Governor Cuomo announced on December 1st a series of new initiatives in the fight against AIDS – building on the state’s blueprint to end the epidemic by 2020. Earlier in the week, the Governor signed comprehensive legislation to eliminate barriers to HIV testing and other sexually transmitted infections, increase access to prevention and treatment, and expand research capabilities. Governor Cuomo also called on the federal government to authorize $45 million in Medicaid matching funds for critical programs supporting the battle against AIDS.
3.23.18: NYACP Holds Quarterly Council/Board and Health and Public Policy Committee Meetings
On March 1st, the Chapter convened for two meetings: the Council/Board Meeting and the Health and Public Policy (HPP) Committee meeting. These meetings were conducted via video conference across five sites including Long Island, Manhattan, Albany, Syracuse, and Rochester.
At the Council/Board meeting, current legislative activities and NYS budget items were discussed with significant detail following at the HPP meeting. Upcoming educational meetings were reported, and are posted in the Education section of the website
A large focus of discussion was a recent study from the New York Center for Health Workforce Studies showing that the gender pay gap in medicine is increasing in New York State. The full report can be read here. The Council/Board took a strong position opposing gender bias in the healthcare workplace and will advocate for equal pay and more awareness among members, leaders, academia, administration and teaching faculty.
A paper created through the Chapter’s Ethics Committee covering Life-Sustaining Therapies for patients who lack capacity was approved. The paper highlights components of the Family Healthcare Decisions Act and how it impacts providers.
During the Health and Public Policy meeting, current New York State budget issues were discussed in detail including the Comprehensive Medication Management (CMM) proposal, Community Para-medicine proposal (CPP) and authorization for corporate owned Retail Clinics, all of which are opposed by the Chapter in their current form.
CMM aims to build upon the success of the existing Collaborative Drug Therapy Management demonstrations by giving pharmacists the ability to manage patients’ medications after establishing a collaborative agreement with a physician or nurse practitioner. This proposal does not define the specific disease limitations, what this collaborative plan would look like, or mandatory requirements such as connected EMRS and adequate timelines for communication.
The CPP proposal would expand the scope of practice of EMTs and paramedics to allow them to provide primary care services in residential settings. The proposal is extremely broad in scope and not well defined, and although the intent to improve access to care is worthwhile, the potential of increased access will not result in improved quality without stricter definitions and/or limitations in the bill.
The creation of Retail Clinics owned and operated within corporate owned retail centers such as pharmacies, shopping centers, malls, etc. violates the current corporate practice of medicine restrictions in New York. These restrictions exist for a reason, prohibiting conflict of interest by corporate decisions makers based on profit versus clinical decision-making.
Legislation aimed at reducing paperwork for physicians would prohibit insurance companies from making mid-year formulary changes in a patient’s medications and is strongly supported by the Chapter.
More than 600 bills are monitored as priority for our Chapter within the current Legislative session. Chapter leaders and committee members set the policy for the Chapter, and the strong input of our members is clearly demonstrated at these meetings.
Advocacy in Action: What NYACP
Other Advocacy Achievements:
1.26.18: New York Chapter Advocacy in Action
Since the first of the year, the Chapter has handled a number of regulatory, legislative and administrative matters important to our members and their practices. Following is a bulleted list, in future issues we will go into more detail on some of the legislative and regulatory proposals.
Any member who would like additional information on any of the above proposals should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two newly announced programs from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services aim to reduce the administrative burdens that government programs place on doctors, lining up with the American College of Physician's advocacy goals.
For one of the programs, CMS has indicated it would evaluate, and then amend, existing regulations so that doctors can spend more of their time treating patients. CMS officials are slated to travel the country to gather the information needed to do this. The program's name -- "Patients Over Paperwork" -- echoes ACP's existing initiative, called "Patients Before Paperwork." This initiative has been in place since 2015, and in May, its position paper on the topic, "Putting Patients First by Reducing Administrative Tasks in Health Care," was published in Annals of Internal Medicine. You can read more about ACP's initiative here.
