Posts Tagged Medicare

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Very Cool Health Reform Timeline and Animated Video About September 23, 2010

The Center for Healthcare Transformation may not be my organization of choice, but they’ve put together an excellent timeline of the PPAC (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), also called the ACA or Affordable Care Act.

The timeline shows what’s happening in regards to Medicare, Medicaid, public health, insurance, Indian health, taxes and government programs.  You can slide the timeline forward or backward and jump around in hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc. increments.  It gives you a wonderful sense of the Big Picture.  It is also being constantly updated.

And, for a quick look at the ACA changes happening as of September 23, 2010, you can watch a short video that I made for the “? of the Day” tab above.  I thought this tab was getting just a bit boring, so I thought I would post short animations there that readers could share with staff or whomever for infotainment.  I posted the first video under the “? of the Day” tab and also here for your convenience.

GoAnimate.com: Jack Asks About Healthcare Reform by Mary Pat Whaley

Posted in: Headlines, Medicare & Reimbursement

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CMS Never Sleeps! Version 5010, ICD-10, an Education Call, Twitter and YouTube

I am fortunate to be serving on the North Carolina MGMA Medicare Committee this year.  When we met yesterday, the members were asked why we wanted to be on the committee.  I said I couldn’t believe any practice manager wouldn’t want to be on the Medicare Committee!  I want to be on the front lines, asking questions and trying to understand the massive changes hitting our practices daily.  Don’t you? If you’re not a member of your local or state manager’s group and you’re not volunteering on one or more committees, why not?

Important Information and Reminders About the Upcoming Version 5010 and ICD-10 Transitions

CMS has resources for providers, vendors, and payers to prepare for the transition. Fact sheets available for educating staff and others about the transition include:

The ICD-10 Transition: An Introduction

Talking to Your Vendors About ICD-10 and Version 5010: Tips for Medical Practices

Talking to Your Customers About ICD-10 and Version 5010: Tips for Software Vendors

Compliance timelines, materials from CMS-sponsored calls and conferences, links to resources and sign up for email updates here

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Medicare FFS 5010 Program: Taking EDI to the Next Level- Ninth National Education Call on Medicare Fee-For-Service (FFS) Implementation of HIPAA Version 5010 and D.0 Transactions

August 25, 2010
2:00pm To 3:30pm EST

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will host its ninth national education call regarding Medicare FFS’s implementation of HIPAA Version 5010 and D.0 transaction standards on August 25, 2010.  This session will focus on the 835 Electronic Remittance Advice transaction.  Subject matter experts will review Medicare FFS specific changes as well as general information to help the audience prepare for the transition; the presentation will be followed by a Q&A session.

Registration will close at 2:00 p.m. EST on August 24, 2010, or when available space has been filled.

Target Audience: Vendors, clearinghouses, and providers who will need to make Medicare FFS specific changes in compliance with HIPAA version 5010 requirements.

Subject: Medicare Fee-For-Service (FFS) Implementation of HIPAA Version 5010 835 Electronic Remittance Advice Transaction

Agenda:

* General Overview

* Medicare Specific Changes

* Timelines and Deadlines

* What you need to do to prepare

* Transaction Specific Issues

* Q & A

Conference call details:

Date: August 25, 2010

Conference Title: Ninth National Education Call on Medicare Fee-For-Service (FFS) Implementation of HIPAA Version 5010 and D.0 Transactions

Time: 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. ET

In order to receive the call-in information, you must register for the call. It is important to note that if you are planning to sit in with a group, only one person needs to register to receive the call-in data.  This registration is solely to reserve a phone line, NOT to allow participation.

Registration will close at 2:00 p.m. ET on August 24, 2010, or when available space has been filled.  No exceptions will be made, so please be sure to register prior to this time.

1. To register for the call participants click here.

2. Fill in all required data.

3. Verify your time zone is displayed correctly the drop down box.

4. Click “Register”.

5. You will be taken to the “Thank you for registering” page and will receive a confirmation email shortly thereafter.   Note: Please print and save this page, in the event that your server blocks the confirmation emails.  If you do not receive the confirmation email, please check your spam/junk mail filter as it may have been directed there.

