Nov 24, 2008

Survey: Primary Care Under Attack - Podcast TMA

The Physicians' Foundation "Medical Practice in 2008" national survey sought to learn whether current primary care practice conditions are eroding physicians' abilities to meet their patients' needs, and to learn more about the daily challenges physicians face, as well as medicine's future. The results show a bleak medical landscape in which primary care physicians are overworked, overwhelmed, and at the breaking point professionally and financially. The Physicians' Foundation plans to share the survey's findings so policymakers, employers, insurance companies, and the public will understand physicians' concerns. Download the show now. The cover story in the December issue of Texas Medicine delves into the survey's findings and examines how low physician morale, a weakened patient-physician relationship, time-consuming paperwork, reimbursement hassles, and other challenges affect the practice of medicine. In this installment of Podcast TMA, retired Georgia pediatrician Walker Ray, MD, vice president of the Physicians' Foundation, and Juan Jose Ferreris, MD, a San Antonio pediatrician in a four-person practice, discuss the threatened primary care practice environment. This installment covers:
  • The current physician shortage.
  • The effect of expanded health insurance coverage on a system that's collapsing.
  • What physicians can do to spread the message that primary care is in trouble.

Want to Subscribe to Podcast TMA through iTunes? Here's the link. It takes you to the iTunes store. Subscription is free. Catch up on all the old Podcast TMA episodes on the TMA Web site. 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.)

Nov 17, 2008

Thirteen Years of Service

San Antonio child psychiatrist Larry Stone, MD, served on the Texas Delegation to the American Medical Association from 1995 through 2008. His final meeting was the 2008 Interim Session of the AMA House of Delegates in Orlando, Nov. 8-11. Here, Texas Delegation Chair Sue Rudd Bailey, MD, presents Dr. Stone with a certificate commemorating his 13 years of service.

TEXPAC Scores More Victories

 

Ninety-three percent of the statewide candidates TEXPAC endorsed in the Nov. 3 election won their races, proving once again that physicians and alliance members make a difference when they get involved.

TEXPAC Scores More Victories

11/12/2008 6:00 PM

CMS Schedules PQRI Call

 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will conduct a conference call on the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI) from 12:30 to 2:30 pm on Nov. 20. Following a short presentation, the lines will be opened to allow participants to ask …

CMS Schedules PQRI Call

11/12/2008 6:00 PM

New on TMA Online Communities

 

To learn more about the details of the state comptroller's audit of Medicaid payments and other news and resources on coding and billing for your practice, log on to the TMA Online Communities at www.tmacommunities.com.

New on TMA Online Communities

11/12/2008 6:00 PM

New Adolescent Immunization Toolkit Available

 

A new Be Wise — ImmunizeSM Physician Toolkit for Adolescents now is available from TMA.

New Adolescent Immunization Toolkit Available

11/12/2008 6:00 PM

CMS Puts RACs on the Shelf

 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) says it has delayed the National Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) program while the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviews protests about the RAC contractor selection process filed by two vendors …

CMS Puts RACs on the Shelf

11/12/2008 6:00 PM

TMA to CMS: Reform the GPCIs

 

TMA's Council on Socioeconomics has urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to adopt more fair and rational methods for setting the Geographic Practice Cost Index (GPCI) modifiers to the Medicare physician payment system.

TMA to CMS: Reform the GPCIs

11/12/2008 6:00 PM

Register for DocSite's PQRI Webinars

TMA recognizes that the federal government's Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI) is not going away and will only become more prevalent with health care payment plans. There is a window of opportunity that allows physicians to earn bonus …

Register for DocSite's PQRI Webinars 11/12/2008 6:00 PM

Houston Symposium Targets Smoking

 

The state of smoking in Texas and future policy priorities will be discussed at the Texas Wellness & Smoking Policy Symposium Dec. 1 in Houston. Other topics include helping smokers quit and a preview of the 2009 legislative session.

Houston Symposium Targets Smoking

11/12/2008 6:00 PM

TMA's Hard Hats Wins PR Award

 

Texas Medical Association's Hard Hats for Little Heads won the Fan Favorite/Best Campaign Award from the Austin Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

TMA's Hard Hats Wins PR Award

11/12/2008 6:00 PM

TMF Projects Promote Drug Safety

 

The TMF Health Quality Institute has started two quality improvement projects that target potentially inappropriate medications and drug-to-drug interactions. It says these projects should reduce adverse drug events that lead to emergency department and …

TMF Projects Promote Drug Safety

11/12/2008 6:00 PM

Texas Team on the Floor

On the floor of the AMA House of Delegates in Orlando, the Texas Delegation stands out. (l to r): Drs. Priscilla Ray, Dan McCoy, David Teuscher, Bob Morrow, Josie Williams, Carolyn Evans, David Henkes, Mary Dale Peterson, Linda Villarreal, Larry Stone, Bohn Allen, Tom Garcia, Kevin McKinney, and Lyle Thorstenson. The Orlando meeting was the last one for Dr. Stone, who is retiring from the delegation.

