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ALAPAC Update: Recognizing Our Top Donors

ALAPAC Update: Recognizing Our Top Donors

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Each year, ALAPAC seeks donations from physicians in order to keep the political presence of physicians strong. While we are currently in the final stages of our campaign to raise $75k in 75 days, we would like to take a moment to thank those individuals who have gone above and beyond with their contributions this year.

Such contributions enable ALAPAC to provide financial and technical support to candidates who best represent the professional needs of physicians and their patients. Moreover, these contributions combine individual voices into one strong, unified voice to ensure Alabama physicians remain influential in the legislative process.

For those who have yet to contribute this year, there is still time left to contribute! ALAPAC has 45 days left in its summer campaign and needs to raise a little over $40k (that’s less than 4 physicians giving $250 each day).

While this list is comprised of individuals who have given more than $250, we are grateful to EVERYONE who has supported ALAPAC and will be recognizing ALL donors at the end of our campaign.

We look forward to finishing this year on a high note and hope that you will help us reach our goal!

2019 Top Donors

A. Roland Spedale, Jr., M.D.

Alan Mann, D.O.

Alexis Mason, M.D.

Alfred LaShawn Malone, M.D.

Amanda Jean Williams, M.D.

Anthony Hollman, M.D.

Arden LeRoy Aylor, Jr., M.D.

Brendan Wyatt, M.D.

Brett Lee Storm, M.D.

Burt Fowler Taylor, M.D.

Charles Hugh Holloway, M.D.

Charles R. Horton, Jr., M.D.

Christopher Green, M.D.

Christopher Rauf Ahmed, M.D.

Clint Thomas Wade, M.D.

Dewey Jones, IV, M.D.

Eric Conrad Lund, M.D.

George Fant, M.D.

Glenn Woods, M.D.

Gregory Scott Tucker, M.D.

Hernando Carter, M.D.

Ivan Sequera-Sanchez, M.D.

James B. Byrne, Jr., M.D.

James C. Mann, M.D.

James D. Izer, M.D.

James Reza Fernandez, M.D.

James Scott Bolton, M.D., PC

James Vann Worthen, M.D.

Jane Ann Weida, M.D.

John Drew, D.O.

John Meigs, M.D.

John Olen Newcomb, M.D.

Jorge A. Alsip, M.D.

Julia Ann Alexander, M.D.

Julia L. Boothe, M.D.

Kurt Arnold Senn, M.D.

Liang Gu, M.D.

Mark H. LeQuire, M.D.

Masoud Hamidian, M.D.

Michael Cochran, M.D.

Michael D. Smith, M.D.

Michael Todd Ellerbusch, M.D.

Michael W. Cantrell, M.D.

Neil Yeager, M.D.

Paul Nagrodzki, M.D.

Paul Pickard, M.D.

Richard E. Jones, III, M.D.

Richard Esham, Sr., M.D.

Robert Evans Egbert, M.D.

Robert Nesbitt, M.D.

Robert Story, M.D.

Robert Williams, M.D.

Sara Margaret Mullins, M.D.

Sarah Mullican, M.D.

Sebastian B. Heersink, M.D.

Stephanie Jiminez, M.D.

Stephen Fernandez, M.D.

Suzanne S. Blaylock, M.D.

Thomas James Weida, M.D.

William Bennett, M.D.

William Jay Suggs, M.D.

William W. Beckett, Jr., M.D.




*Contributions to ALAPAC are not tax-deductible as charitable contributions for Federal income tax purposes. Voluntary political contributions to Alabama Medical PAC (ALAPAC) are not limited to the suggested amount. The Medical Association will not favor or disadvantage anyone based upon the amount or failure to contribute. A portion of the contributions may be used in connection with Federal elections. Corporate funds will be used in either state elections or for education purposes. Federal contributions are subject to the limitations of FEC Regulations 110.1, .2, and .5.

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ALAPAC Hosts Successful Fundraiser for Charlotte Meadows

ALAPAC Hosts Successful Fundraiser for Charlotte Meadows

Last week, ALAPAC, at the home of Drs. Lori and Penn White, hosted a fundraiser for Charlotte Meadows. We are proud to say the event was an overwhelming success!

As the political action committee of the Medical Association, ALAPAC seeks to elect candidates who best represent the professional needs of physicians and their patients. Charlotte Meadows is exactly that type of candidate.

