Stories written by Joey Berlin

Enrollment for Marketplace Plans Extended by One Month - 09/24/2021

The Biden-Harris administration has announced a 30-day extension of the upcoming open enrollment period for federal marketplace health plans available through HealthCare.gov, as well as a new monthly special enrollment period targeting people with low incomes.


TMA: Use Rescue Act Funds for Long-COVID Research, Improved Access to Care - 09/24/2021

Following its second letter to key state lawmakers about the best uses for one-time federal COVID-19 relief funding, the House of Medicine has established a broad vision for how that money could help Texas patients and physicians.


Payment Process Problematic Under Federal Surprise Billing Rules - 09/22/2021

The Texas Medical Association has weighed in on federal rulemaking to help curb surprise medical bills, telling federal authorities medicine supports many patient protections in the rules – but is deeply concerned with a key piece of the criteria to determine fair payments for out-of-network care.


HHSC: COVID Vaccine Documentation Can’t Be Required for Medicaid Treatment - 09/22/2021

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) is notifying practitioners who see Medicaid patients that those patients can’t be required to provide documentation of their COVID-19 vaccination status as a condition of receiving services under Texas Medicaid.


TMA White Paper: How to Prohibit Handguns on Private Property - 09/21/2021

Texas’ public handgun-carrying policies – and the rights of certain businesses and private property owners to prohibit the carrying of handguns – have garnered a great deal of legislative and media attention over the past several years, most recently with the Texas Legislature’s passage of permitless carry legislation earlier this year.


OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Standards Raise Concerns for Physician Practices - 09/20/2021

New COVID-19 emergency standards that the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enacted last month “could harm the financial viability of many physician practices, potentially backfiring” on the Biden administration’s attempts to improve access to care, the Texas Medical Association is telling the U.S. Department of Labor.


Take Three: COVID Relief Funds, Local Vaccine Mandates on Third Special Session Agenda - 09/19/2021

As anticipated, the Texas Legislature will return for a third 2021 special session – and fourth session overall this year – with federal COVID-19 relief funds on the agenda and the House of Medicine hoping to influence how lawmakers will allocate those funds.


No Escape: COVID-19 Continues to Exacerbate Physician Burnout - 09/17/2021

The malaise in physician practice long known as burnout – a term doctors increasingly balk at – has been exacerbated by the pandemic, as an extensive survey by the Physicians Foundation recently showed. It’s created its own stressors and made existing ones worse.


CDC: Lightly Researched THC Compound May Lurk in CBD Products - 09/15/2021

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning physicians, public health departments, and others about insufficiently labeled cannabidiol (CBD) products that may contain a certain compound of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that creates the psychotropic high for marijuana users.


Funding Opportunity: Boost Health Equity - 09/14/2021

Using $2 million it received from a federal government award, the American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM) is offering a funding opportunity for physician practices looking to help minority groups disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.


Obstacles to Clear - 09/13/2021

Barriers stand in the way of physicians playing a greater role in addressing the social determinants of health, but awareness of those factors is increasing, and progress is happening.


TMA: Boost Tech With COVID-19 Relief Funds - 09/13/2021

With connectivity on its mind, the House of Medicine logged in to a dialogue with state leaders and inputted its first official suggestions about how to distribute $16 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds.


Cures Act Changes Medical Records Requirements: TMA White Paper - 09/10/2021

Keep up to date with your requirements under the law when it comes to medical record releases with the Texas Medical Association’s recently updated white paper, “Patient Access and Consent to the Release of Medical Records." The updates account for recent changes to federal law.


Update: Enrollment Closes This Week For COVID-19 Antibody Response Survey - 09/10/2021

Texans between the ages of 5 and 80 can sign up to help The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) in its ongoing effort to improve science’s understanding of COVID-19 through the Texas Coronavirus Antibody Response Survey (Texas CARES).


Report: Most Private Payers Have Stopped COVID Cost-Sharing Waivers - 09/08/2021

Private health insurance plans have largely stopped waiving patient cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatment, according to a recent report by the Peterson Center on Healthcare and Kaiser Family Foundation. The data represent an overwhelming shift from payer cost-sharing policies during 2020 as indicated by previous research.


Medicaid Relaxes Prior Authorization for Hep C Antiviral Drugs - 09/06/2021

For years, Texas Medicaid patients with hepatitis C haven’t had access to overwhelmingly effective, often-curative antiviral therapy unless they had advanced liver disease. In many cases, getting the antiviral drugs at that point was too little, too late.


Federal Law Offers Physicians COVID-19 Liability Protections - 09/03/2021

While the Texas Legislature passed stronger liability protections in Senate Bill 6, giving physicians breathing room to respond to a pandemic emergency, federal liability protections installed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic also give doctors some latitude and peace of mind – specifically, around COVID-19 testing, drug treatment, and vaccinations.


Help Louisiana Medicaid Patients Affected by Hurricane Ida - 09/02/2021

If you’d like to lend medical services to people from Louisiana affected by Hurricane Ida, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has released information on how Texas physicians can help Louisiana Medicaid recipients.


Restrictions on School Masking Unlikely to Pass Legislature - 09/02/2021

As the final days of the Texas Legislature’s second special session dwindle, it appears certain that lawmakers will not advance any bills on masking requirements in schools. That’s good news for the Texas Medical Association, which has helped scuttle attempts to undercut local decisionmaking authority on masking.


TMA in the Thick of Legislature’s Masking Authority Talks - 09/01/2021

An eventful Monday evening in the Texas Legislature featured the near-certain death of a bill that would prohibit public schools from requiring masks – thanks to fervent Texas Medical Association advocacy.


New State Hospital Visitation Law “Tricky” Amid COVID - 08/27/2021

When the Texas Legislature debated hospital visitation restrictions in this year’s regular session, it was a microcosm of what society has been wrangling with for a year and a half now.


FDA Grants Full Approval to Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine - 08/23/2021

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine became the first to receive full approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday following what the agency described as a thorough and rigorous review process.


Update: HHS Unveils Plan for Third Shots of Pfizer, Moderna Vaccines - 08/20/2021

The federal government Wednesday announced a plan to offer booster shots for the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines beginning in about a month, subject to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “conducting an independent evaluation and determination of the safety and effectiveness” of those third shots.


DSHS Asks Vaccine Administrators to Prepare for COVID-19 Boosters - 08/19/2021

Following the federal government’s announcement of its plan to offer booster shots for the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is asking those who are providing those vaccines to review their inventories, and identify and contact patients “who fall within the suggested booster schedule.”


CDC Recommends Pfizer, Moderna Booster for Immunocompromised - 08/17/2021

If you have patients with moderately to severely compromised immune systems, and they received either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine series, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now recommending a third shot.