Nov 10, 2008

Physician, Heal Thyself

TMA EVP Lou Goodman,PhD; AMA President-elect Jim Rohack, MD; TMA Board of Trustees Chair Lyle Thorstenson, MD; and TMA Treasurer Art Klawitter, MD prepare for a morning stroll at AMA House of Delegates meeting.
(ORLANDO) -- One way for physicians to encourage their patients to take better care of themselves -- get more active, lose weight, quit smoking -- is to do it themselves.

Blogged Arteries today caught up with four TMA leaders who, in more ways than one, walk the walk. Today, they began their morning exercise at about 5:30 am. TMA EVP Lou Goodman, PhD; AMA President-elect Jim Rohack, MD; TMA Board of Trustees Chair Lyle Thorstenson, MD; and TMA Treasurer Art Klawitter, MD, rose early and posed for photos to help publicize the AMA's newest campaign to help patients take better care of themselves.

The AMA Healthier Life Steps campaign offers patients and their physicians tools and information to help them improve diet, increase physical activity, and eliminate unhealthy behaviors like risky drinking and smoking.

"Eating healthy, exercising and eliminating unhealthy behaviors like smoking and excessive or risky drinking can seem like daunting tasks if you try to tackle everything at once," said Dr. Rohack, a former TMA president, who will be a leading spokesperson for the campaign. "Incorporating small changes into everyday life, like cutting 100 calories per day and getting 30 minutes of moderate exercise, can make the process of getting healthier more manageable."

Nov 9, 2008

Live Coverage of AMA House of Delegates - Monday, Nov. 10

Students Raise Funds for UTMB Comrades

(ORLANDO) -- Medical students from across the country solicited their fellow students as well as residents and physicians at the AMA House of Delegates meeting to donate to the UTMB Medical Student Recovery Fund.

"I'm sure you all remember back to your student days and how hard it can be because we don't have any financial cushion to fall back on," Baylor College of Medicine student Meredith Williams told the delegates.

The moneys collected for the fund will go directly to students at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB), whose textbooks, computers, supplies, and personal belongs were lost, destoryed, or damaged by the flood waters of Hurricane Ike.

UTMB is the oldest medical school west of the Mississippi and home to more than 1,000 medical students. The institution trains about 20 percent of Texas' new physicians.

You can contribute to the fund via the Texas Medical Association Foundation's secure Web site.

Texans Testify for Texas Physicians

(ORLANDO) -- As the 2008 interim meeting of the American Medical Association House of Delegates moved into its second day, the Texas team spread out to offer insight, advice, and criticism on items on the agenda. Texas physicians had the opportunity to chair two of the five reference committees that took AMA members' comments on reports and resolutions this morning. The remainder of the Texas Delegation split into five teams to monitor the reference committee testimony and provide comments on their own. The reference committees will assemble the testimony and produce recommendations on every report and resolution for the full House of Delegates to take up tomorrow and Tuesday.

Your TMA team will offer live coverage of the house debate.

Texas Pushes Liability Protection Resolution

(ORLANDO) -- The Texas proposal to ensure that liability protection for physicians is equal to what may be offered to drug or medical devise manufacturers was well received this morning at the AMA House of Delegates. David Teuscher, MD, a Beaumont orthopedic surgeon, outlined the Texas plan (Resolution 201) in testimony before the AMA Reference Committee on Legislation. Listen to Dr. Teuscher explain the Texas position by clicking on the audio clip below.

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The full House of Delegates will take up the issue again tomorrow or Tuesday after the reference committee issues its recommendation. Be sure to follow TMA's live coverage of the house debate right here on Blogged Arteries.