Shortly after her marriage to Alan Meadows, M.D., Charlotte played a vital role in jumpstarting his Montgomery practice. During the years she managed Dr. Meadow’s medical practice, Charlotte also remained active in the Alliance and the Association.

More recently, Charlotte has found another calling – advocacy. She has been involved in various advocacy campaigns statewide and looks to take that experience to the State House.

“My accounting and business administration degrees, as well as my background in medicine and small business, and my experience in education policy will enable me to be up to speed on both the education and general fund budgets, as well as many other committees in the State House.”

Charlotte received 42% of the vote in last month’s House District 74 primary election and is now in a runoff, with that election coming on August 27th. We hope you will join ALAPAC in supporting Charlotte Meadows’ campaign.

If you reside in House District 74 and would like information on how to cast an absentee ballot, click here. To make a contribution to ALAPAC in support of Charlotte, simply text CHARLOTTE to 91999 or click the donate button below.

*A special thanks goes out to Drs. Lori and Penn White for hosting last week’s fundraiser. We are grateful to everyone who has supported Charlotte.

 

 

Disclaimer: Contributions to ALAPAC are not tax-deductible as charitable contributions for Federal income tax purposes. Voluntary political contributions to Alabama Medical PAC (ALAPAC) are not limited to the suggested amount. The Medical Association will not favor or disadvantage anyone based upon the amount or failure to contribute. A portion of the contributions may be used in connection with Federal elections. Corporate funds will be used in either state elections or for education purposes. Federal contributions are subject to the limitations of FEC Regulations 110.1, .2, and .5.

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Gov. Ivey Hosts Bill Signing Ceremony for MAT Act

Gov. Ivey Hosts Bill Signing Ceremony for MAT Act

Wednesday, Gov. Kay Ivey hosted a formal bill signing ceremony at the Alabama Capitol for this year’s Medication Assisted Treatment Act (“MAT Act”). Flanked by an array of both state and national leaders, the signing of this legislation represents another step Alabama is taking to combat the drug abuse epidemic and help those struggling with addiction.

Passing this bill was no easy feat, however. Introduced just six days before the 2019 Legislative Session ended, the Medical Association worked closely with Sen. Larry Stutts, M.D. in drafting the language for the bill and was instrumental in pushing it to final passage.

“It really is extraordinary what we were able to get done in such a short timeframe,” said Association President, John Meigs, M.D. “I know this was a priority for Senator Stutts, and we were proud to see it become a priority for all legislators. MAT has already been proven to help reduce drug addiction and I am anxious to see its impact in Alabama.”

The Alabama Board of Medical Examiners, with the guidance from a panel of industry stakeholders, is developing rules for medication assisted therapy in Alabama. If you would like to learn more about MAT and the federally-required qualifications for physicians, go to SAMHSA.gov. The Alabama Department of Mental Health also has information about MAT listed here, and a list of current grants for addiction treatment can be found here.

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Help Us Address “Surprise Billing” Issues

Help Us Address “Surprise Billing” Issues

Last week, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee advanced a legislative package (HR 3630) to address the ongoing “Surprise Billing” issues affecting patients and physicians.

While this is not the same bill the Association and other medical societies were supporting, the committee did agree to adopt an amendment establishing an independent dispute resolution (IDR) process for out-of-network (OON) claims of $1,250 or more. Arbitrators leading the process would be permitted to consider things like median contracted in-network rate, provider’s level of training, experience, quality and outcomes, and acuity of care/services rendered.

Although HR 3630 still has flaws, the Association views this as progress from where we were – there was no IDR language in the original bill. Also, with HR 3502 still awaiting a hearing, it appears HR 3630 will most likely become the primary piece of legislation moving forward in the U.S. House.

With this in mind, we have slightly revised the wording of the previous letter to legislators. Still touting HR 3502 as the model we support, these new revisions more broadly address the need for IDR language to be included in whatever bill goes to the floor. Click here to read our letter to our Congressional Delegation in which several other medical specialty societies have also signed.

What can you do? Contact your legislators! We have prepared an email and guidelines in order to make this process as easy as possible for you. Simply click the button below, enter your information, and stand up for a solution that best addresses the needs of patients and physicians.

