Hot Topics

Sunshine Act Physician Registration Process Has Begun
Later this year under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will make public physician payments reported by manufacturers of drugs, medical devices, and biologicals that participate in federal health care programs.

TMA to VA: Texas Docs Are Here to Help
TMA President Austin King, MD, announced the registry of private physicians willing to see patients in the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system in a letter to the director of every VA hospital, clinic, and veterans center in the state.

Law Sheds Light on Industry Payments to Physicians
Later this year under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will make public physician payments reported by manufacturers of drugs, medical devices, and biologicals that participate in federal health care programs.

Texas Doctors: Mr. President, Let Us Care for Veterans
In the wake of the revelations of long delays in health care for U.S. veterans, Texas Medical Association (TMA) physicians have led the call for President Barack Obama and Congress to act immediately to enable American veterans to access health care they need outside of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system.

TMA Repeats: President Obama, Let Private Docs Help Care for Veterans

Calling it a “life or death issue,” Texas Medical Association (TMA) President Austin I. King, MD, is repeating his urgent request for President Barack Obama to take immediate action to enable private physicians to care for U.S. veterans.

TMA Applauds CVS Caremark’s Decision to Stop Selling Tobacco
Texas physicians applaud CVS Caremark’s decision to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in its stores. TMA physicians agree with CVS that preventing tobacco use will improve the health of Texans.

Get Claims Paid Promptly With TMA Live Webinars
Since their inception in 1991, Texas' prompt pay laws have helped ensure commercial health plans pay a practice's clean claims promptly and correctly.

CMS Opts Not to Delay Medical Staff Regs
In a formal comment letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Texas Medical Association, the American Medical Association, and more than 80 other medical societies urged the agency to give hospital medical staffs more time to study and prepare to implement a new rule that makes "unprecedented changes to the Medicare hospital Conditions of Participation (CoPs) that will dramatically alter the make-up and efficacy of hospital medical staffs nationwide."

Register for the Focus on the Female Patient Conference
Women's health continues to evolve, and many new and updated practice guidelines have recently been released related to the care and treatment of female patients. Physicians need to stay up to date on the broad array of changes taking place in women's health.

HHSC Releases Marketing Guidelines
Senate Bill 8, which passed during the 2013 legislative session, prohibits certain marketing activities under Medicaid fee-for-service, Medicaid managed care, and the Children's Health Insurance Program. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) released "Texas Provider Marketing Guidelines" to help physicians and other health professionals assess their compliance with the rules, which took effect July 6.

HHSC Transitioning to New Medicaid Claims Administrator
The Texas Health & Human Services Commission (HHSC) is working to move the Medicaid claims administration contract from Xerox to Accenture. HHSC is reviewing Accenture's readiness to take over the contract, which also includes processing claims for the Children with Special Health Care Needs Services Program and vendor drug services.

Live TMA Webinars Cover Revenue Cycle, Claims Submission
The Texas Prompt Pay Act requires HMOs and insured PPOs to pay clean claims within a set timeframe. Texas law provides for payment no later than 45 days after the date a health plan receives a nonelectronic clean claim and no later than 30 days after receipt of an electronic clean claim.

STAR+PLUS Expansion News
People with intellectual and developmental disabilities covered by Medicaid will need to choose a STAR+PLUS health plan this summer for their doctor, hospital visits, and medications. Starting Sept. 1, these people will get their basic medical services through STAR+PLUS.

TMA Calls for Immediate Medical Aid for Central Am. Refugees

TMA is calling on President Obama and Governor Perry to provide medical aid to the thousands of women and children who have traveled from Central America to Texas. 

TMA Weighs in on Public Health, Medicaid Funding
Last week, TMA submitted comments regarding the 2016-17 legislative appropriations request from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Join TMA's Huge Statewide Helmet Giveaway
Mark your calendar for October — TMA's Hard Hats for Little Heads big giveaway month to celebrate the program's 20th birthday. TMA wants to give 5,000 Texas children a free helmet in October, and we need your help.

Print and Save DocbookMD Messages
Do you want to get important patient information from DocbookMD into that patient's medical record? It's now easier than ever with the new "Print & Save" functions from DocbookMD.

Attend the Patient-Centered Medical Home Learning Collaborative
Register today for the Patient-Centered Medical Home Learning Collaborative, held in Austin July 31. The Texas Medicaid Wellness Program, in partnership with TransforMED, will host the event.

