Jan 31, 2008

Medicare’s Lump of Coal: What Can You Do Now?

Still pondering your Medicare participation for 2008? You have until Feb. 15 to decide. TMA’s Feb. 7 “Medicare’s Lump of Coal: What Is the New Fee Schedule, and What Can You Do Now?” Learn @ Lunch audio seminar can help you choose a course of action.

Dr. Hinchey to President Bush: 'Read My Lips'

During his State of Union address last month, President Bush said, “We share a common goal: making health care more affordable and accessible to all Americans.” TMA President William W. Hinchey, MD, had this response:

“Read my lips, President Bush. If you sincerely want to make health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans — bring the broken Medicare system into the 21st century.

Medicare Fees: Stand Up and Be Counted

Are you willing to accept the 10.5-percent Medicare payment cuts scheduled for June 30, or do you want to fight for a long-term plan to replace the Sustainable Growth Rate formula with a funding scheme that keeps pace with the cost of providing care? If it's the latter, then join your peers in TMA's effort to restore sanity to the Medicare payment system.

TexMed Coming in May

San Antonio's Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center is the setting for TMA's TexMed 2008 Educational Showcase & Expo May 2-3.

National Drug Code Requirement on Medicaid Claims

As of Jan. 1, federal law requires physician Medicaid claims for outpatient physician-administered drugs to include the drug’s corresponding National Drug Code (NDC).

AMA’s CPT® Network Offers Free 30-Day Trial

CPT Network supplies the tools to quickly research a database of commonly asked coding questions and clinical examples.

Jan 30, 2008

Do You Twitter? Follow TMA

As part of its work to explore new communications technologies, TMA has set up an account on Twitter, the hot, new, 140-character “micro-blogging” service. If you Twitter, follow TMA to get practice management tips, news bits, and political chatter – and we’ll follow you, too. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, go to www.twitter.com to check it out.

Jan 14, 2008

TMA Begins New Phase of Medicare Fee Battle

TMA has begun campaigning to stop the 10.5-percent Medicare payment cuts now scheduled for June 30 and to win a long-term plan to replace the Sustainable Growth Rate formula with a funding scheme that keeps pace with the cost of providing care.

CMS Delays 'Anti-Markup' Rule

The American Medical Association and 47 national physician organizations have convinced the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to delay until Jan. 1, 2009, enforcing most of the expanded "anti-markup rule" in the 2008 physician fee schedule.

Medicare’s Lump of Coal: What Can You Do Now?

Still pondering your Medicare participation for 2008? TMA’s Feb. 7 Learn@Lunch audio seminar can help you choose a course of action in light of Medicare’s "lump of coal" for physicians. Although Congress at the last minute headed off the planned 10.1-percent cut in Medicare payments to physicians scheduled for Jan. 1, the six-month, 0.5-percent fee increase Congress granted physicians instead is wholly inadequate.

Texan on Medical Staff Task Force

Tucker Bonner, FACHE, president and chief executive officer of King's Daughters Hospital in Temple, is one of 16 physicians, hospital officials, health care executives, and attorneys on a Joint Commission task force that will examine concerns over implementing the commission's new medical staff standard that take effect in July 2009.

Physicians Wanted

Physicians interested in participating in the TMA-endorsed Physicians’ Foundation for Health Systems Excellence (PFHSE) Save Small Practice Program and its technology partner, DocSite Registry, are asked to contact TMA’s Health Information Technology Department at (800) 880-5720, or e-mail HIT@texmed.org.

TDI Adopts New Medical Fee Guideline

State workers' compensation officials have adopted a new physician fee schedule that raises payments for most services, including evaluation and management, from 125 percent to 140 percent of Medicare rates. Fees for surgical services in hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, or other facilities will rise from 125 percent to 175 percent of Medicare. The new rates take effect in March.

HIT Summit in Houston

Physicians, nurses, hospital officials, business leaders, insurers, policymakers, and government officials will join health information technology (HIT) experts at the National Health Information Technology Summit April 15-16 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.

Winter Conference Coming in February

Practice revenue benchmarking, the state of health care from the health plans’ perspective, and a look at health care spending — is more health care better? – are on the agenda for the TMA 2008 Winter Conference Feb. 1-2 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Austin.

Medicaid Seeks Medical Director

The Texas Medicaid Program is looking for a medical director to oversees operations and provide medical consultation and direction for benefits design and development for all medical services in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. The job pays between $8,500.58and $13,703.66, monthly.

Jan 10, 2008

Podcast TMA: Health Care and the 2008 Presidential Elections

This installment of Podcast TMA was recorded in the short lull right after the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primaries. The 2008 presidential candidates are on the run in South Carolina, Michigan, Florida, and Nevada. Texas’ March 4 primaries are nearly two months off – don’t forget to register to vote, the deadline is Feb. 4 – and it looks like the Lone Star State still might play a roll in deciding both parties’ nominees.

Download the podcast now.

With that in mind, Podcast TMA cornered nearly a dozen TMA leaders at the TEXPAC Grassroots Forum in San Antonio on Jan. 5. We asked them two questions:

  • What should medicine be looking for in the health care platforms of the 2008 candidates for president of the United States?
  • Have you identified a candidate that you will support? Why or why not?

The big issues, as they always are, boil down to access to health care, cost of care, and quality of care. Can we find a candidate who will back Medicare reform? Insurance reform? Without moving us to a single-payer system? The leaders interviewed include:

  • TMA President William W. Hinchey, MD, of San Antonio
  • Jerry Hunsaker, MD, an ophthalmologist from Corpus Christ
  • Art Klawitter, MD, a family medicine specialist from Needville
  • Catherine Scholl, MD, an anesthesiologist from Austin
  • Carlos Cardenas, MD, a gastroenterologist from McAllen
  • Travis Bias, a fourth-year medical student from Austin
  • TMA Alliance President Mia Price of Denton
  • William Bradley, MD, a neurologist from Mansfield
  • Doug Curran, MD, a family medicine specialist from Athens
  • Melissa Garretson, MD, a pediatric emergency medicine specialist from Fort Worth
  • John Gill, MD, an orthopedic surgeon from Dallas.

This installment’s “Political Action Works” segment features the only TMA member in the U.S. Congress, Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (R-Lewisville). Recorded live at a standing-room-only session at the TEXPAC forum, Dr. Burgess shares his thoughts on health care issues in the 2008 national elections and offers an interesting perspective on the varying effectiveness of the carrot and the stick.


What are the candidates saying about health care issues?

Jan 3, 2008

A New Chance to File a Blue Cross Claim

Another company in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield empire -- Highmark Inc., and Highmark West Virginia, Inc., which does business as Mountain State Blue Cross and Blue Shield -- has settled the national anti-racketeering lawsuit against HMOs.

Congress Punts on Medicare Payments

Congress has headed off the planned 10.1-percent cut in Medicare payments to physicians scheduled for Jan. 1 and replaced it with a wholly-inadequate 0.5-percent increase for six months, which will result in the continued slow-bleeding of physicians as government payments fail to keep pace with increasing practice costs.

Winter Conference Coming in February

Practice revenue benchmarking, the state of health care from the health plans’ perspective, and a look at health care spending — is more health care better? – are on the agenda for the TMA 2008 Winter Conference Feb. 1-2 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Austin.

TMB Proposes Plan to Resolve Complaints Sooner

The Texas Medical Board (TMB) has given tentative approval to rules that would cut the amount of time it takes to resolve complaints against physicians for administrative violations of the Medical Practice Act, such as advertising or recordkeeping issues.