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Why I Give: Dr. John Meigs

Why I Give: Dr. John Meigs

As president of the Medical Association, I want to thank you for your membership in our organization. While membership is essential to our success, so too is advocacy. Past President Dr. Underwood recently said, “It’s amazing how politics can determine the direction of medicine.” He’s exactly right.

Yet, instead of waiting until politicians are about to make a decision impacting you and your patients, physicians should be involved long before those decisions arise. Be proactive, not reactive. Choosing not to participate in the political process – when it’s known the decisions of lawmakers directly affect medicine – is akin to getting sued, consciously sitting out of jury selection and letting the plaintiff’s lawyer pick the jury.

I know you’re busy; I know how valuable your time is. But there’s other ways you can participate besides making a phone call or sending an email – you can give to ALAPAC. Membership dollars cannot be used for elections purposes, and so separate political action committees must be established to help elect candidates physicians can work with on health care important issues.

For me, giving to ALAPAC ensures that my voice, and the voice of all Alabama physicians, is heard. I truly believe it is incumbent upon physicians to join the organizations fighting for them, to get to know their elected officials and to contribute to PACs supporting the objectives of such organizations.

Right now, ALAPAC is in the midst of its year-end fundraising campaign and trying to raise $75,000 in 75 days. When it comes to contributions, even a small donation can have a big impact. So, I challenge all of you – those who have already contributed and those who have not – to give to ALAPAC to increase medicine’s voice.

Simply text ALAPAC to 91999 or donate here.

With thanks,

John S. Meigs, M.D.
President
Medical Association of the State of Alabama

 

Disclaimer: Contributions to ALAPAC are not tax-deductible as charitable contributions for Federal income tax purposes. Voluntary political contributions to Alabama Medical PAC (ALAPAC) are not limited to the suggested amount. The Medical Association will not favor or disadvantage anyone based upon the amount or failure to contribute. A portion of the contributions may be used in connection with Federal elections. Corporate funds will be used in either state elections or for education purposes. Federal contributions are subject to the limitations of FEC Regulations 110.1, .2, and .5.

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ALAPAC Launches $75K in 75 Days Campaign

ALAPAC Launches $75K in 75 Days Campaign

Earlier this month, ALAPAC kicked off its year-end fundraising campaign and is seeking to raise $75,000 in 75 days. As the official political action committee of Alabama physicians, ALAPAC provides financial and technical support to candidates medicine can work with on the myriad of health care issues affecting our state.

It may not be a normal election year, but that doesn’t mean there are not elections. In fact, there are two special elections for the Alabama House of Representatives going on right now. What’s more is that in one of these special elections, Charlotte Meadows – the wife of a physician and a former practice manager – is on the ballot and has already made the runoff with 44% of the vote!

Consider this: there are only two physicians in the Alabama Legislature, both of whom serve in the State Senate. This means there are zero physicians in the House of Representatives. Yet, the members of these bodies make decisions directly impacting you, your families, and your patients.

This is why electing quality candidates is so vital. With so many interest groups with objectives that are not in line with increasing access to quality care and maintaining a positive practice environment in Alabama, having elected officials who understand and respect physicians’ needs crucial. A contribution to ALAPAC can help elect this kind of candidate.

When like-minded people pool their resources good things can happen. So get involved! Making a contribution has never been easier. Simply text “ALAPAC” to 91999 or donate here.

 

Disclaimer: Contributions to ALAPAC are not tax-deductible as charitable contributions for Federal income tax purposes. Voluntary political contributions to Alabama Medical PAC (ALAPAC) are not limited to the suggested amount. The Medical Association will not favor or disadvantage anyone based upon the amount or failure to contribute. A portion of the contributions may be used in connection with Federal elections. Corporate funds will be used in either state elections or for education purposes. Federal contributions are subject to the limitations of FEC Regulations 110.1, .2, and .5.

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Call for Nominations: Senior Services Advisory Board

Call for Nominations: Senior Services Advisory Board

The Alabama Department of Senior Services has an advisory board, and one member of the board must be a representative of the medical profession appointed the Governor. The Senior Services Advisory Board typically meets twice annually and members are reimbursed for travel and other expenses actually incurred in the performance of their official duties.  Interested physicians should submit their CV here.

