Stories written by Joey Berlin

Legislative Hotline: TMA To Target Prior Authorization in Tuesday’s House Insurance Hearing - 03/08/2021

Medicine’s push for the Texas Legislature to crack down on insurers’ onerous prior authorization requirements kicks into high gear Tuesday. And it begins with a measure the Texas Medical Association sees as basic, unassailable common sense.


Legislative Hotline March 4, 2021: TMA Opposes End-of-Life Care Bill That Poses Threat to “Do No Harm” - 03/05/2021

The Texas Medical Association is once again working to stop legislative attacks on a physician’s sacred creed to “do no harm,” which includes taking care of patients in their last days.


Legislative Hotline, March 3: Physicians Detail Needed Steps to Cut Ranks of the Uninsured - 03/03/2021

In testimony on the health and human services portion of the state budget, two TMA physicians made the case Monday to a house subcommittee that the state’s uninsured rate has impacts that stretch well beyond the well-being of its uninsured patients.


TMB Extends Waiver Allowing Pain Prescription Refills via Telemedicine - 03/02/2021

The Texas Medical Board has extended a waiver until May 1 that allows for refills of prescriptions for chronic pain patients who recently saw their doctor via telemedicine.


Staying the Course: Medicine Enters an Unprecedented Session at the Texas Legislature - 02/28/2021

The way the Texas Legislature conducts business during the 2021 session may look different due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the Texas Medical Association’s commitment to improving health care remains the same. Some of those goals are up against deep cuts to state agency budgets. At the same time, however, the pandemic has created opportunities for medicine to bend lawmakers’ ear on some of its longstanding goals, including advancing access to care, vaccines, health coverage, and telemedicine.


Wrong Directive: Legal Shifts on End-of-Life Care Concern Physicians - 02/27/2021

Challenges to Texas laws governing end-of-life care, whether through legislative rewrites or judicial override, are nothing new. The recent success of those challenges is. In particular, two recent erosions have physicians like Houston palliative care specialist Mark Casanova, MD, chagrined and concerned about the future of doctors’ role in end-of-life treatment.


Outrageous Overreach Medicine Fights Broad Documentation Requests - 02/27/2021

When Andrew Indresano, MD, got a subpoena in January 2019, he found it “a little shocking” and “really invasive.” The Fort Worth orthopedic surgeon wasn’t even part of the personal-injury lawsuit for which he was being asked to produce a backward-looking swath of documents.


Legislative Hotline, Feb. 26: Invest in Coverage Expansion, Medicaid Improvements, TMA Tells Senators - 02/26/2021

With nearly one-fifth of all Texans lacking health care coverage, the Texas Medical Association is urging the  Senate Finance Committee to provide comprehensive, meaningful coverage for the state.


Legislative Hotline Feb. 24, 2021: TMA (Virtually) Takes its Priorities to Washington - 02/25/2021

Coming off perhaps the biggest winter disaster in state history, the Texas Medical Association is working to make sure Washington, D.C., won’t freeze out Texas physicians and patients on their top legislative needs.


Legislative Hotline Feb. 11, 2021: TMA, Lawmakers Seek to Strengthen State Immunization Registry - 02/11/2021

The Texas Medical Association, the Texas Hospital Association, and several state lawmakers stand behind legislation that would fix technological issues with the state’s registry, ImmTrac2, and make entry of a patient’s vaccination data the default.


No Escape: COVID-19 Continues to Exacerbate Physician Burnout - 02/09/2021

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.


Legislative Hotline Feb. 8, 2021: Why Get Involved in TMA Advocacy? “No Better Thing to Do” - 02/08/2021

"It’s vital, it’s important, it’s meaningful." TMA encourages physicians to become involved in advocating for medicine's key issues this legislative session.


Supreme Court Backs TMA on Proof in Workers’ Comp Fee Disputes - 02/04/2021

The state Supreme Court has sided with the Texas Medical Association on a key issue in workers’ compensation administrative fee disputes, ruling that physicians and hospitals don’t have to constantly reprove their case if an insurer appeals a decision.


