In the News
Vaccines.gov Website Is Now Live
May 10, 2021 – CMS would like to make you aware that the federally supported website that makes it easier for individuals to access COVID-19 vaccines is now live. Vaccines.gov – powered by the trusted VaccineFinder brand – is available in English and Spanish, with high accessibility standard, and will help connect Americans with locations offering vaccines near them. In addition to the website, people in the U.S. are also now able to utilize a text message service, available in both English and Spanish. People can text their ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX) and 822862 (VACUNA) to find three locations nearby that have vaccines available.
Vaccines.gov is meant to complement the number of state and pharmacy websites that have been successfully connecting many Americans with vaccinations, by providing a unified federal resource for Americans to use no matter where they are.
In addition to the website and text messaging service, the National COVID-19 Vaccination Assistance Hotline is now available to help those who prefer to get information by phone on where to get a vaccine. Call 1-800-232-0233 to find a location near you.
CareFirst Downstream Legislation Takes a Pause
By Ariel J. Warden-Jarrett, MD, FAAFP
April 29, 2021 – CareFirst introduced controversial state legislation during the 2021 session that would have given them the authority to enter into “downstream risk arrangements” with health care providers. This can be viewed as a raw attempt to shift the risk from the insurer to the provider of medical services. This legislation was met with strong resistance from physicians, and the bill was subsequently withdrawn before a formal hearing. However, the CareFirst Legislative Task Force was formed to work on the verbiage within the proposed legislation with a goal to have recommendations completed by August 31, 2021. The task force is sponsored by MedChi and has primary care and specialty representation.
Important Information Regarding Medicaid Fee-for-Service Opioid Naive Participants
April 20, 2021 – In order to comply with federal regulations (Ref. # CMS-2482-F, 12/31/2020), effective March 1, 2021, Opioid Naive Patients, identified as those who have not received an opioid, either short or long acting, within the last 90 days, will be limited to seven (7) day supply on the initial fill for both short acting and long acting opioids.
The Office of Pharmacy Services (OPS) will implement a “soothing period” from April 1, 2021 through May 31, 2021. During the “soothing period,” opioid claims for Opioid Naive Patients that exceed the day supply limits referenced above, will continue to pay and pharmacy providers will receive the following message: “Effective June 1 st Opioid naive, defined as no paid opiate claim in last 90 days, will be limited to a 7 day supply initial prescription for Medicaid participants”. At the end of the soothing period, opioid claims for Opioid Naive Patients that exceed the day supply limits referenced above, will be denied at the Point of Sale and require a prior authorization by the prescriber.
These day supply limits would not apply to Medicaid participants who are currently receiving an opioid, as well as any participant who has a diagnosis of Hospice Care, Palliative Care, Cancer or Sickle Cell Disease.
If you have questions regarding this letter, please contact 1-800-492-5231, option # 3.
In an effort to give timely notice to the pharmacy community concerning important pharmacy topics, the Maryland Department of Health (MDH)
Office of Pharmacy Services (OPS) has developed the Maryland Medicaid Pharmacy Program Advisory.
To expedite information timely to the pharmacy and prescriber communities, an email network has been established which incorporates the email lists of the Maryland Pharmacists Association, EPIC, CARE, Long Term Care Consultants, headquarters of all chain drugstores and prescriber associations and organizations.
It is our hope that the information is disseminated to all interested parties. If you have not received this email through any of the previously noted parties or via MDH, please contact the OPS representative at 410-767-1455.
Jack of All Trades Event Recap
April 16, 2021 – The Task Force on Health Equity and Racism Pipeline Subcommittee hosted a virtual panel discussion, “Jack of All Trades: The Versatility of a Family Medicine Physician” on Wednesday, April 14. MDAFP Board Members Corey Boggs, M4 and Dr. Kathryn Hart moderated. Twenty-four participants joined the conversation including 18 medical students and seven MDAFP student members. Panelists, Dr. Amar Duggirala and Dr. Kwame Akoto discussed what inspired them to pursue family medicine, what a typical day looks like in their practice and ways students can gain exposure to the specialty.
