Dec 22, 2009

Medicare Participation Deadline Extended

Congressional action to stop the 21.2-percent cut in Medicare payments to physicians on Jan. 1 prompted the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to extend the 2010 participation enrollment deadline until March 17.

Dec 21, 2009

Toolkit Helps Patients Start Year Healthy

As we ring in a new year, your patients likely are setting goals to improve their health. You are the key to ensuring your patients keep their New Year's resolutions to lose weight, quit smoking, and eat better. And it's easy to do with office-based tools offered in TMA's new Healthier Life Steps toolkit. It focuses on these four key behaviors:

  • Healthy eating,
  • Increasing physical activity,
  • Quitting smoking, and
  • Reducing risky drinking.

Dec 19, 2009

Medicare Physician Fee Cuts Delayed

Physician Fee Cuts Delayed

Cuts in Medicare payments to physicians in 2010 were delayed until March when the U.S. Senate approved a $636 billion military appropriations bill today. The bill includes a provision delaying Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) plans to reduce Medicare payments by 21.2 percent beginning Jan. 1. Physician payments are frozen at 2009 levels through Feb. 28.

The House passed it earlier in the week. The bill goes to President Obama for his signature.

TMA will continue to push Congress to adopt a permanent fix to institute a fair payment system that automatically keeps up with the cost of running a practice and is backed by a fair, stable funding formulaMedicare

Dec 14, 2009

If Congress Doesn't Act...

How will the planned cuts in Medicare payments to physicians affect your practice if Congress doesn't act before Jan. 1? The estimated average effect by physician specialty is posted on the TMA Web site. You'll find the Impact of Medicare 2010 Fee Schedule Changes and the Estimated Impact on Physicians of Medicare Change in Consult Billing.

Read more.

Dec 10, 2009

Member Survey: TMA Right on Health Reform

Member Survey: TMA Right on Health Reform Texas physicians and medical students say America's health system is in need of reform, but they don't prescribe radical change, and they believe the U.S. Congress' current treatment plan will do more harm than good. Those are the primary findings of a recent Texas Medical Association online poll of nearly 3,300 members.

2010 Medicare Enrollment Extended

Physicians have until Jan. 31 to decide if they want to change their participation status in the Medicare program next year. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) extended the enrollment period another 30 days last month because of changes in the 2010 Medicare physician fee schedule.

Dec 1, 2009

UTMB Struggles to Shrug Off Impact of Hurricane Ike -- Podcast TMA

When Hurricane Ike swept in off the Gulf of Mexico in the early morning hours last Sept. 13, 2008, officials at The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston were ready. They had evacuated all patients from their hospitals and secured research facilities. They had urged students, residents, and nonessential personnel to flee Galveston Island. And they had an emergency team of physicians, nurses, and other staff ready to ride out the storm and to provide care as needed.

Download the show now.

But UTMB officials were not prepared for the tremendous devastation that Hurricane Ike dealt to their campus. While there was very little damage from winds that topped 100 miles per hour, the storm surge Ike carried ashore from the gulf flooded more than 1 million square feet of ground-floor space throughout the campus.

The result was hundreds of millions of dollars in damages that disrupted training for both medical students and residents and shut down UTMB’s hospitals for months.

The cover story in the December issue of Texas Medicine chronicles the destruction Hurricane Ike wreaked on UTMB and the 15-month odyssey its students, faculty, and staff have gone through to put the pieces back together.>

In this installment of Podcast TMA, Ben Raimer, MD, UTMB’s senior vice president for health policy, and Steven Lieberman, MD, professor and vice dean for academic affairs, discuss the impact Ike had on UTMB’s educational and clinical operations and the continuing efforts to restore the campus and its hospitals.

This installment covers:

  • Extent of the damage to UTMB.
  • The impact of the storm on UTMB students and residents.
  • Status of the ongoing recovery efforts and how those efforts are being funded.
  • Future of UTMB in Galveston.
  • The status and future of “Old Red.”

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Here's the link. It takes you to the iTunes store. Subscription is free.
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  • 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 30, 2009

Impact of 2010 Medicare Fee Schedule

Impact of 2010 Medicare Fee Schedule
How will the planned cuts in Medicare payments to physicians affect your practice if Congress doesn't act before Jan. 1? The estimated average effect by physician specialty is posted on the TMA Web site. You'll find the Impact of Medicare 2010 Fee Schedule Changes by Specialty and the Estimated Impact on Physicians of Medicare Change in Consult Billing.

Nov 25, 2009

TMA Conference: Leadership During Change

Exciting, well-known speakers and some top-notch programs are among the reasons you should plan to attend the 2010 TMA Winter Conference, Jan. 29-30 in Austin. Gov. Rick Perry, American Medical Association President Jim Rohack, MD, National Medical Association President Willarda V. Edwards, MD, MBA, are among the scheduled speakers. U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, MD, also is invited to speak.

PDR and HCNN Now One

The Physicians’ Desk Reference (PDR) has merged with the Health Care Notification Network (HCNN), the only service that delivers Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-required drug alerts to physicians electronically. TMA works with the HCNN to help physicians enroll in the network.

Judge: Chiropractors Can't Do EMG, MUA

Physicians scored a patient safety and scope of practice victory against chiropractors Nov. 24 when Austin State District Judge Stephen Yelenosky said state law prevents chiropractors from performing clinical needle electromyography (EMG) or spinal manipulation under anesthesia (MUA). He granted a Texas Medical Association and Texas Medical Board request for a partial summary judgment against the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners and the Texas Chiropractic Association.

Nov 21, 2009

Texas Doctors: “Senate Health Plan Bad Medicine for Our Patients”

Texas Doctors: “Senate Health Plan Bad Medicine for Our Patients”
After careful analysis of both the good and bad provisions of the U.S. Senate health system reform bill (HR 3590), the Texas Medical Association has determined that it will not support the bill until it undergoes some necessary and significant changes. “We know that our patients – insured and uninsured, elderly and poor – need a much more efficient, effective, and accountable health care system,” said TMA President William H. Fleming III, MD. “But, on the whole, the Senate health plan is bad medicine for our patients.”

Nov 8, 2009

TMA Honors the Boss

Peers, old friends, coworkers, physicians, and others from the "family of medicine" gathered in Houston to celebrate Lou Goodman, the CEO and executive vice president of the Texas Medical Association. The American Medical Association presented Lou with its 2009 Medical Executive Lifetime Achievement Award for his 12 years at the helm of "America's Best Medical Society."

AMA House Debate on Health System Reform

House of Delegates debate on other matters appears to be stretching on. We will not begin debate of health system reform issues at 3 pm, CT. My best guess right now is 3:45 pm, but stay tuned.

AMA Reference Committee on Legislation

So far, four resolutions have been submitted directing AMA action or policy on health system reform. There are six other items on the reference committee agenda, but we will live blog only the debate on the four health system reform resolutions.


Nov 7, 2009

TMA EVP Lou Goodman Honored by AMA

The AMA today bestowed its Medical Executive Lifetime Achievement Award on Lou Goodman, PhD, the executive vice president and CEO of the Texas Medical Association. Dr. Goodman has served the TMA as its executive vice president for 11 years. Under his leadership, the TMA has become the largest state medical association and was named "America's Best Medical Society" by Medical Economics magazine.

In top photo, American Medical Association President Jim Rohack, MD, (right) poses with Dr. Goodman. Below, Dr. Goodman with daughter Wendy and wife JoAnne await the award presentation.

Forum on Health System Reform - Live Coverage

One More Texan Wins AMA Post

And, finally, congratulations to Erin Dunnigan, MD, a fellow in endocrinology at Parkland Hosptial in Dallas. She was just elected alternate delegate to the AMA House of Delegates from the Residents and Fellows Section.

Should AMA Reset Support for HR 3962?

