Stories written by Emma Freer

Court Considers Attack on Noneconomic Damages Cap - 07/18/2024

The bedrock of the medicine-backed 2003 tort reform legislation in Texas was a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages in medical negligence lawsuits, a balance that the Texas Medical Association helped lawmakers strike between compensating injured patients and keeping physicians out of bankruptcy.

Texas' Voice: Delegation Shapes AMA Policy, But Could Have Greater Impact - 07/10/2024

Through its delegation, TMA shapes AMA policy – but its impact could be greater   

Going Viral: Dr. Glaucomflecken’s Medical Comedy Spreads Physician Advocacy - 07/10/2024

Dr. Glaucomflecken’s medical comedy videos spread physician expertise and advocacy.

Lifelong Leadership: Distinguished Service Award Bestowed Upon U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, MD - 07/10/2024

TMA bestows Distinguished Service Award upon U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, MD.

Changing History: How TMA Has Influenced the Course of Texas Medicine - 06/04/2024

From ushering in significant legislative reforms and responding to emergencies to expanding its own operations and solving seemingly intractable problems, TMA has played an active role in Texas and national medical history over the past 50 years.

Living Legacy: TMA Archive Preserves Medicine's Past - 06/04/2024

TMA’s archive is vital resource for member physicians, medical historians, genealogists, and educators as well as TMA boards, councils, and committees, which lean on documented precedent when crafting internal policy.

Texas House Interim Charges Prioritize Access to Care - 06/03/2024

In an extension of the 2023 state legislative session, the Texas House remains focused on expanding access among Medicaid, pregnant, and mental health care patients, goals it shares with the Texas Medical Association.

Physicians Must Validate Email to Avoid Medicaid Disenrollment, Payment Delays - 05/29/2024

Texas physicians who care for Medicaid patients should confirm their email address is valid in the Texas Medicaid and Healthcare Partnership’s Provider Enrollment Management System to ensure effective communication and timely payments from the state Medicaid administrator.

TDI Debuts Network Adequacy Waiver Hearings - 05/24/2024

Physicians soon may hear from the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) regarding public hearings for health plans seeking a network adequacy waiver. The hearings are required under a new state law championed by TMA to address inadequate networks and an overused waiver process. Read more.

TMA Urges Framework for Innovative Coverage, Cancer Prevention to Senate Committee - 05/21/2024

As the Texas Senate Committee on Health and Human Services begins its interim investigation into alternatives to employer-based health insurance and cancer prevention efforts, TMA offered recommendations to ensure patients have access to high-quality care. Read more.

New Medicare Advantage Rules Aim to Improve Access, Equity - 05/15/2024

 Medicare Advantage enrollees soon may benefit from expanded access to outpatient behavioral health care and more equitable prior authorization policies.  

TMB Proposed Rules on Abortion Ban Exceptions Invite TMA Opposition - 05/14/2024

The Texas Medical Board (TMB) recently released proposed rules intended to clarify exceptions to the state’s overlapping abortion laws. But TMA argues the proposal could exacerbate physician confusion, administrative burden on practices, and patient care delays. Read more.

TMA House Prioritizes Noncompetes, Physician Payment Reform - 05/13/2024

The TMA House of Delegates adopted several policies intended to alleviate economic pressure on physician practices. Those include directing the association to advocate for more statutory limitations on noncompete agreements in employment contracts and protections from health plans’ problematic payment policies. Read more.

Congressional Committees Grill United CEO Over Cyberattack - 05/13/2024

Federal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle rebuked UnitedHealth Group CEO Andrew Witty for the company’s handling of the recent cyberattack on its subsidiary, Change Healthcare, during back-to-back hearings. TMA has been in touch with members of Congress regarding the attack’s impact on physicians, among other advocacy efforts. Read more.

“Your Voice Has Power:” Dr. Glaucomflecken Lauds Texas Physician Advocacy - 05/09/2024

The experience of a cardiac arrest and surviving testicular cancer – twice – might seem even less funny than incisive critique of the U.S. health care system. But in the hands of Will Flanary, MD, an ophthalmologist in Oregon City, Ore., who moonlights as Dr. Glaucomflecken on social media, these topics occasion cathartic laughter.

Physician-Legislator Burgess Wins TMA’s Highest Honor - 05/08/2024

In recognition of his nearly 50-year career spanning obstetrics-gynecology practice in Lake Dallas and 11 terms in Congress, the Texas Medical Association awarded U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (R-Lewisville), the 2024 Distinguished Service Award at its annual conference, TexMed, in Dallas on May 3.

Drivers Ed: Texas Program Empowers Residents to Address Nonmedical Drivers of Health - 05/06/2024

Spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio developed a residency training program focused on nonmedical factors, related screening tools, and community resources that can help patients in need.

Innovation for Every Age: Texas Primary Care Physicians Improve Access for Older Patients - 05/06/2024

Texas' population is aging, highlighting the importance of access to high-quality, coordinated primary care that bridges complex systems, various clinicians, and concurrent chronic conditions.

Coming Up Short: TMA Workforce Report Underscores Access Challenges, Advocacy Wins - 05/06/2024

While the study highlights positive growth facilitated by TMA’s ongoing advocacy, it shows shortages that mirror those across the health care professional workforce and that are particularly entrenched in rural areas; it also reveals challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and by other factors, economic or otherwise, that have complicated Texas' practice environment and impacted recruitment.

Texas Senate Interim Charges Underscore TMA Legislative Priorities - 04/29/2024

Scope-of-practice creep and access to mental health care are among the 57 charges Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick recently issued for Senate committees to study ahead of the 2025 legislative session. The Texas Medical Association’s advocacy for medicine-friendly policy also continues apace during the interim, with the association closely monitoring several of these charges.

Senate Committee Weighs Medicare Physician Payment Reform - 04/22/2024

Following a months-long, full-court press by the Texas Medical Association and others in organized medicine, Congress recently considered bolstering Medicare physician payment to ensure vulnerable patients’ access to care for chronic conditions during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on April 11.

Feds Extend Marketplace Special Enrollment Amid Medicaid Unwinding - 04/19/2024

Texas patients who have been disenrolled from Medicaid in the wake of the COVID-19 public health emergency now have more time to find alternative coverage on the federal marketplace. The extension could mitigate a coverage cliff about which the Texas Medical Association has long raised concerns.

Practice Viability Consequences of Cyberattack Weighed by House Subcommittee - 04/19/2024

The Feb. 21 cyberattack on Change Healthcare – and its consequences for physician practice viability, industry consolidation, and patient access to care – were the subject of the first of several anticipated congressional hearings on the topic. UnitedHealth Group – notably absent from the hearing – faces mounting pressure to account for the attack.

New Federal Rules Limit Short-Term Insurance Plans, Enhance Protections - 04/17/2024

Following advocacy by the Texas Medical Association, the U.S. departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury recently issued final rules that strengthen consumer protections related to short term, limited duration insurance.

TMA Spotlights Access Threats Posed by No Surprises Act to House Committee - 04/17/2024

Following a recent congressional field hearing on emergency care in rural and underserved communities, the Texas Medical Association emphasized in written comments how federal regulators’ flawed implementation of the No Surprises Act has exacerbated access challenges.