Stories written by Joey Berlin

Imaging Contrast Shortage Highlights Need for Relaxed Prior Auth - 06/27/2022

A shortage of iodinated contrast media resulting from recent COVID-19 lockdowns in China has put a focus on prior authorization barriers that unnecessarily impede the imaging services patients need to ensure timely care.


Monkeypox Wave Intensifies; Get Educated With TMA Fact Sheet - 06/24/2022

The monkeypox outbreak in the U.S. is now the worst documented wave of the disease in the nation’s history, surpassing the previous one in 2003. As cases of this rarely seen disease climb, the Texas Medical Association’s Committee on Infectious Diseases has put together a four-page fact sheet, Monkeypox: What Physicians Need to Know, to help educate physicians.


Post-Uvalde, TMA Urges State Support for Mental Health Care and Child Interventions - 06/24/2022

As state lawmakers chart a path forward after the Robb Elementary school shooting in Uvalde last month, the Texas Medical Association is offering stories of hope that illustrate promising potential solutions: investments in mental health systems that can intervene before a troubled youth becomes a perpetrator of gun violence.


CDC Recommends COVID Vaccines for Kids as Young as 6 Months - 06/21/2022

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended two COVID-19 vaccines that now can be used for children between 6 months and 5 years old, meaning physicians and other vaccinators can begin giving those shots – and they’re now available for ordering through the state’s Vaccine Allocation & Ordering System.


State Webinar: COVID Vaccines for Kids Under 5 - 06/17/2022

The Texas Department of State Health Services is holding its latest Texas Vaccine Provider Webinar, focusing on the launch of COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5, today from noon to 1:30 pm CT.


Physician-Led Results: Grassroots Advocacy Paid Off in Tangible Wins at the Capitol - 06/15/2022

Texas physicians made the most of an extraordinary, scaled-back session of the Texas Legislature in 2021. They helped pass laws to curb prior authorization hassles; keep physicians from incurring new practice costs; install liability protections for future pandemics like COVID-19; extend postpartum Medicaid coverage for new mothers; and keep graduate medical education (GME) fully funded. And so much more.


Federal Prior Auth Bill Filed in Congress - 06/15/2022

U.S. Rep. Michael C. Burgess, MD (R-Lewisville), is following his fellow Texas physicians’ lead on curbing insurers’ hassle-laden prior authorization burdens, introducing a federal bill similar to the “gold-card” law the Texas Medical Association proposed and championed into law at the state level.


Monkeypox Cases Resurface; CDC Urges Vigilance - 06/09/2022

With cases of monkeypox recently reported in several countries that don’t normally have that virus – including at least one confirmed case in the U.S. – federal health authorities are advising physicians to be on the lookout for the characteristic rash usually associated with monkeypox.


Feds Scrap TMA-Opposed SUNSET Regulation-Review Rule - 06/03/2022

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has turned out the lights on a “sunset” rule requiring extensive federal review of thousands of regulations, which the Texas Medical Association and others in organized medicine believed would needlessly divert HHS’ attention from the COVID-19 pandemic.


Preorder COVID Vaccines for Ages 6 Months to 5 Years - 06/03/2022

State health authorities are asking COVID-19 vaccinators who will immunize children from ages 6 months through 5 years to preorder the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that will collectively serve that age group once they’re approved.


CDC: COVID “Rebound” Chance Doesn’t Affect Paxlovid Recommendation - 05/31/2022

Despite the possibility of a symptom recurrence after a COVID-19 patient is treated with Paxlovid, that antiviral drug remains recommended for initial COVID treatment, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in a recent health alert.


Dulling the Pain of Future Damages: High Court Ruling Addresses Periodic Payments - 05/31/2022

Texas Supreme Court decision carries new implications for periodic payment of future medical expenses.


“Black Robes, Not White Coats”: Can Courts Compel Unproven Treatments? - 05/31/2022

COVID-19 patients and their families have involved judges and attorneys in an effort to compel physicians to treat the disease in unproven ways, against their medical judgment. And in some cases around the country, patients’ families have been successful in getting a court order to do so. The Texas Medical Association’s Committee on Patient-Physician Advocacy, while not directly involved in such cases, has a keen interest in making sure physicians can exercise their medical judgment.


Picking the Right Battles: TMA Stands Up for Medicine in the Courts - 05/31/2022

When a big point of legal contention arises – “big” meaning impactful for Texas physicians and their patients – the Texas Medical Association responds big. That’s been the case for decades, including in the courts. 


Surgeon General Sounds Alarm on Physician Burnout, Recommends Corrective Steps - 05/27/2022

The U.S. surgeon general is calling attention to health care worker burnout and issuing recommendations to improve well-being for physicians and others.


CDC Issues New Recommendations on Possible Adenovirus-Hepatitis Cases - 05/25/2022

As cases of pediatric hepatitis climb across the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its previous health alert on the threat with more recommendations for clinicians.


CDC Probing Monkeypox Case in Dallas - 05/24/2022

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating a case of monkeypox in a person who was diagnosed with the virus after traveling from Nigeria to Dallas.


CDC Signs Off on COVID Booster for Ages 5-11 - 05/20/2022

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s immunization advisory committee has approved Pfizer COVID-19 booster doses for children aged 5 to 11.


Fed Advisors Want Physician Input on Federal Surprise Billing Provision - 05/18/2022

A workgroup that advises the federal government on health information technology matters is asking for physicians’ input on an important, but unrefined, provision of the federal No Surprises Act that isn’t yet being enforced. It’s a piece of the law that the Texas Medical Association fears might create more administrative burden for physicians.


Surgeon’s Multimillion-Dollar Defamation Award Tossed by Texas Supreme Court - 05/16/2022

The Texas Supreme Court has nullified a $6.4 million jury verdict for a Houston cardiothoracic surgeon in his lawsuit alleging defamation and business disparagement by Memorial Hermann Hospital System.    


Data Transfer Problems Burdensome for Practices, TMA Tells Feds - 05/11/2022

The federal government is trying to standardize data sharing so electronic health records (EHRs) across the country can all speak the same language. The Texas Medical Association is telling the government to keep working on it.


Hospital Ownership the Focus of New Medicare Report - 05/09/2022

In an effort to analyze the impact of consolidation within the health care system, Medicare for the first time has released data on mergers and acquisitions for enrolled hospitals and nursing homes between 2016 and 2022. The action follows up on the Biden Administration's Executive Order on Promoting Competition.


Dialing In on Disparities: CDC Grant Helps Texas Tackle COVID-Aggravated Health Gaps - 05/06/2022

It’s a short-term federal grant that Stephen Pont, MD, hopes can make a long-term impact.


Medicare Advantage Plans Wrongly Denied Prior Auth, Payment Requests, Fed Report Shows - 05/06/2022

About 13% of prior authorization denials in Medicare Advantage likely prevented or delayed necessary care, according to an analysis by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General. The report also found that nearly one-fifth of the time Medicare Advantage plans denied payment requests when the request met Medicare coverage rules and should have earned approval.


CDC Issues Warning About Hepatitis-Adenovirus Link - 05/03/2022

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning clinicians who encounter hepatitis in pediatric patients to consider testing them for adenovirus, following diagnosis of both diseases in nine patients in Alabama.