Of the students who completed evaluations after the event, 100 percent agreed or strongly agreed the webinar increased their interest in family medicine and opened their eyes to the breadth of the specialty. Other characteristics about family medicine students learned included its holistic approach, continuity of care, variety of patients and organization of care. All the respondents expressed interest in future webinars and being paired with a family physician mentor.
The Pipeline Subcommittee looks forward to hosting future webinars on a quarterly basis, developing a formal mentorship program, and strategizing ways to reach additional students, including those at universities and community colleges across Maryland.
MDAFP FP of the Year Featured in Baltimore Sun
March 29, 2021 – Dr. Njdeka Udochi, 53, is a health care provider who strives to treat all of her patients as if they were her family, caring for many, including immigrants and people who are experiencing homelessness.
“I do everything I can to provide the best care for my patients, regardless of their insurance,” Udochi said. “I don’t walk through the doors without knowing who they are and why they are here.” Read More
COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Update
Thursday, March 25, 2021 – The Maryland Department of Health recently shared updated information regarding provider registration and guidelines for distributing the COVID-19 vaccines. Please review the Clinician Letter, ImmuNet COVID-19 Vaccine Quick Reference Guide and the COVID-19 ImmuNet Registration Instructions linked below for the latest guidance.
Power to Heal Medicare and the Civil Rights Revolution
View full documentary now through March 17
The award-winning documentary, Power to Heal, tells how civil rights activists, the federal government, and medical professionals leveraged Medicare funding to bring down segregation, opening the door to hospitals, doctors and medical schools for Black Americans and other minorities in both the North and South. The film begins by revealing the culture of segregated health care and the real perils it unleashed in black communities. It follows a chronological arc, beginning with federal legislation (the Hill–Burton Act of 1946) that facilitated the spread of segregated hospitals following World War II just as black doctors intensified their efforts to end racial discrimination.
- Limited free access
- View full 60-minute documentary now thru March 17
March 4, 2021 – By J. Steven Wise of Schwartz, Metz & Wise, P.A.
In addition to the other great resources that the Maryland Academy of Family Physicians provides for its members, our firm is retained to keep members apprised of important legislative issues and to communicate with legislators about the impact of those issues on family physician practices. This is done in coordination with the Government Affairs Committee and the Board, which direct our work.
The 2021 General Assembly Session, which got underway on January 13th and runs for 90 consecutive days, is anything but normal with procedures altered to limit the spread of COVID-19. Bill hearings are all virtual, a marked change from sitting at the witness table in well-adorned hearing rooms before committees of Senators and Delegates. The House and Senate chambers are outfitted in plexiglass, and the House is literally a house divided, with half of the 141 members seated in an annex. The work of governing goes on, however, and that includes considering legislation that MDAFP has identified as priorities this year.
2021 Priority Issues
House Bill 28/Senate Bill 5-Public Health-Implicit Bias Training would address implicit bias and health disparities by, among other things, requiring all licensed health care professionals to complete an implicit bias training course recognized by their health occupations board. This would be done upon the next license renewal after April 1, 2022. MDAFP has devoted a substantial amount of time toward addressing these important issues and sees this legislation as a critical step toward educating health care providers on these matters.
Senate Bill 3/House Bill 123-Preserve Telehealth Act of 2021 addresses telehealth, but two issues are of particular importance:
- Retaining audio-only as an authorized modality of telehealth coverage. This is very important in areas of the State where internet coverage is weak, for the elderly or disabled persons who may not be able to easily access telehealth services through visual means; and for low-income residents who may not be able to afford internet access; and
- Requiring insurers to reimburse the same for a telehealth service as an in-person visit.
