July 14, 2017

Dear colleague:

Your board of directors met today and took action on the following topics for your review and insights. I welcome your comments. 

1. Congressional plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act: Federal health care reform legislation has moved from the U.S. House to the Senate and any version that passes will have a profound impact on Colorado physicians and patients. The board of directors voted overwhelming to oppose the Better Care Reconciliation Act as presently written (7/14/2017). This decision was based on a comparison of the Senate proposal to CMS policy and an in-depth presentation on CMS-member health care reform surveys, including the most recent survey conducted in late June.

CMS is strongly opposed to legislation that does not ensure that patients will have access to affordable, meaningful health insurance. CMS believes that any new reform proposal should not cause individuals currently covered to become uninsured, it should stabilize and strengthen the individual insurance market, it should ensure that low/moderate income patients are able to secure affordable and meaningful coverage, and it should provide adequate funding for safety net programs like Medicaid. We are committed to work in partnership with our congressional delegation to achieve health reform that is meaningful to the people of Colorado.

Click here to read the full summary of the survey of CMS members on federal health care reform used by the board to help make its decision.

2. Preliminary goal setting on critical 2018 issues: There are six major categories of issues that are emerging in 2018 that will impact CMS members and where members will likely expect representation. The board reviewed these issues in detail and I conducted a “pulse check” exercise to get a sense of how the board prioritizes these issues at this point. Because the board will finalize strategies on these issues in September, you can review our preliminary outcomes and provide me with input by replying to this email. The issues include:

  • Payer issues: We will continue to address member concerns with payers. Hot topics include driving more policy solutions on health plan administrative hassles and lack of transparency, aligning value-based payment programs across plans and exploring ways to decrease health care costs. Click here to read a summary of the key payer issues considered by the board.

  • Sunset review: Among the six agencies and bodies of law under 2018-2019 sunset review, the board voted on a preliminary basis to designate sunset review of the Colorado Medical Board, professional review and controlled substances as top priorities. Click here to read about 2018-2019 sunset reviews of the six agencies and bodies of law that will impact physicians. 

  • Opioid interim study: The 2017 Colorado General Assembly appointed a special interim joint House-Senate body to study prevention, intervention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery support strategies for opioid and other substance use disorders in Colorado. The study is tasked with developing six bills for consideration in the 2018 General Assembly. CMS is an active participant in the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention. Please let me know if you have an interest in serving on the CMS Committee on Prescription Drug Abuse. Click here to learn about the interim study and to learn who will be serving on the study group.

    Don Stader, MD, approved to serve as the CMS appointee on a legislatively created task force to advise the Opioid Interim Study Committee: The board enthusiastically appointed Dr. Stader, a subject matter expert on the opioid crisis, as the CMS representative to the task force advising the interim study. Dr. Stader is well regarded among his Emergency Medicine colleagues and has the support of his practice to fill this important role for CMS. You can reply to this email to give Dr. Stader input and I’ll be pleased to promptly pass it along to him.

  • MACRA and Medicaid reform: There are seismic shifts underway in both programs that will significantly impact how physicians deliver care. MACRA is the federal law currently being implemented that is changing how we are paid when we take care of Medicare patients. The 2017 General Assembly enacted legislation that will make alternate forms of payment a reality in Colorado Medicaid.

  • Scope of practice: There are a number of scope of practice bills expected in the 2018 General Assembly that will be unsafe for patients if enacted, and scope of practice remains an important issue for many CMS members.

A final decision on the one-year operational plan will be made and reported on in September. If you have any recommendations on these emerging issues, once again please contact me.

3. Central Line policy proposals: The board considered two Central Line proposals for action, one on opioid prescribing and treatment guidelines for emergency departments and one on interventional pain management. If you cast one of the 436 votes on these policy proposals, thank you. The board carefully considered that input when it took action on the proposals during the meeting. In keeping with the purpose of Central Line to enable you to help set Colorado Medical Society policy, you will soon get an email notification from your board member via Central Line about action taken on these proposals. About 30 seconds (and no login required) is all it will take for you to respond and tell us if the board “got it right” on each proposal. Please vote, and if you have not yet designated your Central Line “Interest Area(s),” then click here to sign up and join the conversation on issues important to you.

4. WestPac Physician Advisory Committee:  WestPac is a Western Slope Physician Advisory Committee (PAC) created at our request during the recent acquisition of Rocky Mountain Health Plans (RMHP) by UnitedHealth Group. The purpose of WestPac is to provide a forum for enhancing and ensuring the continued collaboration among RMHP, Western Slope physicians, and those persons involved in organized medicine and the delivery of health care services in Western Colorado. The first meeting of the group was primarily focused on Rocky Mountain’s application to be part of the next phase of the Medicaid Accountable Care Collaborative. This report was accepted for information.

With best regards,

Katie Lozano, MD, FACR, President 
Colorado Medical Society