Apr 30, 2013

Senators Want Meaningful Use Law Reviewed

Six Republican senators voiced "significant concerns" with the government's implementation of the HITECH Act and meaningful use program in a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The letter says their concerns include "the lack of data to support the Administration's assertions that this taxpayer investment is being appropriately spent and actually achieving the goal of interoperable health IT."

Read more about "REBOOT: Re-examining the Strategies Needed to Successfully Adopt Health IT," which the senators sent to Secretary Sebelius.

Apr 29, 2013

TMA Calls for Medicaid Payment Hike

“Like a rundown house in need of repair, you’ve got to pick up a hammer and start somewhere. Increasing Medicaid payment rates to Medicare parity is the nail that needs to be hit first.” That was the take-home line of a letter TMA President Michael Speer, MD, sent to the five state senators and five representatives who are hammering out the details of the 2014-15 state budget.

“Over the past several months, there has been considerable attention paid to Texas’ ‘broken’ Medicaid system, with particular interest in the plummeting physician Medicaid participation rate and the impact that exodus is having on patients’ ability to obtain timely, medically necessary care,” Dr. Speer wrote. He pointed out that “grossly inadequate payment” is the single largest reason our members gave to TMA’s Physicians Medicaid Congress for not participating in the program.

Check out some excellent news stories on this issue from over the weekend:

CMS Delays Plan to Deny Non-Enrollees' Medicare Claims

Now you see it, now you don't.

Technical issues have delayed plans by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to begin denying claims for services ordered or referred by a physician who is not enrolled in Medicare. The denials were scheduled for May 1. CMS did not elaborate on the technical issues, or set a new deadline.

Once CMS solves its technical issues, physicians who receive claim denials will need to contact the ordering or referring physician to verify that he or she has enrolled in Medicare to prevent future denials. See TMA's free tool to check your Medicare ordering and referring status.

Apr 25, 2013

VIDEO: What’s the Main Difference Between ICD-9 and ICD-10?

There’s been much buzz about the new ICD-10 medical coding system — and you’ll be hearing a lot more about it between now and the Oct. 1, 2014, implementation date.

So what are the real differences between it and ICD-9? In an interview with TMA’s Associate Vice President for Practice Management Services Peggy Pringle, Denny Flint, president of Complete Practice Resources, explains that structurally the two codes sets are not all that different. ICD-9 codes have three to five numeric digits, while ICD-10 has three to seven alphanumeric digits. The switch last year to HIPAA 5010 transaction standards for electronic claims paved the way for practices and payers to be able to accommodate the extra digits.

See how TMA can help you prepare for the transition. You better begin now.

Apr 18, 2013

Don't Get Mad, Get Politically Active

Reprinted with permission from Texas Family Doc - "Don’t Get Mad, Get Even: Political Advocacy"
Posted on April 18, 2013 by tfiesinger

Last December, after months of “planning to,” I finally got around to calling to my state senator to set up a meeting before the legislature convened.

“Hello, my name is Dr. Y, I am a constituent and I would like to set up a meeting with Senator X in the district.”

“You know the session starts in 3 weeks.”

“Yes, I do”

“You know Christmas is in 2 weeks.”

“Yes, I do.”

“You know she’s very busy.”

Yes, I do. I will be at the Capitol on the first day of the Legislature. Is her legislative aide for health affairs available instead?”

“Yes. I will ask her to contact you to set up a time to meet.”

When I met with the legislative aide several weeks later, we had a productive conversation. She had worked on health affairs for another state senator before. I pitched our bill to restore funding to family medicine graduate medical education and the physician loan repayment program to help place doctors in underserved areas. We had been instructed to ask our senators to support the bill and cosponsor it if possible. I thought, ‘What the heck, nothing to lose by asking.’ I was told that the Senator was interested in health care issues and she would get back to me with the senator’s answer. I also forwarded a map of the senate district with all the medically underserved areas and primary care physician to population ratios labeled.

A few weeks later, she emailed me to say that the Senator had decided to support the bill. Ok, I thought, she’ll vote for it when it is heard in committee. A few days later I saw that she was listed as a cosponsor! With 2 of the committee members listed as cosponsors, our chances of getting the bill out of committee looked much better.

Politics can be frustrating, but persistence pays off. And you have nothing to lose by asking.

Apr 10, 2013

No to Chiros Conducting School Bus Driver Mental and Physical Exams

The Texas Medical Association today asked the House Committee on Public Health to send House Bill 3183 back to the bus barn.

The bill would allow a chiropractor to conduct the required mental and physical examination of a school bus driver, but such examination is beyond the scope of practice of chiropractic in Texas.

The Texas Legislature must protect Texas schoolchildren by ensuring that the men and women behind the wheel of their bus have the mental and physical ability to drive them safely. The heart, lungs, vision, reflexes, hearing, and mental health should all be evaluated for a prospective school bus driver. Chiropractors have neither the statutory scope of practice nor the training to analyze, examine, or evaluate such important components of one’s health.

