Jun 29, 2012

Patient Testimonials in Advertising OK?

Q. Is it permissible for physicians to use testimonials from satisfied patients to promote their practice?

A. While Texas Medical Board rules do not forbid their use outright, practices should be very, very careful when considering the use of a testimonial in an ad. Testimonials regarding a physician’s skill or the quality of the physician’s professional services may be misleading or deceptive and therefore unethical.

Read more -- and don't forget to check the Texas Medical Board website for current updates on its rules and policies with respect to this issue.

E-Prescribing Exemption Deadline Extended

Physicians now have until 10:59 pm on July 2 to apply for the e-prescribing hardship exemption to prevent a penalty in 2013 on Medicare allowable charges. The original deadline was June 30, but the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services extended it because of scheduled maintenance on the webpage where physicians must apply for the exemption.


Jun 28, 2012

TMA: Reduce Health Law Red Tape

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Congress and the Obama administration must find a way to reduce the law's overbearing bureaucracy, said Texas Medical Association President Michael E. Speer, MD.

But, he added, "One thing today's ruling has not, and cannot, change is Texas physicians' deep commitment to care for our patients. The well-being of our patients comes first."

Read more.

Don’t Skimp on EHR Training

Some 60 percent of Texas physicians now use an electronic health record (EHR), according to TMA's latest survey data. However, dissatisfaction and discontent persist among some physician users of EHRs.

A recent report from AmericanEHR Partners indicates a direct correlation between physician satisfaction with EHRs and the amount of training they received. The report concludes it takes at least three to five days of EHR training for physicians to achieve the highest level of overall satisfaction. Nearly half of survey respondents indicated they received three or fewer days of training.

Read more.

Jun 27, 2012

Comptroller Offers Franchise Tax Amnesty

Haven't paid your 2012 state franchise tax yet? You have until Aug. 17 to do so and avoid penalty and interest under the State Comptroller's limited amnesty program.

Log on to the comptroller's Project Fresh Start website to find out what you need to do.

Jun 18, 2012

Another Texan Takes the Helm of AMA Alliance

Mrs. Red

CHICAGO -- Ninety years ago, Mrs. Samuel Clark Red -- wife of an influential and well-known Houston surgeon -- helped convince the American Medical Association to establish the Women's Auxiliary. Mrs. Red became the first president of the auxiliary.

Now known as the AMA Alliance, the organization celebrated its 90th anniversary with the installation of yet another great Texas woman -- Pat Hyer of Fort Worth -- as its 89th president. She becomes the third Texan, in fact the third from Fort Worth, to hold that office in less than a decade.

TMA President Michael Speer, MD, heaped praise on Pat at the anniversary party, as she recounted some of the early days of the organization.

By the way, here's the text of the resolution the AMA House of Delegates approved in St. Louis in 1922 creating the Women's Auxialiary to the American Medical Association:

"The object of this auxiliary shall be to extend the aims of the medical profession through the wives of doctors to the various women's organizations, which look to the advancement in health and education; also to assist in entertainment at all medical conventions and to promote acquaintanceship among doctors' families that closer professional fellowship may exist."

What About a "Soda Tax"?

CHICAGO -- For two years now, the AMA Council on Science and Public Health has proposed that the American Medical Association adopt a "soda tax" or "sugar tax" as one of its primary weapons against America's obesity epidemic. For two years in a row, the AMA House of Delegates rejected the proposal.

This year, the council decided to take a more moderate approach, saying "taxes on beverages with added sweetners are one means by which consumer education campaigns ... could be financed."

Council member Russ Kridel, MD, of Houston, explains the idea and why every little bit helps in the battle against the bulge.

Here's the full text of the Council on Science and Public Health recommendation:

Our American Medical Association (AMA) recognizes the complexity of factors contributing to the obesity epidemic and the need for a multifaceted approach to reduce the prevalence of obesity and improve public health. A key component of such a multifaceted approach is improved consumer education on the adverse health effects of excessive consumption of beverages containing added sweeteners. Taxes on beverages with added sweeteners are one means by which consumer education campaigns and other obesity- related programs could be financed in a stepwise approach to addressing the obesity epidemic.

Where taxes on beverages with added sweeteners are implemented, the revenue should be used primarily for programs to prevent and/or treat obesity and related conditions, such as educational ad campaigns and improved access to potable drinking water, particularly in schools and communities disproportionately effected by obesity and related conditions, as well as on research into population health outcomes that may be affected by such taxes.

Texans Take Charge at AMA House

David Teuscher, MD

CHICAGO -- The Texans, it seemed, were everywhere at the AMA House of Delegates meeting Sunday. From Sue Bailey, MD, on the dais as vice speaker to Texas physicians serving on -- and running -- reference committees to Texans offering testimony and introducing resolutions to the traditional chili reception for Texas candidates for AMA office, the Lone Star twang was thick in the Windy City.

