Volume 17, No 8
Feb. 23, 2015
Physicians Take the Witness Stand for Medicine
Nothing grabs lawmakers’ attention like a physician taking time away from his or her practice to travel to the Capitol to deliver a message. I’m personally grateful to the eight TMA-member physicians who testified last week before state House and Senate committees in support of medicine’s agenda to increase physicians’ Medicaid payments; improve funding for Texas’ women’s health programs and mental health services, and for the Department of State Health Services’ (DSHS’) tobacco and obesity prevention programs; and improve DSHS’ ability to respond to infectious disease outbreaks. In chronological order:
- San Antonio pediatrician Ryan Van Ramshorst, MD, testified Monday before a House Appropriations Subcommittee on why it’s essential to improve physicians’ Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) payments.
- Janet Realini, MD, chair of the Texas Women’s Healthcare Coalition, testified Monday and Thursday to ask lawmakers to support an additional $50 million in funding for women’s health care services to ensure women have access to physicians and health care providers.
- Athens family physician Doug Curran, MD, vice chair of TMA’s Board of Trustees, testified before the Senate Finance Committee Thursday. He urged the committee to end the 2011 funding cut for services to Medicaid-Medicare, dual-eligible patients.
- Edinburg pediatrician Martin Garza, MD, testified before the Senate Finance Committee members on the need to enact competitive physician payments in Medicaid and CHIP.
- Dallas psychiatrist Les Secrest, MD, took the stand at the Senate Finance Committee to support DSHS’ funding requests for mental health and substance abuse prevention, early intervention, and treatment.
- A member of TMA’s Committee on Infectious Disease, Philip Huang, MD, of Austin, testified on Wednesday and Thursday. He asked House Appropriations Subcommittee and Senate Finance Committee members to support additional DSHS funding for tobacco cessation, infectious disease control, and obesity prevention programs.
- Lewis Foxhall, MD, a member of TMA’s Board of Trustees, was a resource witness for MD Anderson Hospital at the House Appropriations Subcommittee and Senate Finance Committee Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the importance of the DSHS tobacco Quitline.
- Joel Dunnington, MD, a former member of TMA’s Council on Public Health, also was on hand both days to testify in support of additional funding for DSHS’ anti-smoking programs.
TMA PracticeEdge Hires Chief Operating Officer
I’m pleased to announce that we’ve hired industry veteran Dave Spalding to serve as the chief operating officer of TMA PracticeEdge. During his 15-year career as a health care executive, Dave has specialized in managing new ventures and high-growth businesses, including a management services organization (MSO) company, a national telehealth network company, a five-star Medicare Part D administrator, and one of the largest health savings account banking companies in the country. He is currently the chair of the board for Availity, LLC, a trusted intermediary of information exchange between physicians, providers, and health plans. For more information on TMA PracticeEdge, the services company we built to help physicians succeed under new health care payment models, see the website or email info@TMAPracticeEdge.com.
Texans Trek to Capitol Hill to Lobby for SGR Repeal, Regulatory Relief
Seven TMA physician leaders, a medical student, chief lobbyist Darren Whitehurst, and I are traveling to Washington, D.C., this week to lobby along with the Coalition of State Medical Societies for repeal of Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula and relief from onerous federal regulations. The visits to Congress coincide with the American Medical Association’s National Advocacy Conference. We’ll meet with Texas’ two U.S. senators and our House members. I’ll give you a full report in next week’s EVPGram.
Texas Public Health Coalition Honored for Advocacy Work
Congratulations to the TMA-led Texas Public Health Coalition. For the second year in a row, the coalition was chosen by the Texas Public Health Association to receive its Jessie A. Yoas Memorial Advocacy Award for continued advocacy for key public health issues. The coalition’s 2015 advocacy agenda includes: enacting a ban on texting while driving; supporting cancer research and prevention; and fighting tobacco, obesity, and vaccine-preventable illnesses.
Mark Your Calendar for These Coming Events
I hope to see you and all TMA leaders at these upcoming events in Austin:
- First Tuesdays at the Capitol — March 3, April 5, and May 7.
- TexMed 2015 — May 1-2 at the Austin Convention Center and Hilton Austin. Bring your white coat and come early for TexMed at the Capitol lobby day, April 30.