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AMA study says physician cost of ICD-10 transition will be dramatically higher than original estimates

A new study conducted by the American Medical Association (AMA) found that physician practices will have to spend anywhere from an estimated $83,290 for a small practice up to $2,728,780 for a large practice in order to meet the transition to ICD-10 code set by the October 1, 2014, deadline.   In a letter to Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the AMA said “the transition to ICD-10 represents one of the largest technical, operational and business implementation in the health care industry in the ...

Field Poll shows broad voter support for health warning labels on sugar sweetened beverages

Sacramento- The California Medical Association (CMA) is pleased to see the recently released poll figures suggesting that California voters support the notion of applying health-warning labels on sodas and other sugar sweetened beverages. The poll, which was conducted by The Field Poll and The California Endowment, found that 74 percent of voters support the requirement to apply health warning labels to sugar sweetened beverages, with 52 percent of voters “strongly” endorsing the requirement. Support for the labeling of potentially harmful beverages was also bipartisan, with 80 percent of Democrats, 64 ...

First infant death reported as rates of pertussis more than double in California

The California Department of Public Health recently reported the first death of an infant from pertussis since 2010, the last time the disease peaked in the state.  That year, pertussis reached epidemic levels with more than 9,100 cases and 10 deaths in California alone.   Whooping cough rates typically rise and fall in a three- to five-year cycle. According to public health officials, pertussis cases had been declining since they peaked in 2010, but began to go up again in mid-2013. The state's preliminary case count for 2013 is 2,372, up ...

Legislation introduced to restore Medi-Cal funding

Today Assembly Budget Chair Nancy Skinner and Assembly Health Chair Richard Pan, M.D., introduced two bills, one that would restore the 10 percent Medi-Cal physician payment cut that went into effect this year and another that would extend the temporary Medi-Cal primary care rate increases called for under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).   “I have sought to make the Medi-Cal program more cost-effective, transparent and accountable,” said Dr. Pan. “The legislation that we are introducing today continues this effort.”   Medicaid rates in California are the lowest in the nation, while the ...

Covered California removes provider directory, again

Following numerous complaints from both enrollees and providers, Covered California has removed its provider directory from the exchange website until further notice.   "While the combined provider directory was a useful service for many consumers, some enrollees located physicians thought to be in their plan, and subsequently discovered they were not,” exchange staff wrote in a statement, noting that enrollees who relied upon information present in the provider directory should contact their health insurance plan to verify the provider is in the exchange network. CMA is also encouraging patients to contact ...

Blue Shield exchange/off-exchange plans leading to confusion among physicians

The California Medical Association (CMA) has seen a large increase in calls from physicians confused about the plans/products offered by Blue Shield both on and off the exchange. As you may know, federal law requires that every plan offered in the exchange also be offered off the exchange, using the same network. This has resulted in a number of practices unknowingly seeing patients out-of-network for products that use the insurer's narrower exchange network. It has also created an additional level of confusion for physician practices when checking patients' coverage ...

Another delay for the Cal MediConnect project for dual eligibles

The California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) recently announced yet another delay for the Cal MediConnect project for dual eligibles. Implementation in Orange County has been delayed indefinitely, following a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) audit of CalOptima—which is the county's only Medi-Cal managed care plan. The audit uncovered a number of serious issues that must be resolved before the duals transition can move forward in Orange County. Previously, Orange County was scheduled to begin passive enrollment on April 1, 2014.   According to DHCS, implementation of Cal ...

DHCS pays over $100 million to primary care physicians in initial retroactive Medi-Cal rate increase payment

The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) has now made several retroactive interim payments to primary care physicians who have attested to their eligibility for the rate increases called for under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These primary care payment increases have been put in place by the federal government in an effort to recruit more primary care physicians to treat low-income patients who will be newly eligible for health coverage in 2014.   Although under the ACA the rate increases took effect on January 1, 2013, DHCS had been waiting ...

Become an official opponent of anti-MICRA ballot initiative

If you haven't already, please take a moment to sign up to be an official opponent of a possible November 2014 ballot measure being pushed by trial lawyers that would significantly weaken California's Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) and increase lawsuits against doctors, community clinics, health centers, hospitals and other health care providers.   It only takes a moment to join and add your and/or your organization's name to the official list of opponents to this greed-fueled initiative. Once you do, you also will receive regular email updates from the ...

CMA Foundation names Lisa Folberg as new president/CEO

Sacramento – After nine years of service at the California Medical Association (CMA), Lisa Folberg has been tapped to head up the CMA Foundation. She replaces Carol Lee, who retired late in 2013.   The CMA Foundation, dedicated to improving individual and community health through partnerships between leaders in medicine, health care stakeholders and community based organizations, was established in 1963 as a subsidiary of CMA.   “I am thrilled to be joining the CMA Foundation,” said Folberg. “The work the CMA Foundation does in public health, access to care and improving quality ...