• Other Issues

    • Medical Board Wages War Over Telephone Treatment

      In a case working its way through Texas courts, Teladoc argues that a face-to-face meeting is unnecessary for new patients. Teladoc provides telephone patient consultations, claiming that a phone call with a licensed physician can serve as a convenient supplement when patients don't have the time or money to see their primary care doctors. Some physicians say a phone conversation is not enough to properly diagnose and treat a patient with whom the physician is unfamiliar.
  • Health Information Technology Advocacy

    • Bill Would Set Health Information Exchange Guidelines
      TMA supports the provisions of the bill that mandate that the executive commissioner ensure that all systems set for future procurement have the needed capabilities to exchange health information securely, in accordance with applicable data exchange standards, to promote interoperability.
    • TMA Supports Privatizing Texas Health Services Authority
      In regard to any future organization or entity that the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) designates to provide certification of compliance with privacy and security standards for the electronic sharing of protected health information, TMA would request the addition of the following language to ensure that health care providers and other covered entities are charged a reasonable fee for provision of the certification. Additionally, although HHSC likely would include language to permit termination for cause of any contractual relationship with the designated organization or entity, we recommend inclusion of the following protective language as well.
    • CMS Rebuffs TMA's Request to Drop Coercive MU Measures
      The size of your next Medicare check could very well rest on whether you can get enough of your patients to email you; federal regulators believe that's a sensible way to evaluate your meaningful use (MU) progress. In fact, if you can't get more than 5 percent of your patients to send a "secure message using certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT)," you'll not only lose eligibility for incentive pay, you'll also be penalized.
    • TMA Asks Feds to Avert ICD-10 Calamity
      Describing the Oct. 1 mandatory transition to ICD-10 as a "potential calamity," Texas Medical Association President Austin King, MD, asked the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to consider some moves that would make the transition less risky for physicians and patients.
    • Continue Texas Health Services Authority
      Senate Bill 203 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), which was taken up in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. The legislation addresses recommendations proposed by the Sunset Advisory Commission to continue the Texas Health Services Authority (THSA). THSA was created by the Texas Legislature in 2007 as a public-private partnership to help coordinate the implementation of health information exchange.
  • Telemedicine

    • Medicine's Bills Pick Up Speed
      With roughly six weeks to go in the Texas Legislature, lawmakers near the finish line in drafting a state budget for the next two years with significant improvements over last session that march the house of medicine closer to accomplishing its goals. With House and Senate committees in full swing as well, TMA is tracking a plethora of bills on the move that could help or hurt medicine's agenda.
    • TMB Rules: Telemedicine Requires In-Person Exam First
      Texas Medical Board (TMB) rules adopted last week send a message that technology is no substitute for physical patient exams. By voting to require physicians to conduct a face-to-face examination prior to making a diagnosis or prescribing drugs, TMB took a big step to protect patients who receive telemedicine services.
    • Equal Pay for Doctors Using Telemedicine
      The telephone continues to represent a useful tool enabling physicians and patients to communicate in a timely and effective way. The benefits of the phone in health care have led to the development of some interesting models that demonstrate a positive impact in both maintaining appropriate care (such as refilling prescriptions) and avoiding inappropriate care (such as unnecessary emergency department visits). This has led some payers to construct and pay for telephone consultation services as a benefit for the members they insure. I think this is great. … BUT … the part I struggle with is that these beneficial telephone services typically are staffed by health care professionals who have no relationship with the patient.
    • Medical Board Wages War Over Telephone Treatment
      In a case working its way through Texas courts, Teladoc argues that a face-to-face meeting is unnecessary for new patients. Teladoc provides telephone patient consultations, claiming that a phone call with a licensed physician can serve as a convenient supplement when patients don't have the time or money to see their primary care doctors. Some physicians say a phone conversation is not enough to properly diagnose and treat a patient with whom the physician is unfamiliar.
  • TMA Caring for Veterans

    • TMA: Veterans Choice Program is Not Working
      Statement of Texas Medical Association President Austin I. King, MD, in response to today’s Associated Press report of continued lengthy delays for Texans seeking care from Veterans Affairs health clinics
    • Identification and Management of Suicide Risk in U.S. Military Veterans
      Suicide is a devastating outcome of major public health importance. In the United States, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death across all ages and the seventh leading cause of death in males. Suicide rates vary considerably across population subgroups. U.S. military veterans may have an increased risk of suicide compared with the general population. Veterans represent around 10 percent of U.S. adults but account for 20 percent of completed suicides, and approximately 18 to 22 veterans die from suicide each day. In addition, a considerable body of research suggests an increased risk for suicide among veterans seeking services from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The increased risk for suicide among veterans has recently captured tremendous public attention and led the VA to declare the prevention of suicide to be a major national priority. The VA has launched comprehensive suicide prevention efforts and has collaborated with the Department of Defense (DoD) to develop a clinical practice guideline based on best available evidence and expert consensus. This article discusses considerations for suicide risk assessment and intervention, mostly derived from the VA/DoD clinical practice guideline. It also briefly reviews the VA suicide prevention program and the importance of veteran suicide risk assessment in primary care settings.
    • Reporting for Duty
      As Congress and the embattled U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs work to resolve overwhelming backlogs in medical care for the nation's veterans, TMA and physicians across the state are enlisting to stand in the gap and help alleviate the documented access-to-care problems. TMA was one of the first state medical societies to establish a registry of private-sector doctors willing to see veteran patients.
  • More Top Stories

    • 10th Border Health Conference
      Mark your calendars for the 10th Annual Border Health Conference. It will be held in Washington D.C. on July 23 from 9 am – 1 pm. Register today. Contact David Wilhelm at borderhealthcaucus@gmail.com.
    • Invest In Preventive Care for Low-Income
      Despite significant gains in women’s health care funding and access last session, more work remains. Increasing the number of women who enroll in the Texas Women’s Health Program, Expanded Primary Health Care Program, and family planning programs, as well as increasing the number of physicians and clinics who participate, will be essential to Texas’ efforts to improve maternal health and birth outcomes.
    • State Pilot to Streamline Medicare-Medicaid Patient Care
      When San Antonio pulmonologist John Holcomb, MD, treats patients enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid, he knows he's dealing with a particularly fragile population that has little to no income and is elderly or has a disability. Neither these so-called "dual-eligible" patients nor the physicians treating them have it easy.
    • ACA Exchange Plans: Questions and Answers for Texas Physicians
      Confused by all you’ve heard about the Affordable Care Act marketplace insurance plans? Do you know whether you're in — or out — of the narrow networks? How will you tell if a patient is on an exchange plan? What happens to you if patients don't make their premium payments? What, if anything, can you do about all of this? TMA answers these and other tough marketplace exchange questions. MembersOnlyRed