Medicaid Funding (Budget Bill)–Medicaid payment rates to physicians have historically been too low to ensure an adequate network for enrollees, negatively affecting access to medically necessary services. Maryland has done an excellent job of bringing Medicaid rates for E&M Codes up closer to Medicare rates, and currently stands at 94% of Medicare in 2021 Budget. The goal is to maintain these rates in the upcoming fiscal year.
Virtual Advocacy Day
Given the prohibition on members of the public entering the House and Senate buildings, as well as on receptions and other gatherings, MDAFP pivoted to virtual meetings with key legislators for its Advocacy Day this year. We conducted meetings with the following legislators, and appreciated their time during a busy Session to hear our concerns on the above issues:
- Delegate Ariana Kelly (Dist 16-Montgomery) Chair, Health Occupations Subcommittee of HGO Committee
- Delegate Kirill Reznick (Dist 39-Montgomery) Chair, Health & Human Services Subcommittee of APP Committee
- Delegate Nic Kipke (Dist. 31B-Anne Arundel), Minority Leader, Ranking Member, HGO
- Senator Brian Feldman (Dist 15-Mongtomery) Vice Chair, Finance Committee
- Senator Melony Griffith (Dist.25-Prince George’s) Health Subcommittee Chair, Budget & Tax Committee
MDAFP members who participated in these meetings were: GAC Co-Chairs Dr. Amar Duggirala and Dr. Ariel Warden-Jarrett, Dr. Cynthia Calixte, Dr. Robin Motter-Maste, Dr. Kisha Davis, Corey Boggs, Dr. Olufunto Campbell, and Dr. Mozella Williams. Their input was extremely valuable in conveying the real-world impact of these proposals. While Advocacy Day took a different form this year, it was equally effective as in prior years.
Maryland Department of Health: COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Updates
March 1, 2021, — The Maryland Department of Health Center for Immunization recently released further information on how providers can register to become COVID-19 vaccines providers. Please review the clinician letter and registration guide linked below to learn the latest on the vaccine distribution process for providers in Maryland.
MDAFP Recognizes All Members As Family Physician of the Year
February 27, 2021 – Each year, the Maryland Academy of Family Physicians is honored to recognize a Family Physician member who has displayed exceptional leadership, compassion for their patients and dedication to advocacy efforts for primary care across Maryland.
With the many obstacles and challenges that this past year presented, we decided recognizing just a singular member did not seem justified with the commitment you continue showing to your patients and communities through the COVID-19 pandemic.
You, our Family Physicians, sacrificed so much these last 11 months working tirelessly on the front lines to save lives while grieving loses of your own and trying to maintain your personal health and wellbeing.
Thus, in lieu of selecting one member this year to receive the Family Physician of the Year award, MDAFP has decided to recognize and honor all of our Maryland Family Physicians as 2020 Family Physician of the Year. We are incredibly grateful for your continued drive, loyalty and commitment to your practices and patients.
Thank you for sharing your time, money and voice in support of Family Medicine and working to enhance healthcare across the state. We look forward to furthering our mission with you this year.
MDAFP Student Director Corey Boggs interviewed in AAFP News
January 27, 2021, 8:42 am David Mitchell — Last year was a tough one for everyone, and although family physicians were often in the news for stepping up and saving the day, there were also stories of hardship that rose to the level of national news. But here at the start of 2021, students are showing hope about the future of medicine — especially family medicine. We asked some of the AAFP’s student leaders what they are excited about, and here is what they shared. Read More
Recording: MD CRC Webinar
January 20, 2021 – Missed Maryland CRC Task Force’s recent webinar, Adopting Quality Improvement Methods to Maximize CRC Screening Outcomes in Maryland held on January 14, 2021? You’re in luck! Click the button below for the recording. This webinar offered enduring CMEs.Recording Here
The AAFP has reviewed Adopting Quality Improvement Methods to Maximize CRC Screening Outcomes in Maryland and deemed it acceptable for up to 1.00 Online Only, Live AAFP Prescribed credit. Term of Approval is from 01/14/2021 to 01/14/2021. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
Important Message from MDAFP President & Executive Director (January 8, 2021)
Our Dear Members and Allies,
As we draw to the end of this week, entirely aware of the indelible mark it has made in the history of our country and on the precious lives that reside therein, we reach out to you with words of support and comfort, for we have survived an attempted insurrection of our democracy during a time at our lowest collective physical, emotional, and mental health. Most of us are coming out of shock, having a mixture of emotions that are hard to reconcile and name.