The purpose of the Senior Services Advisory Board is to:

  1. Collect facts and statistics and make special studies of conditions and problems pertaining to the employment, health, financial status, recreation, social adjustment or other conditions affecting the welfare of the aging people in this state.
  2. Keep abreast of the latest developments in this field of activity throughout the nation, and to interpret its findings to the public.
  3. Provide for a mutual exchange of ideas and information on national, state and local levels.
  4. Give a report of its activities to the Legislature, and make recommendations for needed improvements and additional resources to promote the welfare of the aging in this state.
  5. Serve as an advisory body in regard to new legislation in this field.
  6. Coordinate the services of all agencies in this state serving senior citizens and request and receive reports from the various state agencies and institutions on matters within the jurisdiction of the board.

Interested physicians should submit their CV here.

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STUDY: Does Capping Residency Hours Hamper Physician Training?

STUDY: Does Capping Residency Hours Hamper Physician Training?

When new rules capped training hours for medical residents at 80 hours per week in 2003, critics worried that the change would leave physicians-in-training unprepared for the challenges of independent practice.

Now, new research published July 11 in BMJ and led by scientists in the Department of Health Care Policy in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School, shows that these dire warnings were largely unjustified.

The analysis — believed to be the first national study examining the impact of reduced hours on physician performance — found no evidence that reduced training hours had any impact on the quality of care delivered by new physicians.

Following a series of high-profile patient injuries and deaths believed to stem from clinical errors caused by fatigue, medical accreditation agencies initiated a series of sweeping changes to the regulations governing resident hours and other aspects of training. These efforts culminated in 2003 with the U.S. Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education capping the training of medical residents at 80 hours per week.

“This is probably the most hotly debated topic in medical education among physicians,” said Anupam Jena, the HMS Ruth L. Newhouse Associate Professor of Health Care Policy in the Blavatnik Institute, a physician in the department of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and lead author of the study. “Many doctors trained under the old system think that today’s residents don’t get enough training under the new system. You hear a lot of senior physicians looking at younger doctors coming out of training and saying, ‘They’re not as prepared as we were.’”

The findings of the study should assuage these fears, Jena said.

The researchers found no significant differences in 30-day mortality, 30-day readmissions, or inpatient spending between physicians who completed their residency before and after the residency hour reforms.

“We found no evidence that the care provided by physicians who trained under the 80-hour-a-week model is suboptimal,” Jena said.

Given the changes in hospital care over the past decade, the researchers knew that they couldn’t just compare the difference between outcomes of recently trained doctors before and after the cap, since overall outcomes have improved thanks to better diagnoses and treatments, better coordination of care and new digital tools designed to prevent harmful drug interactions and other human errors.

Comparing new physicians trained before reform with those trained after would confound the effect of changes in training with the effect of overall changes in hospital care. To avoid conflating the two, the researchers compared new physicians before and after the reforms with senior physicians who had trained before the reform.

The study analyzed 485,685 hospitalizations of Medicare patients before and after the reform.

The training hour reforms were not associated with statistically significant differences in patient outcomes after the physicians left training.

For example, 30-day mortality rates among patients cared for by first-year attending internists during 2000-2006 and 2007-2012 were 10.6 percent (12,567/118,014) and 9.6 percent (13,521/140,529), respectively. In comparison, the 30-day mortality among patients cared for by tenth-year attending physicians was 11.2 percent (11,018/98,811) and 10.6 percent (13,602/128,331) for the same years.

Further statistical analysis to eliminate the unwanted effects of other variables showed that these differences translated into a less than 0.1 percentage point gap between the groups. The difference in hospital readmission rates was similarly minuscule: 20.4 percent for patients cared for by first-year physicians in both 2000-2006 and 2007-2012, compared with 20.1 percent and 20.5 percent, respectively, among patients treated by senior physicians.

Taken together, these findings suggest that U.S. residency work hour reforms have not made a difference in the quality of physician training, Jena said.

As a way of magnifying any possible gaps in care stemming from a difference in training hours, the researchers looked specifically at outcomes for high-risk patients, in whom even small differences in quality of care would become apparent.

“We looked at patients who were particularly ill. In these cases, one little mistake could mean the difference between life and death,” Jena said. “Even for these sickest patients we found that the reduced training hours had no effect on patient mortality.”

Monica Farid of Harvard University, Daniel Blumenthal of HMS and Massachusetts General Hospital and Jayanta Bhattacharya of Stanford University also contributed to this study.

This research was supported by a grant from the Office of the Director, NIH (1DP5OD017897). The authors reported no competing interests or financial ties that might be related to the subject of this research.