The Texas Chiropractic Act defines the practice of chiropractic as using “objective or subjective means to analyze, examine, or evaluate the biomechanical condition of the spine and musculoskeletal system of the human body,” or performing “nonsurgical, nonincisive procedures, including adjustment and manipulation, to improve the subluxation complex or the biomechanics of the musculoskeletal system.” 

Mental health is not part of the “biomechanical condition of the spine and musculoskeletal system.” Thus it is not something that can be analyzed, examined, or evaluated by a chiropractor.

Likewise, many components of a physical examination exceed the biomechanical condition of the spine and musculoskeletal system. For example, cardiac, neurological, and pulmonary health are all important components to determine whether one is healthy enough to transport our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.  The heart, lungs, and central nervous system are not part of the “biomechanical condition of the spine and musculoskeletal system.” Thus they cannot be analyzed, examined, or evaluated by a chiropractor.

Vote "No" on HB 3183.

Antikickback Vs. Stark - Know the Difference

Do you understand the difference between the antikickback statute and the Stark law? The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has begun ratcheting up enforcement in regard to billing and financial relationships.

Here’s a quick comparison between these two laws that aim to prevent fraud and abuse.

TMA Strongly Opposes SB 1193 - A Medical Bully Bill

Experience TEDMED 2013 Free – Courtesy of TMA


The Texas Medical Association is proud to host a live simulcast, April 17, of the TEDMED lectures direct from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.

What’s TEDMED? It’s an annual meeting of the minds where multi-disciplinary innovators discuss hot topics and new developments in health and medicine. Past TEDMED speakers include Temple Grandin, President Bill Clinton, and TMA’s 2013 General Session speaker, Abraham Verghese, MD, to name a few. This year’s speaker line-up includes 50+ global leaders from medicine, science, research, technology, academia, business, government, and the arts. Don’t miss out!

Though much of the focus of the event is on stage, it is important to remember that TEDMED is a fast-paced, all-encompassing and immersive event that provides stimulation and exciting discourse from start to finish…onstage and off.

Come prepared to think; come prepared to interact -- but most of all, come prepared to have fun! You're sure to find TEDMED an unforgettable experience.

Two ways to attend: 

  1. Join us live April 17, 1:30-6:30 pm
    Doubletree Suites by Hilton Hotel, Bluebonnet Room
    303 W. 15 St.
    Austin, TX 78701
    FREE parking is available in the TMA Building.

    Beverages and light refreshments will be available courtesy of the Texas Medical Association.

    Event is limited to 100 guests. Register now. You may register for 2 tickets per session.

  2. Mobile access to all four days and all speakers!

Go beyond passively watching. Use the TEDMEDConnect mobile app to connect “live” to the TEDMED stage and participate in live polls and activities, ask and answer questions, and share comments with the speakers. Be part of the conversation about the future of health and medicine!

Download the TEDMEDConnect Mobile in your app store. The App will:  

  • Allow all of our 1,200+ Kennedy Center Delegates and tens of thousands of TEDMEDLive participants to connect "live" to the speakers on the TEDMED stage and ask them questions or transmit comments.
  • Contain the up-to-the-minute TEDMED schedule, including a handy "What's On Now" feature.
  • Provide users the ability to view photos from TEDMED and upload photos from TEDMEDLive viewing locations.
  • Allow users to participate in live polls and games.
  • Give users the opportunity to request a follow-up "Science-Kit" from speakers.
  • Allow users to download the conference program.
  • Connect users to Facebook and Twitter.

    Texas Medical Association Location ID: L82830

    When prompted by the app, input the TEXAS MEDICAL ASSOCIATION location ID and your personal email address so each user can identified and communicate with the Kennedy Center stage or speakers.

You can read about TEDMED 2013 here

If you have any questions about the event, please contact TMA's Knowledge Center at (800) 880-7955.


Apr 9, 2013

TMA Helps Improve Quality, Avoid Penalties

PQRS is switching from the carrot to the stick.

Learn how TMA can help you keep from getting hit.

Apr 3, 2013

TMA Wins Choosing Wisely Grant

TMA, partnering with the TMA Foundation, is among 21 state and specialty medical societies and regional health collaboratives that won grants from the ABIM Foundation to advance the Choosing Wisely campaign. Support for the grant program comes from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Learn more about Choosing Wisely.

Apr 2, 2013

Medicare Starts Denying Non-enrollees' Claims May 1

Starting May 1, Medicare will deny claims for services ordered or referred by a physician who is not enrolled in Medicare. Physicians who receive claim denials will need to contact the ordering or referring physician to verify that he or she has enrolled in Medicare to prevent future denials.

Use TMA's exclusive free tool to check your Medicare ordering and referring status.

Apr 1, 2013

Doom No More

TMA's "Calendar of Doom" is now "Deadlines for Doctors: Do This Now."

It is still loaded with the key dates you need to know to stay abreast of all the upcoming state and federal regulations and key health policy issues that impact you and your practice. It is still filled with the outstanding TMA information resources, tools, and educational programs you need stay in compliance. It is still a great way for you to plan ahead for those insurance company demands and health information technology carrots and sticks.

Check out the new "Deadlines for Doctors."