Stories written by David Doolittle

Know any Outstanding Science Teachers? Nominate Them for a TMA Grant - 08/23/2019

By now, most Texas schools are back in session, which means plenty of great science teachers have begun educating the next generation of physicians. You can help those outstanding educators become even better teachers by nominating them for the Texas Medical Association’s Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching.


CDC: More Possible Pulmonary Disease Cases Linked to Vaping Reported - 08/23/2019

Texas health officials are investigating suspected cases of pulmonary disease among people who have reported vaping, according to a health alert posted Friday.


Disease Reporting in Texas: What You Need to Do - 08/23/2019

You’re most likely aware that you are required to report certain health conditions, diseases, and outbreaks – known as “reportable” or “notifiable” conditions. This helps local, state, and federal health officials to track and study those conditions. But you might not be aware of all of the conditions you are required to report, or how, when, and to whom.


Texans Not Afraid to Look Up Mental Health Concerns Online - 08/22/2019

Although you as a physician might not spend a lot of time consulting Dr. Google, many of your patients do. So it’s a good idea to know what people are most worried about. Turns out, “phobia” is the most-Googled mental health concern in Texas.


TMB to Transition to Electronic Licenses in September - 08/20/2019

Beginning Sept. 1, the Texas Medical Board (TMB) will no longer issue paper licenses for physicians or physician assistants. Instead, new and renewed licenses will be available via the My TMB online portal.


Put Patients Over Paperwork, TMA Tells CMS - 08/19/2019

Allow physicians to use electronic health records how they see fit, eliminate prior authorization requirements, lift the ban on physician-owned hospitals, and allow a real out-of-network option. Those are among the 15 recommendations the Texas Medical Association presented to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which is seeking to reduce administrative burdens and red tape in the Medicare program.


How User-Friendly Is Your EHR? - 08/16/2019

To help you prevent these types of errors in your practice, TMA has created a Technology and Patient Safety webpage that includes articles, interactive tools, manuals, and guidelines on how to make your electronic health record (EHR) technology safer. Use it to find information on contracting with EHR vendors, implementing or switching systems, and keeping your system secure.


Measles: Updated Information and Resources Available to Fight Rising Cases - 08/16/2019

As measles cases continue to rise in Texas and across the U.S., the Texas Medical Association and Texas Hospital Association have created a document to help physicians and other health care professionals combat the highly contagious respiratory illness. The document provides the latest recommendations for diagnosing and reporting measles, immunizations, infection prevention and control, and post-exposure prophylaxis and exclusion.


White Paper Has the 411 on Telemedicine - 08/15/2019

TMA's new white paper on telemedicine in Texas outlines the legal guidelines for providing care via telemedicine and additional requirements physicians should consider.


Yes, You Do Have to Comply With a MIPS Audit Request - 08/14/2019

TMA finally received clarification from CMS: If you receive an Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) audit request for the 2017 and/or 2018 performance years, compliance is indeed mandatory, and there are possible punishments for noncompliance.


Migrants in Texas Detention Centers Need Basic Care, TMA President Says - 08/12/2019

Migrant parents and children housed in Texas detention centers must have access to basic necessities, including sufficient food, clean water, clean beds, and health and educational services. That is the message of a letter sent last week to state leaders and Texas lawmakers from several organizations, including the Texas Medical Association.


$18 Million Grants to Help Texas Fight Opioid Abuse - 08/12/2019

More than 70 Texas health institutions have received almost $18 million in federal funds to combat the ongoing nationwide opioid epidemic.


New Electronic Form To Be Used To Report Certain Drug Overdoses - 08/06/2019

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has created an online form for physicians and other health care professionals to report overdoses from controlled substances such as opioids, cocaine, and methamphetamines. The new electronic form is expected to make reporting and collecting overdose data more efficient, DSHS officials said.


With Your Help, TMA Foundation Improved Health Throughout Texas - 08/02/2019

“Good health is priceless. That’s why your charitable gifts to TMA Foundation are so valuable.” That’s the message from Susan M. Pike, MD, president of the Texas Medical Association Foundation (TMAF), in its 2018 Annual Report.


When Do New Opioid Prescribing Requirements Take Effect? - 08/02/2019

To combat the ongoing opioid crisis, state lawmakers passed several measures that change how physicians and other health care professionals will prescribe opioids. However, provisions of the laws take effect at different times, so prescribers should be aware of the deadlines and effective dates of each requirement. Below is a chart showing when each provision takes effect.


UTHealth Tyler Receives Federal Funds To Develop Rural Psychiatric Residency Program - 07/23/2019

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler has been awarded a three-year federal grant of $750,000 to develop a residency program in rural northeast Texas. UTHealth Tyler will use the funds to develop a rural training track in psychiatry.


Prescribing Changes in Texas: Know What You Need to Know - 07/23/2019

By now you might know that state lawmakers recently passed a number of changes to how prescriptions for certain pain medications must be written and processed, as part of a larger effort to fight prescription fraud and abuse. TMA will outline what prescribers can expect as a result of these advocacy efforts in a free live webinar on July 31.


Turn to TMA to Resolve Prompt-Pay Issues - 07/22/2019

If you or your practice is dealing with prompt-pay or other health plan problems, the Texas Medical Association can help resolve those issues through TMA’s Hassle Factor Log program. The Texas Department of Insurance last week released a bulletin reminding plans that a portion of prompt-pay penalties must be paid to the state.


Get Qualified to Prescribe Opioid Addiction Medication - 07/22/2019

If you care for patients with opioid-use disorder, you’re probably familiar with buprenorphine, a medication that can be used at home to treat opioid addiction. But if you haven’t heard about it, or if you would like more information, tune in to a free online training course to qualify for a waiver to prescribe buprenorphine.


Have Your Say on Medical Licensing Exam Changes - 07/19/2019

The U.S. Medical Licensing Exam has received a lot of attention in recent months, much of it controversial. You now have the opportunity to weigh in on proposed changes to how the exam is scored.


Newborn X-ALD Screening: What You Need to Know - 07/18/2019

If you don't know about adrenoleukodystrophy, or if you just want more information about ALD, including the newborn screening follow-up process and how to confirm diagnosis and treatment for X-ALD, be sure to attend a webinar presented by the Department of State Health Services scheduled for 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. July 31.


Get Paid for End-of-Life Care Discussions With Patients - 07/18/2019

Since 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has used two Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) payment codes for conversations about end-of-life treatment.


Panel Makes Big Change in Draft Federal Surprise Billing Law - 07/17/2019

Thanks to incessant lobbying from physicians, hospitals, organized medicine, and the Physicians Advocacy Institute, a key congressional committee today made significant revisions in a bill to reduce the strain of surprise billing on patients. “This certainly sounds like an improvement,” said Texas Medical Association President David Fleeger, MD, “but the devil will be in the details.”


Will You Get a Medicare Bonus or Pay Cut Next Year? - 07/11/2019

 If you participated in the 2018 Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) under the Quality Payment Program (QPP), it’s now possible to check whether you’ll receive a Medicare payment bonus or cut next year.  Physicians should check their 2018 MIPS performance feedback and 2020 payment adjustment as soon as possible in case the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) made mistakes when calculating your data, which happened last year. 


Register Now for 2019 TMA Fall Conference - 07/10/2019

Join your fellow Texas physician leaders at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort near Austin on Sept. 13-14. Advance registration is now open online, and it’s faster and easier than ever to register.