By: Russell Tobe, M.D.
Dear West Hudson Psychiatric Society (WHPS) membership, colleagues, and friends:
After a terrible winter, it seems (perhaps) signs of relief and thaw are coming into focus. With
this have come a series of significant policy decisions to which the APA and West Hudson
Psychiatric Society have contributed.
First, APA strongly supported legislation to permanently repeal the flawed sustainable growth
rate (SGR) formula through introduction of the SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment
Modernization Act of 2014 (H.R. 4015). This bipartisan legislation brought with it the promise
of improved physician payment (in the looming context of 24% payment cut on 4/1) and patient
access to care while eliminating the need for SGR patches (totaling, to date, 157 billion dollars).
Ultimately passed by a vote of 237 to 182 in the U.S. House of Representatives, sadly a policy to
delay the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate for five years was attached by Republican
lawmakers in an attempt to offset the budget required to implement H.R. 4015. This, of course,
prevents mandates developed to encourage all citizens to obtain health care coverage.
Accordingly, APA does not support this and suggests lawmakers should go back to the table in a
bi-partisan fashion. If not resolved, the ongoing need for SGR patches will remain and the 24%
payment cut on 4/1 continues to loom. Accordingly, APA is still advocating for sensible
Second, APA supported action against a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rule
to eliminate antidepressant and antipsychotic medication from protected coverage status. This
action by CMS would have limited beneficiary access to “all or substantially all” medications in
those classes. On 3/11, it was reported that CMS agreed to withdraw the proposal to eliminate
antidepressant and antipsychotic medications from protected coverage status.
With respect to other activities, WHPS recently completed another DSM training dinner in
Central Valley. This made an opportunity for Orange, Sullivan and Delaware county members
to join and participate. While I was able to fumble through the talk without the luxury of my
DSM-partner-in-crime (Dr. Nigel Bark), it was a fun occasion with a bit more time for casual
conversation and collegial discussion than our more intensive educational dinners. Speaking of
which, our next educational dinner will be April 25th, with Dr. Ann Sullivan, who is the new
Commissioner for NYS OMH. It should prove to be an interesting lecture from a very gracious,
knowledgeable, and kind speaker. The fall speaker is still being arranged. So please forward
requests and suggestions.
Finally, I want to invite everyone to our next Executive Council Meeting on April 4th. We will
be spending a significant amount of effort critically appraising the website for WHPS. We
would love to have as much feedback as possible as this is still very much a work in progress. If
you are unable to attend, please send suggestions for improvements. As always, forward
suggestions and comments to make our branch more efficient and helpful for the membership.