FRAUDULENT TAX RETURN FILING – LEGAL ALERT

Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS) has recently been made aware of several instances of fraudulent tax return filings involving Michigan physicians. This has been discovered when legitimate tax returns are filed and a notice is received that the return has already been filed. The source of this identity theft (i.e. the social security numbers, addresses and other information necessary to file a tax return and obtain a refund) is unknown at this time. An internal investigation at MSMS has revealed no information indicating that this information was stolen from MSMS.

If you are a victim of this type of identity theft you should:
1) Contact the Internal Revenue Service Identity Protection Specialized Unit by calling (800) 908-4490.
2) Complete and file IRS Form 14039 – Identity Theft Affidavit with the required documentation.
3) Contact the Michigan Department of Treasury by calling (517) 636-4486, by email at Treasury-ReportIDTheft@michigan.gov or mail to: Identify Theft Unit, Income Tax Division, P.O. Box 30477, Lansing, MI 48909.
4) Consider reporting the identity theft to credit reporting agencies:
a) Equifax: 800-525-6285
b) Experian: 888-397-3742
c) TransUnion: 800-680-7289

Additional information regarding tax related identity theft can be found at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0008-tax-related-identity-theft.
MSMS will monitor this situation and make additional information available as it becomes available.

Jeffrey Kutcher, MD, Presentation Rescheduled for Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher’s presentation originally scheduled for March 12, and canceled due to weather, has been rescheduled for Tuesday, May 20th. Dr. Kutcher is a sports neurologist in the Department of Neurology at the University of Michigan. He is the Director of Michigan NeuroSport, the university’s academic sports neurology program, where he oversees clinical care, education, and research activities. This academic year, his NeuroSport program began training the first fellow in sports neurology in the United States.

Dr. Kutcher is a team physician for the University of Michigan and the USA Hockey National Team Developmental Program. He is also the Director of the National Basketball Association’s concussion program, Neurology Consultant to the US Ski and Snowboard Association, and has helped develop the concussion policies of the NCAA, as well as several college athletic programs and conferences. He co-led the effort to create the Sports Neurology section of the American Academy of Neurology and served as the section’s first chair.

Dr. Kutcher will speak on neurosport, head trauma and the connection between concussions and cognitive decline. The General Session will be held at the Ann Arbor City Club and is open to the general public. The evening will start at 6:00 p.m., and dinner will be served at 6:45 p.m. Dr. Kutcher will speak at 7:30 p.m. There is no charge for dinner for active WCMS members. There will be a $35 charge for retired members, non-members and guests wishing to attend the dinner. For reservations, please call the Society Office at 734-668-6241, or email the office as wcms@msms.org

April 26 is Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has scheduled the 8th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which will take place on Saturday, April 26, 2014, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This is a great opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by safely disposing of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

There are nearly 240 collection sites in the state of Ohio operated by the DEA and its state and local law enforcement partners. Visit the DEA’s website to find a collection location near you.

During the last National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in October, Americans turned in 324 tons of prescription drugs at more than 4,114 sites across the country. Through the past seven Take-Back events, the DEA and its partners took in more than 3.4 million pounds—over 1,700 tons—of pills.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

Ohio Mumps Outbreak Rises to 212 Cases, Largely Hits State University

(Reuters) – The number of cases of mumps in central Ohio in a rare outbreak has jumped to 212, from 116 early this month, mostly affecting students and others connected to The Ohio State University, public health officials said on Monday.

At least 132 cases of the contagious disease, which causes painful swelling of the salivary glands, have been linked to the university outbreak to date, Columbus Public Health said on Monday. The number of people hospitalized was not immediately known.

The outbreak had initially been limited to the university and those connected to it, but health officials said in late March it had spread to other parts of the Columbus, Ohio, area.

Mumps is considered rare in the United States. Franklin County, which includes Columbus, typically sees one reported mumps case a year.

The cases have been reported in Franklin and Delaware counties.

The number of mumps cases reported annually in the United States has plunged 98 percent since a vaccine was introduced in the 1960s, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, a multi-state outbreak in 2006 led to nearly 6,600 reported cases with more than 80 percent of the people saying they were attending college.

Washtenaw Healthy Michigan Plan

Enrollment for expanded Medicaid, the Healthy Michigan Plan, began April 1, 2014. Medicaid and the Healthy Michigan Plan will be open for enrollment all year. The Healthy Michigan Plan is open to Michigan adults, aged 19-64, whose income is below 138% of the poverty level and who are citizens, refugees, or legal permanent residents for more than five years. There is no asset test. The Healthy Michigan Plan has medical and prescription coverage. There is also a dental, vision and mental health benefit.

The Washtenaw Health Plan will be open Monday-Friday from 9-4 p.m. to help people enroll. In addition, people can get assistance with enrollment through the UMHS and SJMHS financial assistance programs; from the Department of Human Services; and from various safety net clinics, including the Corner, Packard Health, and the Regional Alliance for Healthy Schools. People can also enroll from their home computer, at http://www.michigan.gov/mibridges.

For more information go to: http://www.ewashtenaw.org/government/departments/public_health/whp/healthy-michigan-plan-medicaid

Senate Passes H.R. 4302, the “Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014″

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted Monday evening to delay scheduled cuts in physician payments under Medicare and move the switch to ICD-10 billing codes to October 2015.

