IN THIS ISSUE CMA Seeking Physician Feedback on Proposed Health Insurance Mergers – Response Deadline February 12 Deadline to File for Meaningful Use Hardship Exemption is March 15 Technical Assistance Available for CURES 2.0 Users CMS Issues Final 2016 Medicare Payment Rule; Includes Reimbursement for End-of-Life Discussions AMA Publishes Online Zika Resource Center for Physicians Stop by the Medical Society to Sign Petition to Quality Initiative to Increase California’s Tobacco Tax <!-- PHYSICIAN VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES --> SSVMS-CMA SEMINARS / WEBINARS / EVENTS <!-- WALK WITH A DOC --> El Dorado, Sacramento and Yolo County Healthcare Events Featured Resource Click here to read the January/February 2016 issue of SSV Medicine . Follow SSVMS on Twitter and Like SSVMS on Facebook CMA Seeking Physician Feedback on Proposed Health Insurance Mergers – Response Deadline February 12 . Proposed mergers of some of the largest national health insurance companies have been announced – with Aetna reaching a $37 billion deal to purchase Humana, and Anthem agreeing to purchase Cigna for $48.4 billion. CMA is asking for physician feedback on how the proposed mergers impact your practice and patient care. The survey should take about 8 - 9 minutes to complete. Your identity will be private and not connected in any way with the information you provide. It is important that we receive your feedback no later than Friday, February 12, 2016 . To complete the survey, click here . Deadline to File for Meaningful Use Hardship Exemption is March 15. Because CMS was late in publishing the updated regulations for stage 2 meaningful use, CMA was able to get a bill passed authorizing CMS to grant hardship exemptions for 2015 as long as the physician files for the exemption by March 15 . SSVMS urges practices to preemptively file for a 2015 hardship exception to avoid penalties in 2017 , even if they are uncertain whether they will meet the program requirements this year. CMA has just published a new resource titled, “Meaningful Use Hardship Exception Frequently Asked Questions ,” which is available at no cost to CMA/SSVMS members only. TOP Technical Assistance Available for CURES 2.0 Users. Physicians must register to use the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES), California's prescription drug monitoring system, no later than July 1, 2016 . To register using the new automated system, visit http://oag.ca.gov/cures . For more information, see the DOJ’s FAQ here or visit CMA’s CURES page . Need help registering? Call SSVMS at (916) 452-2671, and we’ll walk you through the process. CMS Issues Final 2016 Medicare Payment Rule; Includes Reimbursement for End-of-Life Discussions. Key policies finalized in the 2016 payment rule include those on advanced care planning, physician payments, and the new Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), which will fully take effect in 2019. Click here for CMS Fact Sheets Click here to View the Final Rule Click here for Further Details AMA Publishes Online Zika Resource Center for Physicians. Click here for timely, credible information from WHO, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Journal of the American Medical Association and other respected sources of health information. Stop by the Medical Society to Sign Petition to Quality Initiative to Increase California’s Tobacco Tax. The signature-gathering phase of a campaign to increase California’s tobacco tax by $2 per pack has now officially begun. SSVMS and CMA, as part of the Save Lives California coalition, is collecting signatures to qualify the initiative to increase California’s tobacco tax by $2 per pack and to tax e-cigarette products for the November 2016 ballot. The $2-per-pack tobacco tax increase will not only reduce these long-term health care costs, but also reduce smoking rates across the state. For more information on the California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act of 2016, go to www.savelivescalifornia.com . Stop by the SSVMS office, 5380 Elvas Avenue in Sacramento to sign the petition to qualify the initiative for the ballot, and to pick up signature sheets for your colleagues, patients, friends and neighbors to sign. TOP SSVMS-CMA SEMINARS / WEBINARS / EVENTS Click here to access archived webinars which are offered at no cost to SSVMS members and staff, with a non-member cost of $99. For more information, contact CMA’s member-help center, (800) 786-4262 or email@example.com . FEBRUARY 24: HIPAA Compliance: Key Risks All Physicians Should Know , (Webinar), 12:15pm – 1:15pm. Please join CMAs HIPAA advisor, David