HCMS Alliance Provides Scholarships to Med Students
By the end of 2014, the Harris County Medical Society (HCMS) Alliance will have awarded more than $275,000 in scholarships to about 240 medical students attending The University of Texas Medical School at Houston and Baylor College of Medicine. The medical student scholarship program is one of the most important philanthropic activities the HCMS Alliance supports each year.

Business Management Help From TMA
The TMA Financial Trend Tracker is a free online tool to help association members and their staff track monthly and yearly net collection ratios, accounts receivable percentages, and new and established patient visits. The tool presents a practice's key performance indicators via easy-to-read graphs and charts.

Free CME Program on Opioid Medications
On July 9, 2012, the Food and Drug Administration approved a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS) for extended-release and long-acting opioid medications to ensure that the benefits of these opioid analgesics outweigh the risks. The REMS supports national efforts to address the prescription drug abuse epidemic.

Medicare Ordering/Referring Edit Extended to Certifying Physician
Beginning July 1, 2014, the certifying physician reported on a Medicare home health agency (HHA) claim must be enrolled in Medicare. If not, the claim will be denied under Medicare’s ordering and referring denial edits.

State and Federal Charitable Immunity Protections
The Texas Charitable Immunity and Liability Act of 1987 gives physician volunteers limited immunity from liabiltiy when providing nonemergency care for certain organizations.

TMA Launches Doctor Registry to Care for Veterans
TMA this week invited private physicians across Texas to enroll in a TMA registry if they are willing to see veterans in their offices.

TMA Opposes Nurse Practitioner Plan
Proposed new rules regulating the scope of practice of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) would illegally allow APRNs to make medical diagnoses, and they ignore key tenets of a new state law, the Texas Medical Association and nine other state medical societies wrote in a formal comment letter to the Texas State Board of Nursing.

Medicine Warns of Brewing Regulatory Storm
Physicians face an "imminent storm" of mass confusion caused by overlapping regulatory mandates and reporting requirements from multiple federal programs unless federal officials do something to prevent it, TMA and other state and national medical societies warn in a letter to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Acting Director Marilyn Tavenner.

TMA Wants Medical Aid for Central American Refugees
The Central American women and children streaming into South Texas need medical assistance, and they need it now, says TMA President Austin King, MD, who traveled to McAllen to personally survey the crisis.

TMA Calls for Meaningful Use Moratorium
Because physicians "are feeling overloaded by the myriad new Stage 2 meaningful use measures imposed on them," Congress should stop Medicare from requiring any new meaningful use criteria, a TMA leader wrote in a letter to the chair of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. Otherwise, Matt Murray, MD, the chair of TMA's Ad Hoc Committee on Health Information Technology, wrote to U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), "Texas physicians — out of frustration — will withdraw from the Meaningful Use program at alarming rates."

Need Ethics CME? Make PHW Your No. 1 Stop!
The TMA Committee on Physician Health and Wellness (PHW) offers several live presentations on request, as well as online and home study courses, all of which are accredited for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ and designated for ethics and/or professional responsibility education.

Timely Communication for ACOs With DocbookMD
Participation in accountable care organizations (ACOs) is a growing movement, due in part to their potential to overcome some of the rising costs (and hurdles) of current health care delivery. To achieve optimal patient outcomes and lower costs for patients and physicians, ACO networks must be able to communicate in a timely manner to coordinate care between independent physicians and large groups. The solution at the center of this communication network is DocbookMD.

Docright Helps TMA Members Compare EHRs, Other HIT
Do you need to upgrade or install an electronic health record (EHR) system but aren't sure where to start?

TMA Members Testify on DSHS, UIL Sunset Review
Two TMA member physicians testified June 25 before the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services on the Sunset Advisory Commission's Staff Report on the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). And Houston neurologist Kim Monday, MD, provided preliminary comments on the University Interscholastic League (UIL) Sunset Review.

Take The Physicians Foundation's 2014 National Physician Survey
Let your voice be heard! Complete the 2014 National Physician Survey, sponsored by The Physicians Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to improve physician satisfaction. The foundation's third national survey gives you and your colleagues a chance to comment on the current state of the medical profession in what may be the most comprehensive survey of American physicians ever undertaken.