Here is the text of Late Resolution that may be considered by AMA House of Delegates later today: "Resolved, that the House of Delegates of the American Medical Association rescinds the action taken by the AMA Board of Trustees supporting HR 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act." If this comes up, language regarding "AMA Board of Trustees" should come out. Not certain on timetable for consideration at this point.

Dr. Bias Elected to AMA House

Another Texan has won an election at the interim meeting of the AMA House of Delegates in Houston. Travis Bias, DO, who is in the second year at the Memorial Family Medicine Residency Program in Houston, was elected as one of two residents to sit in the AMA House. Way to continue your contributions to organized medicine, Travis.

Texans Prepare for Health System Reform Debate

Texas delegates to the American Medical Association House of Delegates Interim Meeting in Houston spent hours this morning discussing the AMA's position on health system reform and whether or how TMA should work to influence it.


Texas Student Wins Spot on AMA Board

Congratulations to Meredith Williams, medical student at Baylor College of Medicine. She just won election as the student member of the American Medical Association Board of Trustees. Her term on the board will begin in June. Way to go Meredith!

Nov 5, 2009

Live Blog Coverage of Health System Reform at AMA House of Delegates

Blogged Arteries will provide frequent updates, and some live coverage, of the health system reform discussion at debates from the interim meeting of the American Medical Association House of Delegates, Nov. 7-10, in Houston. Live blogging events we know of so far (all times CST):

  • Forum on Health System Reform, 4-5:30 pm, Sat., Nov. 7, featuring AMA President Jim Rohack, MD, and U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (R-Texas)
  • Reference Committee on Legislation, 8:30-12 noon, Sun., Nov. 8. So far, four resolutions have been submitted directing AMA action or policy on health system reform. There are six other items on the reference committee agenda, but we will love blog only the debate on the four health system reform resolutions.

Visit our coveritlive events on the links above to enter a reminder to tune in for the live coverage.

You can also follow TMA's coverage of the meeting on Twitter. Follow @texmed. Use hash tag #AMAmeeting.

Oct 28, 2009

FDA Approves Peramivir Use for H1N1

Rapid spread of the H1N1 flu virus has prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to authorize the use of the investigational antiviral drug peramivir.

FDA Approves Peramivir Use for H1N1
10/26/2009 7:00 PM

PBF Helps Us Take Care of Our Own

The TMA Physicians Benevolent Fund (PBF) helps those in the extended TMA family who need support because of poverty, infirmity, disability, accident, or other adversity. This extended family embraces physicians, their widows, widowers, and dependents.

PBF Helps Us Take Care of Our Own
10/26/2009 7:00 PM

Bill Exempts Small Practices From Red Flag Rule

Small physician and accounting practices are exempt from the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) "red flags rule" under legislation the U.S. House of Representatives passed on Oct. 20.

Bill Exempts Small Practices From Red Flag Rule
10/26/2009 7:00 PM

TMA Foundation Plans 2010 TexMed Benefit

TMA Foundation’s 17th annual benefit on Friday, April 30, 2010, offers a night filled with western charm and entertainment.

TMA Foundation Plans 2010 TexMed Benefit
10/26/2009 7:00 PM

EMR Guide Links to a Better Future

The potential of health information technology (HIT), including electronic medical records (EMR), to strengthen the health care system and improve quality of care has garnered nationwide attention.

EMR Guide Links to a Better Future
10/26/2009 7:00 PM

How Would You Change the 1500 Form?

The National Uniform Claim Committee (NUCC) is asking physicians, insurers, and others in the health care industry to complete a survey on potential changes to the 1500 Health Insurance Claim Form.

How Would You Change the 1500 Form?
10/21/2009 7:00 PM

Oct 22, 2009

Invasion - Responding to H1N1 Flu: Podcast TMA

Seasonal influenza and the novel H1N1 form of the virus have descended upon physicians' offices across the state of Texas. Doctors face a rare challenge this year as they hustle to vaccinate patients against two forms of disease while staying up to date on the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), and local health departments.

Download the show.

This installment of Podcast TMA examines the DSHS plan of action in response to novel H1N1 flu and seasonal flu. The cover story of the November 2009 issue of Texas Medicine magazine examines planning for both strains of the virus at the state and local level and stresses the importance of physicians vaccinating themselves against the diseases. Today, James Morgan, DSHS assistant commissioner for Regional and Local Health Services, shares the latest information on preventing influenza overload in your community and treating the illnesses promptly.

This installment covers:

  • Advice for physicians caring for patients sick with H1N1 flu and seasonal flu;
  • An update on the H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines;
  • The importance of a well-coordinated local response to flu this year; and
  • Resources for physicians regarding the H1N1 flu vaccine, use of antiviral drugs, and flu treatment advice.

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.)

Oct 19, 2009

Emergency Medicare Votes Coming

The Texas Medical Association urges members to contact U.S. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn today and ask them to support S 1776, the "Medicare Physicians Fairness Act of 2009," which will be the subject of a critical vote in the Senate …

Emergency Medicare Votes Coming
10/15/2009 7:00 PM

Oct 14, 2009

STAT!Ref Delivered Through TMA Web Site

You can take it with you! STAT!Ref mobile, that is. STAT!Ref has been optimized for delivery on mobile devices! Now, you can get smart healthcare answers stat right from your smartphone.

STAT!Ref Delivered Through TMA Web Site 10/13/2009 7:00 PM

TEXPAC Hosts Senate Candidate Forum

Six Texans who want to be the next U.S. Senator from our state will make their cases to the Texas Medical Association Political Action Committee (TEXPAC) at a candidate forum at 7 pm Oct. 24 during the TMA Specialty Society Legislative Retreat at the Westin …

TEXPAC Hosts Senate Candidate Forum
10/12/2009 7:00 PM

Medicare Begins 2008 PQRI Payments

Medicare began making 2008 incentive payments to physicians participating in the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI) on Oct. 12.

Medicare Begins 2008 PQRI Payments
10/12/2009 7:00 PM

Entrust Your Insurance to TMLT

The Texas Medical Liability Trust (TMLT) has a new colleague referral program called Entrust.

Entrust Your Insurance to TMLT
10/12/2009 7:00 PM

TPHP Governing Board Appointed

Texas Medical Board President Irvin Zeitler, DO, has appointed the members of the governing board of the Texas Physicians Health Program (TPHP).

TPHP Governing Board Appointed
10/12/2009 7:00 PM

Are You Ready for the RAC?

Are you prepared to deal the Medicare's Recovery Audit Contractor program to recover improperly paid claims next year? If not, TMA can help make sure you are.

Are You Ready for the RAC?
10/12/2009 7:00 PM

Oct 9, 2009

Medicaid, Medicare to Reimburse for H1N1

Medicaid will reimburse physicians for administering the intranasal or injected H1N1 vaccine, the Texas Medicaid and Healthcare Partnership says in a notice posted on its Web site.

Medicaid, Medicare to Reimburse for H1N1
10/8/2009 7:00 PM

Blue Cross Doctor Data Stolen

Blue Cross and Blue Shield officials say a laptop computer with a file containing identifying information for every physician in the country who contracts with a Blue Cross-affiliated insurance plan was stolen in August.

Blue Cross Doctor Data Stolen
10/7/2009 7:00 PM

TDI Offers Workers' Comp Help By Phone

Physicians who treat workers' compensation patients can get information and guidance from the Texas Department of Insurance Division of Workers' Compensation by calling the new Comp Connection for Health Care Providers at (800) 372-7713 or, in the Austin …

TDI Offers Workers' Comp Help By Phone
10/7/2009 7:00 PM

Oct 7, 2009

Red Flag Rule Starts in November

The Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) oft-delayed "red flags rule" is scheduled to take effect until Nov. 1, and physicians need to know how the rule will affect their practices

Red Flag Rule Starts in November
10/6/2009 7:00 PM

El Paso Last House Call Stop

The final TMA "house call" on health system reform will be in El Paso on Thursday, Oct. 22, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, at Cathedral High School, 1309 N. Stanton

El Paso Last House Call Stop
10/6/2009 7:00 PM

Earn a Bonus for Your EMR

You may be able to earn bonuses through Medicare (up to $44,000) or Medicaid (up to $63,750) over the next several years if you demonstrate "meaningful use" of an electronic medical record (EMR) in your practice.