Ginsberg, for his annual HIPAA Compliance Update. This webinar will summarize recent federal enforcement and what this means for every medical practice. Click here for more information or to register. MARCH 9: Closing a Medical Practice , (Webinar), 12:15pm – 1:15pm. This webinar will cover some of the major practical and legal issues that may arise when closing a medical practice, and will assist physicians who are retiring or otherwise leaving their practice. Click here for more information or to register. MARCH 10 – 11: Stepping Up to Leadership Conference . Location: Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina, 1380 Harbor Island Drive, San Diego. The Institute for Medical Quality (IMQ), and the PACE Program at UC San Diego are partnering to train medical staff leaders in issues of communication, problem-solving, and improving outcomes for patients and staff. Special early-bird pricing available until February 9. Click here for more information, or contact IMQ at (415) 882-5151. SAVE THE DATE – APRIL 30: Art of Medicine Auction and Dinner. Location: Del Paso Country Club, 3333 Marconi Avenue, Sacramento, 5:00pm – 9:00pm. The SSVMS Alliance presents the 2016 Art of Medicine Auction and Dinner. For more information, to make a donation or become a sponsor, please contact Gabby Neubuerger at firstname.lastname@example.org . MAY 13 – 15: Western Health Care Leadership Academy . Location: Hilton San Francisco Union Square, 333 O’Farrell Street, San Francisco. Registration is now open for the 19th Annual Western Health Care Leadership Academy, taking place May 13-15, 2016. This year’s attendees will have the opportunity to hear from keynote speakers Karl Rove , former Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush; Donna Brazile , former campaign manager for Al Gore and Democratic National Committee Vice Chair; renowned surgeon, writer and public health researcher, Atul Gawande, M.D. ; and comedian, internist and founder of Turntable Health, ZDoggMD (also known as Zubin Damania, MD). For more information and to register, go to www.westernleadershipacademy.com . <!-- WALK WITH A DOC SSVMS’ free walking program is open to anyone interested in taking steps for health. Anyone can attend… tell your patients! Walks are held on Saturday mornings at local parks and are led by SSVMS member physicians. Click here for more information, including meeting times and locations. Interested in leading a Walk? Contact Kris Wallach at email@example.com or (916) 453-0254. OCTOBER 10 : Illa Collin Park , 8333 Vintage Park Drive, Sacramento (at Calvine). 8:30 a.m. --> El Dorado, Sacramento and Yolo County Healthcare Events (To submit a community healthcare event for possible publication, email firstname.lastname@example.org . Events should be physician-focused and should take place in or near El Dorado, Sacramento, or Yolo counties.) PRE-REGISTER: Child Abuse Prevention, Recognition and Reporting Course . CMA’s Institute for Medical Quality is offering an online course through a grant from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). The course is available exclusively to licensed California physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals. Click here to pre-register. FEBRUARY 27: CPPPH – Evaluating Disruptive Behavior: Three Case Illustrations: What We Did; What We Learned; What Was the Outcome . Location: Alameda Contra Costa Medical Association, 6230 Claremont Avenue, 3rd Floor, Oakland, CA. 8:30am – registration/breakfast, 9:00am meeting. Speaker Kimberly Ware of Nossaman LLP will discuss peer review, credentialing, disruptive behavior issues, physician health issues, mandated reporting, medical staff affairs and a broad range of related health law issues. Early registration is $45.00, late registration is $50.00 after February 21, 2016. Click here for more information or to register. APRIL 2: Serotonin Surge Charities – Spring Surge , 6:30pm – 9:30pm, Del Paso Country Club. Save the date for the 12th annual benefit gala. Cost is $100 per person; early-bird registration by March 1 is $75 per person. Click here for more information, or contact Tina Bozzini at email@example.com or (530) 757-4121. Featured Resource EnviroMerica. Through an exclusive membership agreement with SSVMS and CMA, EnviroMerica services are available to SSVMS/CMA members at a discount of at least 30 percent and include medical waste management and disposal, consultations for facilities seeking accreditation and same-day regulatory compliance inspections. For more information, or to receive an immediate quote, contact Kris Wallach, firstname.lastname@example.org or (916)452-2671.