• TMA Tackles Legal Issues

    • Law Sheds Light on Industry Payments to Physicians

      Later this year under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will make public physician payments reported by manufacturers of drugs, medical devices, and biologicals that participate in federal health care programs.
  • Legal Issues

    • DPS Begins to Synch Controlled Substance Permit Renewals
      Following a three-month delay, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) reports it is beginning to synchronize physicians' controlled substances registration (CSR) expiration dates with their Texas Medical Board (TMB) license expiration dates.
    • FTC Calls for APRN Independent Practice
      In a new report, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) encourages states to allow a wider scope of practice for nurses with postgraduate education and urges state lawmakers to loosen regulations on advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), allowing them to deliver care independently of physicians. The FTC claims more independent APRNs will increase competition in the primary health care marketplace.
    • TMA Opposes Audiology Scope Expansion
      Audiologists lack the "medical training necessary to perform the same duties as physicians" and aren't able to "provide patients with the medical diagnosis and treatment options they require." That's the message TMA, the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, 38 state and local medical associations, and dozens of specialty societies and national organizations sent in a letter to House and Senate leaders.
    • A Bitter Pill: Physicians Seek Justice for Network Terminations
      When insurance companies make business decisions that could have negative implications for Medicare patients' access to care and treatment continuity, it's a bitter pill for physicians.
    • Good Form: TMA Form Helps Keep You Out of Trouble
      As more physicians adopt electronic health records (EHRs) and increasingly share patient information electronically, complying with state and federal privacy and security laws becomes more important than ever. TMA wants physicians to have the tools they need to comply while alleviating the administrative hassles that often accompany compliance, so it has created a patient authorization form to help physicians adhere to the law.
    • Specifics, Please: Tell DSHS What Killed a Patient
      Just listing "cardiac arrest" as a cause of death in the Texas Electronic Registrar (TER) death registration system doesn't cut it anymore. That's because the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) wants physicians to be more specific when listing the cause of a patient's death in the system.>
    • Proposition 12 Produces Healthy Benefits
      Proposition 12 continues to produces healthy benefits. Improving access to medical care is critically important to all Texans. This is especially true for children, pregnant women, the aged, the poor, those in an emergent condition and those in rural Texas. Charity care has greatly increased since the passage of the 2003 reforms.
    • Medical Ethics
      Here is guidance on appropriate standards of conduct for the physician, as well as links to ethics continuing medical education courses, and tools such as a “do not resuscitate” form, medical power of attorney and more.
    • State Mental Health Hold Law "Antiquated"
      When Temple emergency physician Robert Daniel Greenberg, MD, encounters suicidal or homicidal patients, he doesn't have the legal authority to temporarily hold them. For example, if the parents of an unresponsive 19-year-old patient fear he'll commit suicide once he wakes up, Dr. Greenberg says he's powerless to temporarily detain him. He has to wait for a judge to issue an emergency detention order.
  • Latest TMA Courtroom Action

    • Court Keeps Injunction in United Medicare Advantage Case
      A federal appeals court has refused to allow UnitedHealthcare to continue kicking physicians out of its Medicare Advantage plans. On Dec. 12, the court declined United's request to lift an injunction against the insurer and referred the case to a three-judge panel. The appeals court ordered the parties in the lawsuit to file briefs later this month.
    • Abortion Ruling Supports Physician Judgment
      An Austin federal judge enforcement of a provision of the state's new antiabortion law that requires physicians performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their facility. On Oct. 28, the day before the law was to take effect, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel also upheld a physician's judgment in the use of RU-486 by women seeking an abortion. The state immediately appealed the ruling to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, and on Oct. 31, the court lifted Judge Yeakel's injunction, allowing the state to enforce the regulations. The legal battle is expected to continue.
    • Aetna to Pay $120 Million in Claims Dispute
      Aetna's creation of a $120 million fund to pay physicians for out-of-network claims moved closer to reality last month when a New Jersey federal judge tentatively approved a settlement of the class action lawsuit by the Texas Medical Association and its organized medicine partners. Final approval is scheduled for March.
    • Appeals Court Backs TMA on Workplace Breastfeeding
      The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals agrees with TMA and the Texas Pediatric Society that a Houston federal judge wrongfully ruled against a woman who says her employer fired her because she wanted to pump breast milk. The court said "discriminating against a woman who is lactating or expressing breast milk" violates federal law. It overturned the decision and sent the case back to the trial court for further proceedings.