To our MDAFP members who live or work in and around D.C, the images most of us witnessed through our screens may be especially vivid to you, your secure and healing spaces tainted with the stench of violence and fear. We extend care and solidarity to you.
In ten days our nation celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday, to both honor the remarkable man and the promise of peace that comes with open discourse, humility, honestly, accountability, and reconciliation. May it be so in our time and for our future generations.
The leadership and staff of the MDAFP stand for respect and dignity to all persons and believe that the collective and powerful impact of Family Physicians can change our society for good. Thank you for continuing to join us in this good work.
In utmost sincerity,
Mozella Williams, MD MBA FAAFP Becky Wimmer
President Executive Director
A Message from our Executive Director
January 6, 2021 – As we start a new year, many of us take time to reflect and take stock of where we found ourselves in the prior year. Based on that, some of us create resolutions and goals for ourselves with the anticipation of making this a better year. Needless to say, 2020 was a year to remember, filled with challenges that have tested our resolve and problem-solving abilities. We found ourselves having to face so many challenges we did not foresee.
As the leaders of MDAFP worked hard to continue to strategically navigate rapidly changing conditions that impacted our ability to meet your expectations and needs as members of this organization, it’s been clear that the resilience of our association’s community has been on full display.
Many of you have continued to be engaged in our chapter’s activities including grassroots efforts to address state advocacy issues, pay equity, addressing the health disparities that exist in our local communities and also social justice issues. Our chapter, alongside many of you who have volunteered to help, have also aimed to help our membership achieve and maintain wellness for yourselves and focus on finding balance. And then, there are those of you who support, despite all of this, to our academy’s Foundation so we can encourage more medical students to select family medicine as their specialty. You all have a lot to be proud of. I’m always in awe of how you all do so much – for your patients, your communities, your profession and all while having time for your own families to care for and love. I always enjoy learning about your personal interests and hearing what brings you joy at home and in your practice. Your passions come through in all you do. All of this has been a constant reminder to me that Family Physicians are truly a special group of people!
In turn, MDAFP staff have adapted during this crisis to provide you, our members, value. We provide timely, relevant communications to be a resource for you and have added COVID-19 resources and wellbeing to our regular messaging. We’ve engaged with more of you in academy activities this past year and plan to continue this trend in the new year. In addition, we’re working on providing you with an engaging and valuable virtual Annual Meeting and Winter Refresher, February 26-28. We hope to see many of you participate and connect with each other in this new format for 2021 – we’re confident you’ll be glad you did!
Some of you have been on the front lines of this pandemic and all of you have continued to care for your patients and found different ways to take care of all your patients through telehealth. You’ve persevered through the difficulties in an admirable way. Even without an adequate financial safety net from state and federal relief programs created to assist businesses, your practices and individuals impacted by COVID-19, you have continued your work to keep your communities healthy. While MDAFP and AAFP work on this, it’s important that we take this time to celebrate and be proud of our community of family physicians. Ultimately, our fortitude and collective purpose – firmly rooted in our need for connection, for answers, for personal growth – and your involvement to advance and advocate for the specialty of family medicine – will see us through this pandemic and beyond.
The Maryland Academy of Family Physicians is very proud of each and every one of you. We know you have saved thousands of lives, helped countless families and have sacrificed your time with your own families. What you do is invaluable and much appreciated. Thank you!!!
As we begin a new year, I also want to personally thank you for making MDAFP your professional home, and I wish you and your loved ones a happy and safe 2021 filled with professional and personal growth, opportunities and promise.