Brush Up on NPP Regs With New TMA Seminar
With input from TMA, the 2013 Texas Legislature simplified the process by which physicians supervise and delegate to nonphysician practitioners (NPPs). These changes define a prescriptive authority agreement as a separate and distinct arrangement, and scrap the definition of medically underserved area. These changes will enable physicians to lead physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses more effectively in collaborative practice.

Free Research Summaries From AHRQ for TMA Members
A new set of tools on the TMA website can help you share the latest evidence-based clinical information with your patients in a way that invites discussion about their specific conditions.

Physicians Receive ACA Grace Period Notice Letters
Some Texas physicians have notified TMA they have received letters from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) notifying them that a patient is in the second or third month of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) 90-day grace period. The grace period is triggered once a patient with subsidized marketplace coverage misses a premium payment. Instead of immediately terminating the policy, health plans must give the patient 90 days to catch up.

TMA Wants Stronger Grace Period Notification
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) should require insurers who offer health plans on the Affordable Care Act exchanges to provide immediate notice when patients enter the first month of the 90-day grace period. That's what TMA, the American Medical Association, and more than 80 state medical societies and specialty organizations told CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner in a letter.

Tax Refund Fraud Scheme Affects Texas Physicians
Physicians are the latest victims in a tax refund fraud scheme making waves across the nation. The American Medical Association reports it's working with federal officials in the investigation, headed by the Internal Revenue Service and the Secret Service. While the exact source of the identity theft hasn't been detected, several theories exist.

Secret Service Expects to Make Arrests in Tax Refund Fraud Case
Last month, the Texas Medical Association first reported Texas physicians are victims of a tax refund/identity theft fraud scheme making waves across the nation. The association has since learned the crime's victims also include physician assistants, advanced practice registered nurses, dentists, podiatrists, and pharmacists. Texas is one of 49 states and the District of Columbia affected by this con.

Free TMA Publication: Business Basics
Thanks to a generous grant from The Physicians Foundation, you can download Business Basics for Physicians, TMA's newest publication, free.

Free Bike Helmets for Pediatricians, Family Physicians
The Texas Pediatric Society (TPS) and the Texas Academy of Family Physicians (TAFP) support TMA's Hard Hats for Little Heads program by purchasing up to 50 helmets for their members to host helmet giveaway events. TMA matches the purchase, so TAFP and TPS members receive up to 100 helmets at no cost for their giveaways.

Custom Ringtones Added to DocbookMD
Physicians can now customize their iOS ringtones to differentiate new DocbookMD messages from other messages they receive. The new feature resides in the Settings menu within the app. Choose from 40 different sound notification options, and assign a different tone to each of the three message priority times. From an iPhone or iPad, tap on Settings from the main menu, and decide which ringtone you want for messages sent with the following priorities: 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or none.

Patients Continue to Ask Doctors for Unnecessary Tests, Study Finds
Two-thirds of physicians say they have a great responsibility in making sure their patients do not receive unnecessary tests and procedures; yet even more say American physicians today are ordering these exams every week, a new survey finds.

CMS Proposes Flexibility for Meaningful Use Program
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released proposed rules that allow flexibility for electronic health record certification and extend Stage 2 meaningful use. TMA will carefully review the proposal and submit comments by July 21, the end of the comment period.

AccessMedicine Replaces MD Consult in TMA Databases
As of June 30, MD Consult will no longer be offered by Elsevier. The TMA Knowledge Center is now offering AccessMedicine from McGraw Hill. AccessMedicine is an innovative online resource that provides TMA members more than 75 medical titles from the best minds in medicine, updated content, thousands of images and illustrations, interactive self-assessment, case files, time-saving diagnostic and point-of-care tools, a comprehensive search platform, and the ability to view from and download content to a mobile device.

Independent Contractor or Employed Physician?
Disputes over independent contractor status can be tricky, says Regina Williams, a board-certified human resources lawyer in Austin.

TMA Exhibit Focuses on Forensics
Forensics experts peer into microscopes to solve crimes almost nightly on television. How did forensic medicine, which has revolutionized investigations, begin? Find out with a visit to TMA's newest History of Medicine exhibit, “Bugs, Bones, and Blood,” which examines forensic medicine — the search for truth when someone dies suddenly or mysteriously.

Check Out 2013 Legislative Summary in Texas Medicine
As the dust settles on the 83rd regular session of the Texas Legislature, here's an excellent resource: TMA’s August issue of Texas Medicine magazine, which offers an in-depth, detailed examination of new laws affecting patients and their physicians.

