Mar 31, 2008

TMA Survey: Medicare Forcing Out Physicians

Physicians will be forced to limit the number of Medicare patients they treat if the 10.5-percent cut in Medicare payments to physicians occurs on July 1, a sobering TMA physician survey shows.

Be Wary of the World Wide Web

Chances are at least one of your patients has come to you asking about something he or she read on an Internet health site. And it could be that what they can read is misleading at best.

"What appears to be a medically oriented Web site may actually be an advertising tool for a third party with a financial incentive to exaggerate or downplay a product’s benefits or dangers," Texas Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott cautions in a new consumer alert. Those with "financial incentives" include plaintiffs' attorneys and class-action law firms.

Physicians San Antonio-Bound for TexMed

San Antonio's Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center is the setting for TMA's TexMed 2008 Educational Showcase & Expo May 2-3. Tex Med is free to all TMA members. It includes more than 100 hours of continuing medical education programming (CME), a chance to influence TMA policy on issues that affect your practice, and an exhibit hall with more than 160 vendors.

TexMed Blows the Whistle on Physician Profiling

As health insurance premiums continue to skyrocket, employers seek ways to minimize the costs of insuring employees. Insurers entice patients and businesses to choose physicians placed on higher tiers of their networks by offering lower premiums and/or lower patient copays. Conversely, patients of physicians in lower tiers face higher premiums or copays.

EMR: How Your Colleagues Did It

If you need help choosing the right electronic medical record (EMR) system for your practice, TMA's Health Information Technology (HIT) Department has just what you need.

NUCC Changes Claims Form

The National Uniform Claims Committee (NUCC) has posted interim changes to its 1500 Health Insurance Claim Form Reference Instruction Manual, version 3.0 7/07, on the NUCC Web site under the 1500 Claim Form tab.

Building a Palliative Care Program

You can learn what you need to know about building and sustaining a palliative care program at a three-day seminar presented by the Center to Advance Palliative Care Nov. 13-15 at the Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center in Grapevine.

Plan a Helmet Giveaway in May

Bike Month in May is a perfect time for physicians and medical students to spread awareness of helmet safety statewide. You can be part of this exciting effort by joining with TMA's bike helmet giveaway program, Hard Hats for Little Heads, to sponsor a helmet giveaway in your community.

TMA Recommends HealthExecLynx

TMA has added HealthExecLynx to its Health Information links page. This Web site is the result of efforts to help health executives and professional find relevant information quickly and easily. Currently, there are more than 1,100 links to health sites, making it one of the largest health executive health gateways on the Web.

Mar 14, 2008

Judges Boot Podiatrists' Foot Definition

An Austin appeals court sided with TMA and the Texas Orthopaedic Association and said the Texas State Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners was wrong when it adopted a rule that expanded the definition of the foot to include the bones in the ankle.

Mar 13, 2008

How Do You Rate With Blue Cross?

Texas Medical Association physician leaders and staff have worked for the past two years to win concessions from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) to make its physician-rating program fair to doctors and useful to patient

Good Bill, Bad Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a needed bill to ensure parity for mental health coverage in insurance benefits. But it includes stark restrictions on physicians' rights to own or invest in hospitals and other facilities, based on a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) assertion that such restrictions will save money.

Cornyn Files Medicare Reform Bill

Texas Sen. John Cornyn has filed legislation in Congress to change the way Medicare pays physicians. The bill, the Ensuring the Future Physician Workforce Act of 2008, would stop the 10-percent cut in Medicare payments set for July 1, replace the faulty Sustainable Growth Rate formula, and base future payment adjustments on the Medicare Economic Index.

TEXPAC Scores Again!

Physicians' influence in the political process was felt again in the March 4 primary election as 25 of the 36 candidates endorsed by the Texas Medical Association Political Action Committee (TEXPAC) won their races.

Comptroller Revises Franchise Tax Rules

Texas physicians’ potential liability under the state’s new franchise tax got a bit smaller in March thanks to revised rules developed at the urging of TMA.

Call (210) 301-4398 to Play Golf at TexMed

An advertisement for the Bexar County Medical Society Foundation Golf Tournament during TexMed 2008 that appeared in the March Texas Medicine listed an incorrect telephone number to call for more information.

New Colorectal Cancer Guidelines Published

Updated consensus guidelines for detecting adenomatous polyps and colorectal cancer (CRC) in asymptomatic average-risk adults have been developed by the American Cancer Society, the US Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer, and the American College of Radiology.

Mar 12, 2008

The Race for the Vaccine: Podcast TMA

Our guest on this installment of Podcast TMA is a three-for-one special. David Oshinsky, PhD, is the Jack S. Blanton Professor of History at The University of Texas at Austin. He is the winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for History for his book, Polio: An American Story. And Dr. Oshinsky is the keynote speaker at TexMed 2008, TMA’s annual session, expo, and educational showcase, May 2-3, 2008, in San Antonio.

Download the show now.

We invited Professor Oshinsky into the TMA studio to discuss the race between Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin to develop the polio vaccine, why today’s Americans are much more skeptical about scientific advances than our parents were, and what it’s like to win a Pulitzer Prize.

We encourage all of our listeners to pick up a copy of Dr. Oshinsky’s book, Polio: An American Story, and to come to San Antonio in May to hear him speak at TexMed 2008.

Want to Subscribe to Podcast TMA through iTunes?

Here's the link. It takes you to the iTunes store. Subscription is free.

What's a Podcast, how do I get it, and what do I with it once I have it? (See the short tutorial on the iTunes Web site.)

Mar 11, 2008

WSJ Blog : Errors Stall Insurer's Plans to Publish Doctor Info

Errors Stall Insurer's Plans to Publish Doctor Info

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, the biggest insurer in the state, was all set to publish data on the performance of the state’s doctors. But the insurer gave the doctors a chance to review the data first — and the docs caught enough mistakes to make the company hold off, the Nashville Tennessean reports.

In some cases, the data said docs didn’t perform certain important tests, but the doctors’ own records showed otherwise, the chairman of the Tennessee Medical Association told the paper. That sort of thing gets at one of the big questions in the larger debate over doctor ratings and pay for performance: the source of the data that drive the ratings and payments.

All this comes as Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas is about to announce its latest set of physician ratings.

Mar 1, 2008

House Approves Education Bill

A federal loan forgiveness program for physicians who practice in underserved areas is part of a higher education reauthorization bill the U.S. House of Representatives passed in February.

Renew or Join Online

Two physicians have been chosen as the winners in TMA's contest recognizing members who renewed or activated their membership via the TMA Web site before Dec 31.

Foster Care Program Looking for Physicians

Physicians can sign up for the state's new Foster Care Health Plan scheduled to roll out April 1. All children in Child Protective Services foster care will have their medical, dental, vision, and behavioral health care covered through the STAR Health Program for Children in Foster Care, administered by Superior Health Care Network.

TMA Recommends HealthExecLynx

TMA has added HealthExecLynx to its Health Information links page.

Medicare Claims Require NPI

As of March 1, Medicare fee-for-service claims must include an National Provider Identifier (NPI) in the primary provider fields on the claim (billing, pay-to provider, and rendering provider fields). Claims will be rejected without it.

TMA Knowledge Center Offers Medical Textbooks Online

The Knowledge Center has compiled a quick guide for accessing many online textbooks that cover clinical, health business, and reimbursement topics.

$500 and Free Software Use for 18 Months!

Beta testers are needed to test the use of a patient registry in the small practice environment.