Earn a Bonus for Your EMR
10/6/2009 7:00 PM

We Need Your Help! Take a Survey

TMA encourages you to participate in a brief national survey to help better understand and evaluate how physicians can be incorporated into, and be reimbursed for participating in, employer-based health improvement and other employer health-management …

We Need Your Help! Take a Survey
10/6/2009 7:00 PM

Honor a Science Teacher

Did a science teacher influence you to go into medicine?

Honor a Science Teacher
10/6/2009 7:00 PM

Nominate a 'Champion' Health Program

Oct. 30 is the deadline to nominate a health improvement program for the 2010 TMA Foundation John P. McGovern Champion of Health Award.

Nominate a 'Champion' Health Program
10/6/2009 7:00 PM

Five Things to Consider This Flu Season

From TMA Flu Fighters: H1N1 may infect a greater proportion of our population than is typically experienced with seasonal influenza. As a result, we may see greater numbers of hospitalizations and deaths this flu season, particularly in the younger age …

Five Things to Consider This Flu Season
10/5/2009 7:00 PM

TMA Schedules McAllen, El Paso House Calls

TMA has added two more events to its series of "house calls" on health system reform so physicians can learn firsthand how patients feel about the current health system reform proposals.

TMA Schedules McAllen, El Paso House Calls
9/28/2009 7:00 PM

Flu Fighters' Tips On Fighting the Flu

Physicians and patients battling H1N1 flu and the seasonal flu this season have someone in their corner. A subcommittee of the TMA Committee on Infectious Diseases, known as the Flu Fighters, will keep practitioners up to date on H1N1 information and …

Flu Fighters' Tips On Fighting the Flu
9/28/2009 7:00 PM

It's 'Collection Season'

October is the beginning of "collection season" for agencies, a roughly six-month period of mostly increasing recoveries.

It's 'Collection Season'
9/28/2009 7:00 PM

Doctor Wanted

Family Practice Physician position/practice available in critical access hospital and rural health clinic in small, rural community between Fort Worth and Red River.

Doctor Wanted
9/28/2009 7:00 PM

CMS Issues New Medicare Marketing Rules

Responding to concerns about marketing and sales of Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Part D plans, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has issued rules to prevent abuses and protect patients.

CMS Issues New Medicare Marketing Rules
9/24/2009 7:00 PM

TMA Offers Congress Insights on Reform

Noting that physicians "should advocate for the well-being of their patients," Texas Medical Association President William H. Fleming III, MD, has written Texas members of Congress  written Texas members of Congress that the state's physicians "stand ready …

TMA Offers Congress Insights on Reform
9/24/2009 7:00 PM

Tort Reform Prompts More TMLT Premium Cuts

For the seventh time since TMA pushed liability insurance reform through the legislature in 2003, the Texas Medical Liability Trust (TMLT) is cutting physicians' premiums.

Tort Reform Prompts More TMLT Premium Cuts
9/22/2009 7:00 PM

DSHS Ships H1N1 Antivirals to H-E-B

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has shipped H1N1 antivirals to 194 H-E-B pharmacies in 42 Texas counties to make sure the medication is available for uninsured and underinsured persons.

DSHS Ships H1N1 Antivirals to H-E-B
9/21/2009 7:00 PM

New Law Affects Pregnancy Testing

Effective Jan. 1, a new state law will change the way pregnant women are tested for HIB.

New Law Affects Pregnancy Testing
9/21/2009 7:00 PM

Can You Earn Your EMR Bonus?

Is your practice ready to demonstrate "meaningful use" of an electronic medical record (EMR) so you are in line to earn bonuses through Medicare (up to $44,000) or Medicaid (up to $63,750) over the next several years?

Can You Earn Your EMR Bonus?
9/21/2009 7:00 PM

Oct 1, 2009

New Med School Opens on the Border - Podcast TMA

In July, the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Paul L. Foster School of Medicine opened its doors to an inaugural class of 40 students. The Foster School of Medicine is the first new medical school in Texas in more than 30 years and the only medical school located on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Download the show now.

The cover story in the October issue of Texas Medicine takes an in depth look at the Foster School of Medicine and some of the things that make it unique among Texas medical schools. In this installment of Podcast TMA, Jose Manuel de la Rosa, MD, founding dean of the Foster School of Medicine; Manuel Schydlower, MD, professor of pediatrics and associate dean for admissions; and Brian Tobin, PhD, associate dean of medical education and founding chair of the Department of Medical Education, discuss the start of medical school classes and their unique approach to medical education. This installment covers:

  • The opening of the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine.
  • The school’s “holistic” approach to medical school admissions.
  • An “integrated” curriculum that bases instruction on organ systems and promotes clinical experiences in the earliest stages of medical school education.
  • The school’s emersion of its students in the cultural, language, and family dynamics of border residents.
  • The Foster School of Medicine’s plans for future expansion.

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.)

Sep 18, 2009

New Network Enhances Patient Safety

The Health Care Notification Network (HCNN) that offers U.S. Food Drug Administration (FDA) drug and medical device recalls and safety alerts has merged with the Physicians' Desk Reference to form the PDR Network.

New Network Enhances Patient Safety
9/16/2009 7:00 PM

Sep 14, 2009

Posters Educate Patients About Reform

You can influence the message your patients receive on health system reform by using your waiting room and exam room walls.

Posters Educate Patients About Reform
9/11/2009 7:00 PM

Foundation Says HSR Balloons Health Cost

Health system reform has never been attempted in the face of "deep and persistent" physician shortages developing in the United States. Furthermore, it is "untenable to believe that the large increases in spending that are contemplated by insurance …

Foundation Says HSR Balloons Health Cost
9/9/2009 7:00 PM

Sep 11, 2009

Me and My Doctor Campaign - Podcast TMA

The topic of this installment of Podcast TMA is "Me and My Doctor, We Know Best," the campaign that TMA has developed to help physicians talk to their patients about the national health system reform debate. The message to Congress and President Obama is simple: “Fix what’s broken; keep what’s good.”

Download the show now.

Our guests are Dan McCoy, MD, a dermatologist from Dallas and chair of TMA's Council on Legislation, and Bryan Eppstein, of Capitol Alliance Public Affairs. Both men helped to develop the new campaign. We did this interview during a break in the action at TMA's 2009 fall conference.

The topics we coverd include:

  • Why TMA developed the new campaign,
  • How the campaign message and imagery were developed,
  • What the campaign means to TMA as an organization and to its members,
  • The importance of the patient-physician relationship to grassroots advocacy, and
  • The role of social networks like Twitter and Facebook in the new campaign.

Learn more about the "Me and My Doctor" campaign.

Order campaign materials.

Use social media to spread the campaign.

Visit the "Me and My Doctor" Web site for patients.


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.)

Sep 10, 2009

AMA Defines Seven Health Reform Principles

Congress should adopt health system reforms that will benefit all Americans, American Medical Association President Jim Rohack, MD, says in a letter to President Obama and Congress.

AMA Defines Seven Health Reform Principles
9/8/2009 7:00 PM

State Plans for Tamiflu Shortage

State health officials are anticipating limited availability of commercial Tamiflu oral suspension by posting dosage charts on the www.texasflu.org Web site.

State Plans for Tamiflu Shortage
9/8/2009 7:00 PM

Medicaid Corrects Cardiac Code Errors

State Medicaid officials say they mistakenly deactivated coverage for numerous cardiac, pathology, and other codes.

Medicaid Corrects Cardiac Code Errors
9/8/2009 7:00 PM

HHSC Seeks Translators

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is accepting applications for membership on the Advisory Committee on Qualifications for Health Care Translators and Interpreters.

