A Look at the MGMA Conference with President William Jessee

October 20, 2010

This year's annual MGMA conference comes at a particularly unnerving time for many practices, as they face uncertainty about federal reimbursement and complex EHR requirements. The annual conference of the medical practice association is being held in New Orleans October 24 to 27, and will cover a wide range of topics from health reform to ICD-10.

This year's annual MGMA conference comes at a particularly unnerving time for many practices, as they face uncertainty about federal reimbursement and complex EHR requirements.

"Our members are very concerned that five weeks after the meeting, they will be looking at a 23 to 24 percent cut in Medicare," says Dr. William Jessee, MGMA's president and CEO.

The annual conference of the medical practice association is being held in New Orleans October 24 to 27, and will cover a wide range of topics from health reform to ICD-10. And among the largest challenges facing practices is the looming cuts to Medicare reimbursement, Jessee says.

Although practices have faced cuts many times before, Jessee says this year's political climate is unique - and particularly concerning.

"I think this is a different environment than we have had in the past," he says, adding the potential cuts have also never been this large. Congress intentionally put off dealing with the cuts until after the mid-term elections, and the returning lawmakers will be in a lame-duck session, not likely to get much done.

"What they will do is much, much more up in the air than it has ever been before," he says.
Another major concern facing practices are the so-called EHR meaningful use requirements for receiving federal incentive funds. Many MGMA members aren't clear on how to achieve meaningful use of an EHR, or how to ensure they have properly documented and reported the criteria, Jessee says.

To help clarify the issue, Dr. David Blumenthal, national coordinator for health IT, will be speaking at the conference in a newly added session on Monday, Oct. 25.

Jessee says he's also looking forward to moderating a panel discussion on health reform on Monday. The panel will include the president of the Federation of American Hospitals, president and CEO of Humana, immediate past president of the AMA, and the head of the National Business Coalition on Health. With all sides of the issue represented, it's sure to be a hearty debate, Jesse says.

And what' s a conference in New Orleans without some time spent enjoying the food? "It's such a great restaurant town," Jessee says, "I am looking forward to gaining about 10 or 12 pounds."
As far as recommendations for places to dine? Jessee says he's looking for guidance from MGMA consultant Ken Hertz, a Louisiana native. Hertz has plenty of favorites, including Bayona, which he calls a "fabulous" resultant by Chef Susan Spicer, which celebrated its 20th year in the city.

He also recommends all of the restaurants by Chef John Besh, including August, Luke, and Domenica. Then there's M Bistro at the Ritz Carlton, Crescent City Brewhouse, and Mother's, which Hertz says is the home of the "debris" sandwich. For more of his recommendations for New Orleans and more on the conference, visit mgma.com/AC10.

And for more coverage from Physicians Practice, visit www.physicianspractice.com/conference-insider/mgma2010.