AAOS Celebrates Passage of the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act

The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) celebrated the Senate passage of the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act on October 3 as part of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R.302). The legislation, which AAOS has advocated for since 2015, provides legal protection for traveling team physicians and safeguards injured athletes’ timely access to healthcare professionals who best know their medical history. The bill now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

“For too long, team physicians have had to choose between treating patients at great professional risk or handing over care,” said David A. Halsey, MD,AAOS president. “The licensure clarity act now ensures their protection, and we thank Congress for supporting this critical legislation. Its passage represents years of hard work trying to get it across the finish line and it is a significant win—not only for practicing sports medicine professionals, but also for the large percentage of orthopaedists involved in the treatment and care of sports-related injuries.”

AAOS advocacy efforts began in 2015 when, in consultation with sports medicine groups like the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), we called on Congress to address this all too common scenario. In an op-ed for The Hill’s Congress Blog, we described the proposed legislation as a “common sense solution,” noting that it did not bypass state licensing rules and regulations or allow a medical professional to practice on the general population. The legislation simply clarifies that health care services provided in a secondary state will be covered by the professional’s medical liability insurance and deemed to have been provided in the professional’s primary state of licensure.

“Our patients deserve the same high-quality care we can provide at home as they do when traveling across state lines,” said Wilford K. Gibson, MD,AAOS Council on Advocacy chair. “This was a long-fought effort, but well worth it. Passage of the bill means we can continue providing care to hundreds of thousands of athletes, now in a seamless, effective way.”
The Senate bill (S.808) was introduced in April 2017 by Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). The House version (H.R.302) passed in January 2017 and was introduced by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Cedric Richmond (D-LA).

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California Enacts First-In-Nation Law Requiring Doctors To Tell Patients When They Are On Probation

Doctors in California will have to be honest with their patients if they are on probation for sexual assault or other egregious patient harm under legislation, SB 1448 by Senator Jerry Hill, that was signed by the Governor yesterday.

The first-in-the-nation law requires doctors to disclose before a patient’s appointment if they are on probation ordered by the Medical Board of California for causing patient harm in four categories: sexual misconduct with a patient, drug or alcohol use, overprescribing prescription drugs or criminal convictions.

“This law is a tremendous first step toward the transparency that patients desperately need to make safe decisions about their healthcare. Doctors who harm patients have for too long been allowed to continue practicing with their disciplinary history hidden in the shadows. This law will finally require the minority of doctors who commit egregious misconduct to be honest with their patients,” said Carmen Balber, executive director of Consumer Watchdog.

According to the California Research Bureau, doctors who have been disciplined in the past have a 30-percent chance of reoffending.

“If we learned anything from the Me Too movement it’s that hiding misconduct perpetuates harm. Now, patients will be informed before they choose a doctor disciplined for overprescribing opioids to treat their substance abuse issues, or send their daughter to a doctor on probation for sex offenses. We have a right to know,” said Balber.

Consumer Watchdog said the new law will not inform patients when their doctor is disciplined for negligence that kills a patient, a reform the legislature must revisit next year.

The bill takes effect on July 1, 2019. In addition to doctors, the new law also applies to healthcare providers licensed by the Osteopathic Medical Board of California, California Board of Podiatric Medicine, the Naturopathic Medicine Committee, the State Board of Chiropractic Examiners and the Acupuncture Board.

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NORCAL Group Foundation Opens Fall Grant Cycle Applications Now Being Accepted

The NORCAL Group Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides funding and support for healthcare initiatives focused on patient care, patient safety and physician wellness, is now accepting grant applications for qualifying programs through Oct. 15.

Since its inception in 2017, the Foundation has provided grants and support for 13 worthy organizations and programs focused on the betterment of healthcare in their communities.

More information on eligibility and the application process can be found at norcalgroupfoundation.org. Applications are being accepted between Sept. 1 and Oct. 15 for this cycle.

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Medical Malpractice Minute — September 2018

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Surgeon General to Address The Doctors Company’s National Summit of Healthcare Leaders Today

The United States Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Jerome M. Adams, MD, MPH, will address nearly 100 of the nation’s top healthcare leaders today, as the keynote speaker of The Doctors Company’s annual Executive Advisory Board meeting.

