Stories written by Emma Freer

Peaks From the Valley: E. Linda Villarreal, MD, Reflects on Her TMA Presidency - 05/20/2022

Edinburg internist E. Linda Villarreal, MD, says her term as Texas Medical Association President focused on innovation, collaboration, and conversation.

Natural-Born Healer: Incoming TMA President Gary Floyd, MD, Cares for His Profession - 05/20/2022

Throughout his 43-year career, Fort Worth pediatrician Gary Floyd, MD, has been an active participant in organized medicine; soon, he'll ascend his biggest platform yet as the Texas Medical Association's 157th president.

Public Health Emergency’s End Would Kickstart Medicaid Eligibility Re-Checks. Here’s How to Prepare - 05/20/2022

After strong advocacy by the American Medical Association and other organizations, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services appears poised to extend the COVID-19 public health emergency for a 10th time.

Cigna to Request Records for Certain Office Visits, Unleashing Possible “Administrative Nightmare” - 05/18/2022

Cigna recently began alerting physicians to a new billing policy that could have far-reaching consequences for Texas physicians, practice staff, and patients.

CMS Proposes Delay of New Value-Based Payment Model - 05/18/2022

As Medicare once again prepares to delay a new payment model several years in the making, Houston radiation oncologist Andrew Farach, MD, is applauding that decision, saying its current version doesn’t give small and rural practices a fair shake.

Closing the Loop: Payers Address Social Drivers of Health - 05/17/2022

Houston family physician Lindsay Botsford, MD, received a call in late February from a Medicare patient with shingles. She prescribed an antiviral medication to treat the infection – and then the real work began.

Vaccine Equity Gains: COVID-19 Vaccine Rate Disparities Narrow Amid Physician-Led Outreach - 05/13/2022

When the COVID-19 vaccine rollout began in mid-December 2020, many physicians, advocates, and community leaders worried the health disparities laid bare by the pandemic would repeat themselves.  But improved data collection and innovative outreach efforts – many of them led by Texas physicians and medical students – have helped close these gaps.

Deadlines Approaching for COVID Relief Fund Late-Reporting - 05/13/2022

If you got a loan from the federal COVID-19 Provider Relief Fund’s (PRF’s) first reporting period and requested to report your funds late, watch out for the government’s response to that request. And, if you got a loan from the fund’s second reporting period, good news: The deadline to request to report late has been extended – but you’ll have to act fast.

Delegates Prioritize Prior Authorization, Pandemic Relief - 05/06/2022

As private practices continue to navigate red tape and ongoing pandemic pressures, Texas physicians pushed the Texas Medical Association to do more to address onerous prior authorization requirements and to advocate for federal disaster loan forgiveness.

TMA Ask the Expert: Practical Guidance for Employed and Independent Physicians - 05/04/2022

Employed physicians and their colleagues in independent practice face different challenges. But all Texas physicians, whether an employee or an employer, can take advantage of guidance from the Texas Medical Association.

CMS Reweights MIPS Cost Category to Zero Due to the Pandemic - 05/04/2022

As a result of the ongoing public health emergency, physicians will find some much-needed, if temporary, relief from burdensome reporting requirements under Medicare’s Merit-Based Incentive Payment System.

New TMA President Gary Floyd, MD, Calls on Physicians to Unite as a Profession - 05/03/2022

Keller pediatrician and long-term advocate Gary W. Floyd, MD, invoked George Strait and called on Texas Medical Association members to band together in the face of “more public questioning and pushback than we’ve ever encountered” during a speech to TMA’s House of Delegates on April 30, following his installation as the association’s 157th president.

Closing Keynote: The Future of Health Care Is Health Assurance - 05/02/2022

Imagine it’s 2030. The COVID-19 pandemic is a distant memory. Medications are delivered by drones. Broadband is a universal utility. And the health care industry has shifted from caring for sick patients to ensuring the health of all patients through consumer-friendly, data-centric preventive care, significantly narrowing health inequities in the process.

Voice of Reason: TMA’s Board of Councilors Tackles Ethical Policymaking - 05/01/2022

Established in 1903, the Board of Councilors renders and updates opinions on matters of medical ethics, from abortion and medical use of cannabis to physician-assisted suicide and restrictive covenants, among other responsibilities.

Hidden Brain: Rooting Out Implicit Bias On an Institutional Level - 05/01/2022

At a recent professional conference, Palo Alto ophthalmologist Ann Caroline Fisher, MD, and a colleague led a roundtable discussion titled “Diversity, Equity, and Insanity: Can We Have a Candid Conversation?” She says the discussion revolved around a response to an article describing ophthalmology as one of the least diverse medical specialties. The response disparaged diversity quotas and other efforts to improve representation in medicine, including of people like her, a first-generation American born to a half Peruvian father and a half-Chinese mother.

CMS Debuting Optional Quality Reporting Mechanism, Amid Physician Concerns - 04/25/2022

Despite recent objections from the Texas Medical Association, Medicare’s Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) will launch a new, optional reporting framework during the 2023 performance year.

“Incident-to” Billing for Nonphysician Services Requires Vigilance - 04/20/2022

For many physician employers, the subject of nonphysician practitioners (NPPs) and “incident-to” billing prompts more questions than answers.

A Healthy Education: Med Students Promote Vaccines, Education Across Texas - 04/07/2022

Medical students win grants to promote vaccines, education across Texas.

Physicians Support Making Pandemic-Era Telehealth Policies Permanent, Survey Shows - 04/06/2022

A vast majority of physicians currently use telehealth and would like to see the pandemic-era policies that enabled its rapid expansion stick around so they can continue to do so.

Texas’ Rising Generation of Black Physicians Want to Increase Representation - 04/05/2022

Galveston medical student Tsola Efejuku was raised by a family of health care professionals. His mom is a pharmacist, one of his uncles is a physician, and another is a physical therapist. This early exposure piqued his interest in the field. But outside of his family, he found little reinforcement.

New COVID-19 Monoclonal Antibody Treatment Gets FDA Emergency Authorization - 04/05/2022

There’s a new COVID-19 therapeutic on the market that has shown promise in fighting the omicron variant, and state health officials say it’s already in distribution across Texas.

State Recruiting Docs to Give COVID Preexposure Drug Evusheld - 04/05/2022

State health officials want to spread the word about Evusheld, a monoclonal antibody treatment that helps prevent COVID-19 infection among immunocompromised patients at high risk of progression to severe cases, including hospitalization and death.

Emergency Doc Finds Building Patient Trust More Difficult During COVID - 04/05/2022

As the COVID-19 pandemic languishes into its third year, physicians continue to bear the brunt of its impact, from unpredictable surges to worsening burnout. Craig Meek, MD, an emergency medicine physician in East Texas and president of the Texas College of Emergency Physicians, has observed another more profound effect, which he suspects is changing the profession in irrevocable ways.

TMA Backs Program to Help Small, Rural Practices With Quality Reporting - 04/05/2022

The Texas Medical Association is urging federal lawmakers to extend a technical assistance program for small practices in rural and underserved areas that participate in Medicare’s Quality Payment Program.

MIPS Participation Drops per Preliminary Report - 04/05/2022

Fewer clinicians participated in Medicare’s Quality Payment Program in 2020, and fewer participants earned incentive payments compared with 2019, according to preliminary data recently released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.