Hot Topics

Guidance on Prescribing Schedule II Hydrocodone Products
Over TMA's objections, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) published a final rule in the Federal Register reclassifying drugs that contain hydrocodone combinations from Schedule III to Schedule II. The change will take effect Oct. 6.

PQRS: Take Immediate Action by Sept. 30
Group practices that plan on participating in the 2014 Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) program year through the group practice reporting option must register by Sept. 30, 2014. This deadline does not apply to physicians who will participate in the 2014 PQRS program year as an individual eligible professional (EP) or to physicians who belong to a group practice that will participate in the 2014 PQRS program year as individual EPs.

TDI FAQs Address 90-Day Grace Period, Prompt Pay
The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) has updated its FAQs for Health Carriers to include information about the federal 90-day grace period granted to patients with subsidized ACA health insurance marketplace coverage and about prompt payment of claims.

New Option for Providing LARCs to Medicaid, TWHP Patients
Physicians now have a new option for providing select long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) to their Medicaid or Texas Women’s Health Program (TWHP) patients. Effective Aug. 1, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission added Mirena and Skyla to the Medicaid drug and device formulary, allowing physicians the option of writing a prescription for the devices instead of buying and billing, as they had to do before the change.

CMS Sets ICD-10 Testing Dates
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has instructed Medicare administrative contractors to promote three specific testing weeks with health professionals and to provide data and statistics to CMS that demonstrate readiness for the ICD-10 transition.

DSHS Provides Interim Guidance on Enterovirus D68
A recent outbreak of enterorvirus D68 (EV-D68) is affecting children in six states throughout the Midwest. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that as of Sept. 10, 84 people had been confirmed to have respiratory illness caused by EV-D68.

TMA Comments on TDI Draft Rules for Independent Review Organizations
TMA told the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) in a letter that the association will oppose any potential fee increases affecting physicians involved in a review of an independent review organization (IRO). TMA provided comments Aug. 15 on TDI's informal draft rules for IROs.

New CMS Rule Slightly Modifies EHR Program
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently published a final rule designed to give physicians more flexibility with the floundering electronic health record (EHR) incentive program. While TMA appreciates that CMS recognized the need for modification, the association says CMS did not go far enough and did not heed most of TMA's suggested comments.

2014-15 RSV Season Begins Oct. 1
The 2014-15 respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) season begins Oct. 1 for a majority of the state and Nov. 1 for counties in the western part of the state. Health professionals participating in Medicaid must obtain Synagis (palivizumab), a prescription medication used to help prevent RSV in infants and children at high risk, through the Texas Medicaid/Children's Health Insurance Program Vendor Drug Program for all eligible traditional Medicaid and Children with Special Health Care Needs clients.

Massive HIPAA Breach Affects 4.5 Million Patients
In just the past month, 18 Texas medical centers were part of a massive nationwide HIPAA breach that included the data of 4.5 million patients. The penalties, lawsuits, and negative publicity to follow are sure to take a staggering financial toll. Texas physicians should take proactive steps to implement processes that secure patient data and mitigate risk.

Take TMA's Texas Physician Survey
TMA's 2014 Texas Physician Survey is under way. Complete the survey, and provide TMA with your opinion on and experience related to health care issues. Your feedback helps support the association's policy development and political focus.

Fight the Flu With Tools From TMA
Flu season is just around the corner, and TMA's Be Wise — Immunize program has tools you can use to protect yourself, your staff, and your patients:

TMA Practice Consulting Helps You Maintain a Healthy Practice
Getting paid for your services accurately and on time is the key to preserving the viability of your practice. By maintaining efficient processes and carefully monitoring each step in the revenue cycle, you can minimize future problems, ensure sufficient cash flow, improve collection rates, and increase staff productivity.

Critical Congenital Heart Disease Reporting Now Mandatory
Beginning Sept. 1, reporting of critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) is mandatory in Texas. House Bill 740, which passed in the 2013 legislative session, added CCHD to the required Texas newborn screening panel. The Texas Department of State Health Services has developed rules for CCHD screening.

Last Call for Helmet Giveaways in October
It's a celebration you won’t want to miss: TMA's Hard Hats for Little Heads 20th birthday blitz in October. You still have time to plan a helmet giveaway to help Hard Hats celebrate 20 years of keeping kids safe. TMA wants to have 50 bike helmet giveaways across the state; at press time, we were about halfway there. Host an event in your community to help us reach the goal.

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.

STAR+PLUS Expands to Rural Areas
On Sept. 1, the STAR+PLUS Medicaid managed care program expanded to 164 rural counties not currently participating in the model. The expansion requires elderly patients eligible for Medicaid long-term services and supports (LTCSS) and adult patients with disabilities to enroll in a STAR+PLUS plan. Children with disabilities may enroll voluntarily.