Adams will focus on the need for government/business partnerships to achieve better healthcare, steps the government is taking to address the opioid epidemic and the connection between community health and economic prosperity.

He will speak to representatives of industry-leading organizations brought together annually by The Doctors Company to discuss some of the most important issues affecting the practice of medicine today. Adams will also take questions from the audience.

Adams will join Richard E. Anderson, MD, FACP, chairman and CEO of The Doctors Company, in a live discussion via video conference. The Doctors Company will post live highlights on Twitter @doctorscompany.

“We are pleased that Dr. Adams is participating in our summit of healthcare thought leaders,” Anderson said. “His focus on improving healthcare through nontraditional partnerships, leading with science and promoting local community health solutions goes hand in hand with our mission to advance the practice of good medicine.”

In addition to the Surgeon General, speakers also include:

  • Anderson, who will discuss building an enduring national platform for advocacy on behalf of the medical profession. Prior to leading The Doctors Company, he was a clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, and was chairman of the Department of Medicine at Scripps Memorial Hospital, where he served as senior oncologist for 18 years.
  • Donald H. Crane, president and CEO of America’s Physician Groups (APG), who will speak on “Accelerating the Movement to Value.” APG is a professional association representing medical groups and independent practice associations practicing coordinated care.
  • Daniel Cassavar, MD, MBA, FACC, president and chief medical officer, ProMedica Physicians, whose topic is “How to Train New-Hire Physicians on Practice Culture.” In his role, Cassavar provides executive oversight for more than 975 employed physicians and advanced practice providers.
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Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers Renews Exclusive Agreement with MagnaCare

Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers (“PRI”), an admitted medical malpractice insurer in New York State, announced the renewal of a cooperative agreement, first established in 1998, with MagnaCare, a full-service health plan administrator based in New York. Under the agreement, full-time physicians associated with MagnaCare will receive a 7 percent discount off their malpractice premiums.

MagnaCare offers a range of services and access to a proprietary provider network of nearly 130,000 individually contracted physicians, hospitals and healthcare providers.

“MagnaCare is known in New York State for being a trusted resource to patients and medical professionals alike,” said Bruce Shulan, CEO of PRIMMA, PRI’s wholly owned Attorney-in-Fact. “Their valuable partnership enables MagnaCare member physicians and medical facilities to offer more options to their patients. We have partnered with them for 20 years, and look forward to many more.”

In addition to the 7 percent discount, qualified medical professionals could be eligible for other discounts as well, including:

  • 10-Year Claims Free Discount: 12 percent
  • 5-Year Claims Free Discount: 7.5 percent
  • Risk Management Discount: 5 percent
  • No Consent Discount: 5 percent
  • Annual Pre-Pay Discount: 2 percent

MagnaCare-associated physicians who meet all of the above qualifications could receive discounts up to 31 percent on their premiums.

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Call on Your Senator to Protect Good Samaritan Language in Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act

Editor’s note: the following call to action is from Protect Patient’s Now, a national advocacy coalition working to enact medical liability reform at the federal level.

Protect Patients Now needs your help in support of an important, bi-partisan medical liability reform bill making its way through Congress.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is set to move forward on the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act, in which House members have included key language from the Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act to ensure patients have access to vital, on-site medical services in the wake of a natural or man-made disaster.

Looking back to the recent western wildfires, Gulf Coast and Puerto Rico hurricanes, flooding and tornadoes, we recall vivid memories of medical professionals rushing to the scene to provide immediate care to victims. Unfortunately, due to inconsistencies in federal and state laws, some of these volunteer health care professionals risk being turned away or limited in the scope of their assistance because of the threat of medical liability lawsuits.

Including the Good Samaritan bill language in this wider public health legislation would help protect medical volunteers from lawsuits during a large-scale disaster, and ensure that vital health care services are available to disaster victims.

But we need your help to urge Senators to keep this language in the final version of the bill and sign on as a cosponsor.

Constituents from Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming are represented by Senators on the HELP committee and can click here to contact them today with this urgent request.

Patients and physicians from outside these states can also show grassroots support for the bill by clicking here to contact their Senator and asking him or her to sign on as a cosponsor.

