Table of Contents: November 2005

Texas Medicine Logo

Vol. 101 No. 11  

COVER STORY

Angels of the Storm
TMA responded to the human suffering and devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina by mobilizing physicians across Texas to care for the thousands of evacuees who flooded into the state in September. Physicians took time from their own practices to treat patients in shelters in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin, El Paso, Lubbock, and many medium-size and small cities throughout Texas. And when Hurricane Rita struck later in the month, they were there again. It was a powerful demonstration of what organized medicine can do.

By Ken Ortolon and Erin Prather 

San Antonio Medical Students Treat Katrina Victims
When Hurricane Katrina evacuees arrived in San Antonio in early September, hundreds of University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio students and faculty members volunteered to provide medical services. It was a valuable experience for the students.

By Eric Souza 

Katrina-Displaced Physicians Looking to Texas
Hundreds of Louisiana physicians were victims of Hurricane Katrina, too, as the storm destroyed their homes and practices and scattered their patients across the country. Many came to Texas and were able to get temporary licenses to practice, thanks to a procedure set up by the Texas Medical Board. Many of them may well stay in Texas. Some estimates predict that more than 20 percent will never return home.

By Ken Ortolon 

Hurricane Shows Value of Electronic Health Records
Hurricane Katrina taught us many lessons. One of them, say physicians and federal officials, is the need for a nationwide electronic database of medical information to help physicians care for people suddenly displaced from their homes. It is difficult for physicians to properly treat patients when they have never seen them before and have no inkling of their medical history. 

Hurricane Rita Forces Texas Physicians Back Into Action
Texas physicians were just catching their breath after the unprecedented medical response to Hurricane Katrina in late September, when another unwelcome visitor showed up on the state's doorstep. Hurricane Rita sent some 2.5 million coastal residents fleeing inland, causing physicians to mobilize one more time. 

MANAGING YOUR PRACTICE

Medicare's New Scooter Rules
A new Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services rule, effective for services on or after Oct. 25, streamlines access for people with Medicare to power-operated vehicles and power wheelchairs, and gives physicians greater certainty regarding Medicare payment. One thing, though -- you must conduct a face-to-face examination of the patient before prescribing a power wheelchair or power scooter. 

Collecting What You Are Owed
Could your front desk do a better job of collecting past-due balances? TMA Physician Services suggests that you look at setting collection goals, analyzing front-desk communication skills, and providing staff training. Performing an audit will tell you how well your staff rates in collecting past-due balances. You can start by reviewing the daily patient schedule for a week to see who has an outstanding balance and who has paid.

PCCM Expanded
State officials have expanded the Primary Care Case Management (PCCM) model of Medicaid to 197 Texas counties. Most Medicaid patients are required to enroll, including pregnant women, children, low-income parents, and patients with disabilities receiving Supplemental Security Income. You must sign an attestation form, which serves as an addendum to your current Medicaid provider agreement, to be a primary care provider. 

TMA ROUNDS

Tax Debate Tops Physicians' Challenges
SGR "Not Sustainable"
Physicians Outline Good and Bad of Pay for Performance
TSBME's New Name
TMLT Lowers Premiums Again
More Time for Medicaid PCCM Physician Selection
HeartCare Partnership Ends
TMA Folio Brings the Best of TMA to Your Desktop
PBF Helps Care for Physicians in Need
TEXPAC Retreat Plans for 2006 Elections, 2007 Legislature 

JOURNAL

Texas Poisonings at the Beginning of the 21st Century: 2000-2002 (abstract)

By David L. Morgan, MD, and Mathias B. Forrester, BS 

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