Congress Patches SGR, Delays ICD-10
Congress has done it again. For the 17th time, lawmakers slapped yet another Band-Aid on Medicare to stave off a 24-percent physician payment cut under the fatally flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. It sets the next SGR cliff for April 1, 2015.

Are You Choosing Wisely?
TMA wants to know if you have implemented the Choosing Wisely® recommendations in your practice.

CMS, Texas Partner to Coordinate Care for Dual Eligibles
On May 23, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it's partnering with Texas to test a new model for providing Medicare-Medicaid enrollees with more coordinated care. The demonstration builds on Texas' STAR+PLUS Medicaid HMO program in six counties: Bexar, Dallas, El Paso, Harris, Hidalgo, and Tarrant. In total, 168,000 individuals will be eligible to enroll in the demonstration.

TMB Begins Inspecting Registered Office-Based Anesthesia Locations
The Texas Medical Board (TMB) has begun inspecting Texas practices registered with the board as providing office-based anesthesia (OBA) to ensure compliance with Chapter 192 of board rules. Practices that provide OBA must register with the board, pay a biennial fee of $210 per physician, and identify the level of anesthesia services provided at each practice site.

CMS Announces Changes to QIO Program
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on May 9 awarded Ohio-based KePRO the Beneficiary and Family-Centered Care Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) Program contract for Texas, 32 other states, and the District of Columbia.

Consider Dengue in Patients Who Travel to Areas With Transmission Risk
The TMA Committee on Infectious Diseases encourages you to consider dengue in patients who have traveled to areas with known dengue transmission risk and who present with symptoms consistent with this mosquito-borne disease.

Take Advantage of TMA Member Discounts Today
With TMA's Group Discount Programs, members receive exclusive discounts on everyday products and services.

Good Health Grants Available From TMAF
The TMA Foundation is accepting applications for its 2014-15 Medical Community Grants and Medical Student Leadership Grants programs. Eligible applicants include TMA county medical societies and alliance and medical student chapters.

DocbookMD HIPAA-Secure Messaging Now on PC, Mac
Visit today, and you will notice a new addition to the menu bar at the top of the webpage: A red button inviting you to log in announces the addition of PC and Mac access for the previously mobile-only HIPAA-secure messaging platform. Now, using the same email and password for the app on your phone and tablet, you can access DocbookMD on any computer via the new web version without having to install new software.

New App Links Veterans to Resources
You can connect your Texas military veteran patients to local, state, and national resources, including crisis hotlines, with the new Texas Veterans App from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. The app can be downloaded from Google Play and the Apple App Store.

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.

Consider Chikungunya in Patients Who Have Traveled Internationally
The TMA Committee on Infectious Diseases encourages you to consider chikungunya virus infection for patients who have traveled to areas with known outbreaks and who present with illness consistent with this mosquito-borne disease.

Hard Hats for Little Heads Marks 20 Years
TMA's Hard Hats for Little Heads bike helmet giveaway program turns 20 years old this month. In celebration of this milestone, TMA recognized program founder Larry C. Driver, MD, of Houston, at TexMed 2014 in Fort Worth. Read about Dr. Driver's brainchild in the December 2011 issue of Texas Medicine.

AG Sues Xerox; HHSC Cancels Xerox Medicaid Contract
The Texas Attorney General's Office filed a civil lawsuit in state district court this week against Xerox Corporation and its wholly owned subsidiary, ACS Healthcare LLC. The state's legal action seeks to recover fraudulent Medicaid payments for orthodontic and dental services improperly approved by Xerox.

Keep Records When Attesting to Meaningful Use
TMA has learned of yet another snag in the Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record incentive programs. A successful attestation submission may be voided if the submitter logs back in to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services attestation portal postsubmission. Any edits made postsubmission — even something as small as hitting the space bar — could void the original submission.

Eligible Primary Care Physicians Get Medicaid Pay Increase
On May 7, the Texas Medicaid and Healthcare Partnership (TMHP) began issuing retroactive supplemental Medicaid payments for fee-for-service claims submitted by primary care physicians who qualify for the payment increase as authorized by the Affordable Care Act. Supplemental payments will be made weekly until TMHP has paid all retroactive eligible claims. Once caught up, TMHP will then make quarterly payments.

Contact Congress on High-Risk Lung Cancer Screens
The TMA House of Delegates on May 3 adopted the latest U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations regarding the annual screening of appropriately selected high-risk patients for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography.