Virtual Kidnappers Target Texas Physicians
TMA wants to alert you about a disturbing development that hit the family of medicine in the past several weeks. On separate occasions, individuals contacted physicians in San Antonio, El Paso, and Corpus Christi and claimed to have kidnapped the doctor’s child with the intent to extort money from the physician.

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.

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.

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.

Thorough Risk Analysis Key to HIPAA Preparedness
An estimated 40 million to 45 million patient records have been compromised in HIPAA data breaches since 2012. Since 2009, theft or loss of unencrypted devices or computers accounted for 35 percent of all breaches.

Academic Physicians: Your Commitment and Leadership Deserve Recognition
TMA is eager to recognize Texas physician leaders who have simultaneously dedicated their lives to the care of their patients and to the preparation of the physician workforce of tomorrow. The TMA Award for Excellence in Academic Medicine program recognizes teaching physicians who have a record of TMA leadership and serve as a role model in scholarly activity, mentoring, professional development, advocacy, or community service. If this sounds like you, TMA encourages you to apply for this award created for doctors like you.

10 Tech Tips to Help Make Your EHR Bloom
Has the notion of converting to an electronic health record (EHR) germinated within your practice? For this big changeover to bear fruit in your practice operations, you need to proceed with care. TMA has tools, guidance, and reference material — most are free — to help you produce your desired results.

It's Not Too Late to Participate in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program
The last year to begin participating in the Medicare electronic health record (EHR) incentive program is 2014. Physicians can begin the program by Oct. 1 and still receive up to $24,000 over the next three years. New participants must demonstrate meeting three months of Stage 1 meaningful use criteria.

TMA Honors Science Teachers
TMA will honor deserving Texas educators again in 2015 with the Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching.

Fund a Vaccination Event With Support From Be Wise — Immunize
TMA's Be Wise — Immunize program is accepting applications until Oct. 1 for funds to support local vaccination events. Grants of up to $2,000 are available to TMA member-physician practices and clinics, county medical societies, TMA Alliance chapters, and medical student chapters.

Physician Health Conference Focuses on Well-Being
Physician Well-Being for Life is the theme of the TMA Committee on Physician Health and Wellness conference, Oct. 24-25 at The Adolphus Hotel in Dallas. The conference has been accredited for a maximum of 8.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™, 6 of which are ethics and/or professional responsibility education.

Mentors Wanted for Tomorrow’s Physician Leaders
Remember your first professional mentor? The physician who introduced you to all the right people? The one who shared invaluable tricks of the trade? The one who helped steer you away from trouble? It's time to repay the favor. The fifth class of scholars in the TMA Leadership College will begin their year of studies at the 2014 Fall Conference.

Attend the 2014 Texas Immunization Summit
The 2014 Texas Immunization Summit, Nov. 5-7 in San Antonio, will focus on information and tools regarding immunization-centered programs and vaccine administration, education and outreach activities, epidemiology and vaccine development, and advocacy. Anyone interested in immunizations, including physicians, nurses, public health workers, policymakers, legislators, and students, can attend the summit.

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

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.

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.

Bring HIPAA-Secure Mobile Communication to Your Community
With over 9,000 Texas physicians already using the free DocbookMD app to securely text medical information to their colleagues, chances are you or a colleague are one of them. But what if you want to coordinate care via DocbookMD with a physician who’s not yet registered? If you’ve been waiting for enough physicians in your area to come on board, wait no more. Take action to secure your community.

Tell FDA to Regulate All Tobacco Products
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is urging public comment in support of regulation of all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes and cigars, by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Click here to submit your comments directly to the FDA. The submission deadline is Aug. 8.

True Savings of Mobile HIPAA-Secure Communication
In many situations, texting is the fastest and most efficient way to send information, but physicians who use traditional methods to text clinical information to each other risk exposing themselves to HIPAA privacy and security violations. However, physicians who adopt a secure platform for sending such messages, such as DocbookMD, can benefit by saving time, money, and even lives.

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.

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.

DocbookMD Is the Physician's Choice Nationwide
DocbookMD is being used by nearly 9,000 Texas physicians and more than 25,000 physicians nationwide to communicate important clinical information with colleagues and staff in a fast, HIPAA-secure way. In fact, it's working so well that many of those physicians are leading the charge to have their hospital, group, or accountable care organization adopt the Enterprise version of DocbookMD.

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.

Teacher Retirement System Contract Transfers to Aetna
Beginning Sept. 1, 2014, the contract for managing the Texas Teacher Retirement System's TRS-ActiveCare program transfers from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas to Aetna. The change does not impact TRS retirees.

TMB Puts Office-Based Anesthesia Inspections on Hold
The Texas Medical Board (TMB) decided at its June meeting to put office-based anesthesia (OBA) inspections on hold "to make clarifications regarding inspection criteria and requirements," according to the board's July newsletter. TMB notified physicians in early June it would begin inspecting Texas practices registered with the board as providing OBA to ensure compliance with Chapter 192 of board rules.

