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TMA's 2015 Legislative Victories Build on Past Successes
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. That resolve paid off in significant victories that largely build on the Texas Medical Association's 2013 legislative successes.
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Apply for Meaningful Use Hardship Exception by March 15
It's no secret TMA has been less than thrilled with the meaningful use electronic health record incentive program. For starters, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) did not publish the modification rule for Stage 2 meaningful use until Oct. 16, 2015. As a result, eligible professionals weren't informed of the revised program requirements until fewer than the 90 required days to attest remained in the calendar year. That left them at risk for a penalty. CMS vowed to grant hardship exemptions for 2015 for those eligible physicians who were unable to attest due to the lateness of the rule. In December, Congress adopted S 2425, known as the Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act, which allows one exception form for individual physicians and groups so they can list all physicians and other health professionals who are claiming the same exemption category.
Medicaid Reenrollment Deadline Pushed to Sept. 25
Physicians have an extra six months to reenroll in Medicaid, thanks to lobbying from TMA and organized medicine. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has extended the deadline for most physicians to reenroll in Medicaid to Sept. 25. The initial deadline for reenrollment, driven by a provision in the Affordable Care Act, was March 24. Texas Medicaid officials say they "encourage all providers who have not yet submitted a reenrollment application to begin this process immediately to avoid potential payment disruptions." TMA also has been urging Texas physicians to get ahead of the complex process.
CDC Issues Zika Virus Health Advisory
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a Zika virus health advisory with information and recommendations for recognizing, managing, and reporting infections in travelers returning from Central America, South America, the Caribbean, and Mexico. The advisory also provides travel guidance for pregnant women and women who are trying to become pregnant. Last month, public health officials announced the confirmed diagnosis of the mosquito-borne disease in a Houston woman who traveled in November to El Salvador.
Apply Now for Internal Medicine Preceptorship Program
The Texas Chapter of the American College of Physicians is now accepting applications from first- and second-year Texas medical students and from physicians for the summer 2016 General Internal Medicine Statewide Preceptorship Program.
Reenroll in Texas Vaccines for Children Program by Feb. 12
The 2016 reenrollment period for physicians who participate in the Texas Vaccines for Children (TVFC) Program opened on Jan. 25. Remember: You have until Feb. 12 to complete the TVFC Provider Agreement form to remain an active participant in the program.
Don't Miss the Texas Two Step Mass CPR Event Feb. 6
Help the Texas College of Emergency Physicians, HealthCorps, TMA, the American College of Emergency Physicians, and leadership consulting firm MaveRx make history Feb. 6 by joining Texas medical students at the Texas Two Step: How to Save a Life CPR training event. The goal of the free event is to break the world record by teaching 20,000 people in one day to save a life with two simple steps: call 911 and initiate hands-only CPR.
TexMed 2016 Coming to Dallas April 29–30; Register Now
Join us for TexMed 2016, TMA's annual meeting, April 29–30 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, where we will explore Bridging the Gaps in Health Care. TexMed is a free member benefit. Register today, and review the TexMed 2016 Advance Program.
TexMed General Session Stars Bestselling Author, Economist
TMA has secured two prestigious speakers to headline the TexMed 2016 General Session: Marty A. Makary, MD, and Mark G. Dotzour, PhD. This year's conference will take place April 29–30 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas.
TMA PracticeEdge-Built ACOs Open for Business
Congratulations to East Texas Regional Accountable Care Collaborative (Nacogdoches), UPSA ACO (San Antonio), Alliance ACO (rural central Texas and Kerrville), and Houston Regional ACO, all of whom kicked off their new value-based contracts on Jan. 1. Combined, these physician-led accountable care organizations (ACOs) working with TMA PracticeEdge represent more than 250 physicians and approximately 40,000 patient lives. All of these groups are accepting new physician members, and the TMA PracticeEdge team is recruiting physicians who want to set up commercial ACOs for a July 1, 2016, start date or the 2017 Medicare Shared Savings Program.
Fund a Local Shot Clinic with Help from Be Wise — Immunize
TMA can help you with community outreach while boosting your local vaccination rates. TMA's Be Wise — Immunize is accepting applications until March 1 for grants to support local vaccination events. Grants of up to $2,500 are available to TMA member-physician practices/clinics, county medical societies, TMA Alliance chapters, and medical student chapters.
March, April, May: Key Months for Helmet Giveaways
Three great times to host a TMA Hard Hats for Little Heads bicycle helmet giveaway are fast approaching. March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, April is Texas Child Safety Month, and May is Bike Month.
TMA Asks CMS to Delay Meaningful Use Stage 3
TMA is "disappointed and frustrated" with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS') insistence on going forward with Stage 3 meaningful use and its resistance to significantly reform Stage 2. "These rules will only serve to penalize physicians who participate in Medicare and hinder progress on the adoption of EHRs and the exchange of information," TMA and the medical associations of California, Florida, and New York told CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt in a Dec. 15 letter.
TMA: Marriage, Family Therapists Can't Diagnose
On Dec. 31, 2015, TMA filed a response brief with the Supreme Court of Texas in regard to
Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists and Texas Association of Marriage and Family Therapy vs. Texas Medical Association
. The brief examines whether the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists' rule authorizing marriage and family therapists to diagnose any and all known mental disorders falls within the scope of practice set forth in state law. In the brief, TMA argues the plain meaning of the Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Act doesn't include diagnosis.
TMA Course Educates Doctors on Diabetes Prevention
Help your diabetic patients improve diet and lead a healthy lifestyle. A shocking 29.1 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes, and an estimated one-in-four people do not know they have the disease. Prevention is key. Texas A&M University researchers and physicians developed a continuing medical education offering, available from TMA, which features the latest information on type 2 diabetes.
TMA Minority Scholarship Program Application Is Available
TMA will be able to award 11 students with $10,000 scholarships through the TMA Minority Scholarship Program for 2016 incoming medical students. The program helps minorities who are underrepresented in Texas medical schools and the state's physician workforce. TMA increased the award amount from $5,000 to $10,000 for scholarship winners beginning this year. To be considered for a scholarship, TMA must receive applications by 5 pm on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016.
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