United's New Reports Target Physician Outliers
If UnitedHealthcare (UHC) identifies you as an outlier among its physicians, you may receive a new type of report from UHC that details tests, procedures, referrals, and/or billing patterns in your practice that may be inconsistent with certain evidence-based medicine criteria. Initially, UHC is looking at primary care physicians (internal medicine, family practice, and pediatrics), cardiologists, and endocrinologists. It will add other specialists later.

CDC Releases MERS-CoV Advisory Following First U.S. Case
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an official health advisory May 3 on the identification of the first case of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection in the United States. On May 1, the Indiana State Department of Health reported the suspected case to CDC, which confirmed the infection in a traveler who had visited Saudi Arabia.

TMA Training Helps Docs Who Treat Commercial Drivers
Effective May 21, physicians must complete accredited certification training and pass an examination before performing examinations and issuing new medical certificates to interstate commercial motor vehicle drivers.

TMA Opposes Proposed Overreaching Agency Rules
TMA President Stephen L. Brotherton, MD, wrote formal comment letters for the association opposing two state agencies' proposed rules that go too far.

Supreme Court to Review Antitrust Enforcement Case
The U.S. Supreme Court announced March 3 that it will decide whether a federal agency can second-guess the work of state medical licensure boards.

DPS Announces Interim CSR Renewal Solution
On Jan. 1, renewal of controlled substances registration (CSR) permits issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) should have become part of physicians' biennial online medical license renewal with the Texas Medical Board. TMA advocated passage of House Bill 1803 by Rep. Bill Callegari (R-Katy) and Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) to ease the administrative hassle and red tape on physicians when they renew their CSR permits and to avoid interruptions in patient care and in physicians' practices due to inadvertent expirations.

CMS Releases Medicare Physician Payment Data
On April 9, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) gave the public unprecedented access to physician payments and charges for services and procedures provided to Medicare beneficiaries. The CMS online database contains information on more than 880,000 physicians and other health care professionals who collectively received $77 billion in Medicare Part B payments in 2012.

Physicians Help Create a Healthy Economy
Physician practices add value to Texas' economy by producing tens of billions of dollars in revenue each year and providing hundreds of thousands of jobs. "The National Economic Impact of Physicians," a new study conducted for the American Medical Association (AMA) and state medical societies, found Texas' 48,314 practicing physicians boost the state's economy by supporting 522,619 jobs and generating $78.6 billion in economic activity.

Memorial Hermann, DocbookMD Deal Connects Houston Physicians
DocbookMD, the HIPAA-secure mobile communication app, has signed an agreement to deploy Docbook Enterprise to MHMD Memorial Hermann Physician Network of Houston. This is a big win not only for physicians at MHMD, who will gain significant communication and workflow advantages, but also for the whole Houston community. DocbookMD provides the ability to securely connect physicians at MHMD to one another as well as to other TMA-member physicians across Houston.

TMA Urges Congress to Extend CHIP Funding Beyond 2015
TMA signed onto a March of Dimes and Texas Pediatric Society letter asking Gov. Rick Perry to urge the Texas congressional delegation to support continued Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding beyond 2015. Though the program will run through 2019, federal funding for CHIP expires Oct. 1, 2015, unless Congress extends it.

Stage 2 Meaningful Use Incentive Calculator Now Available
Determine your incentive payment eligibility in the Stage 2 meaningful use electronic health record incentive programs with the new calculator developed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Just enter and review your data for each meaningful use measure.

Physicians Help Create a Healthy Texas Economy

Physician practices add value to Texas' economy by producing tens of billions of dollars in revenue each year and providing hundreds of thousands of jobs. "The National Economic Impact of Physicians," a new study conducted for the American Medical Association (AMA) and state medical societies, found Texas' 47,000-plus practicing physicians boost the state's economy by supporting 522,619 jobs and generating $78.6 billion in economic activity.

Get CME Easier From TMA Education Center
Something good is now even better. TMA's practice management, cancer, and physician health courses are now easier than ever for you to find online. The TMA Education Center offers convenient, one-stop access to the continuing medical education (CME) Texas physicians need.

CME the Easy Way
TMA has taken physician continuing medical education (CME) to the next level through the TMA Education Center. You can now access and complete CME and have your earned credits applied to your transcript instantly, thanks in part to TMA's collaboration with technology partner InReach.

