• 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

    • The ICD-10 Grace Period: What It Is and Is Not
      On July 6, physicians scored a “grace period” to ease transition to the ICD-10 medical billing and coding system. This is good news but not the deliverance physicians were hoping for. Here is what the grace period is and is not.
    • ICD-10 Grace Period Eases Burden But Doesn't Delay Implementation
      Last week, the American Medical Association and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services jointly announced elements of a "grace period" for the Oct. 1, 2015, implementation of the ICD-10 medical billing and coding system. This is good news but not the complete deliverance physicians were hoping for.
    • CMS Announces Plans to Help Doctors Transition to ICD-10
      The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has answered TMA's call to help doctors dodge disaster by providing some flexibility as physicians shift to the new ICD-10 medical billing and coding system. Recently, physician leaders from California, Florida, and New York joined TMA in sending a letter to Andy Slavitt, acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which will roll out the mandatory shift to ICD-10 on Oct. 1. While CMS didn't adopt the two-year, penalty-free grace period TMA and the other medical associations requested, the agency did take steps to alleviate some of the potential burdens physicians may face in 86 days.
    • TMA Tells Feds to Scrap Meaningful Use Rule
      TMA's comments to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on proposed meaningful use Stage 3 rules offer a number of suggestions, including dismantling the program and "adopting reasonable baseline rules that physicians can meet to avoid penalties under the meaningful use program and additional requirements they may meet to receive incentive payments."
    • AMA Calls for Two-Year ICD-10 Grace Period
      The American Medical Association House of Delegates unanimously adopted the Texas-backed proposal to ask the federal government to adopt a two-year, penalty-free grace period following the expected Oct. 1 mandatory implementation of the new ICD-10 coding system. Delegates voted without objection in support of the grace period plan, which the Reference Committee on Legislation cobbled together based on suggestions from the Alabama and Texas delegations, as well as other states, at the AMA House of Delegates Annual Meeting last week in Chicago.
  • Telemedicine

    • Federal Judge Sides with Teladoc, Blocks TMB Telemedicine Rule
      Last month, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman granted Teladoc's request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction that blocks the Texas Medical Board's (TMB's) recently adopted telemedicine rule, which prohibits prescription of dangerous drugs or controlled substances without a "defined physician-patient relationship." That includes a physical examination via face-to-face visit or in-person evaluation, as TMB defines those terms in the rules. TMB adopted the rule on April 10, it and was set to take effect June 3.
    • TMA's 2015 Legislative Victories Build on Past Successes
      In a 2015 legislative session marked by new state leadership, new money, and big shifts in how Texas' major health care agencies oversee care delivery, the house of medicine remained as steady as ever in its mission to ensure physicians can give their patients the best care possible. That resolve paid off in significant victories that largely build on the Texas Medical Association's 2013 legislative successes.
    • TMB Resource Helps Clarify New Telemedicine Rules
      The Texas Medical Board (TMB) adopted rules April 10 concerning telemedicine and requirements for prescribing drugs and controlled substances. But since then, there has been some confusion regarding the impact of the new rules.
    • 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.
  • 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