Table of Contents: August 2006

Texas Medicine Logo

Vol. 102 No. 8  

COVER STORY

First Line of Defense
Would you know what to do if you realized one of your patients is seriously mentally ill? Refer him to a psychiatrist, of course. But what if there are no psychiatrists in your community? The fact is  too many primary care physicians in Texas face that dilemma every day. There aren't enough psychiatrists to care for the increasing number of patients with mental health problems. And, according to a presidential commission, "primary care providers may lack the necessary time, training, or resources to provide appropriate treatment for mental health problems."  

By Erin Prather 

MEDICAL ECONOMICS

Reimbursement Shell Game
Signing a contract with an insurance company to treat its policyholders for a certain rate doesn't guarantee you'll be paid the agreed-to rate. The culprits are "rental networks" or "silent PPOs." They've cropped up in the managed care market in Texas, and TMA fears they'll become rampant in networks developed under the new workers' compensation system, as well.

By Ken Ortolon 

LAW

Plaintiffs 7, Defendants 2
Even though a judge has dismissed claims against two of the defendants, TMA and its fellow plaintiffs have won concessions through settlements from the other seven for-profit HMOs accused of maintaining claims-processing practices and systems that lowered physician reimbursement. The defendants have promised to change procedures for reviewing and processing physicians' claims. 

By Erin Prather 

LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS

Spreading the Burden
Lawmakers finally passed legislation reforming the state school property tax system. The plan levies a new tax on businesses, but many physicians can exclude all revenues from government health care programs and the cost of providing uncompensated care. Gaining the tax deductions was a major victory for TMA.

By Ken Ortolon 

SCIENCE

Targeting Heart Disease
A pilot program is helping physicians in San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley improve the care they give heart disease and stroke patients on Medicaid by meeting nationally recognized standards of care.

By Ken Ortolon 

TMA ROUNDS

Texans Putting Their Boot Print on AMA
100,000 Lives Campaign Is Paying Off
PELRP Offers Loan Repayment Aid
Scholarships Available for Houston Medical Students
PCCM Ends in Urban Areas in September
iHealthRecords Can Help in Disasters
TMA Office Technologies Community Taking Off Like Wildfire 

MANAGING YOUR PRACTICE

How to Please Your Patients
Medicine is a complex service and your patients assume they're getting high-quality care, but they really don't know how to measure it. Thus, they look for "clues" that allow them to measure what they perceive as quality and value. Some are rational. Some are emotional.

TMA Can Help You Go Electronic
TMA'S Department of Health Information Technology is dedicated to helping you prepare for the transition from paper to electronic record keeping, select the right electronic medical record system for your practice, implement the system efficiently, and learn how to operate it effectively.

Medicare Info at Your Fingertips
TrailBlazer Health Enterprises, the Medicare carrier for Texas, has a Self-Service Options Web page that is a centralized location of links to educational material, forms, and useful lists. Medicare billing forms are a sample of what you'll find. Log on to  www.trailblazerhealth.com/ssoptions.asp?  

JOURNAL

A Cost-Effectiveness Evaluation of Single and Combined Smoking Cessation Interventions in Texas (abstract)

By Austin Hill, MPH

Dengue and South Texas: Information for Clinicians (abstract)

By Mary Ramos, MD, MPH; Allison Abell, PhD; and Brian Smith, MD, MPH 

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