Veteran and rookie lawmakers, hundreds of lobbyists, and thousands of private citizens arrived in Austin Jan. 10 for the start of the 2017 Texas legislative session. Medicine is well represented.
TMA and friends of medicine are facing the challenges of what's already been called a tight budget year, trying to convince lawmakers to maintain as much funding as possible for key programs as cuts inevitably loom. Meanwhile, lawmakers and other interested observers are keeping one eye on Washington, DC, where the beginning of a new presidential administration has brought with it a promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — but with large uncertainty about when that repeal will happen or what an ACA replacement will look like.
Doctors understand it’s frustrating to have health insurance coverage but still receive unexpected medical bills. Watch this video to learn about Stanley and the surprise medical bills he received… and learn why he received them.
Medicine won some relief in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS') final rule implementing the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). Responding to medicine's vehement concerns, CMS decided physicians who at least try to comply with the new rules next year will see no penalty in their payments in 2019, the first year the penalties were set to apply. That's because starting in 2017, physicians' performance on various quality, cost, technology use, and practice improvement measures determines cuts or bonuses in their payments two years later.
In response to outreach from U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), House Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands), and other House Republican leaders, TMA provided a list of nine health care policy suggestions for the next Congress to consider.
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In its Report to the 85th Legislature, the Sunset Advisory Commission recommends breathing 12 more years of life into the Texas Medical Board and goes into great detail about TMB's oversight of physicians who prescribe "extremely addictive and dangerous drugs, particularly drugs designed for patients with chronic pain, as some of these drugs contribute to an epidemic of addiction and overdose throughout the country.
TMA triumphed when a Travis County district court sided with medicine in a lawsuit against the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners over its granting chiropractors the authority to perform certain diagnostic tests.
The 2016 elections brought physicians an excellent opportunity to rebuild America's health care systems, TMA officials say.
"Everything is on the table — the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Medicare, and Medicaid," said David Henkes, MD, chair of the Texas Delegation to the American Medical Association. "Today, we are crafting plans to remake the system so it truly serves our physician members and our patients."
The new Medicare Watch List report from The Physicians Foundation examines the implications of the new Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) and future payment models established after the elimination of the Sustainable Gmediath Rate formula.
As state lawmakers begin preparing for the 2017 legislative session, TMA and four state specialty societies delivered a detailed, five-page document with significant recommendations to improve the Texas Medicaid program.
Just days after the TMA House of Delegates adopted TMA's plan to preserve physicians' rights to bill for services and protect patients from surprise bills, TMA Council on Legislation Chair Ray Callas, MD, presented it to the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce.
Your patients and your profession need you to be a lobbyist for a day. Mark your calendar now to join the Party of Medicine in Austin for First Tuesdays at the Capitol during the 85th Texas Legislature on March 7, April 4, and/or May 2, 2017. The March 7 event is designated the official TMA Alliance First Tuesday, and the April 4 event is dedicated to medical students and residents.
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