HHSC Seeks Translators
9/8/2009 7:00 PM

H1N1 Vaccine Coming in October

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has notified Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) officials that Texas can expect to receive its first shipment of novel H1N1 flu vaccine during the first week of October, a second shipment …

H1N1 Vaccine Coming in October
9/7/2009 7:00 PM

Sep 1, 2009

Doctors Surviving the Recession - Podcast TMA

Covering overhead costs, paying staff members, purchasing supplies and equipment, and paying the office lease are tougher for physicians right now. The economic recession afflicting the country is having an effect on physicians' ability to meet operational costs while continuing to provide high-quality, life-saving care. To stay up and running, some physicians are taking out lines of credit and obtaining loans.

Download the show now.

This installment of Podcast TMA examines the effect the economic recession is having on physicians' practices. The cover story of the September 2009 issue of Texas Medicine magazine tells the story of a young physician who obtains a loan to open a new practice and the daily financial challenges that face two established physicians. Today, Lindsay Irvin, MD, a San Antonio pediatrician who owns Alamo Heights Pediatrics, and Carlos Diaz, MD, a Boerne ophthalmologist who opened Diaz Vision Center last year, share their stories and some tips other physicians can use to weather this economic recession. This installment covers:

  • Measures physicians have taken to ensure the financial viability of their practices;
  • How the economic downturn has affected some Texas medical practices;
  • The impact of the recession on patients; and
  • Advice for medical practices struggling to survive the economic downturn.


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.)

Aug 30, 2009

Sign the "Fix What's Wrong; Keep What's Good" Petition

This is TMA's primary message for health system reform. Sign and share the petition. As Congress prepares to return to Washington, it's time for patients and their physicians to turn up the heat. Not scare tactics, just a solid ask to fix what's wrong and keep what's good in today's health care system.

Click to sign the petition

A WRONG TURN on the road to national health care reform would be disastrous. After all, everyone is along for this ride. Your doctor is asking YOU to buckle up and tell Congress to SLOW DOWN and get it right. Clearly, the road map to health care reform needs to get us to a place where we fix what’s wrong and keep what’s good.

What’s WRONG with American health care:

  • Too many Americans are uninsured
  • Too much of our health care dollar is spent elsewhere, not on health care
  • Congress is not paying fairly for Medicare and Medicaid
  • Too much insurance profit, hassle and abuse
  • Lawsuit abuse drives up health care costs

What’s GOOD with American health care:

  • Doctors work for you, the patient
  • You, the patient, have a choice of doctors and hospitals
  • Highest quality in the world
  • Innovation and cures save and extend lives
  • It’s not a government run system where you wait and wait

Don’t let Congress drive this debate into the political ditch and wreck all that’s GOOD for your health. It’s time to “hit the horn” and let Congress know which road to travel. Your Doctor and the Texas Medical Association want YOU to call, write, e-mail and/or visit your U.S. Senators and Representative. If you don’t take the wheel, someone else will steer your health care decisions for you. It’s your call.

Aug 28, 2009

Use Your Own Billboards

Do you want to influence the message your patients receive on health system reform? You can. All you have to do is use your waiting room and exam room walls.

Use Your Own Billboards
8/27/2009 7:00 PM

Suehs Replaces Hawkins at HHSC

Gov. Rick Perry appointed Thomas Suehs executive commissioner of Texas Health and Human Services Commission

Suehs Replaces Hawkins at HHSC

8/27/2009 7:00 PM

Texas Child Vaccination Rank Soars

In a poll much more important than the BCS, Texas jumped 10 spots in immunization  of children, thanks in part to TMA's emphasis on immunization through its Be Wise — ImmunizeSM  campaign

Texas Child Vaccination Rank Soars
8/27/2009 7:00 PM

New WIC Rules Start Next Month

New requirements for physicians are part of changes in the state's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC) that take effect Oct. 1.

New WIC Rules Start Next Month
8/26/2009 7:00 PM

Aug 27, 2009

Assess your Billing and Collections

Do you know if your staff effectively works your accounts receivable?

Assess your Billing and Collections
8/26/2009 7:00 PM

DSHS Extends School Vaccination Period

The Department of State Health Services has given parents until Oct. 1 to have their children immunized to comply with some of the vaccination requirements for attending Texas schools.

DSHS Extends School Vaccination Period
8/26/2009 7:00 PM

Advertise on the TMA Web Site

e-MDs, Inc. a physician-owned and physician-led company that develops electronic health record software, is recruiting physician applicants for a one year health information technology training program.

Advertise on the TMA Web Site
8/26/2009 7:00 PM

TMA Expands Health Reform House Calls

TMA and county medical society leaders have added new town hall meetings — "House Calls" — in Wichita Falls and Greenville in September so physicians can learn firsthand how more patients feel about the current health system reform proposals.

TMA Expands Health Reform House Calls
8/25/2009 7:00 PM

TMB Allows Expedited Partner Therapy

Physicians now may treat the sex partners of patients diagnosed with chlamydia or gonorrhea without first examining the partner, thanks to an amendment adopted by the Texas Medical Board.

TMB Allows Expedited Partner Therapy
8/25/2009 7:00 PM

DSHS Only Source of H1N1 Vaccine

Any physician wanting novel H1NI influenza vaccine must get it from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). The vaccine is free, but will not be available through the normal vaccine-purchasing and distribution process.

DSHS Only Source of H1N1 Vaccine
8/24/2009 7:00 PM

AMA Offers HSR Resources

The American Medical Association is trying to calm some of the confusing din over health system reform. The following letter from AMA President Jim Rohack, MD, explains what AMA is trying to do, why it took the position it did, and what it is doing to …

AMA Offers HSR Resources
8/13/2009 7:00 PM

Aug 14, 2009

TMA Launches Health System Reform Campaign

Believing that President Obama and Congress must slow down and get health system reform right, the Texas Medical Association has launched the "Me and My Doctor, We Know Best" patient-physician action campaign.

TMA Launches Health System Reform Campaign
8/13/2009 7:00 PM

Aug 13, 2009

Heard From Humana or HRI? We Want to Know

Has Humana approved or rejected your appeal of the company's decisions to remove you from its Medicare Advantage PPO and/or Preferred PPO/Preferred Point of Service networks? Have you received a letter from Health Research Insights (HRI) demanding …

Heard From Humana or HRI? We Want to Know
8/12/2009 7:00 PM

Get Ready! Swine Flu is Coming!

Physicians can get their practices ready for a resurgence of H1N1 (swine flu) influenza expected this fall by attending one of the regional conferences the Texas Department of State Health Services will hold across Texas in August and September.

Get Ready! Swine Flu is Coming!
8/12/2009 7:00 PM

Aug 11, 2009

Nominate an Outstanding Science Teacher

TMA encourages you to nominate exceptional science teachers for the 2009-10 Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching.

Nominate an Outstanding Science Teacher
8/10/2009 7:00 PM

Debate Health Reform at Fall Conference

As a more cohesive demand for health system change arises from public, business, labor, and physician groups, the debate on the best way to achieve it … and pay for it … intensifies. Take this opportunity to participate in this controversial discussion …

Debate Health Reform at Fall Conference
8/10/2009 7:00 PM

State Warns of Minutes Solicitation

Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade is warning incorporated businesses that a Los Angeles company calling itself the "Office of The Compliance Recorder" is mailing an official-looking document that claims directors and shareholders could face personal …

State Warns of Minutes Solicitation
8/9/2009 7:00 PM

Take Your Health Care Concerns to the Top

 

Take Your Health Care Concerns to the Top

When Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn and your U.S. representative come home for Congress' August recess, please visit with them and share your hopes, concerns, and fears about what we've seen at the Capitol so far this year. Because the Democrats control both houses of Congress, it is especially important that physicians with Democratic representatives take the time to visit with them

7/30/2009 7:00 PM

TMA Holds Health Reform House Calls

TMA and county medical society leaders are hosting town hall meetings – "House Calls" – around the state through the rest of the month so that physicians can learn firsthand how patients feel about the current health system reform proposals.