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.

Additional Ebola Virus Guidance
Recent cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) underscore the potential for travel-associated spread of the disease and the risks of EVD to health care workers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which issued a health advisory July 28.

CDC Issues Ebola Virus Advisory
Recent cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) underscore the potential for travel-associated spread of the disease and the risks of EVD to health care workers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which issued a health advisory July 28.

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.

HHS Officially Sets ICD-10 Deadline for Oct. 1, 2015
On July 31, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a rule setting Oct. 1, 2015, as the new compliance date for health care professionals, health plans, and health care clearinghouses to transition to ICD-10. HHS says the deadline gives physicians, insurance companies, and others in the health care industry time to ramp up their operations to ensure their systems and business processes are ready to go on Oct. 1, 2015.

Medicaid Meaningful Use Training Modules Available
The federal electronic medical record meaningful use program provides incentives to physicians accepting Medicaid. To be eligible, Medicaid patients or encounters must account for 30 percent of office visits. Pediatricians are eligible at a 20-percent level.

Comptroller Mails Business Transaction Forfeiture Notices
Physician practices subject to the franchise tax should be aware that if the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts hasn't received their franchise tax returns or approved their extension requests, they may receive a "Texas Notice of Intent to Forfeit Right to Transact Business."

HIPAA Security Compliance Seminar From TMA
The HIPAA Security Rule addresses administrative, physical, and technical safeguards for electronic protected health information (e-PHI). This governs e-PHI in all forms of electronic media, including computer hard drives and servers, CDs, DVDs, SD cards, external hard discs, smartphones, and tablets. Failure to secure these electronic versions of patient information can be costly.

New Stage 2 Meaningful Use Tool
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology have a new tool to help you meet the meaningful use Stage 2 transitions of care measure. The EHR Randomizer allows physicians to exchange data with a designated test electronic health record (EHR) system to meet part of the measure.

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.

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.

TMA Offers EHR Interoperability Tips
When federal officials asked for comments on how to make electronic health records (EHRs) work together, TMA offered some suggestions.

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."

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.

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 Asks Feds for Emergency Halt of EHR Rules
In a letter to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, Matt Murray, MD, specified several concerns TMA has with the agency's proposed modifications to the 2014 Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record (EHR) incentive programs. In the letter, the chair of the TMA Ad Hoc Committee on Health Information Technology requests emergency suspension of the certified EHR requirement that physicians use a certified patient portal and the Stage 2 meaningful use requirement that 5 percent of patients view, download, or transmit their information using the patient portal.

TMA, AMA Tell Feds to Expedite RAC Audit Appeals
It’s a terrible idea to announce a 28-month delay in handling appeals just as physicians’ frustration and ire with Medicare recovery audit contractors (RACs) are mounting, TMA, the American Medical Association, and nearly 100 other physician organizations told a federal official. They called for an immediate solution to the appeals hearings backlog that has caused the delay.

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.

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.

Be on the Lookout for Cyclospora
The Texas Department of State Health Services encourages health care professionals to test for Cyclospora in patients who have diarrheal illness lasting more than a few days or diarrhea accompanied by severe anorexia or fatigue.

Committee to Focus on Strengthening Health Care Workforce
Texas House Speaker Joe Straus created the Select Committee on Health Care Education and Training, which will focus on preparing more Texans for careers in the state's growing health sector.

Brush Up on Patient Records Requirements for Meaningful Use
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid requires 80 percent of a physician's patients to have records in the certified EHR technology (CEHRT) to meet certain objectives and measures of the electronic health record incentive program.

TMF Health Quality Institute Wins QIO Contract
The TMF Health Quality Institute won the five-year Quality Innovation Network Quality Improvement Organization (QIN-QIO) contract with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

In Search of the Best Health News of 2014
The TMA Anson Jones, MD, Awards honor outstanding health journalism, and we need your help to find the best stories of 2014. Maybe you've seen, heard, or read something that caught your attention on a new medical treatment, health disparities, obesity or other health concern, or the border crisis.

Fund a Vaccination Event With Help From Be Wise — Immunize
TMA's Be Wise — Immunize program is accepting applications until Oct. 1 for funds to support local vaccination events. Grants of up to $2,000 are available to TMA member-physician practices and clinics, county medical societies, TMA Alliance chapters, and medical student chapters. Monies can be used for new or expanded shot clinics to immunize underserved and uninsured children, adolescents, and/or adults.

Wanted: Team Sports Physicians
A TMA Hard Hats for Little Heads bike helmet giveaway provides a great way for physicians to give back to their communities and stresses the importance of helmet safety to avoid injury. TMA is working toward a huge goal this year — giving 34,000 Texas children a new helmet — to celebrate 20 years of keeping kids safe (Hard Hats' 20th birthday).

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 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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.























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