June 11, 2010 MERC Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes - Minnesota Dept. of Health

June 11, 2010
MERC Committee Meeting:

* Via Conference Call

Committee Members Present: Dawn Ludwig, William McBreen, Kathleen Meyerle, Jeff Ogden, Carl Patow, John Rodewald.

Alternates: Diane Buschena-Brenna for Jim Davis, Deb Mayland-Poyzer for Mary Edwards, Lynne Hvidsten for Charles Sawyer, and Tom Larson for Marilyn Speedie.

Interested Parties Present:Ben Bornsztein, Gina Danyluk, Diane Del Santro, David Godfrey, Mike Harristhal, David Knowlan, Inez Lockhart, Marilyn Loen, Margo Marko, Janet McCarthy, Stacia Moeller, Merri Moody, Jay Ness, Scott Nigon, Pam Phelps, Rick Roberts, Joe Schindler, and Amy Tepp.

MDH Staff Present: Diane Reger and Diane Rydrych – Minnesota Department of Health

I. Introductory Remarks – Kathy Meyerle sub for Louis Ling, Committee Chair

Ms. Meyerle opened the meeting by thanking members and interested parties for joining the conference call. She explained how the conference call would be conducted and asked that feedback on this method of conducting the meeting be communicated to MERC staff. With tight schedules for committee members we hope this method of conducting the meeting will be beneficial to all. A roll call was then taken.

II. MDH Legislative Update – Diane Rydrych, MDH

The Governor’s recommendation to eliminate a portion of the MERC direct payments to the Academic Health Center, UMMC-Fairview, and the UM Dental School did not pass. There were no cuts to funding for MERC. Additional wording was added to the direct payment to the Academic Health Center (AHC) directing a portion of the AHC’s funds to be used to support assistance for foreign-trained physicians (language below). MDH staff will work with the AHC to add wording to their grant agreement and discuss administration of these funds.

(b) $5,350,000 of the available medical education funds shall be distributed as follows:
    (1) $1,475,000 to the University of Minnesota Medical Center-Fairview;
    (2) $2,075,000 to the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry; and
    (3) $1,800,000 to the Academic Health Center. $150,000 of the funds distributed to the Academic Health Center under this paragraph shall be used for a program to assist internationally trained physicians who are legal residents and who commit to serving underserved Minnesota communities in a health professional shortage area to successfully compete for family medicine residency programs at the University of Minnesota.

III. Update on 2010 MERC/PMAP Distributions – Diane Reger, MDH

Since there were no cuts during the legislative session, MDH is estimating that the funding pool will be approximately $57.1 Million. An estimate was distributed at the December 2009 meeting and as an attachment to the current agenda. Please reference for detail.

At this time, MDH anticipates funds will be released in November or December depending on the calculation of the Upper Payment Limit and release of federal funds by DHS.

Ms. Reger will provide revenue information to the larger providers within the next week. If smaller providers are part of the call and wish to receive information on the data that will be used in the MERC calculation, they can contact Diane Reger.

The 2011 application process will begin in mid-August. When the 2011 application is available, a notice will be sent to sponsoring institutions. Please note when completing the application, it’s important to make sure the correct training site is being selected. Some provider groups have a shared NPI number among many locations, selecting the location where training took place is very important in the process. Should applicants have ideas on improving the application process, please feel free to send a note to Diane Reger with recommendations. The programmer’s time is very limited, but we welcome feedback to improve the process.

IV. MERC Potential Workgroup – Diane Rydrych, MDH

Both Ms. Meyerle and Ms. Rydrych gave background on the inception of MERC, why it was created and the changes and challenges it’s faced over time. Ms. Meyerle asked the committee to think about why the MERC program and the advisory committee are doing what they’re doing, and whether there need to be any changes to MERC to enhance it and achieve its goals.

In the light of healthcare reform, changes to the MERC formula that have impacted distribution of funds, and the potential for changing pressures and priorities for GME that have evolved over the 15 years since the inception of MERC, MDH would like to put together a work group to look at the goals and priorities for MERC. Potential questions for the workgroup include: Are the highest priority goals for health professions education in Minnesota the same now as they were in 1996? Does health reform present any new challenges or opportunities for MERC? Is the current MERC formula adequate to meet current goals for health professions education as identified by the community/ stakeholders? Are there ways to work within the existing state/federal constraints to better meet the goals of MERC? Are there changes that will ease the administrative burden of MERC?

Ms. Meyerle asked committee members for feedback. Many were interested in being involved in future discussions. Ms. Meyerle requested that comments or suggestions for who should be included in these discussions be forwarded via email by June 30, to Diane Rydrych. MDH will consider the composition of the group and will invite a group to meet later this summer or in the fall.

V. Upcoming meeting dates

The next regularly scheduled MERC meetings will be held from 1 – 4 p.m. in the Bigfork Room at Snelling Office Park on Friday, December 3, 2010. For directions and further information, please visit:






Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 12:25PM