RFS Connection

Summer 2015

News from the  TMA Resident and Fellow Section   


Medical Education, Public Health Legislative Wins

Building on 2013 successes and recognizing physician workforce shortages, the Texas Legislature gave another significant boost to undergraduate and to graduate medical education (GME) funding for the 2016-17 state budget, including:   

  • $53 million for new GME expansion grant programs, a $40 million increase over 2014-15 funding levels; 
  • $7 million for primary care physician pipeline programs: $4 million — or 31 percent — above current funding for the existing family medicine residency program, and $3 million to restart the Statewide Primary Care Preceptorship Program;
  • A $20 million (22-percent) increase in biennial per-resident, or “formula,” funding;
  • Steady funding for the primary care physician workforce innovations grant program; 
  • An additional $50 million or 3-percent biennial increase in medical student formula funding;
  • Maintained funding for the State Physician Education Loan Repayment Program; 
  • A new loan repayment program for psychiatrists and other mental health professionals; and
  • Additional money for mental health workforce training programs in underserved areas.  

And Texas took several big steps forward on public health, starting with early passage of Senate Bill 97 by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen). The first-time regulation of e-cigarette sales in Texas applies many existing state rules on tobacco cigarettes to vapor products, foremost barring sales of e-cigarettes to minors. Also hitting the governor’s desk early with TMA support was Senator Hinojosa’s Senate Bill 66, providing liability protections for schools to stock auto-injectors, or EpiPens, to combat emergency anaphylactic reactions. The governor signed both bills into law. 

TMA lobbyist Troy Alexander adds the budget “significantly strengthened” funding for tobacco cessation and chronic disease prevention, while the Ebola outbreak in Texas led lawmakers to dedicate $20 million to surveillance of infectious diseases. Mental health funding was another shared priority among medicine and lawmakers, and it got a significant boost over last session for services like outpatient treatment for adults and children, autism intervention, and early treatment to reduce neonatal abstinence syndrome.  

Governor Abbott wasted no time, however, taking his veto pen to a top priority of TMA’s Behavioral Task Force since last session. Senate Bill 359 by Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) would have allowed physicians to initiate a four-hour hold on patients who voluntarily seek emergency care but want to leave even though the doctor believes the patient poses a danger to self or others. Citing “serious constitutional concerns” that “would lay the groundwork for further erosion of constitutional liberties,” Governor Abbott vetoed the bill, saying “medical staff have options at their disposal” and “should work closely with law enforcement to help protect mentally ill patients and the public.” 

A diverse coalition of consumer advocates, attorneys, political activists, and antivaccination groups urged the veto, saying SB 359 conflicts with individual and parental rights, including the right to refuse medical treatment.  

The governor also vetoed House Bill 225, a TMA-backed bill offering certain Good Samaritan legal protections for drug users who request emergency services for someone who overdoses and remain on the scene.  

For more on how medicine’s bills fared this session, read Political Prognosis.  

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AMA Meeting Wrap-Up

During the American Medical Association Annual Meeting in Chicago, the TMA Resident and Fellow Section (RFS) presented Resolution 6, which pertains to the evaluation of resident and fellow compensation levels. A similar resolution passed the TMA House of Delegates at TexMed in May.  

The resolution, which says residents and fellows shouldn’t be financially responsible for their own training, successfully passed the AMA House of Delegates. AMA also is going to work on establishing consensus regarding the appropriate economic value of resident and fellow training.   

The AMA House also discussed and passed a resolution regarding graduate medical education (GME) funding. The resolution asks for transparency and flexibility in GME funding.  

Other important items discussed and passed include:    

  • Smoke-free residential housing;
  • Expanding the definition of residents and fellows to active military or public health servants serving as general medical officers or those who are unmatched but participating in a structured vocational or research program; 
  • Banning the use of artificial trans fats;
  • Advocating ethical conduct of physicians in the media; and 
  • Removal of nonmedical exemptions to vaccinations.     

In addition, Rie Sharky, MD, of Dallas, was elected vice chair of AMA RFS Region 3.  

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Considering Employment? TMA Has Resources for You

Check out the resources TMA has available to help you evaluate and negotiate contracts, understand noncompete clauses, measure physician productivity averages, and more.  

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 Update Your TMA Profile

If you’re graduating, be sure to update your contact information via the TMA website or by contacting the TMA Knowledge Center. You continue to get TMA benefits and services at the resident and fellow rate until the end of the year. First-year-in-practice dues are 50 percent off.  

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 Apply Now for RFS Council, Committee Appointments

Positions are still available for resident representatives and alternate representatives on TMA boards, councils, and committees. Apply now for the 2015-16 term by submitting an application to your section coordinator.  

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 Save the Date: TMA Fall Conference Sept. 25-26

Mark your calendar for TMA Fall Conference, which will take place Sept. 25-26 at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa in Bastrop. The conference provides an opportunity for physicians and medical students to conduct TMA business, obtain continuing medical education, and network with peers. 

The RFS Business Meeting will take place Saturday Sept. 26 from 12:30 to 2 pm. Check the RFS webpage for meeting location details.  

TMA’s special room rate is $199 for single or double occupancy. Reserve a room by calling (888) 421-1442, and ask for the TMA Fall Conference discount rate. The deadline to book your hotel reservation at the TMA rate is Aug. 28.  

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Video Educates Doctors About Long-Term Disability Insurance

The TMA Resident Video Library offers convenient, on-demand access to information you need to survive residency as well as the business-of-medicine knowledge you want to transition successfully into active practice. In the video Long-Term Disability Insurance, John Isgitt, vice president of Texas Medical Association Insurance Trust, discusses the importance of long-term disability insurance — particularly for resident physicians about to start in medical practice.   

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 Stay Connected

Keep up with important news and connect with colleagues across the state through the RFS Facebook page

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