Nov 8, 2008

Arens Honored with Distinguished Service Award

(ORLANDO) -- Calling him "one of the foremost leaders in the field of anesthesiology, ... a gifted educator and a champion of organized medicine," the American Medical Association today bestowed one of its highest honors on a long-time Texas anesthesiologist. James Arens, MD, received the 2008 AMA Distinguished Service Award for his his work to "dramatically reduce anesthesia-related mortality" and for his legacy as an educator. Hundreds of Texas anesthesiologists studied at his side. "Mentoring is one of the most important and satisfying rewards in life," Dr. Arens told the AMA House of Delegates. "Young physicians, residents, and medical students in the audience: Find a mentor and a role model; it is the most important choice you can make to be a success." Before his retirement earlier this year, Dr. Arens served for 42 years as a professor and chairman of anesthesiology at five premier medical schools, including The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, the UT M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and the UT-Houston College of Medicine. He served as president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists and of the American Board of Anesthesiology. "It is an honor to be a member of AMA, and even a greater honor to have been a physician," he said after accepting the award from AMA President Nancy Nielsen, MD.

"A mentor and role model for many physicians, Dr. Arens' services have exemplified the best in medical education," Dr. Nielsen said. The AMA Board of Trustees gives the Distinguished Service Award to an AMA member "for meritorious service in the science and art of medicine."

TMA and TMA Get Together Again

(ORLANDO) -- Decades ago, the "two TMAs" -- the Texas Medical Association and Tennessee Medical Association -- regularly caucused together at meetings of the American Medical Association House of Delegates. That practice has since gone by the wayside, but the states that shared Sam Houston and Davy Crockett decided to resurrect the tradition at the 2008 interim meeting of the AMA House. Delegates from both states broke bread together, shared small gifts, and discussed the issues of the day at working lunch today.

Texans Prepare for AMA House Meeting

(ORLANDO) -- With 2008 the interim meeting of the American Medical Association House of Delegates about to open this afternoon, Texas physicians spent hours this morning reviewing and discussing nearly 130 reports and resolutions that would set AMA policy and direct AMA action.

Hot topics include health care system reform, physician supervision of allied health practitioners, insurance company practices, Medicare payments, disruptive physicians, physician ownership of health care facilities, tobacco control, and medical homes. The 42-member Texas Delegation broke into five workgroups to the proposed action items before the house and take a stand on each. The reports and resolutions next go to five different reference committees Sunday morning, where AMA members can offer testimony, insight, and suggestions. The full house will take up the reference committees' recommendations in two open sessions beginning Monday afternoon.

Texans Bring Liability Resolution to AMA

Courts, Congress, and state legislatures shouldn’t grant pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers immunity from liability simply because their products were used according to Federal Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines, and TMA says the American Medical Association (AMA) needs to get involved. “Physicians may become not simply the ‘deep pocket,’ but quite likely the ‘only pocket’ against whom patients who are injured by said drugs or devices may seek redress,” says a resolution the Texas Delegation is bringing to the AMA House of Delegates meeting in Orlando. The resolution also calls on AMA to support liability protections for “physicians who use FDA-approved devices and pharmaceuticals in a reasonable and prudent manner.” The resolution stems from a lawsuit, Wyeth vs. Levine, which the U.S. Supreme Court heard on Monday, Nov. 3. TMA joined with several organizations, not including the AMA, in filing a brief in the case. Below is the full text of Resolution 201:

Equality of Civil Liability Preemption for Physicians
Whereas, The physicians of America rely on the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to perform the vital role of ensuring the reasonable safety of pharmaceuticals and devices used in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients; and Whereas, The FDA Pre-Market Approval (PMA), 510k (substantial equivalence), and New Drug Application (NDA) processes are designed to ensure that physicians can prescribe, implant, and apply the devices and pharmaceuticals that are FDA-approved with reasonable assurance of their safety for patients; and Whereas, Despite the methods and standards that the FDA employs, manufacturers from time to time withdraw drugs and devices, reveal significant new safety information concerning such products, or make labeling changes such as the addition of a black box warning; and Whereas, Patients do, from time to time, have adverse events from appropriately prescribed FDA-approved pharmaceuticals and medical devices; and Whereas, The current FDA administrator has opined in court proceedings that FDA approval preempts the drug or device manufacturer from civil liability in state courts, but these proceedings do not address preemption for physicians who prescribe or utilize these same FDA-approved drugs and devices; and Whereas, The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruling in February 2008 in Riegel v. Medtronic upheld preemption of the defendant medical device manufacturer from civil liability, yet did not address the protection for physicians who use or implant said devices; and Whereas, The Wyeth v. Levine case now before SCOTUS involves similar issues of preemption for the manufacturer of an FDA-approved pharmaceutical, without addressing the preemption status of the prescribing physician; and Whereas, If manufacturers of FDA-approved products are unilaterally granted preemption protection in all contexts (including reasonable but non-FDA-approved uses of drugs and devices), physicians may become not simply the “deep pocket,” but quite likely the “only pocket” against whom patients who are injured by said drugs or devices may seek redress; therefore be it RESOLVED, The our American Medical Association oppose efforts to grant greater levels of liability protection for manufacturers than for physicians, whether by court decision or statute (New HOD Policy); and be it further RESOLVED, That our AMA support state and federal legislation that addresses the civil liability of physicians who use FDA-approved devices and pharmaceuticals in a reasonable and prudent manner, so that physicians have no less than the level of protection offered the manufacturer for adverse events resulting from the use of said products (New HOD Policy); and be it further RESOLVED, That our AMA report on AMA activities in support of this policy to the House of Delegates at the 2009 Annual Meeting. (Directive to Take Action)

