Physician Practice Roundup—New Jersey officials unhappy doctor keeps license and more news

Telemedicine doctor
A New Jersey doctor was allowed to keep his medical license for now despite opioid allegations. (shironosov/Getty)

New Jersey officials unhappy doctor accused of overprescribing opioids keeps license

Officials are speaking out after a New Jersey doctor was allowed to keep his medical license after allegedly overprescribing opioids to patients.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Paul R. Rodríguez, acting director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, rebuked the State Board of Medical Examiners after its members declined to temporarily suspend the medical license of physiatrist, Bruce Coplin, M.D., who allegedly overprescribed opioids to patients for years. Instead, the board voted to temporarily bar Coplin from prescribing controlled dangerous substances until his case is heard by an administrative judge.

“If we are serious about ending the opioid crisis, then we must also get serious about holding doctors accountable when they recklessly prescribe these drugs,” Grewal said in an announcement, adding the doctor’s actions put public safety at risk. (Office of Attorney General statement)

HHS urging providers to use telemedicine for medication-assisted opioid treatment 

HHS is pushing providers—particularly those in rural areas—to take advantage of telemedicine to increase access to medication-assisted addiction treatment (MAT). 

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But providers seeking to prescribe these medications require waivers, which can hinder access, especially in remote areas where doctors with these qualifications are in short supply. 

So, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Drug Enforcement Administration have worked together to ease these restrictions. Doctors can now prescribe buprenorphine, one of the most commonly used drugs for MAT, through a virtual platform, when before these clinicians had to be physically present with patients to offer these prescriptions. (FierceHealthcare)

Next Generation ACOs form coalition aimed at advancing the model 

Next Generation ACOs take on greater financial risk than other programs, such as the Medicare Shared Savings Program and in return are offered greater flexibility for care coordination. But they've also faced blowback, with some calling for these models to be scrapped or severely overhauled because the promised savings were slow to materialize.

So 29 participants in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Next Generation ACO program—including Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Henry Ford Health System, Mission Health, Carillion Clinic and Trinity Health—are teaming up to work with the agency to ensure the model stays in place for the longterm. 

“Taking the lessons learned in particular with this group—the most advanced of the ACO portfolio—and getting that information out will benefit the other Next Gens and the broader healthcare system,” said Mara McDermott, vice president of federal affairs at America’s Physician Groups, in an interview with FierceHealthcare. (FierceHealthcare)

With support from health IT groups, a new ‘wizard’ looks to streamline patient medical records requests

Anyone who has ever tried to get their medical records knows: It’s not easy.

Christine Bechtel, the co-founder and president of X4 Health knows about the complexities first hand. Three years ago, she tried to get her medical records from her doctor in an electronic format. She was stymied when the office’s request form didn’t provide the option, despite a 2013 change to HIPAA that requires providers to give medical records in an electronic format to those that request it.

“I literally printed off a copy of the federal register [HIPAA rule] to prove my right to records in electronic format and dropped it on their desk,” Bechtel told FierceHealthcare. “It made quite a thud.” (FierceHealthcare)