6. If assistance for hearing impaired services is needed the request must be sent to medicare.ttt@palmettogba.com no later than 3 business day before the event.

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Social Media

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) continues to break new ground and to enhance their outreach efforts to the public. CMS is now using social media outlets to get information out to their audience as fast as possible.

Twitter: For CMS & Medicare Learning Network updates, click here.   You’ll need a Twitter account first if you don’t already have one – here are instructions:

  • Go to www.twitter.com and sign up for FREE (choose a name and a password)
  • You can use Twitter on the web or on your phone ”“ you can look at it once a day (you don’t have to look at it and respond to it instantly.)
  • Once you’re signed up, you can start “following” people and they can “follow” you.  I am following people who have interesting things to say about healthcare, and also people who are writing blogs like me.
  • Start by following me (@mpwhaley) and I’ll be glad to follow you.

YouTube:  Log on to the official CMS YouTube channel to view several videos currently available and more to come in the upcoming months.  See an example of a CMS video below.

Posted in: Medicare & Reimbursement, Social Media

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CMS Delivers Additional Information Regarding Medicare Timely Filing Rule

In the MLN Matters dated July 30, 2010, Change Request (CR) 7080, CMS gives additional instructions on the timely filing rule*:

  • For institutional claims that include span dates of service (i.e., a “From” and “Through” date span on the claim), the “Through” date on the claim will be used to determine the date of service for claims filing timeliness.
  • For professional claims (CMS-1500 Form and 837P) submitted by physicians and other suppliers that include span dates of service, the line item“From” date will be used to determine the date of service and filing timeliness. (This includes supplies and rental items).  For physicians and other suppliers that bill claims with span dates, these span date services cannot exceed one month.
Day 282: insurance sucks

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  • BE AWARE: If a line item “From” date is not timely, but the “To” date is timely, Medicare contractors will split the line item and deny untimely services as not timely filed.
  • Claims having a date of service of February 29th must be filed by February 28th of the following year to be considered as timely filed. If the date of service is February 29th of any year and is received on or after March 1st of the following year, the claim will be denied as having failed to meet the timely filing requirement.

*Change request (CR) 6960 specified the basic timely filing standards established for FFS reimbursement, which are a result of Section 6404 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) that states that claims with dates of service on or after January 1, 2010, received later than one calendar year beyond the date of service will be denied by Medicare.

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Posted in: Medicare & Reimbursement

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The Dog Days of PECOS: CMS Publishes the Short Form (Paper) for PECOS, plus Consultant David Zetter Walks You Through It Online

NOTE: The date has been changed to July 5, 2011 has been delayed indefinitely.

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Many managers have told me they know their providers are in PECOS but they’re not on the list OR they never enrolled their providers but they are on the list OR they’ve sent their paperwork and have not heard back for 2, 4, 6 weeks – should they be worried?  The CMS website says “It is possible that it could take 45-60 days, sometimes longer, for Medicare enrollment contractors to process enrollment applications,” so I guess we all need to chill out a little.

The massive undertaking of qualifying every single healthcare professional who refers/orders or provides medical services to Medicare patients in order to sift out those who would lie about providing goods and services is fraught with confusion, miscommunication and misunderstanding.  That’s okay, though, because CMS says no checks for services or goods will be withheld due to providers not being listed in PECOS, at this time. They know it’s a mess and it will take quite a while to get everyone straightened out, on the list and able to get checks from CMS if and only if their name is on the list.

Below is the CMS fact sheet published last week.

The Doctor, by Sir Luke Fildes (1891)

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Medicare Enrollment Guidance for Physicians that Infrequently Receive Reimbursement from the Medicare Program

Traditionally, most physicians have enrolled in the Medicare program to furnish covered services to Medicare beneficiaries.  However, with the implementation of Section 6405 of the Affordable Care Act, some physicians will need to enroll in the Medicare program for the sole purpose of certifying or ordering services for Medicare beneficiaries. These physicians do not send claims to a Medicare contractor for the services they furnish.

