Feb 25, 2011

Update Your Medicaid Information

As of March 24, physicians in the state Medicaid program must update and verify key demographic information in the Provider Information Management System every six months to make sure their information is correct in the Online Provider Lookup, the Texas Medicaid & Healthcare Partnership (TMHP) advises.

Feb 24, 2011

TMA Offers New Policy & Procedures Guide

TMA's new Policy and Procedure Guide contains more than 200 up-to-date policies and procedures, tools, sample letters, and forms you can customize for your office.

CMS to Shelve Physician Lab Signature Rule

Thanks to the efforts of TMA member U.S Rep. Michael Burgess, MD, (R-Texas), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) plans to withdraw its rule requiring physicians to sign laboratory requisition forms, the American Medical Association says. The requirement was included in the 2011 Medicare fee schedule and was supposed to go into effect on April 1.

Feb 15, 2011

E-prescribe in 2011 to Avoid 2012 Penalty

To avoid penalties in 2012 (1 percent of Medicare Part B claims), TMA recommends all physicians report e-prescribing via claims on at least 10 unique Medicare encounters by June 30, 2011 and report at least 25 unique Medicare encounters during the full 2011 year to qualify for the 2011 incentive (1 percent of Medicare Part B claims).

Beaumont Program Wins McGovern Award

A partner with physicians in the fight against cancer, the Julie Rogers "Gift of Life" Program of Beaumont, recently received the TMA Foundation's 2011 John P. McGovern Champion of Health Award.

TMA Fights Budget, Patient Safety Battles

The 2011 session of the Texas Legislature convened Jan. 11 and, as expected, the state's dire budget situation became lawmakers' immediate focus. Even before committees were appointed, House and Senate budget writers laid out proposed budget bills that slashed tens of billions of dollars from current state spending levels. Health and human services programs and medical education were hit hard by the proposed cuts.

Feb 11, 2011

Tromping Around Capitol Hill for Patients and Physicians

Left to right: Joe Annis, MD; Russ Kridel, MD;
Dr. Bailey; U.S. Rep. Bill Flores (R-Corpus Christi),
and Les Secrest, MD 

TMA physician leaders and public affairs staff were in Washington, DC, along with colleagues from around the nation most of the week. They met one-on-one with U.S. representatives and senators to discuss the Sustainable Growth Rate and issues relating to the new health law. The SGR remains a critical issue. By the end of the year, physicians are looking at a cut of 30-percent or more to their Medicare payments. "Congress needs to be working now on a plan to ensure stability in the program to protect patients and their physicians," said TMA President Sue Bailey, MD.

Read about the other issues discussed at Capitol Hill: "Affordable Care Act: Find What's Missing, Keep What Works, Fix What's Broken."

In the Right Place at the Right Time

Front Row Center, Left to Right,
Dr. Shelton (second from left), Dr. Zerwas,
Dr. Schwertner

Great news.

Three TMA member-legislators and one TMA Alliance member were appointed to the Texas House Appropriations and Public Health committees by House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) on Wednesday. These two powerful committees determine how state dollars are spent and critical public health issues are handled. They are: Reps. Susan King (R-Abilene); Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown); Mark Shelton, MD (R-Fort Worth); and John Zerwas, MD (R-Simonton).

Across the rotunda, Sen. Bob Deuell, MD (R-Greenville), the only physician and the only TMA member in the Senate, has already spent weeks examining the budget as a member of the Senate Finance Committee. Dr. Deuell is also vice chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

TMA Concerned About Abortion Sonogram Bill

Proposed legislation requiring a sonogram before an abortion "not only sets a dangerous precedent of legislation prescribing the details of the practice of medicine, but it also clearly mandates that physicians practice in a manner inconsistent with medical ethics," TMA warns in a letter to the chair of the Senate State Affairs Committee.

Feb 9, 2011

Fight the Vaccine Myths

Texas Medicine will report in March that Texas physicians reacted strongly to charges by the British Medical Journal that British physician Andrew Wakefield, MD, falsified data and committed an “elaborate fraud” in his 1998 report that linked the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine to a new syndrome of autism and bowel disease. Some of them charge that Dr. Wakefield’s actions frightened parents into refusing to have their children immunized, leading to illnesses that could have been prevented.

Even though Dr. Wakefield’s work has been discredited, some parents still fear vaccinations. To help you counter the erroneous -- and dangerous – myths about vaccines, TMA ‘s BeWise-ImmunizeSM program offers two fact sheets, Talking to Parents About Vaccines and Childhood Vaccines: Fact and Fiction, and a YouTube video, Vaccines Don't Cause Autism.

The fact sheets and video are powerful evidence that immunization works and is vital to stopping preventable diseases. Please use them to talk with your patients and parents.

CMS to Reprocess 2010 Medicare Claims

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) says many physicians' claims filed under the 2010 Medicare physician fee schedule will be reprocessed because the fees were affected by the retroactive dates of some of the provisions of the health system reform law passed last year. President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in March 2010, but some of the changes to the fee schedule were retroactive to January 2010.

Feb 1, 2011

Texas Medicaid EHR Incentive Payments Begin in May

Two states, Kentucky and Oklahoma, have already made the first incentive payments to physicians and hospitals enrolled in their Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) incentive programs. Texas Medicaid officials indicate payments for Texas physicians will start around May.