Stories written by Joey Berlin

Some Clarity, Some Fog: AG Opines on Physician-Optometrist Relationship - 07/01/2020

An opinion by the Texas attorney general will keep the Texas Optometry Board (TOB) from exerting influence over the practice of medicine – to a certain point.


Covered for COVID? Business Interruption Insurance Could Come in Handy - 07/01/2020

Business interruption insurance could come in handy for losses related to COVID-19.


The Tele-Future is Now: Will Telemedicine's Footprint Be Permanent Post-COVID-19? - 07/01/2020

COVID-19 threw Texas physicians headlong into telemedicine. Will its increased footprint be permanent? Physicians tell Texas Medicine that depends how telemedicine will be regulated and paid for.


Buying Time: Medicine’s Warnings Prompt CMS to Delay Dramatic Coding and Payment Changes - 06/23/2020

Medicine’s warnings prompt CMS to delay dramatic coding and payment changes.


Pharmacy Board Limits Chloroquine Prescriptions - 06/19/2020

Per the National Institutes of Health (NIH) COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines, which cites insufficient clinical data, the Texas Medical Association COVID-19 Task Force recommends against using chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, “except in a clinical trial.”


Cases Up, Deaths Down; What’s Going On With COVID-19 in Texas? - 06/17/2020

Texas Medicine Today reached out to several leading public health experts to try to make sense of the data and find out what the numbers are telling us about that current status of the COVID-19 pandemic in Texas.


TMA to State: Protect Physician Pay, Women’s Health Programs from Budget Cuts - 06/04/2020

The Texas Medical Association is applauding state leaders’ decision to leave Medicaid and CHIP benefits out of a planned 5% budget reduction for 2020-21. But TMA also is asking the state to protect physicians’ Medicaid payments and women’s health programs from its cuts.


Tort Reform on Trial: Houston Case Challenges Noneconomic Damage Cap - 06/01/2020

Houston case poses challenge to key tort reform limit on noneconomic damages.


Running Out of Reasons: Low Payments, Hassles Leave Physicians Wondering: Why stay in Medicare? - 06/01/2020

Texas physicians who deal with Medicare’s substandard payments and world-class administrative hassles are feeling underappreciated. The latest report from the committee that advises Congress on Medicare payment policy may exacerbate that feeling. In March, the Medicare Payment Advisory Committee (MedPAC) released its annual report assessing payments to physicians, among other sectors. MedPAC recommended no changes to the 2021 Medicare physician fee schedule, meaning no increase in physician payments.  


Buying Time: Comptroller Delays Medical Billing Tax Until October 2021 - 06/01/2020

Comptroller delays medical billing tax until October 2021, giving TMA a chance to work out a legislative fix.


Palpable Fear: COVID-19's Toll on Physician Morale and Mental Health - 06/01/2020

As COVID-19 ravaged human lives, it also took a toll on physician morale and mental health.


COVID-19 Contact Tracing Starts With You in the Exam Room - 05/22/2020

Physicians provide immeasurable assistance to the effort when they collect and document histories for patients with a suspected COVID-19 diagnosis. That can include information about other people in the patient’s household, those contacts’ phone numbers, and information about their health.


Texas Physicians Adjust to Electronic Communication - 05/12/2020

  Texas physicians adjust to electronic communication.


TMA Brings its Fite: Incoming TMA President Diana Fite, MD - 05/04/2020

Incoming TMA President Diana Fite, MD, plans to take on low Medicaid pay and the litany of intrusions taking time away from patient care and contributing to physician burnout


Back to the Heart - 04/30/2020

Cancer survivor Lee Tomlinson will stress compassionate care at TexMed 2020.


“Absurd” Contract Dodge Rejected: Court Lets Cancer Center’s Debt-Collection Suit Proceed - 04/30/2020

Appeals court denies “free speech” challenge to cancer center’s debt-collection suit.


No Double-Dipping: Tacking Settlement Money onto Negligence Awards at Issue - 04/30/2020

Like many broad legislative measures, Texas’ 2003 medical liability reforms continue to be a target for opponents long after being signed into law. The Texas Medical Association is fighting again to defend them. The measure under siege this time prevents patients who file negligence or other lawsuits from adding to their damage award through family members’ settlements stemming from the same case – that is, no “double-dipping.”


Clear as Mud? Federal Rule Will Mandate Hospitals to Post Prices on a Menu of Services - 04/30/2020

From electronic health records to quality reporting, today’s physicians deal with plenty of distractions from patient care. Starting in 2021, hospital-employed physicians may find themselves adding another one: explaining to patients the difference between their hospital’s multiple published prices for the same service.


The Power of Data: UTHealth Publishes Claims Statistics - 04/30/2020

After three years of work, the Center for Healthcare Data at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth is sharing part of its growing trove of numbers for data-driven discussions on many aspects of health care in Texas. The center doesn’t have all the answers. But its work under a federal certification from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has resulted in valuable state and regional statistics that the center leaders believe provide food not only for thought, but also for policy.


Testing, Containing New Infections Key to Plan to Reopen Texas - 04/28/2020

When Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that he will relax some limitations on public gatherings and non-urgent elective surgeries beginning May 1, he also unveiled a plan to reopen Texas businesses that calls for a phased approach that emphasizes testing and contact tracing.


“Overlooked” Pediatricians Fight for Survival During Pandemic - 04/23/2020

As state and federal governments distribute funds and waivers to help health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas pediatricians feel their needs have been unmet.


Governor Loosens Surgery Restrictions in Plan to Reopen State - 04/17/2020

Saying the state “must be guided by data and by doctors,” Gov. Greg Abbott loosened coronavirus-prompted restrictions on surgeries and procedures as part of three executive orders issued Friday to start bringing Texas back to economic normalcy.


Appropriate Use of Time? Medicare Rules for Advanced Imaging Orders Pose Prior-Auth Burdens - 04/09/2020

An effective way to cut down on overuse of potentially harmful imaging, or a prior authorization-esque burden on physicians who order needed tests? Texas physicians see Medicare’s “appropriate use” system for advanced imaging both ways. As of Jan. 1, physicians ordering advanced imaging tests for Medicare patients must consult an electronic portal, which evaluates whether the test meets Medicare’s own “appropriate use criteria” for whether a test should be ordered. Then when the claim is filed, physicians must document that they checked the system and its determination.  


TMA Asks Governor for Liability Protections During COVID-19 - 04/06/2020

As physicians and other health care workers risk their health, stretch themselves thin, and deal with uncertain availability of resources to fight COVID-19, the Texas Medical Association is asking Gov. Greg Abbott to restrict litigation stemming from the pandemic.


Seeking a Measure of Reason: TMA Joins Collaborative to Standardize Quality Metrics - 03/31/2020

TMA joins collaborative seeking to identify and standardize quality metrics.