of epidemiological studies have suggested that people who develop a neuropsychiatric condition such as post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD) in childhood are also likely to develop Alzheimer's disease later in life.

Click here to read full story.

Other Science & Technology News & Information


Focus On

Ochsner - Baton Rouge Offers Skin Cancer Prevention Tips

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Some people are at a higher risk than others, but anyone can get skin cancer. The most preventable action to take is to avoid overexposure to ultraviolet light, which can be from the sun, or artificial sources, like tanning beds.

In addition to avoiding getting sun burned, avoiding tanning beds, and using sunscreen when outdoors, what else can be done to avoid skin cancer?

Click here to learn more.

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