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February 2016
News Archive

CMS again extends Meaningful Use exemption deadline Feb. 29, 2016 
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has once again extended the deadline to apply for an exemption from the electronic health records (EHR) Meaningful Use program. According to MedPage Today, the new deadline is July 1, 2016; previously, the initial cutoff was March 15 for eligible providers.
Pa. lawmakers work to close doctor background check loophole Feb. 26, 2016 
Pennsylvania lawmakers are working to close a loophole exempting doctors and medical professionals from criminal background checks. ABC27 News reports during the rewrite of child protection laws following the Jerry Sandusky abuse scandal, health care workers weren't specifically mentioned as needing the checks. 
This season's flu shot most effective in years: CDC Feb. 25, 2016 
While last flu season's vaccine was a dismal match for the dominant virus strain, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says this year's version is one of the most effective in years. NBC News reports people who received this season's flu shot are nearly 60 percent less likely to get the flu.
PAFP to insurance department: intervene in Highmark pay cuts Feb. 24, 2016 
On behalf of family physicians statewide, PAFP President Nicole Davis, MD has written a letter to Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller asking the insurance department to intervene. PAFP members can read the letter exclusively on PAFP Connect, now available as an iPhone and Android app. 
Reimbursements for telemedicine small, but increasing Feb. 23, 2016 
It's not quite mainstream yet, but telemedicine (remote care with the use of video technology and other digital services) is growing in popularity. According to Modern Healthcare, reimbursements for the practice are small but increasing. Many large national health carriers cover urban and suburban virtual visits. 
Highmark to cut doc payments for ACA plans Feb. 22, 2016 
Mega-insurer Highmark is planning to reduce what it pays physicians for treating patients with Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans, reports TribLive. Highmark estimates it lost $500 million last year from plans purchased on the ACA marketplace. Beginning April 1, doctors' payments will be cut by 4.5 percent.
PAFP announces 2016 Family Physician of the Year Feb. 19, 2016 
The Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians is excited to announce that Chris Echterling, MD of Red Lion has been named its 2016 Family Physician of the Year! Dr. Echterling is the medical director of WellSpan Bridges to Health. He will be honored at an awards ceremony in Pittsburgh on Friday, March 11. 
Health insurance premiums to skyrocket this decade: CBO Feb. 18, 2016 
By 2025, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts health insurance premiums will skyrocket by 60 percent, according to Lancaster Online. That means singles would pay $10,000, and families would pay $24,500. At that rate, the rising cost of premiums outstrips income gains by about 2 percent per year. 
PAFP recruiting practices for asthma project Feb. 17, 2016 
The PAFP is recruiting practices in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties for an asthma control project. Participating practices will receive a free webcast and workshop, technical assistance, a $1,000 data stipend, and more. Contact Director of Education Lindsey Killian for details. 
SCOTUS health cases in limbo after Justice Scalia's death Feb. 16, 2016 
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away unexpectedly on Feb. 12, leaving the status of several health-related cases uncertain. Modern Healthcare reports cases on topics like abortion and the health law; it's possible that the Supreme Court could wait to hear those cases until a new justice sits on the court. 
Most weight loss programs don't follow medical guidelines Feb. 12, 2016 
It's tough to lose weight - and part of the reason may be that the vast majority of weight loss programs don't follow medical guidelines. Medical Daily reports a whopping 91 percent of programs designed to help patients lose weight don't follow evidence-based advice; some even recommend dangerous supplements. 
Harrisburg mayor mulls weakening of marijuana laws Feb. 11, 2016 
As efforts to legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania are still being discussed on the state level, Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse plans to propose weakening the city's marijuana laws, reports WITF. The mayor's proposal would turn possession of the drug from a misdemeanor to a summary offense.
Early bird registration for Pittsburgh CME ends today Feb. 10, 2016 
Today is the final day to receive the early bird rate of $30 off the registration fee for the combined PAFP CME Conference and UPMC 43rd Refresher Course in Family Medicine. Please register today for the event, coming to the Marriott City Center in Pittsburgh March 10-13, 2016!  Click here for the full agenda. 
President seeks $1.8 billion to combat Zika virus Feb. 9, 2016 
President Obama is seeking $1.8 billion to combat the Zika virus, reports The Hill. While U.S. health officials reiterate they don't expect a large outbreak stateside, they say it's important to take steps now before the warmer seasons. Most of the funding would go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 
Pa. doctors: switch to ICD-10 going well Feb. 8, 2016 
The long awaited switch the the ICD-10 coding system went into effect last autumn, and local doctors and insurers say the transition has gone without major problems, according to Lancaster Online. While coding and billing are going a bit more slowly, health care workers across the board say they were well prepared. 
Millions of Americans incorrectly labeled overweight, obese? Feb. 5, 2016 
The obesity epidemic in the United States has been well-documented, but new research casts doubt on whether using body mass index (BMI) to determine obesity is accurate. The Los Angeles Times reports a UCLA study finds 54 million Americans labeled as obese or overweight by BMI are actually healthy. 
World Cancer Day: Many patients don't know risk factors Feb. 4, 2016 
Americans don't know what causes cancer, reports U.S. News & World Report. While alcohol, obesity, and lack of exercise have been shown to increase the risk of cancer, few patients realize this. Today, on World Cancer Day, recommit yourself to discussing these and other risk factors with patients during well visits. 
Resolution available for member review, comment Feb. 3, 2016 
A resolution titled Expanding Capabilities, AAFP My CME Transcript Website is available for members to review on the Members Only section of this website. You will need your AAFP ID to log in to this section. Members may comment on this resolution through March 13; please send comments to 
Heroin OD reversal drug coming to Pa. schools for free Feb. 2, 2016 
Heroin overdose reversal drug naloxone will be provided for free to Pennsylvania public schools. According to FOX43, the Wolf administration has partnered with Adapt Pharma to provide a free case of Narcan brand nasal spray to each public school in the state. Pennsylvania is the first state to implement such a program. 
PAFP's 2016 advocacy efforts focus on member concerns Feb. 1, 2016 
In 2015, PAFP members completed a survey on a variety of topics including education, government affairs, and practice settings. The PAFP's Government Affairs team is focusing on the issues you care about the most in 2016, including concerns over prior authorizationsscope of practice, and credentialing.
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