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Volume 17, No 4

Jan. 26, 2015


SEE YOU IN AUSTIN THIS WEEKEND AT TMA 2015 WINTER CONFERENCE: A strong lineup of speakers and programs is waiting for you Friday and Saturday at 2015 TMA Winter Conference at the Hyatt Regency Austin. Our theme this year is Leading the Way Through Crisis and Change, because that’s what TMA and you — our physician leaders — are doing in this strange new health care world. Our boards, councils, and committees have a long day of hard work scheduled for Friday. We kick off Saturday morning with our Dawn Duster presentation: How Physicians, Hospitals, Patients, and Payers Can All Benefit From Health Care Payment and Delivery Reform, from the always-interesting Harold Miller, head of the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform. TMA President Austin King, MD, leads us into the meat of the morning followed by an update from Mary Anne McCaffree, MD, of the American Medical Association Board of Trustees. I’m really looking forward to hearing Dallas public health specialist John Carlo, MD, tell us: What We Learned from Ebola. Next, State Sen. Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown), chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, brings us a look at the hot issues in the 2015 Texas Legislature. We close with the political memories of Paul Burka of Texas Monthly, who is retiring as dean of the Capitol press corps.

NEW STATE SENATE COMMITTEES LOOK FAVORABLE FOR MEDICINE: Newly minted Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick released his State Senate committee appointments for the 2015 session late on Friday. I am pleased to report that all three of the major committees that will handle our priorities are chaired by senators who work well with their local physicians and TMA: 

  • Lieutenant Governor Patrick retained Senator Schwertner — the first physician to chair the Health and Human Services Committee — in that post. Sen. Donna Campbell, MD (R-New Braunfels), the only other physician in the Senate, also will serve on that committee. 
  • Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville), who previously chaired the Health and Human Services Committee, will lead the Senate Finance Committee. Dr. Schwertner is also on that committee.
  • The Business and Commerce Committee, which we expect to handle health insurance bills, will be chaired by Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler). Dr. Schwertner will serve on that committee as well. 

DON'T MISS THE FIRST, FIRST TUESDAYS AT THE CAPITOL — FEB. 3: First Tuesdays at the Capitol returns in eight days, and your patients and colleagues need you to be there. The “White Coat Invasion” has been the key to physicians’ successes in the Texas Legislature since the inception of First Tuesdays in 2003. Our senators and representatives listen when their hometown doctors appear in their offices. Our influence is so much greater when physicians and alliance members arrive en masse in the House and Senate galleries. It’s time again to bring out Texas medicine’s strongest weapon. Mark your calendar for the 2015 First Tuesdays at the Capitol and register today: Feb. 3, March 3, April 7, and May 5.

TMA ASKS CONGRESS TO REFORM RAC AUDITS: On behalf of the Physicians Advocacy Institute (PAI), I wrote several Texas leaders in Congress, asking them to support the PAI plan to relieve the bureaucratic burden on physicians caused by the Recovery Audit Program audits. Our proposal: 

  • Create new clinical and educational standards to ensure recovery audit contractors (RACs) have necessary expertise in determining medical necessity and coding issues;
  • Mandate that RACs provide timely and detailed notification to physicians and providers;
  • Delay contingency payments for RACs until the third level of appeal is exhausted;
  • Require RACs to educate and provide notice on common coding and billing errors; 
  • Provide physicians with a meaningful opportunity to decide whether to file an appeal;
  • Reduce the look-back period for RAC audits to two years; and
  • Add specific extrapolation standards to the statistical sampling pilot. 

STAY IN TOUCH WITH TMA'S LEGISLATIVE NEWS HOTLINE: What happens in the Texas Capitol between now and the June 1 end of the 2015 regular legislative session can have a profound effect on what happens in your practice for many years. With TMA Legislative News Hotline, you get daily or weekly — or both — updates on the progress of the state budget and bills that promote or hinder our Healthy Vision 2020 agenda. If you’re not already subscribed, sign up for Hotline today. It’s your finger on the pulse of your future.



GET READY FOR 2015 MANDATES AT TMA'S ANNUAL MEDICARE SEMINAR SERIES; SAVE $20: The new year is bringing a rash of new Medicare quality measurements, payment formulas, and pay cuts. Make sure your practice is prepared. Sign up for one of TMA’s live Medicare 2015 seminars running Feb. 3-25 in cities across the state. Hot topics we’ll cover include: compliance and audits, how to prepare for quality-based payment, meaningful use, and the Physician Quality Reporting System. Use coupon code EPROMO to save $20 when you register on the TMA website.


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