Archive for August, 2016

Department of Public Health Simplifies Reporting Guidelines for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

As of Jan. 1st, 2016, Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) was added to the list of conditions that are notifiable by law to the Georgia Department of Public Health. NAS is a condition that results from the abrupt discontinuation of chronic fetal exposure to substances that were used or abused by the mother during pregnancy. In concurrence with the feedback received, DPH has simplified the criteria for reporting NAS to include at least one of the following: a newborn with withdrawal symptoms and/or a newborn with a positive drug screen. Reports should be submitted within seven days of identification. Cases can be reported electronically through the secure web-based State Electronic Notifiable Disease Surveillance System (SENDSS) at As with all notifiable disease data, data regarding NAS will remain confidential in accordance with Georgia law, Code Sections 31-12-2 and 31-5-5.

For more detailed information regarding reporting NAS, click here.

MACRA Bytes: Payment Primer Helps Family Physicians Digest MACRA Implementation Details

MACRA_ArticleOpener.jpg.daijpg.380Sometimes, when an upcoming project seems overwhelmingly complicated, it’s nice to be presented with a simple step-by-step plan in this format: “Do this now, then do that.”

That clearly was the idea behind the latest Family Practice Management supplement created by the AAFP as a resource for family physicians whose brains are bursting with an excess of information from CMS about how the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) is being implemented.

The long-term goal of MACRA is commendable: building a creative new Medicare payment system that focuses on the value of health care provided to patients. And with a huge focus on the value of care — and elements such as team-based care, chronic care management and quality measurement — family physicians stand to benefit.

Unfortunately, too many physicians currently are mired in the muck of endless detail.

Family physicians, do yourselves a huge favor and check out the new supplement available in the July/August Family Practice Management that is available at no charge to all AAFP members and FPM subscribers.

The title says it all: “Making Sense of MACRA: Start Today, Prepare for Tomorrow.” Pull it up online, print it out it, post it in a prominent spot in the office, and then use the supplement as a guide through the next couple of years of Medicare payment reform.

The article starts with a quick overview of current Medicare payment and quality programs — think Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), the valued-based payment modifier (VBPM) initiative, and the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records Incentive programs that hatched meaningful use (MU) — and then outlines what happens to those programs in the coming years.

At this point, it’s time to become familiar with a new term — the Quality Payment Program (QPP) — that HHS introduced in April when the massive MACRA implementation proposed rule rolled out. Everything MACRA-related now falls under this giant payment program umbrella.

From there, the article launches into an explanation about how each of the current payment and quality programs will be assimilated into one of two new payment pathways created as part of the QPP — namely, the Merit-based Incentive Payment System.

The MACRA preparedness supplement is written in an easy-to-understand format that first explains topic areas related to PQRS, VBPM and MU and then answers two basic questions for each that family physicians across the country are likely struggling with:

What can I do now?

What comes next?

The supplement includes colorful charts and graphics that help make sense of the various programs and that point out those definitely-need-to-know dates and timelines, as well as highlight potentials for additional earnings or penalties.

What Would Your Family Medicine Interest Group Do With $1000?

Do you think your Family Medicine Interest Group deserves $1000?  Well, the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians certainly believes that one of our Georgia programs does.  That is why we are giving away $1000 to one very special FMIG Club.

Whether you are a student member of an FMIG Club or a faculty member at one of our Georgia based medical schools, please let your club know that they should apply for the Georgia Academy’s 2016 Outstanding FMIG Award before September 2, 2016.

To apply, simply click here to fill out the application and write a brief essay on what your program has done to promote Family Medicine at your medical school, among other things.  All of the information is in the application and we hope to hear from each Georgia based FMIG club to find out what you have done and announce the winner of the $1000 award after September 2.

Good luck!

2016 Family Medicine Legislative Champions of the Year


The Georgia Academy of Family Physicians each year recognizes legislative leaders in the Georgia General Assembly. This year, Rep, Terry England (R-116) and Sen. Jack Hill (R-4) were selected for their support of Georgia health initiatives and their stewardship as the chairpersons of the Appropriations Committee for their respective legislative bodies.

Chairpersons England and Hill shepherded in an increase in payment for 32 primary care codes for Medicaid, a major victory for family physicians, including their pediatric, internal medicine, and obstetrics/gynecological colleagues. Victories also include tax credits for rural hospitals and the Prescription Drug Monitoring Bill, which allows clinicians to better identify patients who may have prescription drug addiction.

“Both chairpersons England and Hill have really made the health of Georgians their priority and the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians wants to recognize those legislators who are fighting for a healthier and better future for Georgia residents”, said Mitzi Rubin, M.D. Dr. Rubin is the president of the GAFP and a family physician in the Atlanta area.

Both Chairmen Hill and England were extremely grateful to win the award and demonstrated a continuing commitment to family medicine. “It is an honor to be named GAFPs 2016 Legislative Champion of the Year, along with my esteemed colleague, Jack Hill,” said Rep. England.  “Family medicine plays a large role in the overall health and wellness of our families and the citizens of this state, and investing in family medicine is ultimately and investment in the well-being of all Georgian.”