Recommendations to help end the "dual-eligible" crisis many Texas physicians face, to set priorities for next year's legislative session, and to improve medical education were among the issues debated and voted on at the TMA House of Delegates meeting May 19 at TexMed 2012 in Dallas. Delegates faced one of their longest agendas in years as they considered more than 100 resolutions and reports involving medical economics, public health, science, medical education, and association financial and organizational matters.
The house adopted a report from TMA's Select Committee on Medicaid, CHIP, and the Uninsured that recommended TMA "vigorously advocate" the repeal of reductions in Medicaid payments to physicians who treat "dual-eligible" patients – those eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare.
The 20-percent state budget cut that took effect Jan.1 has forced many physicians, especially those in South Texas, to the brink of financial ruin and threatens patient's access to care. The select committee noted that then-TMA President C. Bruce Malone, MD, testified against the cuts at a November 2011 hearing, telling the Texas Health and Human Services Commission the cuts would devastate medical practices in rural, inner-city, and border communities.
Among other decisions made by the delegates' were to:
- Make Smoke-Free Texas, more residency slots, and restored funding for the Texas Physician Education Loan Repayment Program and the Statewide Preceptorship Program priorities for the 2013 session of the Texas Legislature;
- Study whether general hospitals in urban counties should have a physician on site to respond to emergencies 24 hours per day, seven days per week;
- Support athletics-participation physicals for Texas schoolchildren only by licensed physicians or their appropriately supervised physician assistants or advanced practice nurses;
- Set policy to make the Medicare Value-Based Purchasing Program fair and financially sound;
- Support efforts to prevent elective deliveries before 39 weeks of gestation;
- Direct TMA to work to require allied health professionals to clearly display proper identification;
- Adopt a strong new policy to protect clinical training opportunities for Texas medical students.
- Oppose expanded distribution of raw milk and raw milk products in Texas;
- Support state programs against distracted driving caused by use of hand-held devices and encourage the legislature to develop "appropriate regulatory actions" to reduce distracted driving; and
- Work with the Texas Department of Public Safety to improve the processing of applications for controlled substance licenses.
Action, June 4, 2012