RCMA donates over $10,000 to the community!

The board of RCMA met at McAlister’s Deli on May 7, 2012 to determine the yearly philanthropy.  The combination of Rockingham County Medical Society and Rockingham County Alliance has provided a solid financial base for RCMA.  Several successful fundraisers also netted funds to be disbursed to the community.  RCMA has received $5708.78 in fundraising income – Holiday Market (net) $1070.64, Holiday Wreath Sales (net) $411.57, Holiday Condo Raffle $775.00, Health Promotion Grant $500, and additional donations of $2951.57.

The distributions will be made as follows:

$2206 – “I Can Handle Bullies” and “Hands Are Not For Hitting”

Booklets for all city and county first and fourth grades

$400 –    AMA Foundation Grassroots Honor Fund

$1000   Big Brothers/Big Sisters (one year sponsorship for a child)

$600   Harrisonburg/Rockingham  Free Clinic (care for one patient for a year)

$1200   Mercy House (cost of renovation of one room)

$720     Blue Ridge Area Food Bank (food for a family for 2 mos)

$600     First Step (shelter for a family for two months)

$480     Harrisonburg Pregnancy Center (supplies for newborns)

$2815   RealCare babies for Harrisonburg City Schools

And we have an additional $1411.82 that is being held in order to purchase supplies for the RealCare simulators.    We will be donating over $11,000 to our community.

This May, RCMA will be sponsoring a discussion on Elder Law and health care.  Dr. Robert Rude, MD, JD will present “A Tour through Elder Law” on May 24, 2012 at 7pm in Meeting Room C2-C3 at Rockingham Memorial Hospital.  RCMA is making additional arrangements to have Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Bill Hazel speak in June on the changes the new Patient Care and Affordable  Care Act will make to health care in the Valley and Virginia.

Congratulations RCMA!

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RCMA wins Health Promotion Grant

Beth Nelsen and a student caring for a baby for the weekend.

The Medical Society of Virginia Alliance Health Promotion Committee awarded its first Health Promotion grant to Rockingham County Medical Association this April 2012. The grant of $500 will be used for The RealCare Baby Infant Simulation Program.

RCMA members Kathy Lareau, Beth Nelsen, with assistance from volunteer Administrative Assistant Elly Swecker, organized the effort to purchase 5 RealCare Infant simulations for the Harrisonburg City School System.  The RCMA board believed that prevention taught at the middle school level provides an important opportunity to reduce the area pregnancy rate. Pregnancy rates among 15 -17 year-olds in Harrisonburg and Rockingham county are double the state’s average. One in five area youth have had sex before the age of 15.

RCMA teamed with the Harrisonburg middle schools  to expand student access to the RealCare Baby program by providing 5 additional babies to be used in the school Family and Consumer Science class. Following this donation, the Harrisonburg City school system had a complete classroom of 23 dolls. RCMA plans to provide additional supplies with the funds that have been raised.

A December condo raffle raised $775 towards the goal, and individual members contributed an additional $1625. The grant will help purchase car seats for the dolls.

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The SGR is in the news again.

The Sustainable Growth Rate or SGR is in the news again as Congress debates reimbursement rates for physicians seeing Medicare patients. These fees will decrease by 27% next month unless Congress reaches an agreement.  Discussions on preventing this decrease in reimbursement are pitting hospitals vs. doctors.

Lawmakers in both parties say they want to give doctors a small increase according to a recent article in the New York Times, but they could not agree in how to cover the costs.  To help offset the cost of paying doctors, House Republicans want to reduce certain Medicare payments to hospitals.  Democrats and Republican Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona want to cover the cost with money saved by winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 Additionally, a federal advisory panel, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, has voted to recommend cutting Medicare payments to hospitals for some of the most common outpatient services. The panel says that the government should pay the same rate for “evaluation and management” services regardless of whether they are performed in doctors’ offices or hospital outpatient departments.  Reimbursement rates for hospital clinics are higher – for example, $124 for an office visit involving a medium level of services to an established patient compared to $69 for the same visit in a physician’s office.

 Hospitals say the higher payments are justified because they treat sicker patients and have higher overhead costs.  The president of the Greater New York Hospital Association said that if the cuts took effect, hospitals would curtail services and close some clinics. Physicians also report that a 27% decrease in reimbursement would limit the number of Medicare patients that they could see.

 The American Medical Association is continuing with its efforts to persuade Congress to scrap the SGR formula used to calculate physician reimbursement. They are encouraging Lawmakers to develop a new formula for calculating reimbursement rates. Cuts to Medicare reimbursements have been slated and postponed at least a dozen times since 2002 when small cuts in reimbursements were enacted.  

 Much of this information was taken from a February 7, 2012 article published in the New York Times. 

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Thank you! Thank you!

Mergers can be rough, but with the combined effort of two committed boards the Rockingham County Medical Society and the Rockingham County Medical Alliance are now one: the Rockingham County Medical Association.