The second CMS program, called "Meaningful Measures," aims to streamline various regulatory issues by eliminating those that are deemed overly burdensome or do not advance patient care.
To help make sure that internists are heard as CMS fleshes out the new initiatives, Shari Erickson, ACP's Vice President for Governmental Affairs and Medical Practice suggested that members "share with us what are they seeing and what are they doing, along with their practice characteristics, and we will use this information as feedback to the agencies."
Members can provide that information through a data collection tool on the College's website. ACP's data collection tool, "Administrative Tasks and Best Practices Survey", can be completed on the ACP website.
On October 31st, meetings were held in Albany with Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, Chair of the Assembly Health Committee, and Senator Hannon’s staff (Senator Hannon is Chair of the Senate Health Committee). These meetings were part of NYACP’s annual legislative planning process which allows for the Chapter to share healthcare priorities as well as determine the focus of the legislative health leaders for the 2018 session.
Linda Efferen, MD, FACP, Chair of NYACP’s Health and Public Policy Committee, Linda Lambert, NYACP Executive Director and Loretta Ponesse, NYACP Assistant Executive Director attended for the Chapter.
Existing legislation and areas for potential legislation development were discussed in detail. Copies of NYACP’s 2018 Legislative Priorities and draft Educational Paper on Geriatric Medicine (both approved on 10/27/17 and viewable here), were discussed. Serious concerns about the medical liability statute of limitations bill (S.6800/A.8516) which passed in June and will soon be sent to Governor Cuomo for his signature were reviewed, and its significant impact on internists and other primary care providers was outlined. Delays and challenges associated with the DANY application process, proposed changes to the NYS physician profile, and feedback pertaining to Alternative Payment Models (APMs) and Regulatory Modernization Initiative (RMI) workgroup meetings were other important topics covered. The Chapter will continue to provide legislative updates to members as we approach the end of the year and as the next session is convened in early January 2018.
The 2017 State Legislative session ended with some wins and a loss. Final actions included expanding medical marijuana use for PTSD, curbing electronic cigarettes, and extending time limits for filing medical malpractice lawsuits.
There were also several noteworthy “victories”—bills that we opposed and were not passed. Our credible relationships with legislators and our office’s close proximity to the Capitol, as well as our strong coalition with other medical specialty societies and patient groups helped to stop these bills. We blocked several medical liability bills simultaneously introduced at the very end of the session, all of which threatened to increase attorney contingency fees beyond their current limit. Any increase in contingency fees would of course further increase premiums, which is why opposing such changes remains a top legislative priority for us. Other bills that we opposed and that were not passed related to opioids, including mandated provider counseling prior to prescription of a schedule II opioid and limitation of an initial opioid prescription to 3 days (reduced from the current 7-day limitation).
We also had some victories regarding bills that we supported. E-cigarettes are now regulated under the Clean Indoor Air Act, possession of e-cigarettes is now prohibited on school grounds, and e-cigarette retailers are now required to register with the department of taxation and finance.
Of most significance to our members was the change to medical malpractice cases that expands the statute of limitations for plaintiffs (injured patients) to bring lawsuits against a physician. Whereas previously patients had 2.5 years from the date of the alleged malpractice to file a lawsuit, now patients have 2.5 years from the date of discovery with a maximum time limit of 7 years from the date of the alleged malpractice for failure to diagnose cancer or malignant tumor. Since this bill’s passing, malpractice insurance premiums are expected to increase by a minimum of 15%.
Overall, this was a very busy legislative year and a particularly eventful end of session. We thank all of our members who responded to our calls for legislative action—your state representatives heard your voices, loud and clear! As always, we take our duty to advocate for our members’ interests very seriously, so we are already reflecting on this year’s outcomes to begin preparing for the legislative session in 2018!
