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Volume 16, No 31

Sept. 29, 2014


TMA TO LEGISLATIVE LEADERS: RAISE MEDICAID AND CHIP RATES: TMA and 17 state specialty societies called on the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) to “take bold action” to increase “utterly inadequate physician payment rates” in Texas Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In written testimony we asked LBB to:

  • Maintain Medicare parity in the 2016-17 state budget for primary care physicians currently receiving those higher rates. Congress enacted and funded the higher rates, but without legislative or congressional action, that increase will expire Dec. 31, 2014.
  • Extend the parity payments for primary care to services provided via CHIP.
  • Establish competitive Medicaid and CHIP payment rates for physician specialties that are not included in the Medicare parity increase.
  • Reverse the 8-percent payment reduction for physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses practicing under physician supervision. The cut, which will take effect in early 2015, will undermine Texas’ efforts to promote team-based models of care, an essential element of reforming the Medicaid delivery system.

The testimony cites preliminary data from TMA’s 2014 physician survey, which indicates only 34 percent of physicians accept all new Medicaid patients, a 33-point decrease since 2000. TMA says “grossly inadequate payment is the single overriding reason physicians cite for why they or their colleagues limit or no longer participate in Medicaid.” LBB, chaired by House Speaker Joe Straus and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, sets the base state budget bill from which lawmakers will start working when they convene in Austin in January.

TEXPAC ANNOUNCES PATRICK, WILLIS ENDORSEMENTS, AND MORE: What’s a bipartisan PAC doing in an election cycle like this? Why, just what we’ve always done — supporting candidates who stand up for patients and medicine. With strong personal backing from physicians around the state and locally, State Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston) earned TEXPAC’s endorsement in the race for lieutenant governor, and Libby Willis (D-Fort Worth) picked up our approval for the open Senate District 10 seat. Those were the two most high-profile races in which TEXPAC issued formal endorsements this month. See the full list on the TEXPAC website. If you’re not registered to vote, be sure to sign up by Oct. 6 to be eligible to vote in the Nov. 4 elections.

  • “We know Dan will fight to increase graduate medical education funding so more medical students can finish their residency training in Texas,” TEXPAC Board Chair Jerry Hunsaker, MD, said about Senator Patrick. “We also can count on him to support the development of physician-led teams to provide high-quality health care to Texans. In addition we know he will work hard to ensure physicians get paid in a fair and timely manner.”
  • Of Ms. Willis, TEXPAC District Chair Rob Rogers, MD, a Fort Worth allergist, said, “We are confident Libby will work to protect the vitally important patient-physician relationship in Texas, keeping the government, big insurance, and other parties out of physicians’ exam rooms.”

 ENROLL TODAY IN TMA'S BUSINESS BASICS SEMINAR: Passive financial management can rob you of the resources you need to care for your patients. Manage finances proactively to secure your future. Take charge of your practice finances at TMA’s newest live seminar. Our Business Basics seminar series begins Oct. 7 and runs through Nov. 12 in cities across the state. The seminar is partially underwritten by a grant from The Physicians Foundation to keep the cost low. 

MAGAZINE RANKS TEXAS AMONG BEST STATES TO PRACTICE: According to Physicians Practice magazine’s annual survey (free account required to access), Texas is one of the four best states in the country to practice medicine. The top ranked state? Mississippi. The magazine says, “Texas did very well in our analysis, with a low physician density, low cost of living, and a low tax burden. Oh, and did we mention the ‘astonishing’ malpractice rates?”

DR. KING TALKS UP MEDICINE IN WICHITA FALLS: In a 90-minute meeting with the Wichita Falls Times Record News, TMA President Austin King, MD, laid out the problems that beset medical practices today and the solutions we propose in TMA’s Healthy Vision 2020, Second Edition. “Physicians in these areas, like every place else, are inundated by red tape and by hassles with all these different medical programs,” Dr. King said. “And in rural areas, most of the programs are government programs.” He was joined by two Wichita Falls-area physician leaders: Susan Strate, MD, vice speaker of the TMA House of Delegates; and Jonathan Williams, MD, chair of the TMA Committee on Rural Health. The visit was the first of many Dr. King will make across the state in coming months. Today he is meeting with the editors at his hometown Abilene Reporter-News.

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