Beaumont orthopedic surgeon David Teuscher, MD, launched the Texas show as he laid out a resolution that would combine AMA's three yearly meetings into two, with the House of Delegates meeting once a year in Washington to advance the association's lobby agenda. "I want to see a sea of white coats at the Capitol," Dr. Teuscher said. The resolution calls on the AMA Board of Trustees to report in six months "on the logistics of inviting all American physicians, spouses, patients, and leaders, and members of state and specialty societies to particiapted in the newly reformatted annual advocacy meeting in Washington."

Drs. Gary Floyd of Fort Worth and Bob Morrow of Sugar Land presented TMA's three other resolutions.

Three Texas physicians served on House of Delegates reference committees, which take testimony on all reports and resolutions and then make recommendations for the full house to consider later in the week.

Lyle Thorstenson, MD, an ophthalmologist from Nacogdoches and chair of the Texas Delegation to the AMA, continued his two-year service as chair of the Reference Committee on AMA Finance and Governance. Needville family physician Art Klawitter, MD, and John Gill, an orthopedic surgeon from Dallas, both sat on the Reference Committee on Legislation.

The Texas chili reception proved to be quite the hot event, as hundreds of delegates and their families stopped by for a bowl of the red or a Frito pie and to meet the Texas candidates. Dallas pediatrician Carolyn Evans, MD is running for the AMA Board of Trustees. Asa Lockhart, MD, an anesthesiologist from Tyler, is seeking a seat on the AMA Council on Medical Service. Elections are Tuesday morning.

Dr. Carolyn Evans and family

Chili Chef Ray Callas, MD

Dr. Asa and Joy Lockhart greet a guest

Jun 17, 2012

Texans Bring Agenda to AMA Meeting

CHICAGO -- Health system reform, errors caused by entering orders on computers, electronic health records (EHRs), and change in the American Medical Association meeting schedule are the subjects of four resolutions the Texas Delegation to the AMA brought to the AMA Annual Meeting June 16-20 in Chicago. The TMA House of Delegates approved the resolutions at TexMed 2012 last month.

The resolutions ask AMA to:

  • Be ready to work for new health system reforms if the Supreme Court throws out the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Resolution 239);
  • Study the potential increase in errors caused by hospitals and clinics adopting computerized physician order entry systems and suggest possible alternatives (Resolution 721);
  • Analyze the current cost and/or benefit of implementing an EHR system to determine if it produces a financial return and improves quality of care, and advocate that those who benefit the most financially share fairly in the implementation costs (Resolution 722); and
  • Revise AMA meetings to make them more efficient (Resolution 612).

Reference committee hearings on these and more than 100 other reports and resolutions begin today in Chicago. The full house will vote on them June 18-20.

Bailey Wins; Evans and Lockhart Aim for AMA Posts

CHICAGO -- One familiar Texas face earned a rousing -- and unopposed -- reelection at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Medical Association House of Delegates Saturday as two other Texas physicians launched their campaigns for AMA leadership positions.

Former TMA President Sue Rudd Bailey, MD, was unanimously re-elected vice speaker of the American Medical Association House of Delegates. David Savage, a medical student from Houston, nominated Dr. Bailey.

Meanwhile on Saturday, Dallas pediatrician Carolyn Evans, MD, announces her candidacy for the AMA Association Board of Trustees. Four candidates, including one incumbent, are seeking two open spots on the board. And Asa Lockhart, MD, an anesthesiologist from Tyler, is one of five candidates, including one incumbent, running for two open seats on the AMA Council on Medical Service. Election Day is Tuesday, June 19, 2012.

Jun 16, 2012

Savage Wins AMA Student Post

CHICAGO -- Congratulations to David Savage, a third-year MD/PhD student at the University of Texas Houston Medical School. David was elected speaker of the American Medical Association Medical Student Section Assembly.

Jun 15, 2012

Humana Drops Medicare Advantage Physicians

Humana notified about 200 Texas physicians it is removing them from its Medicare Advantage network on Jan. 1. Humana began sending letters to physicians on June 1 telling them that claims data indicate their practices do not meet its cost and/or quality measures.

Read more.

Jun 14, 2012

Be Sure to Use G Code for E-Prescribing

TMA has heard from practices who expected to reap a Medicare incentive payment — or avoid a penalty — by e-prescribing. But because they failed to report the electronic prescriptions using G-code G8553, Medicare did not recognize their e-prescribing claims.

Read more.

HIPAA 5010 Takes Effect July 1

The HIPAA 5010 grace period ends June 30. Starting July 1, if you do not file your electronic claims under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) 5010 transaction standards, Medicare, Medicaid, and other health plans will reject the claims.

Read more.

Jun 4, 2012

TMA, TPS Back Woman in Lactation Dispute

A Houston federal judge was wrong when he ruled against a woman who says her employer fired her because she wanted to pump breast milk, TMA and the Texas Pediatric Society (TPS) contend in a brief filed with the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. They urge the appeals court to overturn an opinion by U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes that childbirth ends pregnancy-related medical conditions and that Title VII of federal law does not protect women from being discriminated against or fired for lactation and breast pumping.

Read more.