It is critical that the entire Protect Patients Now grassroots network takes action to urge Senators to preserve access to medical care during a federally-declared disaster and protect our critical health care providers from medical lawsuit abuse.

Thank you for your continued support of medical liability reform!

 

Are you represented by a Senator on the HELP Committee?
Click here to urge your Senator to support common-sense Good Samaritan legislation

  

All other constituents:
Click here to ask your Senator to cosponsor common-sense Good Samaritan legislation

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A.M. Best Upgrades Issuer Credit Ratings of Members of MAG Mutual Group

A.M. Best has upgraded the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating to “a+” from “a” and affirmed the Financial Strength Rating of A (Excellent) of MAG Mutual Insurance Company (Atlanta, Ga.) and Professional Security Insurance Company (Scottsdale, Ariz.), collectively known as MAG Mutual Group. The outlook of these Credit Ratings (ratings) is stable.

The ratings reflect the MAG Mutual Group’s balance sheet strength, which A.M. Best categorizes as strongest, as well as its adequate operating performance, neutral business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management (ERM).

The balance sheet strength is supported by strongest risk-adjusted capitalization, as measured by Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (BCAR), historically favorable loss reserve development, modest financial leverage and history of organic surplus growth. In addition, liquidity is adequate and supported by an invested asset base that predominantly consists of high-quality fixed-income securities.

A.M. Best considers MAG Mutual Group’s operating performance to be adequate when measured on a pre-dividend combined ratio and operating ratio basis. However, significant challenges exist due to changes in U.S. health care and its effects on this organization’s mix of business and earnings prospects. Despite the challenges, the group produced pre-tax operating profits in each of the past five years, as investment income supported policyholder dividends.

The business profile assessment reflects the group’s standing as a regional medical professional liability (MPL) insurance provider operating primarily in the Southeastern United States. Although the group remains heavily concentrated in the MPL sector, management’s diversification efforts in recent years have allowed the group to take advantage of new business opportunities in an otherwise challenging business environment. Nevertheless, the concentration of risk in MPL insurance exposes the group to changes in the U.S. health care system, judicial climate, regulatory environment and state tort reform laws. With regard to its ERM, the group has a framework to identify and manage various different types of risks, a process A.M. Best views as appropriate for its risk profile.

Further positive rating action could result if the group’s underwriting results were to improve relative to peers while maintaining a balance sheet strength assessment at the strongest level as the group manages through the current challenging market cycle. Negative rating action could result if material adverse development were to emerge that negatively impacts underwriting profitability and leads to deteriorating operating performance.

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Medical Malpractice Minute – August 2018

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Specialized Insurance Available for Fertility Medicine Practitioners through The Doctors Company

Qualified reproductive endocrinologists and infertility specialists (REIs) and their in vitro fertilization (IVF) labs who are members of The Doctors Company are eligible for the REI Protect Program, a highly specialized risk management program founded by Steven L. Katz, MD, a specialist in this field for more than 20 years.

REIs face unique medical malpractice risks because they are focused on the very specialized practice of IVF. To assist in managing these risks, The Doctors Company is partnering with REI Protect to provide the following services to qualified physicians and their labs:

  • Direct access to the program for immediate consultation, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—at no additional cost.
  • Ongoing access to specific REI risk management webinars and state-of-the-art topic discussions.
  • Comprehensive medical malpractice insurance coverage for the individual physicians, entity, and IVF lab employees, directors, and embryologists. Coverage for advanced practice providers and ancillaries is also available.
  • Specialized underwriting and pricing with appropriate specialty classification.

“We created the program to meet the risk management needs of the rapidly developing field of infertility medicine,” Katz said. “IVF labs face unique risks with respect to fertilization, embryo culture, and the storage of cryopreserved sperm, eggs, and embryos. This partnership brings together intimate and expert knowledge of the REI field and IVF lab with The Doctors Company’s 40-plus years of expertise in claims prevention and claims management.”

“This program strongly aligns with our mission to advance the practice of good medicine,” said Laura Kline, senior vice president, business development, The Doctors Company. “By offering these services, we help physicians reduce the risk of laboratory and medical errors. Our eligible members will receive risk management services that originate with incident prevention but extend through incident assessment and problem resolution.”

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