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Latest News

New York Law Limiting Initial Opioid Prescribing Goes Into Effect Friday, July 22

In an effort to curb prescription opioid abuse, New York passed legislation that limits prescriptions of Schedule II, III, or IV opioids to seven days upon initial consultation or treatment of acute pain. This new law will go into effect on Friday, July 22, 2016. Here are additional details:

  • Acute pain is defined in NYS Public Health law as pain, whether resulting from disease, accidental or intentional trauma, or other cause, that the practitioner reasonably expects to last only a short period of time.
  • This rule SHALL NOT include chronic pain, pain being treated as part of cancer care, hospice or other end-of-life- care or pain being treated as part of palliative care practices. 
  • Upon subsequent consultations for the same pain, the practitioner may issue, in accordance with existing rules and regulations, any appropriate renewal, refill, or new prescription for an opioid.
  • Application of co-pays for the initial prescription of an opioid are also limited by the measure.  A prescriber can apply the co-pay one of two ways:
    1. A proportionate amount between the co-payment for a thirty day supply and the amount of drugs the patient was prescribed; or
    2. The equivalent to the copay for the full thirty-day supply provided that no additional co-pays may be charged for any additional prescriptions for the remainder of the thirty-day supply
  • Pharmacists are NOT required to verify with the prescriber whether an opioid prescription written for greater than a 7-day supply is in accordance with the statutory requirements. Pharmacists may continue to dispense opioids as prescribed, consistent with current laws, regulations, and Medicaid policies.

Additional information on opioids and this law may be obtained by contacting the NYS Department of Health’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement at 1-866-811-7957 or by clicking here.

Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement (BNE) Releases Waiver Process for Practitioners Prescribing 25 Prescriptions or Less

The Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement (BNE) has released the forms and an FAQ for practitioners who want to certify that they will not issue more than twenty-five prescriptions during a twelve-month period. Practitioners submitting a certification will not be required to issue prescriptions electronically. Prescriptions in both oral and written form for both controlled and non-controlled substances must be included in determining whether the practitioner will reach the limit of twenty-five prescriptions.

The practitioner can either submit a certification online through the Electronic Prescribing Waiver (EPW) application on the NYS Health Commerce System (login required) or by submitting a paper certification form to BNE at this address:

NYS Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement
OPP Registration Unit Riverview Center
150 Broadway Albany, NY 12204
FAX: (518) 402-1058

New Updates to Medical Marijuana Course Cover Conditional Use

The New York State Department of Health is pleased to announce updates to the 4-hour Department-approved online course for medical use of marijuana course developed by TheAnswerPage, an established online medical education provider. 

The course has been updated to include additional information regarding the use of medical marijuana in each of the conditions covered in the Compassionate Care Act, based on available scientific evidence.

The cost to take the course is $249.  Practitioners taking the course will earn 4.5 hours of CME credit upon successful completion of the course.  The new material is also accessible through TheAnswerPage’s website at no extra cost for those who have already taken the medical use of marijuana course.  

The course may be accessed by clicking on the following link:

Practitioners who wish to register with the Department and certify their patients for the Medical Marijuana Program must complete this course.  Please visit the Department’s web page for more information about becoming a registered practitioner:


Guide to Help Primary Care Practices Integrate Behavioral Health Services 



A new guide is offering primary care practices practical guidance and a flexible framework to increase their ability to serve patients with depression, anxiety, and other common mental health issues.


Produced by Montefiore Health System and United Hospital Fund, Advancing Integration of Behavioral Health into Primary Care: A Continuum-Based Framework delineates the specific steps to advancement: identifying preliminary, intermediate, and advanced stages of eight different components of behavioral health practice integration, and provides broader guidelines on getting started, including establishing priorities, articulation of goals, and determination of existing and potential resources.