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Senate Committee Tackles Surprise Billing

Senate Committee Tackles Surprise Billing

The Senate Health Committee finally passed a major health care package, which could bring an end to surprise billing for patients by capping out-of-network charges at a rate already negotiated by insurers. However, the legislation could see more changes before it sees a full Senate vote.

Wednesday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee debated S. 1895, the Lower Health Care Costs Act, which included provisions related to protecting patients from surprise medical bills. Included in the bill is language that addresses a variety of other issues, including prescription drug pricing, provider network and pricing transparency, mental health and substance abuse parity, and tobacco regulation. The bill was voted out of committee 20-3.

The surprise billing provisions of the bill are problematic because they would tie out-of-network payments to average in-network rates in situations where a patient did not have the opportunity to choose an in-network provision. It also omits the independent payment arbitration process that the Medical Association of the State of Alabama and the AMA and other physician organizations support.

Physician Sen. Cassidy, (R-LA) offered an amendment to require insurers to post information on network adequacy so that patients can find out in advance if their doctor is in network, which was passed unanimously. Committee Chair Alexander also made a commitment to continue working with members of the Cassidy Working group to address physicians’ concerns about the lack of an arbitration model to address payment disputes. Sen. Cassidy also made strong comments against the surprise billing section in the underlying bill, noting that is it skewed heavily in favor of insurance companies. He warned that letting insurance companies set rates will have dire consequence for rural and critical access hospitals that are already closing due to inadequate payments and it will exacerbate health care market consolidation problems. Sens. Hassan, Romney and Murkowski were also outspoken, expressing concerns with the contracted in-network rate benchmark and speaking in favor of including of an independent dispute resolution mechanism.

The HELP committee is hopeful the bill will be considered on the Senate floor by the end of July. We will continue working with the principals involved to try and get our concerns with the legislation addressed through the amendment process.

Separately, Congressman Ruiz, MD (D-CA) and a significant number of co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle introduced surprise billing legislation Thursday in the House that is based on the New York model.  This is the bill that most physician groups including the Medical Association and the AMA have been waiting to support. This bill includes an independent dispute resolution process with benchmark rates tied to charges.

The Medical Association will continue to monitor developments on the surprise billing legislation and will keep the membership apprised.

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Trump Executive Order Seeks to Put Patients First

Trump Executive Order Seeks to Put Patients First

With high health care costs now a rare bipartisan issue and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle demanding action, President Trump issued an executive order on June 25 to increase transparency in hospital prices, physician fees and other health care providers to disclose more information about their billing and pricing.

Read the Executive Order on Improving Price and Quality Transparency in American Healthcare to Put Patients First and the White House Fact Sheet

The purpose of the order, entitled “Improving Price and Quality Transparency in American Healthcare to Put Patients First,” is to direct federal agencies to issue regulations to improve the transparency of health care prices and quality in order to create a more competitive marketplace and provide consumers with the information they need to make informed purchasing decisions.

More specifically, the executive order:

  • Directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue regulations within 60 days that would require hospitals to publicly post standard charge information, including information based on negotiated rates, in an easy-to-understand format.
  • Requires the Secretaries of HHS, Treasury, and Labor to issue an advance notice of proposed rulemaking within 90 days seeking comment on proposals to require health care providers, insurers, and self-insured group plans to provide consumer access to information about expected out-of-pocket costs before they receive health care services.
  • Requires the Secretary of HHS, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission, to issue a report within 180 days on ways the federal government or private sector impede health care price and quality transparency for patients, with recommended solutions.
  • Directs the Secretary of HHS, within 180 days and in consultation with other federal departments and agencies, to increase access to de-identified claims data from taxpayer-funded health care programs and group health plans for researchers, innovators, providers, and entrepreneurs to facilitate the development of tools that empower patients to be better informed purchasers of care.
  • Requires the Secretary of the Treasury, within 180 days, to propose regulations to treat expenses related to certain types of arrangements, potentially including direct primary care and health care sharing ministries, as eligible medical expenses for Health Care Savings Accounts, and to increase the amount of funds in flexible spending accounts that can carry over at the end of the year without penalty.
  • Directs the Secretary of HHS to submit a report to the President within 180 days on additional administrative steps that can be taken to address the issue of surprise medical bills.

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