In the process of implementing the provisions contained in the Affordable Care Act, we have become aware of several unique enrollment issues for certain types of physicians or practitioners. Specifically, we have modified the process of enrollment to accommodate the special circumstances of the following individual physicians and practitioners:

  • Physicians employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Physicians employed by the Public Health Service
  • Physicians employed by the Department of Defense Tricare program
  • Physicians employed by Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) or Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs)
  • Physicians in a Fellowship
  • Dentists, including oral surgeons

This document provides guidance to those practitioners.

Q: How can I verify whether I am already enrolled in PECOS?

A: If a physician is concerned or uncertain about whether s/he is actually enrolled in the Provider Enrollment, Chain and Ownership System (PECOS), s/he can  review the Ordering and Referring file found in the download section of the “OrderingReferringReport” tab (click here) on the Medicare Provider and Supplier Web Site.

Providers and suppliers can check with the ordering or referring physician to see if the physician is currently seeing Medicare patients and the physician’s claims are being paid. Until we advise otherwise, your orders and referrals will not be rejected due to the lack of an approved enrollment record in PECOS.

Q: I am a physician employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense Tricare program, by the Public Health Service, an FQHC, an RHC, or a CAH.  Do I need to enroll in PECOS to order and refer items or services for Medicare beneficiaries?

A: Yes, but we have abbreviated the enrollment process and documents for physicians employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Public Health Service, the Department of Defense Tricare program, an FQHC, an RHC, or a CAH. However, because this is a unique solution to enrollment for a specific set of physicians, our systems will not accommodate the abbreviated forms on-line. Therefore, any physician employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Public Health Service, the Department of Defense Tricare program, an FQHC, an RHC, or a CAH, who is not already enrolled in PECOS, must use the paper enrollment application process
and do the following:

Complete the following sections of the paper CMS-855I, “Medicare Enrollment Application for Physicians and Non-Physician Practitioners” and mail the completed form to the designated Medicare enrollment contractor:

  • Section 1  Basic Information (they would be a new enrollee)
  • Section 2  Identifying Information (section 2A, 2B, 2D and if appropriate 2H and 2K)
  • Section 3  Final Adverse Actions/Convictions
  • Section 4C/4E  Practice Location Information (same as section 2B)
  • Section 13  Contact Person
  • Section 15  Certification Statement (must be signed and dated””blue ink recommended)
  • Section 17  Supporting Documentation (cover letter stating the provider is only enrolling to order and refer services to a beneficiary)

Note: Physicians who are employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Public Health Service, the Department of Defense Tricare program, an RHC, FQHC, or CAH are not required to include the Electronic Funds Authorization Agreement (CMS-588) or the Medicare Physician and Supplier Agreement (CMS-460) with the enrollment form.

Q: I am a  physician in a fellowship program.  Do I need to enroll in PECOS?

A: If you are a physician in a fellowship, and licensed in the State, you can enroll in Medicare for the sole purpose of ordering or referring items or services for Medicare beneficiaries. To enroll as a “referring and ordering physician-only” you would need to complete the abbreviated enrollment application form in the same way as other physicians (VA, DoD, PHS, FQHC, RHC CAH) who are enrolling to order and refer only (see previous question.) If you elect to enroll to order and refer only, you would not be enrolled in Medicare for the purpose of providing Medicare services to Medicare beneficiaries. In order to provide covered services to Medicare beneficiaries, a physician would need to complete the full enrollment application either on-line or in hard copy.

Q: I am an Oral Surgeon or Dentist. How do I Enroll in PECOS?

A: Dentists, including oral surgeons, must enroll in the Medicare program to receive reimbursement for services furnished to Medicare beneficiaries or to order covered items or services for Medicare beneficiaries. Oral surgeons would complete the same paper forms, or on-line application, as any other practitioner enrolling in PECOS.
If you elect to enroll as a “referring and ordering physician-only”, you would need to complete the abbreviated enrollment application form in the same way as other physicians (VA, DoD, PHS, FQHC, RHC CAH) who are enrolling to order and refer only (see previous two questions.)  If you elect to enroll to order and refer only, you would not be enrolled in Medicare for the purpose of providing Medicare services to Medicare beneficiaries.