As the guide explains, behavioral health disorders contribute to decreased quality of life and increased health care costs, yet they frequently go undiagnosed and untreated, with only 22 percent of adults with common mental health disorders receiving care. Even when conditions are identified by primary and specialty care providers, patient follow-up on referrals is low. These factors make increasing capacity for treatment of behavioral health conditions in primary care settings a core strategy for improving access to and quality of care. 

“With so many alternative payment models being developed and the transition to value-based care, many physicians in practice, especially in primary care medicine, are eager for just this kind of guidance,” said Linda Lambert, Executive Director of the New York Chapter of the American College of Physicians. “While the framework will undoubtedly have relevance for large provider groups, we are pleased that this paper and its recommendations were designed with the flexibility to work for smaller practices and physicians who operate independently. If integrating behavioral health care into primary care practices is going to work, it has to work for the smaller practices as well, which the authors clearly understood.”

The work to create the guide was supported by a UHF grant with significant contribution from the NYACP. Advancing Integration of Behavioral Health into Primary Care: A Continuum-Based Framework is available from UHF’s website at

New York Kicks Butts Campaign: Encouraging New York City Residents to Quit Smoking


The New York Chapter ACP has joined with the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, and Tobacco Free Kids, as well as more than 50 other associated health organizations and media outlets to encourage New York City residents to quit smoking. The goal of the campaign is to encourage all New York City smokers to quit smoking with the aid of qualified health care professionals and to learn about the tools and support available to assist them during this week and beyond.

The New York Kicks Butts campaign will be held this week and physicians that practice in New York City are asked to discuss with patients smoking cessation treatment options.  By offering medication and counseling, physicians can help patients to double their quit rates.

Helpful tools can be found on line at, by calling the New York State Smokers’ Quit line at 1-866-NY-QUITS (697-8487) or by just dialing 311.  

Physicians can find an information flyer here. Patient information can be found here.

There is also a new 5 Steps to Quit Smoking flier in both ENGLISH and SPANISH found on the resources page of You can also click here for additional information.


Medicare: 2016 PQRS GPRO Registration is Now Open

Physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, clinical nurse specialists, and certified registered nurse anesthetists in groups of all sizes and those who are solo practitioners are subject to the Medicare Value Modifier in 2018, based on performance in 2016. These groups can register to participate in the 2016 Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) Group Reporting Option (GPRO) via the Physician Value - Physician Quality Reporting System (PV-PQRS) Registration System.

Avoiding the 2018 PQRS payment adjustment by satisfactorily reporting via a PQRS GPRO is one of the ways groups can avoid the automatic downward payment adjustment (-2.0% or -4.0% depending on the size and composition of the group) and qualify for adjustments based on performance under the Value Modifier in 2018.

More information is available on the PQRS Payment Adjustment Information web page.

Groups can participate in the PQRS program for the 2016 performance period by selecting one of the GPRO reporting mechanisms between April 1, 2016 and June 30, 2016 (11:59 pm EDT):

  • Qualified PQRS Registry.
  • Electronic Health Record (EHR) via Direct EHR using certified EHR technology (CEHRT) or CEHRT via Data Submission Vendor.
  • Web Interface (for groups with 25 or more Eligible Providers [EPs] only).
  • Qualified Clinical Data Registry (QCDR)
  • Consumer Assessment of Health Providers and Systems (CAHPS) for PQRS Survey via a CMS-certified Survey Vendor (as a supplement to another GPRO reporting mechanism). See CAHPS for PQRS Made Simple for complete details.

Groups with 2 or more EPs that choose not to report via the PQRS GPRO in 2016 must ensure that the EPs in the group participate in the PQRS as individuals in 2016 and at least 50 percent of the EPs meet the criteria to avoid the 2018 PQRS payment adjustment in order for the group to avoid the automatic downward payment adjustment and qualify for adjustments based on performance under the Value Modifier in 2018.

The Registration System can be accessed using a valid Enterprise Identify Management (EIDM) account. Instructions for obtaining an EIDM account with the correct role are provided on the PQRS GPRO Registration web page. Instructions for registering to participate in the 2016 PQRS GPRO are provided in the 2016 PQRS GPRO Registration Guide.

