Aug 31, 2010

Lace Up Your Sneakers for Medicine

Want to improve health care in America? Want to be a catalyst for change? Want to help elect politicians who will put patients and physicians first? Participate in the upcoming TEXPAC Alliance Volunteer Days.

Big Health Law Changes Start Sept. 23

Several provisions of the new health system reform law take effect Sept. 23.

Aug 30, 2010

Health Care Workers, Get Your Flu Shots

TMA’s Be Wise — ImmunizeSM program is launching a new initiative to encourage health care workers to get immunized against the flu.

TMLT Cuts Rates Again, Declares Dividend Again

Tort reforms that TMA and its allies worked so hard to achieve in 2003 continue to pay off for physicians as the Texas Medical Liability Trust (TMLT) cut liability insurance premiums by 1 percent, effective Jan. 1, and announced a 24–percent dividend for renewing TMLT policyholders.

Aug 23, 2010

CAUTION: Six Things You Need to Know About ACOs

The health system reform law establishes a new breed of health care delivery system called accountable care organizations (ACO). Be wary and be informed. TMA strongly suggests that you take the time to learn about these systems, and understand their differences and what they could mean to your practice and your patients, before you sign any agreements.

Confused? TMA Demystifies Health Reform

If you're confused about the new health system reform law and its many new provisions, you're not alone. That's why the Texas Medical Association will host its second Tele-Health Reform School next month.

Judge Sides with Physicians Again

TMA won another round in its ongoing effort to protect the safety of patients in mid-August when an Austin district judge said he intends to limit chiropractors' right to diagnose medical conditions.

Aug 11, 2010

FDA Warns Against Unapproved IUDs

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning physicians not to use unapproved intrauterine devices (IUD) and intrauterine systems (IUS) or face the possibility of going to jail.

CMS Schedules PQRI, E-prescribing Call

Physicians interested in the 2010 Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI) and Electronic Prescribing Incentive (eRx) programs can ask questions and learn how to join during a conference call from 2 to 3 pm CDT on Tuesday, Aug. 17.

Congress Approves Medicaid Funds

Texas will gain about $850 million in federal money for Medicaid, thanks to congressional approval of legislation extending enhanced matching federal Medicaid payments through mid-2011. The U.S. House of Representatives joined the Senate in approving the bill Aug. 10.

Aug 10, 2010

Podiatrists Can't Expand Scope to Ankle

It's final. The Texas State Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners cannot go beyond its statutory authority and the will of the Texas Legislature.

Patient Safety CME Course Updated

The TMA Patient Safety and Medical Errors continuing medical education (CME) course has been revised and reposted on the TMA website.

CIGNA to Post Physician Ratings

CIGNA says it will soon make public the results of its annual evaluation of physician quality and cost efficiency. Almost 20,000 physicians in Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Austin will be rated.

Aug 9, 2010

Closing the 'Pill Mills': New State Law Requires Certification

A new law requires pain management clinics to be certified by the Texas Medical Board (TMB). The Texas Medical Association supported Senate Bill 911, which directs TMB to adopt rules to ensure quality of patient care and to set personnel requirements at pain management clinics. The new law also gives TMB authority to inspect pain management clinics, or entities believed to be pain management clinics, to determine whether they're operating legally.

Quashing Ownership: Health Reform Law Bans New Physician-Owned Hospitals

With nearly 70 Texas hospitals with some type of physician investment, the state is a national leader in the physician-owned hospital industry. And, members of that industry say it has been good for patients. But the health system reform law Congress passed earlier this year slams the door on new physician-owned hospitals by prohibiting them from obtaining a Medicare provider number.

From August's Texas Medicine.

Losing the Match Game: Few Residency Slots Leave More Graduates Unmatched

An increasing number of medical graduates in the country, particularly in Texas, are finding it hard to match to a residency program in their preferred specialty. While medical educators say there are various reasons for that, almost all point to a growing imbalance in the ratio of medical graduates to residency slots. That imbalance is particularly apparent in Texas, where the state offered fewer first-year residency positions in 2010 than it had medical graduates.

From August's Texas Medicine.

If You Like the SGR … You'll Love the IPAB

Physicians hoped the health system reform law would eliminate the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula that drives down Medicare fees. The SGR, however, remains in place, and the law created a new board, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), with the authority to cut fees even further, possibly on top of cuts under the SGR.

From August's Texas Medicine.

TDI: Post Drug Formularies Online

State law should require insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to post accurate and complete drug formularies online that physicians can access when prescribing medications for patients, the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) recommends in a report to state officials and legislative leaders.

Sued? You're Not Alone

An American Medical Association survey shows an average of 95 medical liability claims filed for every 100 physicians in the U.S. That's almost one per physician and demonstrates the need for the rest of the country to adopt liability reform like Texas did.

Aug 3, 2010

Uninsured: How Big Texas Counties Stack Up

After I received some comments and questions on a previous post showing the uninsurance rate for all 254 Texas counties, I decided to dive just a little deeper into the data. Here are the rankings for the 20 most populous counties, first for everyone under age 65 and then for children (under age 19.) Recall that the under-65 statewide rate is 26.8% in this 2007 data. For children under age 19, it's 19.5%.

Note that Webb, Cameron, El Paso, and Hidalgo counties -- all poor counties along the border -- lead the list for people under 65. But four of the five move down the list for people under 19. The top five there are Dallas, Webb, Tarrant, Harris, and Montgomery.

Texas 20 Most Populous Counties, Uninsured Rate for People Under 65

  • Harris County: 31.3%
  • Dallas County: 30.8%
  • Tarrant County: 26.0%
  • Bexar County: 22.8%
  • Travis County: 25.0%
  • Collin County: 16.6%
  • El Paso County: 33.0%
  • Hidalgo County: 31.5%
  • Denton County: 19.9%
  • Fort Bend County: 22.8%
  • Montgomery County: 25.1%
  • Williamson County: 18.7%
  • Cameron County: 33.7%
  • Nueces County: 22.8%
  • Brazoria County: 25.3%
  • Galveston County: 21.5%
  • Bell County: 20.4%
  • Lubbock County: 26.4%
  • Webb County: 38.7%
  • Jefferson County: 22.7%

Texas 20 Most Populous Counties, Uninsured Rate for People Under 19

  • Harris County: 21.9%
  • Dallas County: 25.5%
  • Tarrant County: 22.7%
  • Bexar County: 16.2%
  • Travis County: 17.4%
  • Collin County: 10.3%
  • El Paso County: 19.9%
  • Hidalgo County: 17.4%
  • Denton County: 17.5%
  • Fort Bend County: 19.5%
  • Montgomery County: 20.9%
  • Williamson County: 16.4%
  • Cameron County: 19.2%
  • Nueces County: 13.8%
  • Brazoria County: 19.9%
  • Galveston County: 15.4%
  • Bell County: 13.0%
  • Lubbock County: 15.9%
  • Webb County: 25.4%
  • Jefferson County: 13.5%