In order to provide covered services to Medicare beneficiaries, a dentist, including oral surgeons, would need to complete the full enrollment application either on-line or in hard copy.

Note:  In completing the enrollment application portion dealing with specialty, oral surgeons would check the “oral surgery (dentist only)” box found in section 2 of the Medicare enrollment application and any other dentist would check the box titled, “Undefined Physician Type” and specify that they are a dentist in the space provided.  In the near future, we will revise the Medicare enrollment application to add “Dentist” as a physician specialty.

Internet-based PECOS

Physicians and practitioners who are employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Defense Department, the Public Health Service, an RHC, FQHC, or CAH must complete the paper enrollment application that has been modified and shortened to accommodate the special situation of these professionals. All other physicians and practitioners who furnish services to Medicare beneficiaries must enroll in the Medicare program to receive reimbursement and order/refer in the Medicare program.  For those physicians and practitioners using the on-line process, we have developed a document that will help you through the PECOS enrollment process.   It will be easier to complete the process if you review this document before you begin the enrollment process.

  • The document titled, “Internet-based PECOS — Getting Started Guide for Physicians and Non-Physician Practitioners” can be found here.
  • Although you are permitted to complete your enrollment application in hard copy, it will be easier and quicker if you use the Internet-based Provider Enrollment, Chain and Ownership System (PECOS) to complete the Medicare enrollment process.  The Internet-based PECOS application is completed via the web here.
  • After submitting an enrollment application via Internet-based PECOS, you must:
    • Print, sign and date (blue ink recommend) the Certification Statement(s), and
    • Mail the Certification Statement(s) and applicable supporting documentation to the designated Medicare contractor (no later than 7 days after you complete the online portion.)
    • NOTE: The Medicare contractor will not be able to begin to process your enrollment application until it receives a signed and dated Certification Statement.

 

Additional Medicare Enrollment Information

To ask a provider enrollment question, contact the Medicare contractor for your State. Medicare provider enrollment contact information for each State can be found here.

To report Internet-based PECOS navigation, access, or printing problem with Internet-based PECOS, contact the EUS Help Desk at 1-866-484-8049 or send an e-mail to the EUS Help Desk to EUSSupport@cgi.com

For additional information regarding the Medicare enrollment process, visit the website here. Of course, if you have any additional questions about the Medicare enrollment process, you can contact the designated Medicare contractor for your state.

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If you haven’t started yet but plan to use the online process to enroll your providers or yourself, here’s a really excellent SlideShare presentation by David Zetter that steps you through the enrollment process by showing screen shots of each step.  You can contact David Zetter here.

PECOS Enrollment Process 

Posted in: Medicare & Reimbursement, PECOS

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Healthcare Fatigue – Are You,Your Staff and Your Physicians Unusually Stressed?

Note: I am republishing this to my email subscribers because none of the links worked the first time around. I’ve fixed everything now – so sorry for the error – must have been healthcare fatigue!

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I’ve noticed that a lot of people in healthcare seem unusually tired and even, if I dare say so, somewhat cranky.  This includes me.  I’ve decided we’re all suffering from healthcare fatigue – fatigue from dealing on a daily basis with so much change, uncertainty, and financial stress.  Here’s my top ten list of healthcare management stressors accompanied by posts I’ve written that discuss the topic or suggest resources for the challenge.

10. Red Flags Rules – on again, off again, patients don’t want to have their pictures taken or let you copy their driver’s licenses.

Information Security Wordle: NIST HIPAA Securi...

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9. HIPAA – don’t be fooled, HIPAA is not something we handled years ago and it’s taken care of; there are new requirements and penalties associated with HIPAA breaches.  HIPAA is a biggie and something that now infiltrates almost every facet of healthcare.

8.  Employment Uncertainty – both for you and your staff – the aftermath of layoffs can be even more demoralizing to those who didn’t lose their jobs.  Also, many healthcare entities are still freezing raises.  If I hear one more time “we’ll just have to do more with less” I might just scream.

