March 2020 – COVID-19 Letter from the PCN President

Friend and fellow Physicians Care Network member,

The art of medicine as small, independent practitioners is in a quantum state of flux. Our world three weeks ago, the “pre-COVID world” of independent practice may be forever changed. We’ve traveled someplace entirely unchartered. The COVID19 Pandemic has impacted the health of our loved ones, the health of our patients, the health of our practices and the health of our economy. We are in a crisis and in a crisis an appropriate response is “ALL HANDS ON DECK”. You are a member of PCN, and we are on deck. Together we will get through this better than trying to go it alone. We want your ideas about how we can work together.

Maybe we’ve been exposed to the virus, fear for our safety and the safety of our staff. We worry what we might carry home to our own families. Of course, we run the gauntlet of circumstances facing our patients and our community at-large. How do we suppress the transmission, slow the rates of infection? How do we identify and isolate our community’s sentinel patients? How do we provide care when the literal process of practicing medicine places us in the cone of risk, face-to-face with the potentially lethal CoViD-19?

While we digest and synthesize all the clinical and scientific data regarding this pandemic, we’re also deployed to the clinical front lines. We must integrate the science, the safety precautions, assimilate biohazard skills, all while trying to keep our businesses afloat. With the recommendations for the elderly and frail to self-isolate, the number of daily office visits has declined, and the revenue flow slows. Each of us is a small business, vital to the diversity of our town. The virus threatens life; the economic impact threatens our livelihoods.

We each need adaptability; to be fluid in rapidly changing times. As a network of independent physicians, we can best face this pandemic by utilizing our pooled resources in a collaborative way, in ways we’ve never exercised before.

Physicians Care Network has always been a loose association of independent doctors, autonomous and brave. We have thrived in our individuality. Now, in this extreme new world, we find there is a fragility in that autonomy. So, let’s share ideas, cooperate in solving problems and cultivate a network that communicates its needs swiftly. This will expand our agility as a professional community and help each of us be more resilient. By working together as colleagues and professional cohorts, we strengthen the autonomy of each member. We will become a “Master Mind” by sharing smart ideas, clever solutions and possibly even resources.

Therefore, we are extending an invitation to you to share your ideas, your needs and your concerns. PCN is an advocate for you and your practices! You are not alone. Let’s develop “best practices” for OUR community in the face of this novel COVID pandemic. We invite you to email your current needs to us and ideas to us. We are all bright, clever and courageous. We can tackle this together, navigate the terrain ahead together. This pandemic is transient, continued survival of our practices will continue to require adaptive skill, agility and resiliency. Our practices must evolve. Together, as a community, we can survive, weather this tsunami and thrive.

Our executive board has formulated some preliminary areas where PCN might be able to advocate for the entirety of our membership.

1.            Telemedicine: Southeastern Telehealth Resource Center (https://www.setrc.us/)

offers free help implementing telemedicine. Their phone number is (888) 738-7210.

Health plan specific information is also available.

For information Florida Blue has posted related to providing telehealth services  go to: https://www.floridablue.com/sites/floridablue.com/files/docs/COVID-19_Update%20as%20of%20March%202020_100651%200320_03.20.20_v7_Approved.pdf

For information UnitedHealthcare has posted related to providing telehealth services  go to:

https://www.uhcprovider.com/en/resource-library/news/provider-telehealth-policies.html

For information Cigna has posted related to providing telehealth services  go to:

https://cignaforhcp.cigna.com/public/content/pdf/resourceLibrary/Cigna-COVID-19-Billing-Guidiance-for-Providers-3-18.PDF

For information Aetna has posted related to providing telehealth services  go to:

https://www.aetna.com/health-care-professionals/provider-education-manuals/covid-faq.html

For information Humana has posted related to COVID-19  go to:

https://www.humana.com/provider/coronavirus

For information Avmed has posted related to providing telehealth services  go to:

https://www.avmed.org/documents/20182/4380806/Coronavirus+QA_Benefits++Coverage_V7.pdf/6826bf32-ec39-4019-8310-79bf7f7bae11

2.            How do we make payroll? You may benefit by applying for a low interest loan from the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. Go to https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/

3.           If the projections are accurate, 60-70% of us will get this infection at some point. At the minimum, we’ll be isolated at home unable to work. At worse, we’ll be on a vent in ICU for weeks. And then facing recovery after that. If a provider gets sick, who might help with backing up their practice? How do we cross-cover? Not to poach patients but to act as a bridge.

4.           If we lose staff, clerks, billers, coders….do we have staff that can float to other offices?

5.           How do we communicate with our specialists about how to get care outside of the ERs? How do we divert straight to the surgeon and the outpatient surgery center for the appendectomy? Of the Interventional radiology diagnostics?

