Table of Contents: December 2005

Texas Medicine Logo

Vol. 101 No. 12

COVER STORY

Much Ado About the Flu
If it's fall it must be flu season. But unlike last year, it appears this year there will be plenty of influenza vaccine to go around. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is so confident about an adequate supply that it scrapped its immunization priority list in October. But health officials are still worried about what will happen if the bird flu shows up on our doorstep.

By Erin Prather 

LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS

Scope Revisited
TMA succeeded in heading off any expansion of allied health professionals' scope of practice in this year's session of the Texas Legislature, but it looks like the issue will be back in 2007. Two House of Representatives committees will be studying three scope-related issues between now and the next legislative session.

By Ken Ortolon 

LAW

Family Feud
Two Amarillo orthopedic surgeons are in a court battle with a hospital there over referrals to a specialty hospital in which the physicians have invested. The doctors claim the hospital is retaliating against them by terminating their contracts with its network. They say they just want to do what is best for their patients.

By Erin Prather 

MEDICAL ECONOMICS

Three-Way Split
The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston is seeking federal approval for a program to help small business owners and their employees in Galveston County get health insurance. Under the Three-Share Program, insurance premiums are divided three ways -- the employer pays a third, the employee pay a third, and UTMB will pay the final third.

By Ken Ortolon 

MEDICAL EDUCATION

Boosting Diversity
Texas is lagging behind other states in attracting African-Americans, Hispanics, and other underrepresented minorities to medical school. Competition from well-heeled out-of-state medical schools and an inadequate public education system are contributing to the problem.

By Ken Ortolon 

MANAGING YOUR PRACTICE

Part D Is Coming
The biggest change in Medicare since the program was created in 1965 takes effect Jan. 1. Medicare Part D is the new prescription drug benefit signed into law by President Bush in 2003.

Medicare Handbook Error
Medicare patients who qualify for extra help paying for Medicare prescription drug coverage need to know about an error in the area-specific versions of the Medicare & You 2006 handbook mailed to beneficiaries in October. The error is in a series of charts that begin on page 97-A. The last column of the charts is called "If I Qualify for Extra Help, Will My Full Premium Be Covered?" The column mistakenly lists "Yes" for every plan.

Consultation or Referral?
What's the difference between a consultation and a referral? A consultation is a request by a physician for the advice or opinion of another physician regarding the evaluation and/or management of a specific problem. A referral is transferring care from one physician to another when the second physician assumes responsibility for treating the patient. 

TMA ROUNDS

TMA Winter Conference Coming in February
Be Wise - Immunize Combats Declining Immunization Rates
Federation of Medicine Seeks Fair Treatment of Emergency Physicians
Win a Digital Camera by Flipping Through the TMA Folio Challenged by Overhead Costs?
POEP Gives Medical Student Scholarships for Cancer Education
Foundation Supports Public Health Programs
Foundation Benefit Raises Record Amount for Health Programs Expanding Horizons at '06 Gala 

JOURNAL

Measuring Progress to Protect Workers From Job-Related Secondhand Smoke in Texas  (abstract)

By Debra A. Patt, MD; Donald R. Shopland; Christy M. Anderson; David M. Burns, MD; Joel Dunnington, MD; and Ellen R. Gritz, PhD 

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