TMA Holds Health Reform House Calls
7/30/2009 7:00 PM

Aug 4, 2009

Doctor's Orders Followed - Podcast TMA

The 81st Texas Legislature proved to be one of the stranger sessions in recent history. The cover story in the August issue of Texas Medicine takes a look at how the Texas House got off to a slow start when representatives ousted incumbent Speaker Tom Craddick and chose new leadership. The Senate also nearly melted down at the beginning of the session because of a rules fight over the controversial voter ID bill. And in the waning days of the session, work in the House ground virtually to a halt as opponents of that very same voter ID bill used stalling tactics that ended up killing hundreds of other pieces of legislation.

Download the show.

Still, Texas Medical Association won some tremendous victories. Included among those were bills to require insurance companies to use valid and accurate data when ranking physicians, boost funding for graduate medical education, greatly expand the state’s physician education loan repayment program, and more.

In this installment of Podcast TMA, Dan McCoy, MD, chair of TMA’s Council on Legislation, and TMA Board of Trustees member Lewis Foxhall, MD, who chaired a TMA Ad Hoc Committee on Health Insurance Reform, discuss what TMA accomplished this session and those things that most likely will resurface in the 2011 legislative session.

(Editor's note: We apologize for the sound quality of parts of this show. Dr. McCoy participated in the discussion via his mobile phone. But we decided what he had to say more than made up for the quality of the reproduction.)

This installment covers:

  • The impact the legislative environment had on TMA’s advocacy efforts.
  • TMA’s major legislative victories on health insurance reform, defending tort reform, maintaining the ban on the corporate practice of medicine, and more.
  • The importance of defeating trial lawyer efforts to water down the 2003 medical liability reforms.
  • Where the debate on direct employment of physicians by hospitals is likely headed in the interim before the next session.

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  • 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.)

Jul 31, 2009

Comment Soon on Medicare Fee Cuts

Aug. 31 is the deadline to comment on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' proposal for cutting Medicare payments to physicians by 21.5 percent next year.

Comment Soon on Medicare Fee Cuts
7/29/2009 7:00 PM

Blue Cross Settlement Checks on the Way

Physicians who filed claims in the $131 million settlement of organized medicine's antiracketeering lawsuit against Blue Cross and Blue Shield should receive their checks by mid-August, says Joe R. Whatley Jr., JD, one of the attorneys representing …

Blue Cross Settlement Checks on the Way
7/29/2009 7:00 PM

Jul 30, 2009

FTC Delays Red Flags Rule Three Months

Thanks in part to organized medicine's objections, the Federal Trade Commission postponed its "red flags rule" until Nov. 1 to give businesses, including physicians, more time to comply with the anti-identity theft rules.

FTC Delays Red Flags Rule Three Months
7/28/2009 7:00 PM

Newborn Bloodspots Destruction Available

Spurred by criticism from a group of parents, state lawmakers passed legislation allowing parents of children born in Texas to direct the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to destroy dried bloodspot samples.

Newborn Bloodspots Destruction Available
7/26/2009 7:00 PM

Jul 27, 2009

Treatments That Work; Free Facts from TMA

Newsweek writer Sharon Begley has written A Science Fact Check, about why it makes sense to study which treatments work and which don't. This article highlights the Cochrane Collection, one of the world's largest collections of volunteer scientist and …

Treatments That Work; Free Facts from TMA
7/26/2009 7:00 PM

TMA Committee Helps Prevent Pertussis

TMA's Committee on Infectious Diseases is working with Williamson County officials and health care workers to slow the spread of pertussis by campaigning for vaccinations. The project will focus on promoting Tdap vaccine in Williamson County, where …

TMA Committee Helps Prevent Pertussis
7/26/2009 7:00 PM

TMA Wants 'Meaningful Use' Meaningful

The Texas Medical Association agrees in principle with the federal government's attempt to define "meaningful use" of electronic medical records, especially with how it moves "from 'pay-for-reporting' in 2011 to 'pay-for-doing' in 2013 and then …

TMA Wants 'Meaningful Use' Meaningful
7/14/2009 7:00 PM

Jul 19, 2009

HR 3200 will cause medical care to cost more

(Guest post by Ken Mattox, MD, professor and vice chairman of surgery in the General Surgery Division of the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine. In addition, he serves as Chief of the Surgery Service and Chief of Staff at Ben Taub General Hospital.)

See the editorial [Editor: column from David Broder] from today's Houston Chronicle. This AM (Sunday) Meet the Press (NBC) supported the same observation.

The current House of Representatives proposed bill will INCREASE the cost of health care, NOT address the 17-22 million of the 47 million uninsured that are undocumented aliens, and will increase the current problems with Medicare. This bill also gives increased money and independence to nurses and others for suggested independent practice. This bill does not address the cost drivers like futility, duplicate or unnecessary ordering of tests, nor the 50 percent of the health care costs that are administrative, hassle, and tort focused. CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf stated on Thursday that this bill would break the budget. I heard the President and others state that the overriding force to reform health care is to reduce costs and to address the economics to the benefit of all. HR 3200 does not do this, it does just the opposite. I do not understand.

The Texas Delegation to the AMA and others have also joined the AMA in making some overriding governing principles: QUALITY AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE, ADDRESS THE COSTS, ACCESS. We are even working on a Texas plan via the TMA. It seems to me that the senior congressional economic advisor as well as this morning's talk shows and the Chronicle editorial underscore that the current approach via HR 3200 is NOT addressing either the president's own priorities as stated to the AMA, nor the AMA's nor the TMA's overriding governing principles.

I for one do not know what HR 3200 really does address favorably. Yes, I did down load it and I did read it.

I would plead that as we create a bill in Congress to address Quality Care, Affordability, Access, etc, that we really address these issues. I am concerned that some of our professional organizations, such as my own American College of Surgeons, endorsed HR3200, even before it was out in any form to read, and did not add the overriding moral and governing principles (as did the AMA and the TMA) that are necessary for success and continuance of what is sacred in the ability to care for patients.

I totally agree that economically status quo is not an option, but this bill does not address, nor solve, the current economic death spiral. Those who are at the table writing legislation still seem afraid to address the root causes. I am proud to say that TMA is addressing many of the root causes while preserving the patient physician relationship.

HR 3200 seem to only INCREASE the cost of government AND forms thousands of NEW bureaucratic commissions to review just how we practice medicine and create even more hassle.

Jul 15, 2009

Free PQRI Webinar Coming from TMA, TrailBlazer

If you have wondered whether Medicare's quality incentive program is worth your while, or if you are not sure how to participate, take a free online seminar to learn more.

Free PQRI Webinar Coming from TMA, TrailBlazer
7/13/2009 7:00 PM

Texas Electronic Prescriptions Soar

Texas physicians are writing more prescriptions than ever, according to a survey by SureScripts, the organization that operates the country's largest electronic prescribing network.

Texas Electronic Prescriptions Soar
7/13/2009 7:00 PM

Jul 14, 2009

State Plans for Swine Flu Surge

Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) officials say they are planning for the potential resurgence of the H1N1, or swine flu, virus in the fall with a Texas Pandemic Influenza Summit in Austin on Aug. 10.

State Plans for Swine Flu Surge
7/12/2009 7:00 PM

Fall Conference Hotel Deadline Coming

Aug. 3 is the last day to reserve your hotel room for the 2009 TMA Fall Conference Sept. 4-5 at the Hyatt Hotel in Austin and take advantage of TMA's special rate of $159.

Fall Conference Hotel Deadline Coming
7/12/2009 7:00 PM

Jul 1, 2009

Add CHIP to Special Session, TMA Says

TMA President William H. Fleming III, MD, urged Gov. Rick Perry to add legislation expanding the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to the agenda for the special session of the Texas Legislature that begins today, July 1.