The governing documents and new budget have been finalized.  I would like to thank our board members for their hard work.  Especially, while we were creating a new organization we were able to still hold a successful Holiday Market, which netted $1200 for local charities and several baskets of non-perishable food items for our local food pantry.  Thank you Donna Reilly, Beverly McGowan, and all our member volunteers for pulling off another successful event.  Additionally, I would like to thank Beth Nelsen for chairing and ordering our Holiday Wreaths.  We needed another $411 for local charities.

Thank you Kathy Lareau, Dawn Kern, and Debra York for hosting a boogieing Holiday Dinner.  I think some members closed down the country club dancing until 11:30 that night. And thank you to the members who bought raffle tickets for the condo graciously provided by Chuck and Dawn Kern.  We were able to raise $750 toward the purchase of 5 Baby Think It Over dolls for our school systems.

As we start a new year, we have lots of exciting events planned for our new organization.  Our health promotion chair Debra York will be purchasing and providing 1600 “Hands Are Not For Hitting” booklets and “You Don’t Have To Be Bullied” booklets for students at Harrisonburg and Rockingham County schools.  We are planning our annual Girl’s Night Out and have added a Guy’s Night, and we will continue with our very successful International Pot Luck Dinner and Chili, Beer, and Bonfire.

I would like to thank our administrative volunteer Elly Swecker for her expertise and assistance through this merger.

Thank you to all our members for your patience and support.

Gail Arthur, Chair

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RCMA Holiday Market

RCMA is proud to be sponsoring its

Twelfth Annual Holiday Market

Thursday, November 17, 2011

9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Spotswood County Club

Twenty-five vendors will be featured and selling their unique crafts.  Lunch will be available for purchase.  Proceeds will benefit the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, Mercy House, First Step, and other area charities.

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What is the SGR?

The Sustainable Growth Rate or SGR is a formula adopted by Congress in 1998 to determine payment to physicians for services provided to Supplemental Medical Insurance (Part B of Medicare) patients. The SGR was established to manage spending on physician services.  Part B of Medicare also pays for outpatient hospital services, durable medical equipment, physical therapy, and other outpatient services, but payments for these services are adjusted each year for inflation.

The SGR is designed to control spending on medical services by setting an annual target for spending on physician services including laboratory testing, imaging services, and physician-administered drugs. This target is measured on an annual and cumulative basis.  If spending is less than the target amount, payments to physicians for services will be increased. If spending is more than the target amount, payments will be decreased.

Since 2002, spending on physician services have been above the targets set by the law. At the end of 2005, spending was approximately 30 billion dollars over the target level. Fees paid to physicians should have been cut by 25 -35% but lobbying postponed these cuts.

How is the Sustainable Growth Rate determined?

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the SGR uses spending that occurred from April 1, 1996 and March 31, 1997 as the base for future spending counted toward the target. The amount paid for services in that time period was $48.9 billion dollars. This amount is multiplied by a complicated growth rate formula which includes:

  • adjustments for inflation
  • Medicare enrollment
  • a 2.2% estimation of the 10 year annual change in gross domestic product (GDP) per capita
  • and a measure of how changes in law will effect spending for services.

Payments determined by the SGR have been lower than the Medicare  Economic Index (MEI), which measures changes in the cost of physician time and operating expenses since 2002. Congress reduced payments to physicians by 4.8% in 2002. Since then, Congress has frozen or deferred the reduction in payments to physicians due to concerns that physicians will not see Medicare beneficiaries.

SGR from the New England Journal of Medicine

What does SGR mean to me?

Without Congressional intervention by the end of 2011,  physicians are projected to have a 29.5% reduction in Medicare reimbursements on January 1, 2012. Since 2002 physicians and Congress have grappled time and again with the scheduled cuts to reimbursements. The scheduled cuts have consistently been postponed.  The Congressional Budget Office acknowledges in their 2006 brief, that physicians have compensated for falling reimbursement rates by increasing the number of patients whom they see.   As reimbursement rates fall and practice expenses rise, the ability of physicians to see Medicare patients becomes compromised.   Both the American Medical Association and the Medical Society of Virginia are organizing efforts to repeal the SGR.

5 Things You Should Know About Medicare Reimbursement History

  1. When Medicare was created in 1965, Medicare compensated physicians based on their charges. Additionally, physicians could bill patients for the full amount above what Medicare paid for the service.
  2. In 1975, reimbursement was still linked to physician fees but they could not increase annually more than the Medical Economic Index (MEI).
  3. Frustrated by rising costs, the yearly changes in fees were set by policy makers between 1984 and 1991.
  4. In 1992, the payment system based on physician charges was replaced by a fee schedule.  The purpose of this fee schedule was to redistribute spending among various physician specialties.
  5. In 1998, the SGR was created. Between 1998 and 2005, spending per beneficiary under this schedule grew by 65%.

Much of the information used to compile this was summarized from the Congressional Budget Office Economic Budget and Issue Brief 9/6/06.

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Welcome to RCMA

Welcome to the new website for the Rockingham County Medical Association.

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