Physicians representing the Texas Medical Association and TMA’s Border Health Caucus continue their work in Wshington, D.C., today as they host the Fifth Annual Border Health Conference. The purpose of the conference is to raise awareness of health care disparities existing along the border and the impact on border patients and their physicians. These include:
- Strengthening the border’s public health infrastructure,
- Preventing chronic disease,
- Improving patients’ access to a physician by shoring up the health care workforce, and
- Stopping the Medicare Meltdown.
"What happens on the border does not stay at the border," Lawrence Kline, DO, of California, a member of the US-Mexico Border Health Commission, told the conference.
For example, tuberculosis is a global threat, killing momre than 2 million persons each year. "This is a time bomb in the world, Dr. Kline said.
Much of the conversation, however, continued to focus on Congress' refusal to stop the 21-percent cut in physicians' Medicare payments that took effect June 1.
David Palafox, MD, of El Paso (left), visits with Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-San Antonio).
"This is a terrible way of doing business," Representative Gonzalez said. "If you are hurt disappointed and angry you should be."
Rep. Sylvestre Reyes (D-El Paso) speaks at the Border Health Conference.
Congressman Reyes told Texas physicians to continue to pressure the Senate for a permanent fix for Medicare's sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula. "To continue to keep kicking the SGR fix down the road is the most irresponsible thing [Congress] can do," he said.
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) addresses the Border Health Conference. Talking about fixing the Medicare payment problem from year to year is not fair to anyone, he said.
Representative Cuellar described the dilemma the House is in. "Do we pass something to get the Senate past their elections or do we look long term for a permanent fix?" he asked.