ICD-10 Seminar Now Available on Demand
Did you miss TMA's recent seminar on preparing for ICD-10? Did you attend one of the sessions but would like a review? The seminar, ICD-10 Now! How and Why, is now available as an on-demand webinar through the TMA Education Center.

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.

Delegating and Supervising Prescribing Privileges for APRNs/PAs
New state law governing the delegation and supervision of prescribing privileges for advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants went into effect Nov. 1.  MembersOnlyRed

Governor's Signature Caps Successful Legislative Session
The Texas Medical Association's victories in the 2013 legislative session became official when Gov. Rick Perry signed into law TMA-backed bills to reduce the red tape snarling your practice and to give your patients new protections.

TMA Releases 2nd Edition of NPP Guide
Last year, the Texas Legislature passed legislation that replaces site-based requirements for the delegation and supervision of prescriptive authority for nonphysician practitioners (NPPs) with a framework of delegation and supervision that uses customizable prescriptive authority agreements.

Is Your Practice Compliant With HIPAA Privacy Laws?
Do any of your vendors come under the expanded HIPAA definition of business associate? Is your notice of privacy practices up to date? TMA is offering a replay of Complying with HIPAA and Texas Privacy Laws webinar from noon to 1 pm CT on Jan. 15 to ensure you can answer these questions.

Medicare End-to-End Testing Accepting Volunteers
Ready to test ICD-10 with Medicare? The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will select volunteer clearinghouses and physicians to participate in end-to-end testing of ICD-10 the week of July 21-25. The deadline to volunteer is March 24.

CMS Proposes New Medicare Advantage Network Rules
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced it is considering new rules aimed at safeguarding Medicare Advantage enrollees when health plans significantly reduce their physician networks.

Have You Talked To Your EHR Vendor About ICD-10?
Vendors are key partners who can help you prepare for ICD-10. You can assess an electronic health record (EHR) vendor's capabilities by answering key questions.

OIG Starts Fraud Education Series for Physicians
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission's Office of Inspector General (OIG) has begun a Provider Education series to inform health professionals on OIG's efforts in detecting, deterring, and correcting fraud, waste, and abuse in the Texas Medicaid system. The first topic is Understanding Waste, Abuse, and Fraud.

Aetna Seeks to Axe $120M Ingenix Class Settlement
Late last year, Aetna Inc. announced a proposed class settlement of up to $120 million over its use of the flawed Ingenix database. The settlement covered physicians and health care professionals who delivered out-of-network services to Aetna subscribers any time between June 3, 2003, and Aug. 30, 2013, and received less than the billed charge.

DocbookMD Adds MedPage Today News for Physician Users
All TMA member physicians will soon be able to receive breaking medical news from MedPage Today from the DocbookMD app. DocbookMD has partnered with MedPage Today to provide physicians with an instant, trusted news service.

CME Spotlight Brings CME to Your Inbox
Looking for continuing medical education (CME) that is timely and practical? Need help wrapping your head around new rules and regulations?

Do EHR Mandates Exist?
It depends. What is your definition of a mandate? You do not have to use an electronic health record (EHR) in your practice, but if you don't, Medicare penalties will be incurred beginning in 2015.

Don't Use Code G8553 for E-Prescribing
Starting this year, you'll no longer need the G-code for the Medicare e-prescribing program. If you use the G8553 code, the claim will be rejected and you'll have to resubmit it to Medicare.

Board Pulls Plan for Pharmacists to Check Diagnoses
The Texas State Board of Pharmacy quickly killed a proposal that would have required pharmacists to contact the prescribing physician for each new patient with a prescription for a controlled substance.

Need a Cancer Expert? TMA Can Help
Are you looking for a speaker on the latest in cancer control and prevention? The TMA Cancer Speakers Bureau is here to help.

Rule Gives Patients Access to Lab Reports
Patients no longer have to call their physicians to get the results of a lab test under a new federal rule that gives them direct access to the reports.

TMA Knowledge Center Helps With Board Certification
Does your board certification process require journal articles? The TMA Knowledge Center can help you by obtaining articles and performing custom research requests.

Texas Physicians Call on Congress to Fix Medicare Formula Now
Physician leaders from the Texas Medical Association are in Washington today to urge every member of the Texas congressional delegation to cosponsor landmark legislation that would strengthen Medicare by updating the program’s troubled payment system.

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.























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