5.1.17: 2017 ACP Leadership Day in Washington DC
NYACP advocacy activity consists of monitoring legislative sessions and working with the legislators, the Administration, the State’s regulatory agencies, and industry stakeholders (such as other medical and specialty societies, insurers, hospitals, patients and other allied health professionals) to assure physician representation and input on all discussions related to patient care. Always putting patients first, by our actions we advance Internal Medicine and improve patient care.
Here are just a few of the results of NYACP advocacy in 2016: Read the full report here.
Changes to E-Prescribing Laws
The Chapter worked directly with sponsors on a bill that directs the Commissioner of Financial Services to develop a standard prescription drug approval form in an electronic version for all payers in the healthcare system. This will reduce burden on our members by requiring greater standardization among insurers for making prior authorization requests.
Passage of Step Therapy (Fail First) Drug Protocols for All Insurers
This bill was recently signed by the Governor to address Step Therapy protocols used in Utilization Reviews (UR) of prescriptions drugs. Insurers and UR agents must use evidence-based and peer reviewed clinical criteria appropriate for the patient’s clinical condition.
Adequate Workforce Capacity Advocacy
On November 28th, Governor Cuomo signed S7537/A1044 which amends the Public Health Law to allow a pharmacy, upon the patient’s request, to transfer an e-prescription to another pharmacy effective March 1, 2017. This was a legislative priority for NYACP having heard from many members of the challenges faced as e-prescribing has been implemented – and this bill resolves many of those concerns. Support from other professional medical societies helped to emphasize the concerns across all medical specialties.
This new law eliminates much waste on both patients and our members’ time when they had to re-issue scripts for reasons such as lack of supply in stock at time of fill, the patient for convenience stops at a different pharmacy or the patient has found another pharmacy to issue the drug at a cheaper price.
At the Board Meeting on December 7 in Queens, New York, the Chapter approved its 2017 State Legislative Priorities. These priorities are revised each year by the Health and Public Policy Committee and reflect the Chapter’s strong advocacy focus on Access to Care, Quality of Care and Patient Safety, and Public Health and Health Care Delivery.
To see the NYACP 2017 Legislative Priorities, please click here.
At its recent Board of Regents meeting, the American College of Physicians (ACP) adopted the following statement on Unsolicited Communications (also known as “cold calling”):
ACP opposes unsolicited communications (“cold calling”) of pharmaceuticals, durable medical equipment, supplies, and healthcare services that target patients and/or physicians and/or other prescribing clinicians including via direct mail, telecommunications, or facsimile. ACP believes this practice can lead to inappropriate treatment, interferes with the patient-clinician relationship, adds unnecessary costs to the health care system, and raises legal issues.
This statement began as a resolution from the NY Chapter and has been adoped by ACP as a formal policy stance, demonstrating that a member's idea for action can be turned into formal ACP policy.
11.17.16 : Govenor Cuomo Signs Prior Authorization Bill
This was a legislative priority for NYACP. The Chapter, working with the Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY), drafted this legislation with the Senate and Assembly Legislative sponsors, and continued advocacy until it was signed into law.
10.20.16: Activities Within This Past Week: Your Chapter Acting on Your Behalf
On Friday, September 30, Governor Cuomo signed as Chapter 350 of the Laws of 2016 legislation (A.9335/S.6778) changing e-prescribing exception regulations. Instead of sending an e-mail to the Department of Health containing an onerous amount of information about the issuance of the paper prescription every time an exception is invoked, as the regulations originally required, a prescriber can now make a notation in the patient's medical record indicating that they have issued a paper prescription and noting one of the three statutory exceptions as the reason why an e-prescription was not possible. This bill reduces an unnecessary administrative burden that was placed on physicians while preserving those measures within I-STOP that have been successful in reducing diversion and misuse of controlled substances.
Following a significant amount of effort by leaders and staff on this legislative priority, the bill was signed in part because of the large number of Chapter members that sent letters to Governor Cuomo through NYACP's Legislative Action Center, urging him to sign the bill.