6.           Can we devise a sterile zone among the specialists? Or, if one of us gets sick and recovers (and presumably has full immunity), do we shift and act as locums for the sick patient pool?

Please share your ideas and concerns by email to: p.lubitsky@physicianscarenetwork.org or by phone to: 352.371.9999

Remember that place where you used to go to play and to dream with trusted friends that was secluded and safe from the outside world – a world that was sometimes was too harsh, scary? We want PCN to be that place, that clubhouse during these times so you don’t feel alone navigating the tumultuous waters ahead. Current predictions postulate that we face eighteen months of suppression and mitigation efforts on a global scale. We as primary health care professionals and independent practices are the front line in this battle against this pandemic for our community. 

 

Sincerely,

Tom Benton, MD, MPH

President, Physicians Care Network

August 2017 – PCN begins offering Magellan Complete Care Medicaid HMO

February 2017 – PCN begins offering Molina Health Care of Florida Medicaid HMO

November 2016 - PCN begins offering the Ambetter Individual Exchange Plan

October 2016 - CMS Finalizes the new Medicare Quality Payment Program

April 2016 - CMS Unveils New Risk-Based Primary Care Model: 13 Things to Know

http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/cms-unveils- new-risk- based-primary- care-model- 13-

things-to- know.html

October 2015 – Sunshine State Health Plan begins Healthy Kids enrollment in Region 3

January 2015 – Sunshine State Health Plan begins enrollment for Medicare in Marion and Lake Counties

January 2014 - Preferred Care Partners and Humana Medicare HMO plans are discontinued in Marion, Lake, and Sumter Counties.

May 2014 - Medicaid/Medipass mandatory assignments to Medicaid HMOs for Region 3 begins

Free Pediatric Psychiatric Consultations Available

The University of Florida Child Psychiatry Access Program allows for the FREE consultation with a psychiatrist for PCN providers with questions. Please contact 877-506-2720 if you need a consult for a pediatric patient with a psychiatric disorder.
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Exclusive Professional Liability Insurance Program

(Gainesville, Fla) - For some time now Physicians' Care Network (PCN) has been exploring avenues to help lower the cost of medical liability insurance for your practice. This is typically one of the largest expenses in a medical practice. With reimbursements going down and expenses going up, we are doing everything we can to help our members. The goals of this program are to:

  • To Lower long-term costs
  • To Make future costs more predictable
  • To Work together to improve quality and patient safety
  • To Bring PCN members together as a more cohesive group.

Our intent is to build a community-based program that will last through the next malpractice insurance crisis and shield our physician members from huge upward rate swings. To have our program survive (and thrive) for the long haul, we must outperform the population of Florida physicians from a loss perspective. We can achieve this by building elements into the program such as quality standards, risk management initiatives, and patient safety initiatives.

For this program, your physician-only Board of Directors has selected First Professionals Insurance Company ("FPIC" or "First Professionals"). FPIC is the market leader in Florida for medical professional liability insurance. FPIC has been awarded a rating of A- (excellent) by A.M. Best Company, the independent company that rates financial strength.

PCN has negotiated an exclusive professional liability insurance program with FPIC that provides a 25% discount on base rates for our members. In addition to the PCN program discount. you may also gualify for FPIC's claims-free discount. which may be as much as an additional 25% discount.

  • 5 years claims free - 10% discount
  • 10 years claims free - 20% discount
  • 15 years claims free - 25% discount

As is standard in the industry, FPIC will look to pick up prior acts coverage. Also, if retirement is a possibility within the next five years, please know that FPIC will work through any vested retirement "tail" issues.

PCN has also negotiated for FPIC to offer risk management and patient safety training sessions at no cost to PCN members who become policyholders. These sessions will include topics such as Medical Specialty Analysis, Practice Assessment, Claim Analysis, Risk Management Products and Services, Root Cause Analysis, Loss Prevention Plan, and Compliance Plans.

We expect that most medical practices will realize initial premium savings at the kickoff of this program. However, the long-term cost savings of this program are expected to be far more beneficial. Therefore, the most important thing we can do is to get this program started. We are targeting a kickoff date of December 1st. We anticipate that insurance companies and insurance agents who stand to lose business will attempt to minimize participation in this program, even offering to slash costs. The future benefits of this program offer the most value, and for this reason, it is important that we act together as a cohesive group to launch this program and resist those who seek to keep physicians fragmented by offering short-term benefits.

We are very excited about this new medical professional liability insurance program and the potential for PCN members to save money now and in the future. For information on how to participate in this new program, please phone the PCN office at 352.371.9999.
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