Add CHIP to Special Session, TMA Says
6/29/2009 7:00 PM

Sign Up for Border Health Newsletter

You can stay up to date on the work of the United States-Mexico Border Health Commission by subscribing to the commission's E-Border Health bulletins.

Sign Up for Border Health Newsletter
6/29/2009 7:00 PM

TMA, AMA Question HIT Incentives Timeline

TMA, AMA, and dozens of other physician organizations told federal officials they generally support the federal government's attempt to define "meaningful use" of electronic health records (EHR), but they have some reservations.

TMA, AMA Question HIT Incentives Timeline
6/29/2009 7:00 PM

TMA Monitoring State Recoupment Actions

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) is sending letters to approximately 125 physicians and 75 hospitals to recover payments HHSC says were made erroneously for services provided to patients residing in Institutions of Mental Disease …

TMA Monitoring State Recoupment Actions
6/29/2009 7:00 PM

2009 CME Conference in July

If you are involved in planning the content of continuing medical education (CME) activities for your hospital, county medical society, specialty society, or other organization, you'll find the upcoming 2009 Texas CME Conference Wednesday through Friday, …

2009 CME Conference in July
6/28/2009 7:00 PM

Medical Educator Award Nominations Sought

Do you know an outstanding medical educator deserving of recognition? If so, you can nominate him or her to receive the TIAA-CREF Distinguished Medical Educator Award. Nominations are accepted until Aug. 15.

Medical Educator Award Nominations Sought
6/28/2009 7:00 PM

Special Session Starts July 1

A special session of the Texas Legislature to finish up the business it didn't get to in the regular session begins July 1.

Special Session Starts July 1
6/27/2009 7:00 PM

TMA Classifieds Online

WOL+MED in Denton is hiring a physicians to work in its occupational medicine / family practice office.

TMA Classifieds Online
6/27/2009 7:00 PM

Encourage Parents to Vaccinate Kids Now

The Texas Department of State Health Services has changed vaccination requirements for children. Students entering kindergarten and seventh grade may need more shots before the school year begins.

Encourage Parents to Vaccinate Kids Now
6/27/2009 7:00 PM

Medicare Scam Alert!

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) says someone posing as Medicare carriers or Medicare administrative contractors is sending faxes to physician offices.

Medicare Scam Alert!
6/23/2009 7:00 PM

Red Flags Rules A Month Away

The Federal Trade Commission says physicians who regularly bill their patients for services (includes billing for copayments and coinsurance) are creditors and must develop and implement written identity theft prevention programs for their practices by …

Red Flags Rules A Month Away
6/23/2009 7:00 PM

Reform Main Topic of TMA Fall Conference

At his speech to the annual American Medical Association meeting in Chicago last month, President Barack Obama emphasized the importance of physician participation in the debate over health system reform. The nation’s sharp focus on health care issues …

Reform Main Topic of TMA Fall Conference
6/23/2009 7:00 PM

Swine Flu as Tea Leaves for Seasonal Flu: Podcast TMA

This year's flu season could get hairy for physicians. That's because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and public health officials are forecasting the reemergence of the H1N1 flu strain that hit the nation this spring and spread to pandemic proportion. In response, the pharmaceutical industry is busy working on producing an H1N1 vaccine. Physicians can take steps now to get ready to amplify vaccination efforts to protect the public and themselves against seasonal flu and H1N1 flu this fall. This installment of podcast TMA examines the likely recurrence of H1N1 flu and the physician response necessary to prevent the spread of that virus and of seasonal influenza. Download the show now. The cover story of the July 2009 issue of Texas Medicine magazine takes a look at the state's response to H1N1 flu and efforts to produce an effective vaccine in time for flu season. Today, Edward Sherwood, MD, Central Texas Veterans Health Care System chief of staff, chair of TMA's Committee on Infectious Diseases, and Williamson County health authority; and Pedro Piedra, MD, professor of molecular virology, microbiology, and pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, discuss what physicians need to know to cope with H1N1 flu and seasonal influenza this fall. This installment covers:

  • Additional precautions health care workers should take to protect themselves from both types of flu;
  • Advantages and challenges of administering an H1N1 flu vaccine and a seasonal flu vaccine in physicians' offices;
  • Resources that help physicians stay up to date on both viruses; and
  • Federal and state governmental response to the H1N1 flu outbreak.

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.)

Jun 22, 2009

Governor Vetoes Bad Liability Bill

Responding to a request from the Texas Medical Association, Gov. Rick Perry vetoed legislation that would allow hospitals to hire physicians. TMA asked the governor to veto the bill because it would have weakened the landmark liability lawsuit reforms …

Governor Vetoes Bad Liability Bill
6/18/2009 7:00 PM

Jun 19, 2009

Rohack Takes the Stage - Podcast TMA

This special installment of Podcast TMA comes to you directly from the Hyatt Regency Chicago, where we hear the installation address of Jim Rohack, MD, the new president of the American Medical Association.

Download the show.

Dr. Rohack’s installation comes one day after President Barak Obama made an historic visit to the AMA and on the eve of a long hot summer of negotiations over health system reform. The former TMA president, a cardiologist from Temple, takes his audience through a history lesson – the evolution of medicine, of organized medicine, and of Jim Rohack himself.

“I can promise that our AMA is committed to offering guidance, our expertise, the benefits of our relationship with patients, and the powerful voice of our profession, to help the powers that be make the right decisions,” Dr. Rohack said. “This is an effort that will define our organization, define our nation and define each and every one of us.”


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.)

Jun 18, 2009

Public Option Not Single-Payer, Obama Says

President Obama told American Medical Association delegates on June 15 that the Health Insurance Exchange Program, or public option, portion of his health system reform plan is not "a Trojan horse for a single-payer system."

Public Option Not Single-Payer, Obama Says
6/15/2009 7:00 PM

BCBS Settlement Money Coming This Summer

The final appeal surrounding the settlement of the antiracketeering lawsuit against the Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association have been resolved, and the more than $130 million in settlement funds will be …

BCBS Settlement Money Coming This Summer
6/15/2009 7:00 PM

Seminar Clarifies New HIPAA Provisions

TMA is offering a new seminar to help physicians comply with changes to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) contained in the economic stimulus package Congress passed earlier this year.

Seminar Clarifies New HIPAA Provisions
6/10/2009 7:00 PM

Jun 16, 2009

Rohack Installation as AMA President - Live Blog

Texans Help Set AMA Position on Health System Reform

For nearly three hours this afternoon, the AMA House of Delegates worked diligently on about 200 words. What should American medicine say about health system reform, especially after President Obama's historic visit to the house the day before? Should they condemn the "public plan," or just say what the AMA wants?

The Texas delegation to the AMA was actively involved in this debate, urging at every turn that the message stay positive -- what AMA wants, not what it opposes. TMA delegates spoke passionately at the microphone and huddled with colleagues from other states.

Just when it looked like Texas and her allies had prevailed, time was called. The house was unable to finish its business today and must pick up where it left off on 9 am Wednesday morning.

Below is a photo collage of the day's discussions ... from a Texas perspective, of course.

Jun 14, 2009

Texans Take Part in AMA Reference Committees

The AMA House of Delegates is a legislative body. As such, it discusses and debates action items and then adopts them as AMA policy, puts them off for further study, or defeats them. The items include reports prepared by the AMA Board of Trustees or various AMA councils, and resolutions submitted by state or specialty society delegations.

Like other "legislatures," much of the detail work of the House of Delegates is done in committee. Each item of business is assigned to one of eight reference committees for consideration. Each reference committee consists of seven physician or medical student members of the house. They hear testimony, which can come from any AMA member, on each item on the agenda. The reference committees then meet to make recommendations on each item to the full house. Those recommendations serve as the starting point for debate on the reports and resolutions by the full house.