Becky Wimmer, MDAFP Executive Director
ABFM INFORMATION RELATED TO COVID-19 AND CERTIFICATION ACTIVITIES
December 1, 2020 – The American Board of Family Medicine thanks all family physicians for their exceptional commitment to caring for their patients and their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognize that these are truly unprecedented times and want to do everything we can to allow you to focus on what is most important: your patients and your families. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve rapidly and the need for family physicians to care for patients during the outbreak increases, ABFM will continue to communicate with you regularly to make you aware of adjustments we are making with respect to certification activity requirements to accommodate these extraordinary times.
Our commitment is that no family physician will lose their ABFM certification because of the extraordinary patient care pressures associated with this pandemic. Additionally, if you are unable to participate in certification activities or Family Medicine Certification Longitudinal Assessment (FMCLA) in 2020 because of the demands of this pandemic, it will not jeopardize your certificate or your ability to continue your certification. We do not want ABFM requirements to play any role in the decisions you need to make to provide the best personal and public health response to this pandemic. Residents need not be worried about future consequences for their board certification in this regard. We will work with you.
We are working out many operational details. We will communicate these with you in coming weeks. It will take up to a month to reflect these changes in your Physician Portfolio. We also commit to ongoing review of what is happening as the pandemic evolves and will adjust as necessary going forward. READ MORE
TRAIN is a catalog of public health training opportunities and a free service for learners hosted by the Public Health Foundation.
Congratulations to University of Maryland Family Medicine Resident, Latéy Bradford, MD PhD!
May 18, 2020: Laura Latéy Bradford, MD PhD was granted a $16,500 Family Medicine Cares Resident Service Award for her service project, “Queens Court: A postpartum education and support group designed to empower and facilitate wellness in women of color.”
The $16,500 award includes the following elements:
- A $10,000 award for her to use for the service project;
- A $5,000 award for the University of Family Medicine Clinic, where the service project will be implemented;
- A travel award of up to $1000 to attend the 2021 National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students and present the results of her project; and
- A $500 stipend to her Family Medicine Residency to celebrate and be recognized as the winner of the 2020 Family Medicine Cares Resident Service Award.
The MDAFP is very proud, and wishes her the best of luck!
Practice Transitions Due to COVID-19 = ABFM Credit & CME!
The American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) has created a COVID-19 Self-Directed Clinical Pilot that allows Diplomates to direct a custom rapid cycle quality improvement effort, regardless of whether they provide continuing care. This activity provides a mechanism for meeting the Performance Improvement (PI) requirement by describing the unprecedented and rapid changes that you had to make in the ways that you deliver care, regardless of practice type or scope. This PI can address many different dimensions of care—not just clinical quality measures but process effectiveness and efficiency, patient satisfaction, safety, and the other characteristics that the practice has identified.
To help walk you through this application process, the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians (OAFP), with help from Ryan Kauffman, MD, FAAFP, AAFP Alternate Delegate and Quality Improvement Champion, made an instructional video. Watch Dr. Kauffman take you step-by-step through the online application!
Bonus! The ABFM just announced that this activity, as well as the general Self-Directed Clinical activity, have each been approved for 20 continuing medical education (CME) credits! The CME credit for the COVID-19 Self-Directed Clinical Pilot is retroactive to start on April 4, 2020, and the Self-Directed Clinical is retroactive to start on January 1, 2020.
If you have any questions regarding your PI activity requirement for ABFM Family Medicine Certification, please contact Ann Williamson at the ABFM. If you have questions about the video or would like to speak with an OAFP staff member, please contact Kaitlin McGuffie.