Nov 7, 2008

Apply Now for TMA's Ike Relief Fund

 

The Physicians Benevolent Fund of the Texas Medical Association is now accepting applications for the Hurricane Ike Disaster Relief Fund.

Apply Now for TMA's Ike Relief Fund

11/2/2008 6:00 PM

Medicare Payments Up 1.1 Percent Next Year

 

The hard work in Congress by TMA and the rest of organized medicine last summer paid off last month when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a final rule raising 2009 physician payments by 1.1 percent. The increase takes effect Jan. 1.

Medicare Payments Up 1.1 Percent Next Year

11/2/2008 6:00 PM

AG Supports Outpatient Mental Illness Coverage

 

State law requires group health benefit plans to cover, based on medical necessity, at least 60 visits per year for outpatient treatment of serious mental illness, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott ruled in an opinion issued in late October.

AG Supports Outpatient Mental Illness Coverage

11/2/2008 6:00 PM

Setting Up a Solo Practice? Don't Go It Alone

 

Are you thinking of opening a solo practice, but don't know where to begin? From securing a loan to hiring staff to choosing software and equipment, a myriad of tasks and important decisions awaits you.

Setting Up a Solo Practice? Don't Go It Alone

11/2/2008 6:00 PM

TMF Looking for Partnering Practices

 

TMF Health Quality Institute, the Medicare quality improvement organization for Texas, is seeking practices treating patients with diabetes to join a chronic kidney disease prevention initiative.

TMF Looking for Partnering Practices

11/2/2008 6:00 PM

TMB Selects Interim Leadership

 

The Texas Medical Board (TMB) named Austin pathologist Alan T. Moore, MD, as interim medical director, and Mari Robinson, JD, as interim executive director in October.

TMB Selects Interim Leadership

11/2/2008 6:00 PM

Cancer Institute Seeks Director

 

The Texas Cancer Prevention and Research Institute is looking for an executive director.

Cancer Institute Seeks Director

11/2/2008 6:00 PM

TDI Sets Workers' Comp Sessions

 

The Texas Department of Insurance Division of Workers' Compensation (TDI-DWC) will host a series of free educational sessions throughout the state in November and December for physicians and other health care professionals, employers, human resource …

TDI Sets Workers' Comp Sessions

11/2/2008 6:00 PM

TMA Convinces United to Cover Synagis Earlier

 

UnitedHealthcare responded to a request from TMA and the Texas Pediatric Society and changed its policy for covering administration of Synagis to patients at increased risk for complications of respiratory syncytial virus. United began covering up to …

TMA Convinces United to Cover Synagis Earlier

11/2/2008 6:00 PM

United Begins Premium Designation Course

 

UnitedHealthcare is offering an online continuing education course to help physicians understand the methodology it uses in its Premium physician designation program.

United Begins Premium Designation Course

11/2/2008 6:00 PM

Keep TMA Working for You: Renew Today!

 

TMA and many county medical societies began mailing their 2009 membership renewal statements in October. Don't wait to renew! The strength of the association's 43,000 members increases our leverage and collective ability to address the most important …

Keep TMA Working for You: Renew Today!

11/2/2008 6:00 PM

Nov 4, 2008

TMA Lands on YouTube

TMA has posted five new videos on YouTube. Two each promote our health outreach programs: Be Wise -- Immunize and Hard Hats for Little Heads. The fifth focuses on an El Paso physician who came to Texas solely because of our improved medical liability climate. Do you have some YouTube videos to add to our collection? E-mail Brent Annear.


The TMA YouTube Collection Hard Hats for Little Heads: Wear Helmets Hard Hats for Little Heads: Wear Helmets Right Be Wise -- Immunize: Vaccines are Safe, Effective Be Wise -- Immunize: Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism Medical Liability Reform Works (Dr Saracino Profile)