Table of Contents: March 2009

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Vol. 105, Issue No. 3 - March 2009  



COVER STORY(pages 18-27)  

Curing What Ails Us
Texas is losing ground in the fight against the obesity epidemic and in its efforts to curtail smoking, according to a grim report by the United Health Foundation, the American Public Health Association, and Partnership for Prevention. In just one year, Texas plummeted nine spots, from 37th to 46th, in terms of overall health of its residents. The number of smokers increased from 17.9 percent in 2007 to 19.3 percent last year, and the obesity rate increased from 26 percent to 28.6 percent in the past year.   By Crystal Conde   



Less Money, More Demand
Even though Texas has escaped the worst of the nation's economic blight, state lawmakers are having a rough time meeting the increasing demand for health care services by those affected by a bad economy. B y Ken Ortolon  


LAW(pages 37-42)  

Shield the Volunteers
Physicians wanting to volunteer their services at a free clinic need not be overly concerned about being sued. State and federal laws offer protection and make it difficult for a plaintiff to succeed.  By Crystal Conde   


MEDICAL ECONOMICS (pages 43-46)  

Physicians on the RAC
Medicare is trying to recoup improperly paid claims through its new Recovery Audit Program. When tested in other states, physicians hated it because it created massive paperwork nightmares for them and other health care professionals and took a huge bite out of hospital and physician practice revenues. By Ken Ortolon   


MEDICAL EDUCATION (pages 47-51)  

Taking It to the Limits
Texas physician residency programs have adapted to the changes in the rules for resident work hours imposed in 2003, but it has come at a cost. B y Ken Ortolon  


TRUSTED LEADER (pages 53-55)  

Country Doctor of the Year
Yoakum family physician David Watson, MD, is the first Texas physician to be named Country Doctor of the Year by the nation's largest physician staffing firm. 


ROUNDS (pages 11-16)  

Insurance Company Accountability Tops TMA Agenda, Dr. Williams says
Change Is in the Air at TexMed 2009
Feds Delay ICD-10 for Two Years
Campaign to Increase Screening for CKD
Be a First Tuesdays Lobbyist!
Can You Top This?
Ike Relief Fund Deadline Looming
Hard Hats Program Increases Helmet Match
Renew Today!
Be Wise - Immunize Childhood, Adolescent Toolkits Available




Rate Your Health Plans
It will help you decide whether to continue a contract. 

The Patient Would Be Responsible …
Sometimes, a patient in an HMO employer group health insurance plan primary to Medicare is responsible for paying for treatment.  

NUCC Releases Updated Code
NUCC has updated the Health Care Provider Taxonomy code set.

Filing Electronic Claims With Aetna HMO
Here's how to expedite the processing of your electronic Aetna HMO claims.

Does a Medicare Locum Tenens' 60 Days Include Weekends?

Hurricane Ike Waivers Discontinued
Medicaid has discontinued the special waivers for services in ZIP codes affected by Hurricane Ike.

Handling "Lost" Claims
Instead of resubmitting a claim that the payer does not have on file, create a simple form letter asking to check the status of the missing claim.

Medicare Eligibility by Telephone
TrailBlazer Health Enterprises may release patient eligibility information over the telephone to physicians after validating the physician's name and number and obtaining certain information.




Letters (pages 5-6)
Commentary (pages 57-58)
Deaths (page 59)
MedBytes (page 60)  



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