• Other Issues

    • An Interview With the Division of Workers' Compensation's New Top Brass

      Gov. Rick Perry appointed Ryan Brannan to the helm of the organization. His predecessor, Rod Bordelon, resigned in August.

      Commissioner Brannan comes from the Governor's Office Division of Budget, Planning and Policy, where he served as an advisor and worked on a range of insurance-related issues. His goals to build on the efficiencies created by earlier workers' compensation (WC) system reforms also recognize that one of the best ways to get injured employees back to work is to "get physicians active and involved.

      Executive Deputy Commissioner for Health Care Management Matthew Zurek joined the conversation with Texas Medicine magazine to explain how doctors can do that, and he talked about the various WC requirements, including recent legislative changes. He also previewed new educational and support tools TMA helped DWC develop.
  • Health Information Technology Advocacy

    • 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.
  • 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.