Jan 28, 2011

Texas Health Department Cites Newborn Screening Problem

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) says it rejected more than 1,300 newborn screening specimens as unsatisfactory last year because of incomplete saturation, meaning the blood was not allowed to fully soak through the collection device.

Jan 27, 2011

TMA Supports National Tort Reform Bill With State Protections

Congress should pass proposed legislation reforming the nation's medical liability system as long as it "in no way preempts the state reforms that have been won in Texas and other states," TMA President Susan Rudd Bailey, MD, said in a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chair Lamar Smith, (R-TX.)

Watch Dr. Pho and General Abbott From Your Living Room

Can't make it to Austin for TMA's 2011 Winter Conference at the AT&T Conference Center Jan. 28 and 29? We've got a little something that will bring you closer to the action.

Nothing, of course, can substitute for those in-person conversations with your colleagues from across the state or your board, council, or committee meetings. But 21st century social media can help fill the void.

On Twitter? Follow the action of live tweets at the conference using hash tag #TMAWinter.

Plus, we're bringing our two keynote speakers to you in live streaming video on the Internet Saturday morning.

At 8:40 am (CT) on Saturday, Jan. 29, catch "Medicine in the Age of Social Media" by Kevin Pho, MD, the "Kevin" behind the popular health care blog KevinMD.


Dr. Pho is social media's leading physician voice. Voted the best medical blog of 2008, KevinMD.com is among the web’s most prominent and influential health care platforms, with over 40,000 subscribers and 33,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter. As TMA's keynote speaker, Dr. Pho discusses why doctors should engage in blogs, Twitter or Facebook, shows examples of how doctors are connecting with patients in social media platforms and outlines the risks to physicians. He also reflects on his personal social media journey and how social media can benefit organized medicine.

Then, at 10 am (CT), Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott speaks about health system reform lawsuits and more.


Texas is part of a 26 (or 20)-state coalition that is challenging the constitutionality of the health care reform law. The states argue that Congress has no right to require people to buy insurance and that reform’s expansion of the Medicaid program is unlawful.The question is expected to wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court. Hear the latest on these and other health care issues from General Abbot.

Jan 21, 2011

How's Your Social Life? (Podcast TMA)

Drs. Kevin Pho and Brian Vartabedian talk about social media and physicians. It’s a prelude to Dr. Pho’s talk on Jan. 29 at the 2011 TMA Winter Conference.

Download the show.

Dr. Pho is an internist who practices in Nashua, New Hampshire. More important for our purposes, he is the brains – and the Kevin – behind KevinMD.com, one of the nation’s leading health care blogs. In his words, Dr. Pho provides provocative physician commentary on breaking medical news. He is a member of USA Today’s Board of Contributors and a contributor to CNN.com and the New York Times.

Later this month, Dr. Pho will deliver the keynote address at the TMA 2011 Winter Conference. Speaking on “Medicine in the Age of Social Media,” Dr. Pho will discuss why and how physicians should engage in blogs, Twitter or Facebook.

(Can't make it to Austin for the conference? Watch Dr. Pho streaming live at 8:40 am (CT) Saturday, Jan. 29.)

Dr. Vartabedian is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and an attending physician at Texas Children’s Hospital there. He is a practicing pediatric gastroenterologist and has a strong interest in the evolving role of social media in health care. Dr. Vartabedian maintains an active presence on a variety of social media platforms and in between patients you can find him on Twitter or read his latest blog at 33 charts.

This show covers topics like:
  • Why should a physician use social media?
  • Social media is a waste of time.
  • What are the risks to a physician using Facebook or Twitter or writing a blog.
  • How can physicians get started in social media.
  • What's next for physicians and social media?

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.)

Jan 13, 2011

Medicare Advantage and EHR Incentives

Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are treated differently in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, the law that includes provisions for the electronic health record (EHR) meaningful use incentives.

Jan 11, 2011

Flu Vaccine Recalled

Cracked vials prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to recall one lot of the 2010-11 Novartis Fluvirin vaccine. The lot involved is 111812P1.

TrailBlazer Posts Medicare Fees

TrailBlazer Health Enterprises, the Texas Medicare carrier, has posted the 2011 Medicare fee schedule on its website.

Primary Care Bonuses Kick In

Medicare has begun paying primary care physicians a 10-percent bonus for providing primary care services. The Primary Care Incentive Program is part of the Affordable Care Act that Congress passed last year.

Governors: Medicaid Flexibility Vital

States need more flexibility in managing Medicaid, Gov. Rick Perry and 12 other governors say in a letter to President Obama and Congressional leaders.

Medicare Specifies More Face Time With Some Patients

With the new year come new requirements from Medicare for face-to-face encounters with patients. The effective date for the new rules was Jan. 1, 2011; however, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) delayed enforcingthe home health and hospice face-to-face visit rule until April 1, 2011.

Jan 10, 2011

TMA Will Train You to Use ICD-10

TMA is partnering with the American Academy of Professional Coders to offer training options to help physicians' practices make a smooth transition from using ICD-9 codes to ICD-10. Our comprehensive ICD-10 Boot Camps begin Feb. 24-25 in San Antonio.

We Can Do It Together

The 2011 Texas Legislature is going to be a real challenge for medicine, says Texas Medical Association President Susan Rudd Bailey, MD. There's no money and everyone will be gunning for us. TMA has a plan, but we need your help. We can do it together.

Learn more at www.texmed.org/legislature.

Jan 3, 2011

BCBS Posts BlueCompare Information

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas has posted online the presentation from the Dec. 22 webinar about its BlueCompare program. It was the only webinar the company conducted on the program, which rates some 18,000 Texas physicians in 14 specialties.

EHR Incentive Registration Begins

Starting in 2011, significant incentives are available for physicians who “meaningfully use” an electronic health record (EHR). You must register to participate. To enroll, visit the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) registration and attestation web page.

Texas HIEs Seek Physician Commitments

Health Information exchanges (HIEs) around the state that are applying for federal grant funds are seeking commitments from local physicians. The number of physicians commitments received affects the amount of funding for which the HIE is eligible and becomes part of the funding formula. For each physician committed to a particular HIE, that HIE gets $300. Physicians can participate in more than one HIE, but for funding purposes, physicians can only sign commitment to one.