The first day of Summer Vacation

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7. Unrealistic Workloads – directly related to #9, most staff and managers have much more work to do than they did just two years ago. Couple that with the ability for managers to be available and work by computer, phone, text message, email or Skype 24/7 and you have fatique that you understand only when you truly, truly stop and wind down for more than three days at a time.

6.  Hospitals Buying Practices – this could be a good thing or a bad thing, but as you and I know, change is completely unnerving to most people.  Hospitals have very different cultures than private practices and trying to marry the two takes skill, patience and excellent leadership.

An electronic medical record example

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5.  Stimulus Money for Using EMRs – it’s a big decision and many practices are very nervous about purchasing an EMR.  Many think that meaningful use components are unrealistic and even more are fearful of the inevitable productivity drop when the EMR is implemented and for months afterwards.

4. Unhappy Patients – lots of patients are also trying to do more with less (argghhh!) and are avoiding coming to the doctor whenever possible.  The front desk staff and the phone staff in particular are getting a lot more heat when they inform patients they’ll have to make an appointment.

3.  PECOS – be glad if you don’t know what PECOS stands for, or be very, very afraid.

2. Medicare Reimbursement – this year has been as exhausting as watching a single point of ping pong played for hours – there will be cuts, there won’t be cuts, there will be cuts, there won’t be cuts.  Gird your loins as the November 30 deadline looms for the next potential cuts.

Wild West Railroad: Pecos Texas

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1. The Bottom Line – we have RAC audits, more pre-certification and pre-authorization and pre-notification requirements, more denials, high deductible plans, formularies and 50 other things that are making it difficult to know which hoop to jump through to get paid.  Expenses continue to go up, reimbursement continues to go down, and the healthcare world spins faster and harder, making us all wonder when it will, or if it ever will slow down.

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Posted in: Day-to-Day Operations, Leadership

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The Cohen Report: CMS Releases New RBRVS Data Set Effective June 1, 2010

The Practice Administrator says "Alex, I'll take Medicare for $36.87."

Image by jen-the-librarian via Flickr

Report by Frank Cohen
Frank Cohen, MPA, MBB
The Frank Cohen Group, LLC

As many of you may already know, July 1, 2010 CMS released yet another RBRVS (Resource Based Relative Value Scale) data set that will be used to pay physicians under Medicare effective June 1, 2010. This data set includes the 2.2% increase in the CF. This puts the current conversion factor at $36.8729.

The link to the CMS file is here.

The good news is that the Conversion Factor (CF) increased by 2.2%.

The bad news is that for 2,226 procedure code/modifier groups within the database, the RVU (Relative Value Unit) values decreased by anywhere from 0.65% to 50% (or 0.01 to 2.04 RVUs). The median change was only 0.12 RVUs, which in and of itself doesn’t seem like much, but if you add them up, you get a total reduction of 492.95 RVUs for just these procedure codes.

This doesn’t consider frequency of use. For example, procedure code 75825 26 saw a reduction in RVUs of 1.16. In 2008, this procedure was reported to Medicare 60,864 times. That results in a net decrease in RVUs to those practices of 70,602 RVUs. At the current conversion factor, that is a payment reduction of $2.6 million.

In addition to the RVU changes, there were 180 non-RVU changes, including changes to the PC/TC (Professional Component/Technical Component) policies, new records, modified status, etc.

Note: Frank ran a side-by-side analysis of the changes for these procedure codes. If you would like a copy of his worksheet, go to his site and click on the Download tab. Even if you don’t want this file, he has lots of other goodies on his site for free.  As always, thanks Frank!

email Frank

visit Frank’s site

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Posted in: Headlines, Medicare & Reimbursement, The Cohen Report (NCCI & RVUs)

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Guest Post From The Examining Room of Dr. Charles: What Makes Us Happy?

Be Happy

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Note: I am very pleased to welcome the eloquent Dr. Charles of Examining Room fame to Manage My Practice.  On his website, Dr. Charles tells us ” I am a family medicine physician” and says “Home-grown tomatoes have a special place in my heart.”