Reference committees met throughout the day on Sunday, June 14. The House of Delegates will begin its debate on the reference committee reports on Monday, June 15.

Four members of the Texas delegation are serving on reference committees at the 2009 annual meeting. All of the remaining members of the Texas delegation are assigned to work groups that study the individual reference committees' agendas in-depth and testify on issues of specific interest to Texas physicians.

Texas Resident Reelected to AMA Council

Congratulations to Jason Sharp, MD, a resident physician from Dallas. The American Medical Association House of Delegates today unanimously reelected Dr. Sharp to a second term on the AMA Council on Constitution and Bylaws.

Dr. Sharp, who was the first student member of the TMA Board of Trustees, is working in a radiology residency at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas.

Live Blog - AMA Health System Reform Briefing

San Antonio Physician Wins AMA Leadership Post

Congratulations to San Antonio internist Jayesh Shah, MD. He is the new chair of the American Medical Association International Medical Graduate Section.

Jun 13, 2009

Reaves on the Campaign Trail

Fort Worth plastic surgeon Larry Reaves, MD, is one of three physicians running for two positions on the AMA Council on Constitution and Bylaws. Today, Dr. Reaves and his competitors got their workouts, scrambling from one room to another in the massive Hyatt Regency Chicago to speak before various screening committees who interview candidates and recommend choices to their colleagues in the AMA House of Delegates.

The election is Tuesday, June 16.

AMA Health System Reform Presentation

AMA President-elect Jim Rohack, MD, was kind enough to share the presentation he is using during the 2009 AMA Annual Meeting to outline the American Medical Association's priorities and positions on health system reform. You might want to pay close attention to Slide 16, which shows the effect of "bending the curve" on the rate of health care spending in the U.S.

Don't forget, upcoming live blogs from the AMA meeting:

  • Sunday, June 14, 8:20 am: AMA Health System Reform briefing
  • Monday, June 15, 11 am: President Obama speaks to the AMA House of Delegates
  • Tuesday, June 16, 5 pm: Installation of Jim Rohack, MD, as AMA president

All times are CDT.

Jun 12, 2009

TMA Staff Lauds Rohack

TMA Executive Vice President Lou Goodman, PhD (left), and the TMA staff spent a private evening with incoming AMA President Jim Rohack, MD, tonight. TMA staff thanked Dr. Rohack, a former TMA president, for his service to organized medicine since his days as a medical student leader. The staff presented Dr. Rohack with a Texas tuxedo cufflink and stud set.

Dr. Rohack takes office as AMA president on the evening of Tuesday, June 16. TMA will live blog his installation address that night and post it as a special edition of Podcast TMA.

Texas Students Nab AMA Positions

Two Texas medical students won leadership roles today with the American Medical Association Medical Student Section (MSS) today. Ankit Shah, a second year student from the Baylor College of Medicine, was elected MSS Region 3 vice chair. Elizabeth Carroll, a third year student at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, was elected Region 3 secretary-treasurer. Ankit and Elizabeth will play host to their fellow students from throughout the south-central states when the Region 3 annual meeting comes to Dallas next year. Congratulations!
Below: The Texas Medical Student Delegation

Live Blog - Obama Speech to AMA on Monday

Read more about the event.

Jun 11, 2009

Live Blog - AMA Health System Reform Sunday

Obama to Push Reform at AMA Meeting

President Obama will make his case for health system reform Monday when he addresses the annual American Medical Association meeting in Chicago. It may be tough sell, though.

TMA will live blog the president’s speech on Blogged Arteries.

Obama to Push Reform at AMA Meeting 6/10/2009 7:00 PM

TMHP Seeks Workshops Feedback

The Texas Medicaid and Healthcare Partnership (TMHP) is conducting a physician survey to help it decide how its educational workshops can better help physicians and their staff.

TMHP Seeks Workshops Feedback
6/10/2009 7:00 PM

CMS Posts PQRI Resources

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has posted an article on its Web site to help medical practice office managers get physicians started reporting 2009 Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI) measures.

CMS Posts PQRI Resources
6/10/2009 7:00 PM

Jun 9, 2009

Texas Physicians Bringing Five Resolutions, Two Candidates to AMA House

The Texas Delegation to the American Medical Association House of Delegates will be a very busy bunch when the AMA meeting convenes in Chicago on June 13. In addition to celebrating the installation of Jim Rohack, MD, as the new AMA president, we are asking the house to back two Texas candidates for office and five resolutions from our own House of Delegates. They include:

  • Electing Fort Worth plastic surgeon Larry Reaves, MD, to the AMA Council on Constitution and Bylaws; and Dallas internist Lynne Kirk, MD, to the Council on Medical Education;
  • A resolution calling for legislation mandating clear and transparent health insurance company language so patients know their financial responsibility when receiving care out of network;
  • A resolution calling for legislation requiring insurers to adopt standardized verbiage spelling out coverage for preventive care, including adequate payment for recommended vaccines;
  • A resolution calling for the use of standard commercial physician payment rates in all government health care benefit programs;
  • A resolution requiring all Medicare patients to register the advance directive of their choice; and
  • A resolution asking AMA to help physicians and medical staffs establish transparent policies to implement and conduct Ongoing Professional Practice Evaluations.

Jun 8, 2009

TMA Scores Wins in Legislative Session

It's all over but the crying -- and possibly the vetoes. The 2009 Texas Legislature wrapped up its 140-day session on June 1 with a flurry of last minute activity resulting largely from House Democrats' successful efforts to "chub" the controversial …

TMA Scores Wins in Legislative Session
6/1/2009 7:00 PM

Humana Purges Physicians From MA Networks

Humana is notifying physicians across Texas that is it kicking them out of Humana's Medicare Advantage (MA) PPO and/or Preferred PPO/Preferred Point of Service networks as of Aug. 1.

Humana Purges Physicians From MA Networks
6/1/2009 7:00 PM

Jun 2, 2009

Patients’ First Health System Reform – Podcast TMA

Candidate Barack Obama promised change. Now President Barack Obama is preparing to deliver that change, at least in the health care system. The president has held health care summits to get input on his health system reform plans from physicians, health plans, and other health care industry stakeholders. Meanwhile, Democratic leaders in Congress are developing health reform issue papers and crafting reform proposals of their own. Those leaders say a reform plan could be on the House and Senate floors for debate before the end of the summer.

Download the show now.

The June cover story of Texas Medicine magazine looks at what is likely to come out of those efforts and Texas Medical Association’s advocacy to try to influence that debate. TMA has put together a series of principles that it believes should guide any reform plan and created a task force to vet any proposals put forward against those principles.

In this installment of Podcast TMA, Athens family physician Douglas Curran, MD, and former American Medical Association President Nancy W. Dickey, MD, discuss the health system reform proposals as they stood in early June. They also explore the work of TMA’s Task Force on Health System Reform whose job is to measure those proposals against TMA’s guiding principles.

This installment covers:

  • The current status of reform proposals.
  • The development of TMA’s guiding principles for health system reform.
  • The efforts of TMA’s Task Force on Health System Reform to vet reform plans.
  • The outlook for passage of health system reform this year.

Want to Subscribe to Podcast TMA through iTunes? Here's the link. It takes you to the iTunes store. Subscription is free.
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  • 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.)

Physician Testimony Aids Legislative Wins

TMA's success in the just-completed session of the Texas Legislature was due in large part to physicians who provided key testimony to House and Senate committees as they conducted hearings on health-care related bills

Physician Testimony Aids Legislative Wins
6/1/2009 7:00 PM

DSHS Clarifies Lab Flu Testing

Public health laboratories' role in influenza testing is primarily surveillance to monitor the distribution and spread of the virus, the detection of new variants of the virus, and to assist in outbreak investigations, the Texas Department of State …

DSHS Clarifies Lab Flu Testing
5/31/2009 7:00 PM

No Pertussis Vaccine Equals Big Risk

Children who are not vaccinated for pertussis have 23 times the chance of contracting the illness than those who are immunized, the June issue of Pediatrics reports.

