Stories written by Amy Lynn Sorrel

On Guard for the Patient-Physician Relationship: 2023 Legislative Preview - 03/14/2023

A pandemic wind-down, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, a possible recession, a national surprise-billing law. The 2023 Texas legislative session is one shaping up to be defined by a host of federal forces, some of them potentially contentious. Nevertheless, the House of Medicine stands steadfast in its legislative priorities. At the heart of the Texas Medical Association’s agenda for this session: protecting the practice of medicine and the patient-physician relationship, whether from criminalization, interference from insurers and other nonmedical entities, or public health threats.

TMA Educates “IDR” Entities on How to Comply With Second Surprise-Billing Win Amid Backlog of Payment Disputes - 03/11/2023

Amid much wrangling with federal regulators, the Texas Medical Association is taking steps to hold them accountable for complying with TMA’s second legal victory nullifying certain rules governing out-of-network payment disputes under the No Surprises Act.

TMA Analyzes FTC Proposed Ban on Noncompetes - 03/09/2023

The interplay between federal and state efforts to ban noncompete agreements remains unclear as Texas Medical Association experts analyze a proposed Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rule on the matter.

UPDATE: TMA Sues Feds – Again – Over Unfair Arbitration Process Under Federal Surprise Billing Rule - 02/10/2023

The Texas Medical Association is back in court – again – to hold federal regulators accountable for implementing a key piece of the No Surprises Act as Congress intended it: to operate an arbitration process that does not skew the dispute resolution process in favor of health plans.

Feds Delay Portion of “Good Faith Estimate” Requirements Under Surprise Billing Law - 02/10/2023

Despite ongoing litigation over certain aspects of the federal surprise billing law, many of the patient protection components of the No Surprises Act still took effect in 2022. However, enforcement of a price transparency measure slated for Jan. 1, 2023, has been delayed indefinitely, giving physician practices more time to prepare.

Surprise Billing Rules Garner More Legal Action - 02/10/2023

Pressure is mounting on federal authorities with several legal actions now aiming to stop what physicians and hospitals say is an unfair arbitration process outlined in rules implementing the No Surprises Act, legislation passed in 2020 to address surprise medical bills.

Legislative Priority #1: Scope of Practice Encroachments, Graduate Medical Education Funding - 01/06/2023

Goal Protect independent medical diagnosing, treatment, and prescribing as the practice of medicine address workforce shortages in a way that ensures all patients have access to the same standard of care and keeps pace with Texas’ outsized population

Health Officials Wind Down Monkeypox PHE, Urge Prevention - 12/13/2022

Given the downturn in monkeypox cases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra recently announced the agency does not expect to renew the public health emergency declaration regarding the infectious disease when it ends on Jan. 31.

Beware of Phony TMB, DEA Agents and Other Scams - 11/15/2022

The Texas Medical Board (TMB) is warning physicians and pharmacies of a scam involving criminals who sometimes pose as TMB officials. TMB passed along a report from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that says physicians registered with the DEA are receiving calls and emails from criminals who identify themselves as DEA personnel or other law enforcement agents.

Commissioned With Change : An Interview With HHSC Commissioner Cecile Erwin Young - 11/11/2022

As leader of the state’s largest agency, Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Cecile Erwin Young is faced with some of the largest health care challenges among some of the most vulnerable patient populations. She visited the Texas Medical Association’s Winter Conference in late January to talk to Texas physicians about their concerns in caring for those patients, especially during a pandemic.

Holding Their Own: Texas ACOs Contribute to Billions in Savings in Medicare Program - 11/01/2022

For the fifth straight year, the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP), through its work with accountable care organizations (ACOs), generated significant savings and high-quality results, with Texas entities once again contributing to that success.

DSHS Survey to Inform Legislative Policy on COVID-19 Vaccines in Texas - 11/01/2022

As part of 2021 legislative mandate, the Texas Department of State Health Services is funding a survey to collect feedback from physicians and health care professionals regarding access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Help Promote National Drug Prescription Take Back Day on Oct. 29 - 10/26/2022

Prescription Drug Take Back Day, which allows people to dispose of prescription drugs safely and anonymously, is scheduled for Oct. 26 at locations throughout the state.

Health Plans Begin Implementing Prior Auth Exemption Process - 10/19/2022

With an Oct. 1 deadline on the horizon, health plans have begun implementing Texas’ new prior authorization exemption process requiring them to issue the first so-called “gold cards” by that date.

UPDATE: New Information-Blocking Requirements Take Effect Despite Medicine's Call for Delay - 10/12/2022

Since April 2021, federal rules requiring physicians to give patients prompt access to their electronic health information have been focused on a narrow subset of those data. Starting Oct. 6, the so-called information-blocking requirements are set to broaden that scope significantly.

“Rainbow” Fentanyl-Related Overdoses Among Youth Trigger DEA, DSHS Warnings - 09/29/2022

In the wake of a series of overdoses and deaths in Hays County, Texas public health and federal law enforcement agencies have released advisories about multicolored or “rainbow” fentanyl.

Learn the Warning Signs of Physician Suicide - 09/13/2022

This Saturday, Sept. 17, is National Physician Suicide Awareness Day, and with help from The Physicians Foundation and other organizations’ Vital Signs campaign, you can learn the warning signals to look for in a colleague who may be in mental distress.

Overdose Deaths Persist Despite Physician Efforts to Reduce Opioid Prescribing, per AMA Report - 09/12/2022

Even as deaths from illicit drugs like fentanyl are rising, a new American Medical Association report shows a 45% decrease in opioid prescribing over the past decade in Texas.

Texas ACOs Contribute to $1.6 Billion in Savings in Medicare Shared Savings Program - 09/09/2022

For the fifth straight year, the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP), through its work with accountable care organizations, generated significant savings and high-quality results, with Texas entities once again contributing to that success.

United Overpayment Notices Go Paperless as of Sept. 23 - 09/07/2022

Beginning Sept. 23, UnitedHealthcare will no longer mail overpayment notification letters for most of its Medicare Advantage and commercial health plans, shifting them instead to its digital portals.

Federal Telehealth Extension Bill Advances to Senate - 08/31/2022

Signaling strong support to build on the COVID-19-era gains in telemedicine, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill that would extend Medicare’s telehealth payment and regulatory flexibilities through the end of 2024, should the public health emergency end before then.

New TMA Committee to Bolster Private Practices - 08/29/2022

The COVID-19 pandemic and a recent spike in inflation are just the latest in a string of pressures that are increasingly driving private practices in Texas and across the nation out of business – a trend the Texas Medical Association is aiming to reverse through the formation of a new Ad Hoc Committee on Independent Physician Practices.

New COVID Boosters Expected for Fall; Preorder by Aug. 30 - 08/29/2022

With new COVID-19 boosters on the horizon targeting the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron strains of the virus, Texas health officials have opened up preorders for these latest vaccines, which are expected to roll out this fall.

CMS Continues Small-Practice Help With QPP - 08/24/2022

Small practices that once sought free direct technical assistance with the federal Quality Payment Program can no longer do so, but in its place they can take advantage of other tailored resources the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services offers.

Don’t Forfeit Your APM Incentive Payment; Act Now - 08/23/2022

Wondering where your 5% payment incentive is for participating in an advanced alternative payment model (APM) in the 2020 Quality Payment Program?