What Makes Us Happy

by Dr. Charles

The bilious oil hemorrhaging from the bowels of the Earth, coupled with the usual stressors of life, makes me feel sad and pessimistic of late. And while I’m still pretty sure that ignorance, intolerance, and our polluting routines will be our ruin, I also search for ways to retain optimism and hope. Amid the constant erosion there are basic roots that hold life together. If you share the belief that life is fundamentally absurd, then life is truly what you make it. Are there small steps proven to make us happier?

Psychology often concerns itself with helping ailing people get back to a neutral ground, but the field of positive psychology aims to do more. University of Pennsylvania psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman, positive psychology’s most renowned proponent, once said: “I realized that my profession was half-baked. It wasn’t enough for us to nullify disabling conditions and get to zero. We needed to ask, ”˜What are the enabling conditions that make human beings flourish?”

To that end, research on happiness, optimism, positive emotions and healthy character traits has been increasing in psychology. Some surprising results challenge our assumptions, such as the fact that once basic needs are met, money does not increase happiness. Neither do high education or high IQ. Older people tend to be happier than young. The sunny weather in California and Florida does not make people happier than those living in colder and cloudier climes.

The trait most shared by happy people seems to be close connections with family and friends, bolstered by a commitment to spending time with them.

Other factors that are associated with happiness include contributing to the lives of others, a good relationship with a spouse, control over one’s life and decisions, time for leisure, spirituality or religion, and the holiday periods. The following graphic comes from a Time Magazine article on positive psychology:

The daily activities of life versus the overall experience also effects our opinions of what makes us happy. For example, parents typically consider their children the greatest source of happiness in their lives, but when asked about the day-to-day activities of caring for children, most considered it less than inspiring. One study of 900 women in Texas found that “caring for children” ranked well below sex, socializing, relaxing, praying or meditating, exercising, and watching TV. In fact, taking care of children ranked below cooking and only slightly above housework. Yet when asked what one thing has brought people the most happiness, children and grandchildren are most frequently cited. There is a difference between the “experiencing self” and the “remembering self.”

In addition to the big things in life, are there small steps we can take on a daily basis to improve our sense of happiness? According to positive psychology the answer is yes. Research supports the following measures that increase engagement, pleasure, and meaning:

1) Count your blessings. “At the University of California at Riverside, psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky is using grant money from the NIH to study different kinds of happiness boosters. One is the gratitude journal ”“ a diary in which subjects write down things for which they are thankful. She has found that taking the time to conscientiously count their blessings once a week significantly increased subjects’ overall satisfaction with life over a period of six weeks, whereas a control group that did not keep journals had no such gain.”

Instead of only complaining at the dinner table of the things that went wrong at work, recounting three positives each day will produce more happiness in your life. Gratitude exercises also help physical health and may alleviate the distress of chronic pain and illness to some degree.

2) Practice altruism. Volunteering at a hospital, cooking a meal for a friend, letting a stressed mother cut in front of you in the grocery line, mowing a neighbor’s lawn, sending a care package to a grandparent ”“ all these examples of kindness create connections between people, increase your sense of capability, generosity, and perhaps open the door to reciprocal acts that foster community and friendship. Altruism is a fine way of pleasing yourself and others at the same time.

3) Take time to delight in the world. Did you really taste that bowl of coffee ice cream? Did you pause to wonder at the crescent moon and the stars beyond? Did you revel in the moment you pulled up the cotton sheets and felt luxurious in your safe bed before sleep? Living in the moment ”“ sensually, intellectually, creatively, wondrously ”“helps to ward off despair.

4) Thanking a mentor in your life is important, and actually benefits you, too. One study showed that writing a letter to someone to whom you owe a debt of gratitude produced positive effects on the writer that were significant for over a month. Of course the recipient of such a letter is thrilled.

5) Forgive others. Writing a letter of forgiveness, whether delivered or not, helps purge negative emotions and desires for revenge. It the first and most important step in moving on.

6) Devote time and energy to relationships. Ties with family and friends are the most consistently cited predictors of happiness. Although the deserted island in the middle of the tropics sounds great, in reality we are fulfilled by the webs we weave and the connections we make throughout life.

7) Use your body. Stretch. Exercise. Laugh. Walk. These things reduce anxiety and improve mood.

