Table of Contents -- September 2003

Texas Medicine Logo

Vol. 99 No. 9

COVER STORY

Tough Choices
Lawmakers and many medical educators say Texas needs to train more physicians to meet the needs of its growing population, but the legislature's cuts in medical school appropriations and reductions in indigent health care programs this spring threaten their ability even to maintain the current pace. Some schools have already reduced their workforce. We may see some residency programs close and medical schools and teaching hospitals cut back on their health services to low-income Texans as they juggle the money they have left.

By Ken Ortolon

MEDICAL ECONOMICS

Out of Time
If you took advantage of the one-year extension the federal government offered last October to give yourself more time to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act's transactions standards, your time is about to run out. You have until Oct. 16 to comply with the rules for transmitting claims electronically and there are no more extensions. Small-town physicians may be the hardest hit.

By Walt Borges 

LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS

Making the Bite Equal to the Bark
The legislature has given the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners more power in its investigation of complaints against physicians, such as allowing the board to issue temporary suspensions without notice or a hearing when it believes a physician is a danger to patients or the public. That new authority is part of a sweeping set of reforms that will strengthen the board's enforcement capabilities and, hopefully, silence critics who believe the agency has been reluctant to remove bad doctors from the profession.

By Ken Ortolon

PUBLIC HEALTH

Protecting the Innocent
Health officials are worried that vaccinations of children, particularly newborns, against hepatitis B are lagging and that the deadly disease might spread. Part of the reason is confusion over how it is transmitted. Adding to health officials' worries is a new state law making it easier for parents not to get their children immunized.

By Ken Ortolon

MANAGING YOUR PRACTICE

One Question You Need to Ask
Doctors have to ask a lot of questions. Just make sure the one you don't forget to ask is when the patient's health coverage expires. Otherwise, you may have to fork over some money back to the insurance company.

It's Up to You
CIGNA has admitted it didn't pay some claims properly because of problems with converting to a new data-processing system. But don't sit by the phone waiting for CIGNA to straighten out the mistake. Call them. Now.

How to Hire the Right Person
Hiring the wrong person for your practice is bad on so many levels. TMA Physician Services can help you avoid that mistake when you add to your office staff.

The Twin Terrors Meet
When the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act meets the Texas Workers' Compensation system, there's the potential for big trouble. But that's not always the case.

www.texmed.org: TMA Online

ROUNDS

Passage of Proposition 12 Vital to Protecting Tort Reform
Proposition 12: About Patients, Not Politics
Hassle Factor Logs Show CIGNA Worst Health Plan
CMS Won't Automatically Adjust Physician Claims
Dr. Bailey Launches Effort to Bridge Generation Gap
Study Tries to Understand Teenage Couch Potatoes
There's No Place Like Austin in September
NIH Renews UT Southwestern Study of Kidney Stones

JOURNAL

Newborn Screening for Congenital Hypothyroidism: The Texas Experience (abstract)

By Margaret Drummond-Borg, MD; Daisy Johnson, RN; Barbara Aldis, MT(ASCP); and Don P. Wilson, MD

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Texas Medicine is available to TMA members and presents timely information on public health, medicolegal issues, medical economics, science, medical education, and legislative affairs affecting Texas physicians and their patients.


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