Weekly Member Update - April 30th, 2010

April 30th, 2010

A Message from the ASSH President

One Question

Did You Know - ASSH Annual Meeting?

CMS Call on the RAC Program

Health System Reform Insight - From AMA

OREF Clinician Development Program CME Grants

Have You Volunteered at a Medical School This Year?

Medicare Claims Processing Transition Has Led to Payment Delays - From AAOS

 

A Message from the ASSH President

James Chang, MD has been hard at work managing our Research Division, which is a central part of our mission in the Society.  James has provided us with an update for the spring.  On behalf of the Hand Society, we thank James and his management committee for their efforts.

Bob Szabo

Update from the Research Division

Spring is the time of year when a great deal of work in the Research Division takes place behind the scenes.  In 2010, over 30 different Basic Science and Clinical Research Grants in the complete NIH format have been submitted by ASSH members. The Research Management Committee is currently reviewing all of these grants in great detail and will be writing multi-page critiques of each grant.  Funding decisions will be made in June.  Even if investigators are not funded, they will receive a detailed list of suggestions so that they may optimize their grants for resubmission to other funding mechanisms.  I would like to recognize the members of the Research Management Committee – Dick Berger, Kevin Chung, Ranjan Gupta, Brent Graham, Allen Bishop, and Peter Amadio.  These are seasoned, senior investigators with a track record of research funding who will be spending countless volunteer hours in grant review.  Their unselfish mentorship of young investigators spans across institutions and will benefit all of us.

Applications for several other awards are also being reviewed.  Winners of the prestigious Weiland Award for Research Achievement and the Goldner Pioneer Award will be announced at the Annual meeting.  Another new grant mechanism is the Military Investigator Grant.  Alex Shin has organized this program to allow our military hand surgery colleagues to compete for research funding in areas of interest related to military hand problems. 

Brent Graham and other members of SHOW – Surgery of the Hand Outcomes Workgroup - will soon submit to the NIH a grant application for a multi-center clinical trial on early carpal tunnel release.  This planning work is funded and endorsed by the ASSH/AFSH.  We are now achieving our goal of sponsoring our own ASSH members to compete on the national level for clinical research funding. 

Lastly, in laboratories and clinics across North America, ASSH members funded in the past year are busy gathering data for presentation at the upcoming Annual Meeting.  We look forward to hearing about their ideas and innovations in October! 

James Chang, MD
ASSH Research Director


One Question

This week, we want to know if you would like to receive a registration form for the 2011 Self-Assessment Exam with your mailed annual dues statement.  Share your answer with us.


Did You Know - ASSH Annual Meeting?

Did you know that by creating an account with our online scheduler and selecting which events you will attend, you can connect your schedule for the Annual Meeting to your Outlook Calendar, to Facebook or Twitter, and you can also see who else will be attending that event? 

Additionally, the scheduler is a helpful tool to use while you are registering for the Annual Meeting online.  You can have one window open with the comprehensive Schedule at a Glance that shows important details about each session, lecture, event, etc.,  and you can have another window open to register.  Complete both at the same time, and you’re not only registered for the meeting, but you’re organized and ready to go!  


CMS Call on the RAC Program

On March 10, 2010, President Obama announced expanded fraud and abuse control initiatives for Medicare, Medicaid and other federal programs.  This includes an Executive Order that directs all federal agencies, not just the health care agencies, to expand and intensify their use of the Recovery Audit Contractors (RACs) program, which currently only operates in the Medicare fee-for-service program. 

He announced that government-wide use of the audits will return at least $2 billion to the federal government over the next three years.  AMA policy opposes expansion of the RAC program, and continues to express strong concerns about the program to both Congress and the Administration.  Future Medicare RAC expansions will be focused on Medicaid and the Medicare Advantage program. 

The AMA will provide more information as it becomes available.  For information on the RAC program see www.cms.hhs.gov/rac and www.ama-assn.org/go/regrelief   and select "Recovery Audit Contractors."

Additionally, CMS has announced they will be hosting conference calls on the Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) programs.  To date, with some very limited exceptions, the RACs have not conducted any physician audits.  They continue to focus on hospitals.  However, physicians should be aware that the RACs are approved to conduct physician audits and may do so at any time.

Attend the Nationwide RAC 101 Call for Physicians
Wednesday May 12 from 1:00pm - 2:30pm EST 
1-877-251-0301


Health System Reform Insight - From AMA

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, health system reform legislation signed into law by President Obama on March 23, contains a number of key provisions for doctors and their patients.  Some provisions may have an immediate impact on practice and patients, while others will not take effect for some time.

Given the new direction for the nation's health system, the AMA has developed "Health System Reform Insight" to help doctors understand the new law and how it will affect them.  It explains when certain provisions are scheduled to take effect, how doctors can be ready and what patients need to know.

Check out an overview of some of the major provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act relating to health insurance coverage and market reforms.


OREF Clinician Development Program CME Grants

New — Apply by May 14

OREF CME grants provide support for 2010 programs beginning July 1 or later that address pain management, osteoarthritis or both topics.  Multiple grants, up to $50,000 individually and totaling no more than $300,000 in the aggregate, are currently available.  For more information about these grants and others, visit the OREF website.


Have You Volunteered at a Medical School This Year?
We Want to Hear from You.

Have you given your time to volunteer as a lecturer or guest speaker at a medical school this academic year?  The Hand Society wants to hear from you.  As part of the Lending a Hand program, we are looking for feedback from member who have helped introduce and promote the field of hand surgery to medical students.

Please complete the volunteer survey, and next quarter we’ll list all the institutions that have been visited.  Institutions visited so far this year include:

University of Massachusetts Medical School
Indiana University
University of Miami
Miller School of Medicine, FAU campus
Penn State University
Loma Linda University
Harvard Medical School
Pacific Northwest Health Sciences University
Michigan State University
Johns Hopkins University
Medical College of Wisconsin
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences School of Medicine
University of Washington

Now is the perfect time to contact the anatomy directors at your medical school to schedule next year’s visit.  If you are planning an upcoming visit to a medical school, the Lending a Hand program materials are available on the ASSH website.  Please contact Lending a Hand chair Anthony Smith, MD with any questions.


Medicare Claims Processing Transition Has Led to Payment Delays - From AAOS

An audit conducted by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds that an accelerated transition to systems designed to combat Medicare fraud and waste has resulted in processing backlogs and delayed payments to healthcare providers.  The US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is required by law to transition claims administration to 19 new entities known as Medicare Administrative Contractors (MAC) by Oct. 1, 2011. 

CMS plans to complete the transition ahead of schedule, but the GAO states that the accelerated schedule overlaps several other initiatives that have also affected claims processing, resulting in the delays.  However, the GAO also points out that CMS has incorporated lessons-learned, resulting in midcourse adjustments to address some of the challenges of the transition.  Read more