8 ) Develop effective coping mechanisms. Hardship, adversity, and tragedy will always be a part of life. Cultivating faith, whether religious or secular, has been shown to help people cope. Even believing a simple dictum like “This too shall pass” relieves the stress of the moment.

A perpetual state of happiness is not possible. As I write this I finish a fairly crappy day, and I just learned that Medicare (thanks to Senate Republicans) is cutting its payments to physicians by 20%. This will be disastrous for doctors, medical practices, and ultimately patients. But I went for a run today. I ate tasty fish cooked with garlic and tomatoes. I saw a beautiful sky at dusk and basked in a breezy, humidity-free day. I am thankful that I am not in pain, and that I was able to help some people through my work.

Flourishing isn’t easy, and positive psychology sounds like fluff when you are in the dumps, but it’s worth a Sisyphean try to be happy.

You can visit Dr. Charles on his website The Examining Room of Dr. Charles, and you can follow him on Twitter here or check out his Facebook page here.

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Posted in: A Career in Practice Management, Leadership

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91 Physician Organizations Sign Statement Naming Congress in “Mismanagement of the Medicare Program” and Imploring it to “Honor its Obligation”

UPDATE: On June 25, 2010, President Obama signed into law the “Preservation of Access to Care for Medicare Beneficiaries and Pension Relief Act of 2010 (H.R. 3962)” which includes a delay in the 21+% Medicare fee cut until November 30, 2010. CMS will have the MACs start processing new claims with dates of service of June 1, 2010 and later at the 2009 fee schedule plus a 2.2% increase.  The MACs will also have to reprocess the claims already paid for dates of service June 1, 2010 and later that were processed with 2010 fee schedule and that big fat cut.

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Note: On June 16, 2010 the Senate failed to pass a proposal that would increase the Medicare reimbursement for physicians by 2.2% for the balance of calendar year 2010 and by 1% for calendar year 2011.   Senate leadership is now working on a plan to extend the freeze until year-end.  The following statement was released by the state medical societies of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as 41 specialty physician organizations.

The western front of the United States Capitol...

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Statement of the State and Specialty Medical Societies on the Medicare Physician Payment Crisis

Failure by Congress to fulfill its responsibilities is undermining patient care in America.  Three times this year, Congress has missed a deadline for dealing with Medicare’s sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, raising the specter of a 21 percent payment cut for physician services.  The disruption and uncertainty for patients and physicians has made Medicare an unreliable program.

If Congress does not act this week, Medicare physician payments will be cut 21 percent.  These cuts will also extend to the TRICARE program which serves military families, as well as some Medicaid programs, workers compensation programs and private insurance plans.  The ripple effect of the 21 percent Medicare cut will be devastating to physician practices.

Congressional mismanagement of the Medicare program will force more physicians to stop accepting new Medicare and TRICARE patients; lay-off staff; and defer investment in new medical equipment, health information technology, and other innovations that improve patient care.

Patients and physicians should not become collateral damage in a Congressional stalemate on budgetary matters.  We expect our elected officials to resolve the budget issues without punishing physicians, seniors and military families.

Past actions by Congress created the current budgetary challenge.  Further, since 2003, Congress has compounded this problem by employing budget gimmicks that defer immediate cuts by stipulating deeper cuts in future years.

Democrats and Republicans agree that the flawed Medicare formula that is responsible for pending cuts should be repealed.  The annual SGR battle diverts attention from more productive delivery and payment reform initiatives.  We must move to a payment system that fosters innovation and rewards physician efforts to lower the rate of growth in Medicare spending across the existing silos in the program.

Medicare must adequately cover the cost of care and close an existing 20 percent gap as measured by the government’s own conservative measure of annual increases in medical practice costs.

We must also allow seniors who wish to contract directly for their care with a physician of their choice to do so without foregoing the Medicare benefits for which they paid during their working years.  Medicare benefits were earned by and belong to Medicare beneficiaries.  They must be allowed to assign these benefits as they see fit.

Playing brinksmanship with the health care of seniors and military families is inexcusable and represents a dereliction of duty.  We urge Congress to honor its obligation to provide access to quality care to America’s seniors and military families by taking action to fix the Medicare physician formula problem now!

