Weekly Member Update - June 25th, 2010

A Message from the ASSH President

One Question

Congress Raises Medicare Doctor Pay by 2.2% - American Medical News

Hand Surgery Educational Research Grant

Federal Funding to Test Medical Liability Alternatives - AMA


A Message from the ASSH President

In my recent Presidential Update and weekly columns, I’ve mentioned the important documents created under the leadership of Drs. Boyer and Chang that redefine hand surgery education and create multiple pathways to achieving the CAQ.  These documents which comprise the Spectrum of Hand and Upper Extremity Curriculum (SHUE) are currently undergoing review by members of Council, and will soon be released  to hand surgery program directors for review and comment.  With such a comprehensive document that outlines both new and existing routes to specialization, it is important for us to invite the feedback of all those affected which, of course, includes our members.  Please keep an eye out for SHUE communications later this summer, when we will be asking for your feedback on this exciting and crucial topic. 

In addition to all of his hard work regarding education, Jim Chang has also been the faithful leader of our Research Division for the past three years.  This past weekend the Research Division met in Rosemont to compile their recommendations for grants and awards for the following year, and also for Jim to pass the research torch on to the next director to continue the ever-expanding work in our pursuit of this mission.  I commend Jim for how much the program has grown during his time, and I’m excited to see how the program will grow in the years to come.  


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Congress Raises Medicare Doctor Pay by 2.2% - American Medical News

On June 24th, the House adopted a Senate-passed Medicare physician pay increase of 2.2% through November 30th, temporarily reversing the 21% cut that Medicare contactors began applying to claims a week earlier.  The measure headed to President Obama, who is expected to sign it.  The Senate had approved the bill by unanimous consent on June 18.

"I believe we need to permanently reform the Medicare formula in a way that attacks our fiscal problems without punishing our hard-working doctors or endangering the benefits on which so many of our seniors rely," Obama said in a statement after the vote. "I look forward to working with Congress to achieve that goal, and I'm gratified that in the meantime they've taken the provisional step of blocking this pay cut."

American Medical Association President Cecil B. Wilson, MD, described the six-month reprieve as the latest in a series of short-term pay patches that are destabilizing Medicare.

"In December, the Medicare physician payment cut will be a whopping 23%, increasing to nearly 30% in January.  Congress is playing a dangerous game of Russian roulette with seniors' health care," Dr. Wilson said.

Read the rest of this article.


Hand Surgery Educational Research Grant

The American Society for Surgery of the Hand requests proposals from ASSH members interested in performing research related to documenting the current Scope of Hand Surgery.  This would be an update of the work of Steyers et. al. on “A Role Delineation Study of Hand Surgery” in the Journal of Hand Surgery (15A: 681-9, 1990). 

The purpose of the current research project would be to update this important study and to examine national trends in training and practice of hand surgeons in 2010 and beyond.  Interested investigators should submit their application, by September 1, 2010.

Federal Funding to Test Medical Liability Alternatives - AMA

As part of its health system reform efforts, the AMA urged the Obama administration and Congress to fund demonstration projects on innovative medical liability reforms, such as health courts, safe harbors for the practice of evidence-based medicine, and early disclosure and compensation models.  The current issue of Health System Reform Insight provides an update on these successful efforts.

The Obama Administration Grant Program

The Obama administration announced in 2009 that it was providing $25 million in funding to establish medical liability and patient safety demonstration projects and planning grants that would be available to states and health systems.  The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) was charged with implementing the grant program.  After a thorough application and review process, AHRQ announced the grant recipients on June 11.  These grants are the result of strong AMA advocacy for physicians.

The AMA served as an advisor to AHRQ on the implementation of the grant program and collaborated closely with many state medical associations throughout the grant application process.  The AMA will continue to work with state medical associations involved with these grants to gauge their effectiveness at improving the liability system.

Visit the AHRQ website for more information on each of the demonstration grants and planning grants.