The COVID-19 Pandemic Digest
By Michelle Prentice, MD MSc – All Saints Family Medicine Residency PGY3
From atop the pandemic’s first peak, we can reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the pandemic response thus far. As attention and debate inevitably shift toward the loosening of social restrictions, “[w]e must remain vigilant and disciplined” in our population health approach, for our patients, our families, and for each other’s families.In preparation, this issue will discuss important elements for vigilance and discipline, including:
- Global concern regarding under-reporting of COVID-19
- Removal of U.S. funding from the World Health Organization
- Testing capabilities and “immunity passports”
- The Covidnearyou.org tracker
- Racial disparities in COVID-19 cases
- Cautionary tales of re-socialization from across the globe
- President Trump’s 3-Phase plan for re-opening the economy
- PPE challenges
- The AAFP Foundation Relief Fund and other funding opportunities
Here are the results from our first, second and third surveys. We are using these results to further advocacy and educational efforts. We appreciate your participation and hope you find the results informative.
All Saints Family Medicine Residency PGY3
Dr. Prentice is a 3rd year resident with the Medical College of Wisconsin – All Saints Family Medicine residency, training in their Urgent Care track. She is also a member of the American College of Preventive Medicine, with clinical and academic training from public health and preventive medicine programs, such as the NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response analyzing frontline health care facilities preparedness for the ebola outbreak, as well as investigational work the Public Health Ontario in Toronto on an active Hepatitis A outbreak. She has also worked closely with the University of Ottawa Public Health and Preventive Medicine residency on their didactic curriculum, and has been a population health researcher for Ontario’s Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.
Are you looking to stay up to date on research into patient-centered, high-quality research? Then be sure to check out this newly released supplement to the Annals of Family Medicine. The Annals of Family Medicine is a peer-reviewed research journal to meet the needs of scientists, practitioners, policymakers, and the patients and communities they serve.
The current Annals of Family Medicine supplement issue features editorials on facilitating practice transformation, and original research on a variety of topics including “A Longitudinal Study of Trends in Burnout During Primary Care Transformation”. Be sure to click the read more link for access to over a dozen research articles, editorials, and briefs in the August supplement. Read More
Bringing Family Medicine’s Past to Bear on Its Future
By David Mitchell (July 01, 2019)
Dennis Mychak, M.D., was only 51 when he died from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, but he made an impact on the small, Pennsylvania coal mining town where he grew up and to which he later returned to practice family medicine.
He also made a lasting impression on Aaron George, D.O., who was just 11 years old when he attended his uncle’s visitation.
“Everyone knew him,” George said. “He was a community icon. Hundreds of people were lined up down the block for the viewing. I thought, ‘This is how you make an impact on people’s lives.’ It was crystal clear to me that family medicine was unparalleled in touching people’s lives.”
After completing his training at the Duke Family Medicine Residency Program in Durham, N.C., in 2015 (which included a global health rotation in Vienna, Austria), George — like his uncle — returned to his small hometown in Pennsylvania to practice family medicine. His clinic was a mile away from his boyhood home, and his patient panel included his high school principal, his priest and old friends.
“I poured my heart into the expectation that I was going to be there for a long time to serve them,” he said. “I thought I would be there for 40 years. There’s something really special about the bond you form with the community you grow up in.”
The 2019 FMAS Experience
By Ariel J. Warden-JarreF, MD, FAAFP
To advocate beyond the comfort of our exams rooms or to chart while silent, that is the question. The FMAS Experience offers a unique opportunity or family physicians from around the country to join in a bipartisan way to advocate for health care initiatives that are important to ALL Americans.
It is invigorating to gather in a room with medical professionals who are all family physicians fighting the same fight to make America strong and healthy.
We all agree that primary care is important to this nation. We all agree that Family Physicians are well trained to meet the health care primary care needs in our nation. However, policy makers do not know the “secrets”we know. The FMAS Experience takes us to the source, and opens a door for us to cross pollinate ideas to continue the discussion with policy makers, who still, on many levels, don’t know what the average Family Physician does on a daily basis.
The FMAS Experience centers in on relationship building that should grow from year to year with policy makers. We become stronger when we are fighting in the right places.
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