Table of Contents: October 2008

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Vol. 104, Issue No. 10 - October 2008  



COVER STORY(pages 14-24)  

Obama vs. McCain
They have different ideas of how to achieve their goals, but both Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain have proposals to provide health insurance coverage for the uninsured. Senator Obama advocates providing health insurance to anyone who wants to purchase it. Senator McCain wants to shift away from employer-sponsored health insurance to individual ownership and competition among insurers to lower costs. Critics say Obama's plan costs too much and McCain doesn't understand that the physician workforce is a major issue. By Ken Ortolon   

LAW(pages 27-33)  

Doctor vs. Hospital
A federal appeals court has reversed a $33 million judgment against Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas in an eight-year lawsuit over hospital peer review. The court found Presbyterian was immune from damages under the Health Care Quality Improvement Act. By Crystal Conde  

TMA, TMLT Battle Wyeth in Supreme Court

 HHS Proposes ICD-10 Code Sets   


MEDICAL ECONOMICS (pages 35-39)  

Dollars for Quality?
Physicians around the country are receiving bonus checks for taking part in the government's pay-for-performance reporting project last year. Although the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative may help improve patient care, TMA officials doubt its overall value. By Ken Ortolon  

Availity Completes Transition of THIN Providers

UnitedHealthcare Announces Physician Designation Changes   


PUBLIC HEALTH (pages 41-46)  

Repairing Young Minds
Anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity, bipolar, or conduct disorders, depression, and substance abuse are some of the common mental and behavioral health problems young Texans face. Yet Texas is poorly equipped to treat them. Too often they fall through the cracks of the system or don't receive adequate care. By Crystal Conde  

Technology Reveals Higher Number of New U.S. HIV Infections

Task Force: Don't Screen Men Over 75 for Prostate Cancer   


SCIENCE (pages 49-52)  

Hold the Salt
TMA and other health groups say Americans must reduce the amount of salt they consume to lower the risk of heart disease and hypertension. But that's difficult, as salt is in most of the foods we eat. Labeling salt content on packaged foods would help consumers make informed choices. American food manufacturers have resisted such efforts, which have worked in Europe for years. By Ken Ortolon  

Heart Association Helps Patients Cut Salt

Salt Adding to Childhood Obesity Problem   


ROUNDS (pages 9-13)  

DPS Collects More Schedule II-V Drug Information
TDI Fines Blue Cross Over Non-Network Claims
Medicare Expands No-Pay List
Medicare Bill Includes E-Prescribing Incentives
TMLT, JUA Offer Risk Management Services
TMLT Awards Eight Medical School Scholarships
Feds Change VFC Storage Rules
Get Cigarettes Out of the Movies
I Remember When   



Avoiding Secondary Identifier Problems
Medicare says 95 percent of the claims it receives now properly contain a national provider identifier, but a few claims are still being rejected. And, it knows why.

On-Site Training From TMA
TMA Practice Consulting's on-site training can cover areas such as billing and collections, coding, and documentation. Give them a call.

United Refines Claims Letters
UnitedHealthcare is changing its claim letters to make them more readable. Using easy-to-read content is one of the changes.

Use the New ABN
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has a new Medicare advanced beneficiary notice (ABN) with a new name and a new option for Medicare patients to pay for noncovered services out of pocket. The new form combines the general use ABN (ABN-G) and the laboratory form (ABN-L) into one notice.

Improving Your Staff's Productivity
Studies show the "best" practices have higher staffing ratios than "average" practices. Although decreasing staff might reduce your overhead, it may have a greater negative impact on revenue. When making staffing decisions, evaluate how productive staff members are. 


JOURNAL(pages 55-62)  

Adequacy of Outpatient Care Among Hospitalized Adult Asthmatics in a Southwest U.S. Border City ( Abstract ) ( Full text )

By Harold W. Hughes, MD; Sean M. Connery, MS; José O. Rivera, Pharm D; and Manuel Rivera, MD   



Deaths (page 53)
Information for Authors (page 63)
MedBytes (page 64)  



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