• Other Issues

    • Demand for Telemedicine Increasing

      Imagine “visiting” the doctor via video, similar to a Skype call. Some physicians currently use telemedicine — in which physicians and health care providers use electronic communication tools to care for patients — and it’s growing more common. James Luecke, MD, credits telemedicine with helping save the life of a baby he was delivering in tiny Alpine, Texas, where a specialist miles away was only available by telemedicine. Physicians, patients, and policymakers alike recognize telemedicine can help improve access to care — especially for patients who are miles from the doctor. TMA wants to make sure patient safety is paramount in this practice, and the first step is establishing a proper patient-physician relationship: The physician first must see the patient in person.
  • TMA Caring for Veterans

    • 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.
    • Congress Passes VA Overhaul
      On Thursday, Congress approved a widespread overhaul of the embattled Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). TMA has been calling on the nation's leaders to clear existing bureaucratic landmines — slow payment and lack of interaction between the VA and the private sector, for instance — so private-sector physicians can help get veterans the timely care they need.
  • More Top Stories

    • 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
    • Marketplace Means Decisions for Doctors
      The opening of the health insurance marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on Jan.1 means you must be vigilant in your dealings with the health insurance companies. Or you could face major problems. For example, do your existing contracts with insurers mean you're already included in an exchange network? And, it's possible you'll have to refund payments to an insurer if a patient who bought coverage in the ACA marketplace doesn't pay his or her premiums.
    • Medicare Meltdown Fact Sheet: Stop the Medicare Meltdown — repeal the SGR
      Since the turn of the century, nothing has so regularly and completely vexed and frustrated physicians more than our annual game of chicken with Congress over Medicare payments. Medicare patients and military families are never out of danger. Year after year, the specter of congressional action or lack of action threatens to jeopardize health care for Medicare patients. And, because TRICARE rates for military families are based on Medicare, they’re in danger, too.