The Mental Health Service Corps: New Initiative Aims to Close Gaps in Behavioral Health to Support Primary Care Practices

If your practice is in New York City - behavioral health support is available to your practice at no cost!

Funded by the NYC Department of Health (DOH), the Mental Health Service Corps (MHSC) is an initiative to close the gaps in behavioral health services and facilitate the integration of behavioral health services into primary care. Primary care practices, substance use programs, and mental health clinics in high-need communities throughout the New York City (the five burroughs) can receive full-time fully-funded masters or doctoral-level clinicians and physicians to support their practice.

The Corps is committed to working in high need communities that have experienced barriers to access to mental health care. Corps members will have experience and interest to work in diverse cultures (e.g., ability to speak languages specific to the patient population, oriented to ensure highest standard of social service) and will be trained, coached, and supported in the use of evidence-based therapeutic interventions to screen and treat patients for depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders.

To be eligible to receive a Corps member, a primary care practice must have:

  • Clinical leaders at the site dedicated to collaborative care
  • Exam room with table and chairs for Corps members and patients
  • Electronic Health Record access for Corps members
  • Panel size of at least 1,500 unique patients per site
  • Be located in high-need area and/or serve a high percentage of medically underserved population
  • Be willing to participate in site trainings offered by MHSC program to facilitate integration of Corps member services

This effort will give special consideration to small and solo primary care practices that meet the above requirements. Apply now to change how health care is delivered in New York City and participate in MHSC by completing an application, available here.

There are a limited number of Corps members, so submit your application early. Site selection for matching with Corp members begin May 1, 2016. Notification of Host Sites for placement of a Corps member will take place by June 1, 2016.

You can also access this FAQ about the Medical Service Corps.

For more information about MHSC, click here.

Get Smart Campaign from New York State DOH and CDC Highlights Antibiotic Resistance

The “Get Smart (Know When Antibiotics Work) Campaign” is a collaborative effort between the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC has provided grant funding to New York State in an effort to combat antibiotic resistance and the “superbugs” that arise from avoidable prescribing of antibiotics.

To get a handle on where New York stands, the "Get Smart Campaign" analyzed 2013 Medicaid claims data on prescribing for adult upper respiratory infections and found that in 11 counties in New York State, over 55 percent of provider visits resulted in antibiotics being prescribed for adults with upper respiratory infections (URIs). This map shows that data.

Some healthcare providers say they prescribe antibiotics even when they know they are not indicated because of pressure from patients for a post-office visit “takeaway”. There is concern that they might get negative reviews on patient satisfaction forms if patients are denied antibiotics.

In addition, ACP has released a clinical guideline for Appropriate Antibiotic Use for Acute Respiratory Tract Infection in Adults that coincides with these issues.

If you are interested in joining the “Get Smart” effort in New York State or becoming a “champion” of appropriate antibiotic prescribing (setting an example helps every community), please contact Mary Beth Wenger, Project Coordinator of the New York “Get Smart Campaign" at 518-474-1036 or email her at:

Reminder: Physicians and Teaching Hospitals Need to Complete Sunshine Act (Open Payments) System Registration in Order to Review and Dispute Data

The Sunshine Act, which is part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), requires manufacturers of drugs, medical devices, and biologicals that participate in U.S. federal health care programs to report certain payments and items of value given to physicians and teaching hospitals.

This system is known as Open Payments (or the Sunshine Act). The next review and dispute period for physicians and teaching hospitals is targeted to start in April 2016 for 2015 payment date. Registering in the Open Payments system is voluntary for physicians and teaching hospitals. However, registering is required if a physician or teaching hospital wants the opportunity to review and dispute data. Only information that has been submitted in the current program year is eligible for review and dispute.

The data is submitted by applicable manufacturers (e.g., Pharma companies) and applicable group purchasing organizations (GPOs) prior to public posting on June 30, 2016. If a physician or teaching hospital registered last year, they are not required to register again this year.