The chamber passed a bill that delays by 12 months pending reimbursement cuts under Medicare’s sustainable growth rate (SGR) payment formula. Physicians were to face 24% cuts in Medicare payments starting Tuesday unless Congress acted.

The House passed the same legislation last week, despite strong opposition from organized medicine which has formed a unified front, clamoring for a permanent SGR repeal. The bill delaying the SGR’s cuts and ICD-10 implementation is expected to be signed into law by President Obama.

Congress had been working on a permanent SGR repeal but was unable to come up with a way to pay for the bill. Complicating the issue was the early retirement of Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who chaired the committee that oversaw Medicare.

A long list of physician groups — including the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, the American College of Surgeons, and the Alliance of Specialty Medicine — opposed the 12-month SGR patch, saying it would derail efforts to permanently kill the SGR.

The bill the Senate passed Monday does more than simply delay the SGR’s planned cuts, including:

Delays until Oct. 1, 2015, the switch to ICD-10
Provides a 0.5% Medicare pay bump over that 12-month period
Revalues certain physician payment codes
Creates a program designed to promote proper use of diagnostic tests and treatments and discourage their overuse
Authorizes a multistate pilot program designed to raise standards for mental health services and improve integration of care

The legislation also delays a requirement for hospitals to comply with the “two-midnight” rule for inpatient reimbursement, and pushes back recovery audits of allegedly unnecessary claims until March 2015.

House Passes 12-Month SGR ‘Doc Fix’ by Voice Vote

On Thursday morning, March 27, the House passed by voice vote a proposal (HR 4302) to delay for 12 months a scheduled 24% cut to Medicare physician reimbursements, The Hill’s “Floor Action” reports. The bill now heads to the Senate (Kasperowicz, “Floor Action,” The Hill, 3/27).

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday announced that he and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had agreed on the proposal (Demko, Modern Healthcare, 3/26).

Background

The current three-month “doc fix” expires on April 1. House and Senate lawmakers had been working to develop final legislation that would repeal and replace the sustainable growth rate formula, which sets Medicare physician payment rates. However, disagreements over cost offsets in separate Democratic and Republican-sponsored proposals threatened to prevent a final bill from being passed before Monday.

Two weeks ago, the House approved a GOP-led bill (HR 4015) with an amendment that would delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate for five years. However, the White House issued a veto threat, and Senate Democrats have said the amendment is a non-starter and will not be brought up for consideration. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats released their own SGR proposal (S 2110), but it is likely to become entangled in a debate over how to offset its 10-year, $180 billion cost (California Healthline, 3/24).

Details of SGR Patch

According to the AP/Washington Times, the compromise measure contains a slew of additional health care provisions and benefits for physicians, hospitals, drug makers and other providers.

For example, the proposal would:
•Grant Medicare physicians a 0.5% fee increase through the end of 2014;
•Provide higher Medicare payments to hospitals in rural areas and for ambulance services in such areas;
•Establish two new mental health grant programs, one of which would receive $60 million over four years to improve outpatient treatment for individuals with serious mental illnesses (Taylor, AP/Washington Times, 3/26);
•Delay the deadline to implement the new ICD-10 diagnostic and procedure code sets by one year, to Oct. 1, 2015 (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 3/26);
•Delay implementation of the new inpatient payment rule for hospitals, known as the two-midnight rule, by six months, to March 2015 (Demko, Modern Healthcare, 3/26); and
•Implement $2 billion in payment reductions over 10 years to skilled nursing providers (Adams, CQ HealthBeat, 3/26).

In addition, the compromise proposal would delay by an additional year — to fiscal year 2017 — the start of scheduled annual Medicaid reductions to hospitals that treat a disproportionate share of low-income patients, the Washington Post’s “Wonkblog” reports. The expiring three-month SGR patch had already delayed the start of the cuts to FY 2016, which would continue through FY 2023 (Millman, “Wonkblog,” Washington Post, 3/26).

According to Modern Healthcare, the Congressional Budget Office has not issued a full cost analysis of the plan, but it is projected to cost at least $20 billion for one year (Demko, Modern Healthcare, 3/26). However, AP/U-T San Diego reports that a preliminary analysis released Wednesday night shows that health spending would increase by $14 billion over the next two years and about $11 billion of the savings from the proposal would not be accrued until 2024 (Taylor, AP/U-T San Diego, 3/27).

While the bill does not outline any cost offsets over a 10-year period, it includes language exempting it from the usual “PAYGO” scorecard, The Hill’s “Floor Action” reports. The measure would reorganize scheduled Medicare sequester cuts for FY 2024 and 2025 so that they all take place in FY 2024 (Kasperowicz, “Floor Action,” The Hill, 3/26).

AMA Criticizes SGR Patch, Urges House To Reject Bill

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the American Medical Association — which has repeatedly called on Congress to approve a long-term, permanent solution to the SGR problem — issued a statement urging House lawmakers to reject the bicameral compromise SGR patch when it comes up for a vote, The Hill’s “Healthwatch” reports.

AMA President Ardis Dee Hoven said a temporary fix that delays payment cuts also “undermine[s] future passage of the permanent repeal framework” and “would perpetuate the program instability that now impede the development and adoption of health care delivery and payment innovation” (Viebeck, “Healthwatch,” The Hill, 3/26).

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