No Pertussis Vaccine Equals Big Risk
5/27/2009 7:00 PM

Heard from HRI?

Have you received a letter from Health Research Insights (HRI) saying it has analyzed your claims information and It is demanding recoupment of overpayments caused by incorrect claims? If so, please contact Erin Gregorcyk in TMA's Payment Advocacy …

Heard from HRI?
5/27/2009 7:00 PM

May 28, 2009

TMA, AMA Plan Stimulus HIT Webinars

TMA and the American Medical Association will sponsor Webinars to help physicians take advantage of the $19 billion for health information technology (HIT) in President Obama's economic stimulus package in June and July.

TMA, AMA Plan Stimulus HIT Webinars
5/27/2009 7:00 PM

May 26, 2009

TMA Outlines Policy Options for Senate

TMA has let the U.S. Senate Finance Committee know where it stands on a wide range of health care policies.

TMA Outlines Policy Options for Senate
5/25/2009 7:00 PM

TMHP Accepts Hurricane Claims

Medicaid physicians who treated evacuees from hurricanes Ike or Dolly may be able to get paid through a special Social Services Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

TMHP Accepts Hurricane Claims
5/25/2009 7:00 PM

May 14, 2009

Make Insurers Keep Their Promises

The nation's largest for-profit health insurers have agreed to change the way they do business because of the class action federal lawsuits that the Texas Medical Association and other medical societies across the country filed against them. However, …

Make Insurers Keep Their Promises
5/13/2009 7:00 PM

Franchise Tax Deadline is Here

Friday, May 15, is the deadline for physicians and other businesses to pay their annual franchise tax.

Franchise Tax Deadline is Here
5/13/2009 7:00 PM

Political Prognosis: The End is Near

With only two weeks left in the 2009 session of the Texas Legislature, both the House and Senate expect to work late into the night every day through the end of the session. However, many bills are likely to die because of a series of deadlines that …

Political Prognosis: The End is Near
5/12/2009 7:00 PM

May 12, 2009

Starting a New Practice?

Whether starting out fresh from a residency program or starting over in an independent practice, a myriad of tasks and important decisions await you.

Starting a New Practice?
5/11/2009 7:00 PM

Coding Resources Free Online for Members

Make sure your coding practices are up to date! Two of the best-selling medical coding books are now available free to TMA members. Available through Stat!Ref, HCPCS Level II 2009 and ICD-9 Vol 1-3, 2009, put the coding information you need at your …

Coding Resources Free Online for Members
5/11/2009 7:00 PM

First Tuesdays Set Record

More than 1,100 physicians, TMA Alliance members, and medical students came to Austin this year to take part in the First Tuesdays at the Capitol program to push for passage of Doctor’s Orders, TMA's legislative agenda.

First Tuesdays Set Record
5/11/2009 7:00 PM

TMA Tool Helps You Find Right EMR

TMA members have overwhelmingly indicated they need help when it comes to health information technology. They specifically want help choosing the right electronic medical record (EMR).

TMA Tool Helps You Find Right EMR
5/11/2009 7:00 PM

Fitness Equals Better TAKS Score

The more physically fit a middle school student is, the better he or she scores on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test, a master of public health student at The University of Texas School of Public Health has found.

Fitness Equals Better TAKS Score
5/4/2009 7:00 PM

May 5, 2009

Swine Flu Resources on the Web

The latest information and resources to help physicians deal with the outbreak of the H1N1, or swine flu, virus are posted on TMA's Swine Flu Resource Center and on the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control and …

Swine Flu Resources on the Web

5/3/2009 7:00 PM

May 4, 2009

FTC Delays 'Red Flags' Rules Until August

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voted on April 30 to delay until Aug. 1 implementation of its "red flags" regulations that require physicians and others whom the FTC considers "creditors" to develop written policies to prevent identity theft.

FTC Delays 'Red Flags' Rules Until August
5/3/2009 7:00 PM

May 1, 2009

HIT Incentives and Pitfalls: Podcast TMA

To encourage more widespread adoption of health information technology (HIT) in physicians' offices, the federal government is offering incentive payments to Medicare- and Medicaid-participating doctors who demonstrate meaningful use of an electronic medical record (EMR). Congress has earmarked $19 billion in the economic stimulus package to help physicians purchase and implement EMRs. Incentive payments are available from 2011 to 2016, while reductions in Medicare payments begin in 2015 for physicians who fail to implement EMRs.

Download the show now. This installment of podcast TMA addresses making the transition from a paper-based records system to an EMR. The cover story of the May 2009 issue of Texas Medicine magazine takes a look at the impact of HIT on medical practice. Today, Joseph Schneider, MD, a pediatrician, chief medical information officer of the Baylor Health Care System, and chair of TMA's Health Information Technology Committee, and David Fleeger, MD, an Austin colon and rectal surgeon and immediate past chair of TMA's Council on Practice Management Services, discuss what the $19 billion in HIT funding means for Texas physicians. This installment covers:

  • The role of the physician in developing HIT infrastructure and policies;
  • Pitfalls physicians need to be aware of when switching to an EMR;
  • TMA resources that help physicians purchase and implement an EMR; and
  • Advice for physicians who are hesitant to embrace HIT.

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.)

Apr 30, 2009

TMA Posts EMR Comparison Tool

TMA and its TMA Council on Practice Management Services and ad hoc Committee on Health Information Technology have posted a comparison tool physicians can use in selecting electronic medical records (EMR).

TMA Posts EMR Comparison Tool
4/29/2009 7:00 PM

Apr 27, 2009

Nobel Laureate Joins Cancer Institute

Nobel Prize winner Alfred Gilman, MD, PHD, dean of The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, has accepted the position of chief scientific officer for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.

Nobel Laureate Joins Cancer Institute
4/24/2009 7:00 PM

Medicaid Matters

Here's what's happening in the Texas Medicaid program this month:

Medicaid Matters
4/24/2009 7:00 PM

DSHS Proposes HIV/STD Reporting Changes

State health officials are seeking comments on proposed changes to rules for reporting cases of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.  They say the changes will improve the timeliness and completeness of reporting and streamline the public health …

DSHS Proposes HIV/STD Reporting Changes
4/19/2009 7:00 PM

Apr 20, 2009

TMA Physicians Appointed to TMB

Four TMA-member physicians are among Gov. Rick Perry's seven appointments to the Texas Medical Board.

TMA Physicians Appointed to TMB
4/16/2009 7:00 PM

Red Flags Audio Conference April 16

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) "red flags" regulations [PDF] that require physicians to develop written identity theft prevention programs will be the subject of a TMA Learn @ Lunch audio conference from 11:45 am to 1 pm, CDT, April 16.

Red Flags Audio Conference April 16
4/14/2009 7:00 PM

Apr 14, 2009

Blue Cross to Can Ratings Scheme

BlueCross and BlueShield of Texas told Attorney General Greg Abbott earlier this month it will stop using the controversial Risk Adjusted Cost Index (RACI) tool to rate physicians performance in its BlueChoice Solutions program. The company also pledged …

Blue Cross to Can Ratings Scheme
4/13/2009 7:00 PM

DSHS Improving Death Registration

State health department officials say physician complaints are prompting them to change the Texas Electronic Death Registration system.

DSHS Improving Death Registration
4/13/2009 7:00 PM

Last First Tuesdays Event Coming Up

May 5 is your last chance to take part in the First Tuesdays at the Capitol program during the 2009 legislative session.

Last First Tuesdays Event Coming Up
4/13/2009 7:00 PM

Political Prognosis: Session's Time Running Out

It's getting to the point in the Texas Legislature where time dwindles and pressure increases exponentially daily. With fewer than 50 days left in the 2009 session, observers say that hundreds, if not thousands, of bills could die this week when their …

Political Prognosis: Session's Time Running Out
4/13/2009 7:00 PM