If it has been over 180 days since you have logged onto the Enterprise Identity Management System (EIDM), the account has been deactivated for security purposes. If an account has been deactivated, contact the Help Desk. The Help Desk hours are from 8:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. (EST). For new users, the quick reference guide on the EIDM system can be found here. In addition, the quick reference guides on teaching hospital registration can be found here, and the guide for physician registration can be found here.  

CMS plans to publish the 2015 payment data and make any applicable updates to the 2013 and 2014 data in June 2016. More information about Open Payments is available at

There are a number of useful educational materials available to help physicians and teaching hospitals learn more about the Open Payments registration process. These materials are available on the Resources page of the Open Payments website. You may want to begin by reviewing the 2015 Open Payments Program Overview and Enhancements – PDF .

The Resources page of the Open Payments website contains all of these materials.

Important Information on Zika Virus Testing from the New York State Department of Health

1. Talk to your patient about Zika: At this time, your patient can get tested if they:

  • Are pregnant, and travelled to a place where Zika virus was being transmitted while the patient were pregnant
  • Are a man or woman who become (or became) ill with symptoms of Zika virus within 4 weeks of travel to a place where Zika virus is being transmitted.

2. Patients can obtain a “Zika virus testing approval form” from Local Health Departments (LHDS): You can work with a patient to get this approval (Contact information for LHDs is available here). They MUST get approval from their LHD before they can get tested. The form can be emailed to you or the patient. The form could also be faxed.

3. Provide a Zika virus test prescription for your patients: In addition to getting LHD approval for testing, you can give your patients a prescription for the lab tests that are needed.

4. Provide your patient with collection site phone numbers if an appointment is needed: A list of hospitals and their laboratory telephone numbers is available to provide to your patient. (Health Commerce System Login is required).

5. Instruct the patient to go to the collection site: A patient will need to bring the approval form from the LHD and the prescription from you provided. The sample collection site is not able to provide any lab testing unless they are given both the health department approval form and the prescription you've provided.

At the collection site, blood and urine samples will be collected and sent to Wadsworth Center, the New York State public health laboratory, for Zika virus testing. There will be no charge to the patient for the blood and urine collection, shipping and testing. Inform the patient to wear short sleeves or sleeves that can easily be rolled up.

6. Results of the patient's tests: Testing for Zika virus infection is a two-step process. The first test results will be available within a few days of the sample collection. However, in most cases, additional testing is required to determine if a patient was infected; these results may take up to 21 days due to the complicated nature of the tests involved. Some people may need additional blood samples collected three weeks after the first samples. Test results will be sent to your office, and your patient can discuss their results with you and ask any questions they may have.

7. Questions? Patients can contact their Local Health Department or the New York State Department of Health at 1-888-364-4723. Instructions for Zika virus testing for NYC residents can be found here.

They can also read the Department of Health FAQ on the Zika virus here.

In addition, patients can call the Zika information line at (888)364-4723 from Monday - Friday, 9 am to 6 pm.

How to Avoid the 2017 Meaningful Use Penalty

Article courtesy of AMA

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

NYACP encourages ALL physicians subject to the 2015 Medicare MU program to apply for the hardship.  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 an 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.

Step-by-step instructions for completing the hardship exception application follow below:

  • STEP 1: Access the instructions and download the application. You can type directly into the application on your computer if you plan to submit the application via email (more on this in Step Seven). Note that CMS “strongly recommends” submission via email, but if that is not possible, the application should be printed out and completed using blue or black ink. Do not use pencil.   
  • STEP 2:  In Section 1.1, provide information for the person working on behalf of the physicians to apply for the hardship exception. Note that, for the first time, an individual may apply on behalf of a group of physicians. This individual may be the physician applicant him/herself or the individual filling out the information on behalf of a physician group (for example, a member of the group’s administrative staff). This step is very important because CMS will provide notice of its hardship exception decisions – which are final and cannot be appealed – via the email address provided on the application.
  • STEP 3: In Section 2, check the box beside the hardship exception reason that best applies to your circumstances.  The AMA is encouraging physicians to apply for a hardship exemption under the “EHR Certification/Vendor Issues (CEHRT Issues)” category (Option 2.2.d in the application), even if they are uncertain whether they will meet the program requirements this year.  Because of the delay in publication of the regulation, this category will apply to all physicians. Further, given the delay of the regulations and these updates to the hardship application, CMS has stated that they will refrain from auditing physicians who file under Option 2.2d.  A physician who qualifies for more than one hardship exception category may select all of the options applicable to his or her practice; however, one category will suffice. 
  • STEP 4: Skip Section 3. This section only applies to hospitals.
  • STEP 5: In Section 4, list the NPI, first name, and last name for each physician applicant. Again, multiple providers and provider types may apply as a group using a single submission. Failure to provide each physician’s NPI will result in a delayed hardship exception decision by CMS. In addition to listing each physician’s information on the application itself, CMS will accept physician identification contained in the following formats: Microsoft Excel (.xls or .xlsx), comma delimited (.csv), or text file (.txt). 
  • STEP 6: In Section 5, check the box marked “Confirm” and enter the date of application and the name of the individual completing the form.
  • STEP 7: Submit the application to CMS.  If you are submitting the application electronically, attach the application to an email addressed to If an electronic submission is not feasible, fax the application to 814-456-7132. If you have listed the required physician identification in a separate file as described in Step Five above, be sure to attach it to your email or include it with your fax. No additional documentation is required to be submitted to CMS; however, physicians should keep a copy of their application and any documentation supporting hardship exceptions claimed in addition to Option 2.2.d.

If granted, an exemption will prevent penalties for the 2017 payment year.  This hardship exception application will not affect payment adjustments for 2016. The application must be received by CMS by 11:59PM ET on March 15, 2016. CMS has not said when applicants will be notified of CMS’ decision.

Recruit-a-Colleague from ACP Rewards Members with Dues Credits

The American College of Physicians and the New York Chapter are asking members to help strengthen the organization by recommending ACP membership to colleagues. By joining the College, your colleagues will enrich their clinical knowledge and skills and have access to all of the ACP and Chapter member benefits that you enjoy.  

To thank you for your dedication to our organization, ACP offers incentives to members and their chapters for recruiting new members through the Recruit-a-Colleague Chapter (RACC) Rewards Program.

The RACC Program rewards successful individual recruiters with dues credits for each new full Member or Physician Affiliate member recruited and a chance to win a trip to the annual Internal Medicine meeting. In addition, the RACC Program also provides rewards to the recruiter’s chapter, and complimentary registrations to the annual Internal Medicine meeting.

The 2015-16 Recruit-a-Colleague Chapter Rewards Program runs until March 1, 2016.

To participate, simply forward a membership application found at to your colleagues. To qualify for the program, your name must be listed on the recruiter line of the application, and the form must include the code “RACCWe suggest you print the form and add that information to get credit!

Your help with membership recruitment, is a win-win for all! 

Medicare / Medicaid

Chronic Care Management Resources

Chronic care management (CCM) is a unique physician fee schedule service designed to pay separately for non-face-to-face care coordination services furnished to part B Medicare beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions. It applies to practices and patients that are not included in alternative payment models. The code (99490) fills a long-awaited void in treating patients with multiple chronic conditions and was included in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' final Physician Fee Schedule rule for 2015.

MLN Releases Chronic Care Management FAQ

MLN Matters® Special Edition Article #SE1516: "Chronic Care Management (CCM) Services FAQ" has been released to view and download. This article is designed to provide education on Medicare's requirement for 24/7 access by individuals furnishing CCM services to the electronic care plan, rather than the entire medical record. It includes FAQs regarding billing CCM services to the Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) and Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System  (OPPS) under CPT code 99490.

