Table of Contents -- March 2004

Texas Medicine Logo

Vol. 100 No. 3

COVER STORY

Big 'R' or Little 'r'?
Texas political leaders are undertaking an effort that will affect hundreds of thousands of Texans and the physicians who care for them -- reforming the state's Medicaid system. Some physicians say the effort presents an unprecedented opportunity to improve medical care for poor Texans and those with disabilities. The question is, will it result in major reform with a big "R" or a minor one with a little "r"?

By Ken Ortolon

LAW

Fraud Crackdown
State Medicaid officials are getting serious about eliminating fraud and abuse in the program. The legislature has weighed in by creating an Office of Inspector General to make sure Medicaid dollars are spent appropriately. TMA supports the antifraud effort, but wants to make sure physicians get the due process protections guaranteed by the Constitution.

By Walt Borges

MEDICAL EDUCATION

Future Fears
Those new doctors coming out of medical school have enough on their plates without having to worry about getting sued. But the fear of litigation exists nonetheless. Two new surveys show that medical students believe medical liability is a crisis, and it's affecting their decisions on taking up high-risk specialties and applying for residency training in states considered liability hot zones.

By Ken Ortolon

MEDICAL ECONOMICS

Consumers' Choice
Insurance regulators are writing the rules that will allow employers to offer their workers "consumer choice" health plans. These plans include fewer benefits than otherwise mandated by the state. TMA likes the flexibility the plans offer employers, but worries that the plans could harm Texans' basic health services.

By Walt Borges

PUBLIC HEALTH

Mad Cow Mania
The news media just about had a cow when mad cow disease was discovered in Washington state late last year. But Texas health and cattle industry officials say there's no cause for alarm here. The flap was much ado about nothing and the food supply is safe, they maintain.

By Ken Ortolon

MANAGING YOUR PRACTICE

Online Consultation Billing Code Set for July
The American Medical Association has authorized a CPT code so you can be reimbursed for online consultations with patients.

Sign Here, Please
You can use a handwritten or electronic signature or a signature stamp for medical record documentation submitted to Medicare, but, remember, you're responsible for the authenticity of the information being attested to -- even if someone else rubber-stamps your name onto the document.

Discount Drugs
For many of your Medicare patients, prescription drug discount cards are the biggest news coming out of the recent Medicare reform bill. We give some facts to help you answer your patients' questions.

'Pass-Through' Bills a No-No
UnitedHealthcare says it won't pay physicians for laboratory and radiology services they ordered but did not provide. The insurer says ancillary services will not be paid for unless they are actually performed.

www.texmed.org: TMA Online

ROUNDS

National Physician Identifier Rules Set by CMS
'Lick and Stick' Scheme Costs Drug Companies
TexMed 2004 Coming to Austin in May
CMS Raises Payments for Medicare Advantage
Workers' Comp Case Appealed by TMA
Small Steps Not Enough to Reverse Obesity in Children
HMOs Often Back Down When ER Appeals Filed
Poster Educates Patients About Colon Cancer
Dispatches From the Front

JOURNAL

Access, Attitudes, and Concerns of Physicians and Patients Toward E-mail Use in Health-Related Communications ( abstract )

By Nasir Hussain, MD; Akua Agyeman, MD, PhD; and Mandira Das Carlo, MD

DEPARTMENTS

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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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