• TMA's Legislative Victories Build on Past Successes

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    In a 2015 legislative session marked by new state leadership, new money, and big shifts in how Texas' major health care agencies oversee care delivery, the House of Medicine remained as steady as ever in its mission to ensure physicians can give their patients the best care possible. 

    Significant Victories  
  • UHC Delays Beacon Lab Benefit Program
    Strong opposition from organized medicine pushed UnitedHealthcare (UHC) to put on hold an expansion of its Laboratory Benefit Management Program, which would have been extended to fully insured commercial plan patients in Texas effective March 1.
    Sunset Commission Calls for Mandatory Pain Med History Checks
    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." The commission recommends "the board target its inspections of pain management clinics toward the top prescribers, that the board more effectively monitor prescribing patterns through the newly enhanced Prescription Monitoring Program (PDMP), and that physicians and physician assistants be required to search the program and review a patient's prescription history before prescribing dangerous pain medications."
    Challenges in Austin, Change in Washington
    One month into Texas' 2017 legislative session, the ramp-up is beginning as medicine and lawmakers ready for what's certain to be a flurry of activity related to health care.
    Victory: Anthem-Cigna Merger Blocked by Court
    In a significant win for organized medicine and the nation's patients, federal judge Amy Berman Jackson blocked the proposed Anthem-Cigna merger. She found that the merger would have substantially lessened competition for the sale of health insurance to national employers, resulting in higher prices and diminished prospects for innovation. Anthem Inc. planned to take over Cigna for $50 billion. American Medical Association findings show the Anthem-Cigna merger would enhance market power in 85 metropolitan areas within 13 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, and Virginia.
    Medicare Meaningful Use Attestation Deadline Extended
    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) extended the meaningful use attestation deadline for the Medicare electronic health record (EHR) incentive program to March 13. The Medicaid meaningful use attestation deadline remains March 16.
    Meaningful Use Penalty Reconsideration Form Deadline

    If you received a letter from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) stating that you are subject to a penalty for not meeting the meaningful use requirements during the 2015 electronic health record (EHR) reporting period and feel there’s been an error, you have until Feb. 28 to submit the reconsideration form to CMS. 

    Practice Websites Targeted in ADA Shakedown
    An Austin attorney is sending demand letters to physicians and providers across the state alleging that their websites are not accessible to people with visual disabilities and that he will personally sue them unless they pay him $2,000 plus attorney fees.
    Comptroller Releases Health Care Spending Report
    Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar issued a report examining health care-related spending by 68 state agencies and higher education institutions from 2011–15.
    Confused About Quality Reporting? Get Help From TMF and TMA
    Reporting deadlines for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), Value-Based Payment Modifier, and meaningful use programs are fast approaching. This data submission timeframe is happening at the same time CMS is rolling out the new Quality Payment Program, Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), and advanced alternative payment models required by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). Are you confused about the alphabet soup of quality reporting? If so, get help from the TMF Quality Innovation Network and TMA Practice Consulting.
    MACRA: Propose Your Own Physician-Focused Payment Model
    Have you been reading up on the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) and the new Quality Payment Program? Are the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System and advanced alternative payment models (APMs) not good fits for your practice and specialty? If they’re not, consider proposing your own physician-focused payment model. Register today to learn about this opportunity and how to submit a strong proposal.
    ACIP Publishes 2017 Immunization Schedules
    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has released the 2017 immunization schedules for children and adults.
    Registration Open for the Texas Primary Care and Health Home Summit
    This year’s Texas Primary Care and Health Home Summit will be the fifth annual statewide conference focused on expanding access to high-quality, person-centered primary care for Texans and their families. Sponsored by TMA, the summit will offer stakeholders the opportunity to learn about innovative primary care models, including the health home. Attendees will become conversant with best practices for innovation in primary care and will have opportunities to interact with program experts at various stages of implementation. Register now to attend the summit May 11–12 at the Sheraton Gunter in San Antonio.
    New Infographic Promotes Child Care Worker Vaccinations
    Bacteria and viruses can spread easily in a child care center, putting those who work with children — and the kids themselves — at greater risk of contracting vaccine-preventable illnesses. TMA's new infographic, Vaccinations for Child Care Workers, lists the shots recommended for people who work with children: flu, pertussis, chickenpox, and measles.
    TMAF Honors Endowment Innovation Campaign Donors
    TMA Foundation recognized more than 100 TMA and TMA Alliance members who collectively donated $1 million to TMAF’s Endowment for Innovation Campaign (EIC) on Jan. 28 during TMA’s Winter Conference.
    Federal Court Order Blocks Aetna-Humana Merger
    U.S. District Judge John Bates sent a clear message last month when he issued an order imposing an injunction on Aetna's $37 billion acquisition of Humana, which focused largely on buying up Humana's Medicare Advantage business. The judge found the merger would "be likely to substantially lessen competition" in the Medicaid Advantage market. Indeed, it would have a significant impact across Texas — and 13 other states — likely enhancing Aetna's market power to concerning levels per the federal government's own standards, according to a comprehensive American Medical Association analysis.
    TMA Offers Cyber Security and Ransomware Tools
    Ransomware has reached Texas, and its emergence highlights the importance of up-to-date security. Health care is particularly vulnerable to the ransomware threat. KPMG's 2015 Health Care and Cyber Security Survey, which polled 223 U.S.-based health care executives, found four-fifths of respondents said cyber attacks had compromised their information technology.
    AMA Publishes Newly Updated Code of Medical Ethics
    Completely updated after an eight-year modernization project, a revised edition of the Code of Medical Ethics is available from the American Medical Association in hardcover or e-book. The revised edition contains ethical guidance improved for relevance, clarity, and consistency to help physicians keep pace with emerging demands they face with new technologies, changing patient expectations, and shifting health care priorities.
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    TMA is helping to strengthen your practice by offering personal advice and creating a climate of medical success across the state. 

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