Chronic Care Management Services Fact Sheet

The Chronic Care Management Services Fact Sheet (ICN 909188) was released and is available in downloadable format. This fact sheet is designed to provide background on the separately payable Chronic Care Management (CCM) Services for non-face-to-face care coordination services furnished to Medicare beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions. it includes information on eligible providers and patients; Physician Fee Schedule billing requirements; and a table aligning the CCM Scope of Service Elements and billing requirements with the Certified Electronic Health Record or other electronic technology requirements.

Other CCM Resources

Practice Management Tools

End of Life Decision Making

Advance Care Decisions Materials Available from NYACP

Advance decision making and end-of-life care options are unfortunate but necessary conversations for patients to have with their physicians and families. New York Chapter ACP has gathered important resources to assist in making these difficult discussions a reality.

A recently released report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies entitled “Dying In America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life” details key findings and recommendations related to the realities of the clinician-patient relationship and how to effectively communicate and facilitate end of life wishes and directives.  An excerpt of the recommendations:

“Most people nearing the end of life are not physically, mentally, or cognitively able to make their own decisions about care. The majority of these patients will receive acute hospital care from physicians who do not know them. Therefore, advance care planning is essential to ensure that patients receive care reflecting their values, goals, and preferences.”

You can read the document in its entirety here.

In addition, the Department of Health for New York State has a website of resources including the Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) form.
The DOH has created a portal that contains a wealth of information on advance care decisions, including legal requirements checklists, frequently asked questions, and guidance documents for physicians and patients.

MOLST legal requirements checklists and general instructions for adult patients are:

The MOLST legal requirements checklist for minor patients is:

Frequently Asked Questions regarding MOLST:

Free Smoking Cessation Learning Module Available Online!


Tobacco use is leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., and as health care professionals we are in a prime position to help our patients successfully quit tobacco, while simultaneously lowering their risk of heart disease, stroke, COPD and other diseases.

Recently, the NYC Health Department has developed an excellent and free online learning module to assist physicians by enhancing your knowledge on how to effectively assess, counsel, and treat tobacco use, greatly improving patients’ chances of successfully quitting. For medical residents, this module meets five of the six Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education core competencies and is able to be placed in your learning management system. For attending physicians, this module provides 1 CME credit.

Highlights of the module include:

  • The “5 A’s” model of treating tobacco use
  • Provider/Patient communication techniques
  • Treatment options and guidance, including combination therapy
  • New York State Medicaid Benefits
  • Billing information for smoking cessation counseling

Click here to access the online module and here to access additional provider resources.

Pri-Med Opioid Screening Online Course Now Available

With approximately 100 million adults in the U.S. suffering from chronic pain, the nonmedical use of prescription opioids has become a public health issue, and prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to establish the Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) mandate.  A total of 26 Continuing Medical Education (CME) and Continuing Education providers, including ACP, have created educational initiatives to help prescribers ensure that the benefits of a drug outweigh the risks for patients receiving extended release and long acting opioids.

ACP developed online training modules with Pri-Med to educate clinicians about best practices when prescribing opioids to patients and to help prescribers manage risk for abuse and inappropriate use. The REMS training modules provide comprehensive educational information for primary care clinicians, and can be completed for CME credit.  Access the online modules for additional information. 

A brief video from Steven Weinberger, MD, FACP, executive vice president and CEO of ACP, highlights the initiative’s goal of reducing misuse, abuse and overdose deaths associated with prescription opioids. 

Note: an ACP Username/password is required to login)


Managing Your Patients With Diabetes - Tools & Resources

Useful Links:


Health Information Technology

Learn about NY's information network, Meaningful Use, e-Prescribing, privacy and security and best practices.

Patient Care and Education

The following patient-related resources provide guidance in effectively maintaining and enhancing the doctor-patient relationship.

New York Chapter of the American College of Physicians
744 Broadway, Albany NY 12207
Tel: 518-427-0366
Fax: 518-427-1991