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Volume 17, No 17

April 27, 2015


State Budget Writing Moves to Negotiation Please

The work of crafting the 2016-17 state budget is now at a critical juncture. The Texas Senate and House of Representatives have each drafted and passed a spending plan of about $210 billion. House Speaker Joe Straus appointed a five-member team led by Appropriations Committee Chair John Otto (R-Dayton) to work out the budget details in a conference committee. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick named five senators to the committee, led by Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound). We’re pleased the 10 negotiators include some longstanding friends of medicine and patients. TMA sees some big positives in each version that we will work to maintain in the final budget. The House budget, for example, includes funds to restore Medicaid payments to Medicare levels for certain primary care physicians and services, and the Senate plan has $57 million to grow and expand graduate medical education programs. We’ve posted the list of the budget negotiators from each chamber, along with a contact phone number, and TMA’s budget priorities.

TexMed 2015 Hits Austin This Weekend; Don't Miss It

Thousands of Texas physicians, medical students, and TMA Alliance members flock to Austin this weekend for TexMed 2015. Advance registration is now closed, but you can still register on site. The meeting is free for TMA members. Here are some highlights you won’t want to miss: 

  • TexMed at the Capitol – 1-4 pm, Thursday. Lobby, mingle, and eat some ice cream.
  • More than 80 hours of free continuing medical education – Friday and Saturday.
  • House of Delegates meeting – Starts 8 am Friday and 8:30 am Saturday. Celebrate the SGR repeal with special guest, U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (R-Lewisville), 10 am Saturday.
  • Expo Hall – Nearly 160 exhibitors with products and services you need to see. Opens at 7 am Friday and 6 am Saturday.
  • Ira Byock, MD – Opening General Session speaker, 4 pm Friday, the future of end-of-life care. Can’t make it in person? Watch the live stream on TMA TV or catch the replay at 7 pm, May 4.
  • A Lawn Party – The TMA Foundation’s annual gala, 7-11 pm Friday. 
  • Trisha Shands, MD – Closing General Session speaker, 1:30 pm Saturday. Journey through breast cancer and the Alaskan tundra. Also live on TMA TV; replay at 7 pm, May 5.   

TMA PracticeEdge Inks Deals With Initial Physician-Led ACO Customers

TMA PracticeEdge is announcing service agreements with Houston Regional Accountable Care Organization and Alliance ACO in rural, south central Texas. We anticipate these physician-led ACOs will initially represent 50-plus physicians providing care and managing the population health for more than 12,000 patients. These physician-led organizations can use the tools offered by TMA PracticeEdge to grow and remain independent. Want to learn more about TMA PracticeEdge? Visit www.TMAPracticeEdge.com, email info@TMAPracticeEdge.com, or call (888) 900-0334.

Physicians Travel to Captiol to Testify on Medicine's Agenda

TMA member physicians again answered the call to testify before House and Senate committees for and against key pieces of legislation. This week, we send our thanks out to these volunteers: 

  • Hanoch Patt, MD, an Austin pediatric cardiologist, asked the Senate Business and Commerce Committee to support Senate Bill 229 by Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), which would prohibit health plans from using virtual credit cards to pay for health care services.
  • Temple emergency physician Robert Greenberg, MD, testified at the House Public Health Committee for House Bill 3677 by Rep. Paul Workman (R-Austin). The bill permits physicians to initiate a four-hour hold on patients who voluntarily seek care at a hospital or emergency medical center but then want to leave, though the treating physician believes the patient is a danger to self or others. 
  • Houston obstetrician-gynecologist Eugene Toy, MD, told the Public Health Committee that medicine supports House Bill 3433 by Rep. J.D. Sheffield, DO (R-Gatesville), which would add rural representation to the state’s Perinatal Advisory Council.
  • Stephen Pont, MD, a pediatrician from Austin, testified at the House Public Education Committee against House Bill 1227 by Rep. Rodney Anderson (R-Grand Prairie), which would eliminate state measurement of the effectiveness of physical education programs in schools.


Dr. Garcia Marks SGR Repeal at White House Event

TMA President-Elect Tom Garcia, MD, joined leaders of organized medicine and our congressional champions in the White House Rose Garden for a reception celebrating the repeal of the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. “We crossed one of Washington’s perennial ‘cliffs’ off the list for good,” President Barack Obama said. “My hope is, is that that helps build a little more momentum to get some other good stuff done.”

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