State Supreme Court Sides With Chiropractors on Neurological Test - 02/02/2021

The Texas Supreme Court has ruled that chiropractors can perform a diagnostic test used to evaluate a patient’s eye movements, a setback for medicine in a 10-year court battle.


Legislative Hotline Jan. 27: Texas’ 2022-23 Budget Proposals: What They Mean for Medicine - 01/27/2021

The Texas House and Senate have both unveiled their starting-point proposals for the 2022-23 budget, and the Texas Medical Association has been digging into the numbers to see what the proposals represent as a starting point for medicine. Here is a look at some of what’s in the two (largely similar) budget offerings.


The Customer Is Always Right? Patient-Reported Outcome Measures Have Fans and Detractors - 01/26/2021

For too long, some doctors say measures of a physician’s quality of care have been about process: the average length of a patient stay, for example, or a patient’s readmission rate. The bottom line is results, and that’s why a shift to patient-reported outcome (PRO) measures is necessary. However, even proponents of PRO measures note that collecting the information from patients for those metrics places burdens on physicians, and some remain skeptical of bonuses and penalties tied to a measure that derives from a subjective factor: what patients think.


Legislative Hotline Jan. 13: House Speaker Chosen as Session Gets Under Way - 01/23/2021

Rapid testing tents were set up on the north side of the Texas Capitol on Tuesday morning as the 87th Legislature commenced. UNDER THE ROTUNDA  The Texas Legislature on Tuesday gaveled in what’s sure to


Medicare Freezes Thresholds for MIPS Exemption - 01/22/2021

If you’re in a Qualifying Alternative Payment Model (APM) in Medicare’s Quality Payment Program (QPP), or you’re considering making the jump, take note: The thresholds for participating this year are now the same as in 2020 thanks to recent federal law.


Hotline Jan. 21, 2021: Physicians to Have Strong Voice in Texas Senate - 01/21/2021

When Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick released the Texas Senate’s committee assignments last week, the Texas Medical Association was pleased to see extensive committee roles carved out for the chamber’s three physician-legislators.


Legislative Hotline Jan. 15: House Adopts Mask Protocol for New Session, Announces Electronic Comment Portal - 01/21/2021

The Texas Legislature finished its last business Thursday before a long early vacation, after the House of Representatives adopted rules for the 2021 session, including a mask requirement on the House floor and the option to electronically submit comments.


Look for Tax Forms on CARES Act Payments - 01/12/2021

It’s tax season, and if you received payments in 2020 through certain federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act programs, be on the lookout for a tax form that includes information on those payments.


The COVID-19 Relief Bill: What It Means For Medicare Payments - 01/11/2021

When Congress passed the omnibus spending and COVID-19 relief bill at the tail end of 2020, it carried important implications for physicians operating under this year’s Medicare physician fee schedule, including some changes that will positively affect doctors’ bottom line.


Proposed CMS Payer Requirements Shouldn’t Burden Physicians, TMA Says - 01/08/2021

A federal proposal that would require more transparency in insurers’ prior authorization denials in Medicaid and more sharing of such information with physicians could improve care delivery, but  also could result in more responsibilities on already overburdened physicians, TMA told the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.


Troubling Trend: Texas’ 2018 QPP Data Contains More Bad Signs - 01/05/2021

As the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services continues to churn out glowing data annually on its Quality Payment Program (QPP), a full picture of the program’s impact eludes the agency’s reporting. According to the Texas Medical Association’s analysis of state-level data in the 2018 QPP Experience Report, it’s clear that small practices continue to feel most of the program’s punitive pressures.


A Different Kind of Patient: CME from TMA Helps Docs ID Human Trafficking Victims - 01/04/2021

A newly revised Texas Medical Association CME teaches physicians how to recognize human trafficking victims who come into their office, and how to help these patients escape what’s sometimes referred to as “modern-day slavery.”