Volume 17, No 21
May 26, 2015
Budget Accord Boosts GME Spending, Drops Medicaid Pay Bump
The 2016-17 state budget took another step forward late last week, and so did one of TMA’s legislative priorities. The House-Senate Conference Committee on the budget approved $53 million for graduate medical education (GME) expansion grants over the biennium, up from the current $14.3 million. This includes:
- $3.5 million for GME planning and partnership grants;
- $32.55 million for creating new first-year GME positions at $75,000 per resident per year. Of that amount, $12 million is specifically for new GME positions that prepare physicians for entry into primary care practices;
- $9.75 million to maintain unfilled first-year GME positions; and
- $7.2 million for continued grant support to residency positions that were created with state grants during this budget cycle.
The committee also appropriated $4 million in additional dollars for existing family medicine residency programs (a 31-percent increase over current funding) and $3 million to revitalize the Statewide Primary Care Preceptorship Program.
We are extremely disappointed that our push for Medicare parity for Medicaid payments for primary care services fell short. The House version of the budget had included $460 million in state funds to reinstate the parity payments. They had been established and paid for with federal funds for two years under the Affordable Care Act, but that funding ran out Jan. 1. The Senate’s draft state budget included no money for the reinstatement, and the conference committee voted 9-1 for the Senate version on that budget item. Rep. Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) was the only conferee to vote against that decision.
TMA PracticeEdge Signs Innovista to Power ACO Services for Physicians
TMA PracticeEdge announced a multiyear partnership with Innovista Health Solutions to provide a comprehensive suite of accountable care organization (ACO) services for physician practices. Unlike many other firms we considered, Innovista’s business model aligns its own success with its physician clients’. That has the potential for a win-win for everybody. The services Innovista can provide include population health management, network development, care management, financial management, and claims administration. To learn more about TMA PracticeEdge, visit www.TMAPracticeEdge.com, email info@TMAPracticeEdge.com, or call (888) 900-0334.
Dr. Bailey So Far Unopposed for Speaker of AMA House of Delegates
Right now, it looks like former TMA President Sue Bailey, MD, of Fort Worth will cruise to victory as the next speaker of the American Medical Association House of Delegates. No other candidates have announced for the post, which will be decided at AMA’s annual meeting, June 6-10 in Chicago. Dr. Bailey has spent the past four years as vice speaker of the AMA house. Dallas internist Lynne Kirk, MD, is one of three incumbents — and six candidates total — running for four seats on the AMA Council on Medical Education.
Texas Delegation Brings Four Resolutions to AMA Meeting
Following up on the actions of the TMA House of Delegates, Texas physicians are presenting four resolutions for consideration by the AMA house. They are:
- A call for AMA to ask Congress to “act rapidly” to repeal all penalties for noncompliance with Medicare’s electronic health records incentive program and meaningful use requirements;
- A call for AMA to work with Congress to require real-time notification to physicians when patients are within the 45- or 30-day COBRA grace periods;
- A request for AMA to “evaluate and work to establish consensus regarding the appropriate value of resident and fellow services”; and
- A directive for AMA to support legislation to “prevent and divert prostitution” rather than criminalize it.
Ask Governor Abbott to Sign These Bills
Give Gov. Greg Abbott’s office a call this week at (512) 463-2000 and urge the governor to put his signature on these bills: Senate Bill 97 — e-cigarette regulation; Senate Bill 359 — allowing a four-hour emergency department hold for mentally ill patients; House Bill 1945 — removing restrictions on direct contracting for primary care; and Senate Bill 66 — on unassigned epinephrine autoinjectors in public schools. These four TMA-backed bills have made it all the way through the Texas Legislature this session and deserve to be signed into law.
Dr. Morrow Named President of Blue Cross Blue and Shield Houston Region
Congratulations to Bob Morrow, MD, of Sugar Land, who was appointed president of the Houston and Southeast Texas region of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas. A family physician, Dr. Morrow has a long history of service to TMA and organized medicine.