News & Announcements
Over the 2021-2022 holiday break, several notable COVID-19 updates were announced, of which family physicians should be aware. Read on for information about the CDC not changing the definition of what it means to be fully vaccinated, the expansion of COVID-19 booster recommendations to 12- through 17-year-olds, reissuance of the healthcare facility staff vaccination mandate in 25 states, including Michigan, and new isolation and quarantine guidance.
When the Michigan Legislature reconvenes on Jan. 12, several health-related bills will be carried over from last year to continue their potential movement through the legislative process. Tops on Michigan Academy of Family Physicians' advocacy radar is legislation that would impact the practice environment and the delivery of and access to care. Read on for a summary of the status of bills calling for reforming the prior authorization process, expanding scope of practice for non-physicians, and requiring that physicians complete additional state-mandated continuing education courses. The MAFP advocacy team has done a tremendous amount of work in 2021 to advance or oppose these bills, and will continue to do so in this new year. Stay tuned for information on these and other health-related bills introduced in the Michigan Legislature in 2022.
American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) is accepting, through Jan. 14, members’ written testimony (250-word maximum) on resolutions (member login required) currently before Congress of Delegates. Michigan Academy of Family Physicians put forth three resolutions passed by the membership at the 2021 Annual Meeting. The written testimony will be collated for each resolution and shared virtually with the respective Congress of Delegates reference committee. Virtual reference committee hearings will be held Jan 22-23, with reference committee reports available on Jan. 25. In-person meetings of the 2021 Congress of Delegates Regular Session, scheduled for Feb. 5-6 in Kansas City, Missouri, have been cancelled due to COVID-19.
As a result of the Protecting Medicare and American Farmers from Sequester Cuts Act signed into law by Pres. Biden on Dec. 10, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced new payment rates for the 2022 Medicare physician fee schedule. The Medicare conversion factor (i.e., the amount Medicare pays per relative value unit) is now $34.6062—less than in 2021 but more than what CMS planned to implement before passage of S. 610. The bill also postpones Medicare sequester cuts, thanks in large part to the advocacy of your Academy, and updates clinical labor pricing.
As the 2021 Congress of Delegates prepares to convene in February to take up the policy-making business of AAFP, members will have between Jan. 5 and Jan. 14 to submit written testimony on resolutions through the COD online community housed on the AAFP website. MAFP has put forth four resolutions for COD's consideration, as passed by the membership at the 2021 MAFP Annual Meeting in July. All chapter resolutions will be available for viewing in the COD online community after Dec. 31.
This week, MAFP asked members to contact their state representative to urge a “no” vote against legislation that calls for mandating all licensed medical professionals take continuing medical education courses on lead poisoning identification and treatment. MAFP has publicly opposed House Bill 5414 by submitting a card of opposition to the committee and a letter to the chair and committee members. While MAFP supports and encourages evidence-based blood lead screening that is age and risk appropriate, as recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force, the Academy opposes this additional CME mandate because physicians are already committed to providing quality care, which includes evidence-based, targeted blood lead screening of high-risk children as clinically recommended.
The Board of Directors of the Southeastern Michigan Academy of Family Physicians (SEMAFP) donated $5,000 to Family Medicine Foundation of Michigan (FMFM) in memory of Angelo Patsalis, MD, FAAFP, who was a major supporter and past president of both organizations. Dr. Patsalis tragically passed away in Apr. 2020 due to complications from COVID-19 early in the pandemic. The donation will be used to benefit SEMAFP physician and resident members, as well as student members attending medical school in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released its 2022 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule final rule on Nov. 2, which includes many positives for family physicians and patients that take effect Jan. 1, 2022, unless otherwise specified. Among the provisions are updates to telemedicine, vaccine administration, e-prescribing, and clinical labor pricing. On the negative side, the rule establishes a nearly 4% cut to fee-for-service Medicare payments. Members are urged to contact their members of Congress to stop this cut that endangers physician practices and ultimately patient access to care.
Legislation was recently introduced in the Michigan Senate that, if passed, would grant full autonomy to nurse practitioners in the state. Among the provisions of Senate Bill 680 are allowing NPs, without undergoing additional training or education, to care for patients absent of physician supervision or collaboration, and to prescribe opioids and other controlled substances. The MAFP advocacy team is meeting with the primary sponsor of the bill to advocate that NPs should be part of the care team, not independent from it, to ensure patient safety and continuity of care through preserving the patient-physician relationship.
On Oct. 26, a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) committee voted to recommend approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11 years. Data shows the vaccine is 90% effective in this age group. That same day, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive directive to state departments and agencies to expedite the ordering and distribution of the vaccine once it receives federal authorization. There are more than 800,000 5-11 year-old children in Michigan, and the state has already pre-ordered 287,700 doses of the vaccine.