American Academy of Dermatology
American Academy of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Hospice & Palliative Medicine
American Academy of Neurology
American Academy of Ophthalmology
American Academy of Pain Medicine
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
American Academy of Sleep Medicine
American Association for Hand Surgery
American Association of Clinical Endocrinologist
American Association of Clinical Urologist
American Association of Neurological Surgeons
American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine
American Association of Public Health Physicians
American College of Cardiology
American College of Emergency Physicians
America College of Gastroenterology
American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists
American College of Occupational & Environmental Medicine
American College of Rheumatology
American College of Surgeons
American Gastroenterological Association
American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine
American Medical Association
American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society
American Society for Clinical Pathology
American Society for Reproductive Medicine
American Society for Surgery of the Hand
American Society of Addiction Medicine
American Society of Cataract & Refractive Surgery
American Society of Cytopathology
American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
College of American Pathologists
Congress of Neurological Surgeons
Heart Rhythm Society
North American Spine Society
Renal Physicians Association
Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons
Society of Nuclear Medicine

Medical Association of the State of Alabama
Alaska State Medical Association
Arizona Medical Association
Arkansas Medical Society
California Medical Association
Colorado Medical Society
Connecticut State Medical Society
Medical Society of Delaware
Medical Society of the District of Columbia
Florida Medical Association, Inc.
Medical Association of Georgia
Hawaii Medical Association
Idaho Medical Association
Illinois State Medical Society
Indiana State Medical Association
Iowa Medical Society
Kansas Medical Society
Kentucky Medical Association
Louisiana State Medical Society
Maine Medical Association
MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society
Massachusetts Medical Society
Michigan State Medical Society
Minnesota Medical Association
Mississippi State Medical Association
Missouri State Medical Association
Montana Medical Association
Nebraska Medical Association
Nevada State Medical Association
New Hampshire Medical Society
Medical Society of New Jersey
New Mexico Medical Society
Medical Society of the State of New York
North Carolina Medical Society
North Dakota Medical Association
Ohio State Medical Association
Oklahoma State Medical Association
Oregon Medical Association
Pennsylvania Medical Society
Rhode Island Medical Society
South Carolina Medical Association
South Dakota State Medical Association
Tennessee Medical Association
Texas Medical Association
Utah Medical Association
Vermont  Medical Society
Medical Society of Virginia
Washington State Medical Association
West Virginia State Medical Association
Wisconsin Medical Society
Wyoming Medical Society

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CMS Delays Claim Payment Until June17th, Hoping for Congress Movement to Further Delay or Repeal (?) the SGR Formula

Still life - Crazy doctor

Image by de² via Flickr

UPDATE: On June 24, 2010 the House and Senate passed legislation to further delay the Medicare cuts until November 30, 2010. More here.

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Excerpt From Today’s CMS Announcement (with my bolding):

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is hopeful that Congressional action will be taken within the next several days to avert the negative update.

Given the possibility of Congressional action in the very near future, CMS is now directing its contractors to continue holding June 1 and later claims through Thursday, June 17, lifting the hold on Friday, June 18.

This action will facilitate accurate claims processing at the outset and minimize the need for claims reprocessing if Congressional action changes the negative update.  It also should minimize the provider and beneficiary burdens and costs associated with reprocessing claims.

We understand that the delayed processing of Medicare claims may present cash flow problems for some Medicare providers.  However, we expect that the delay, if any, beyond the normal processing period will be only a few days.  Be on the alert for more information regarding the 2010 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Update.

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Congress Expected to Further Delay SGR Cut to Medicare Physician Fee Schedule

UPDATE: On June 24, 2010 the House and Senate passed legislation to further delay the Medicare cuts until November 30, 2010. More here.

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Congress has yet to pass a bill delaying the June 1, 2010 21.2% reduction in physician reimbursement, but most believe it will happen and be effective retroactively.

CMS has said it is anticipating a further delay in Medicare fee schedule cuts, so they have “instructed contractors to hold claims containing services paid under the MPFS for the first 10 business days of June.”

More information on my post here.

Stay tuned!

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