Stories written by Steve Levine

Texas Neighborhoods Worlds Apart in Life Expectancy - 10/08/2019

The Houston-based Episcopal Health Foundation last week issued a report comparing the life expectancy at birth of someone born in each of Texas’ 4,709 census tracts. Given the growing recognition of the importance of social determinants of health, I thought I’d dive into the report to find some good examples to share with you. I didn’t realize how deep that dive would become.


Fix Medicare Now, TMA Tells Feds - 10/01/2019

Unless the federal government increases physicians’ Medicare payments and overhauls Medicare’s hassle-laden Quality Payment Program (QPP), access to health care for millions of American seniors and people with disabilities “is at risk,” the Texas Medical Association told Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma.


Is Your School a Vaccine-Exemption Hot Spot? - 09/18/2019

Students have returned to public schools across the state, and most parents have ensured that their children have all the necessary immunizations. But an ever-growing number have not.


Send TMA Your Prior Auth Nightmare Stories - 09/18/2019

Arbitrary. Confusing. Frustrating. Never-ending. Maddening. Those are some of the terms we can actually print that describe physicians’ perceptions of insurance companies’ prior authorization requirements and approval processes. Your personal stories of patient harm due to prior authorization request delays or denials can give the Texas Medical Association the ammunition it needs to fight this problem. Please submit your stories via email to the TMA Payment Advocacy Department.


Eanes Schools Near Top of Vaccine Exemption List - 09/03/2019

The Eanes Independent School District ranks fifth among major Texas school districts with the largest share of students claiming a conscientious exemption from mandatory vaccines.


Northwest, Keller, and Aledo Schools Near Top of Vaccine Exemption List - 09/03/2019

Three Tarrant County school districts rank among the major Texas school districts with the largest share of students claiming a conscientious exemption from mandatory vaccines.


Boerne Schools Near Top of Vaccine Exemption List - 08/30/2019

The Boerne Independent School District ranks fourth among major Texas school districts with the largest share of students claiming a conscientious exemption from mandatory vaccines.


Prosper, McKinney Schools Near Top of Vaccine Exemption List - 08/30/2019

Two Collin County school districts rank among the major Texas school districts with the largest share of students claiming a conscientious exemption from mandatory vaccines.


Dripping Springs, Lake Travis Schools Top Vaccine Exemption List - 08/30/2019

The two major Texas school districts with the largest share of students claiming a conscientious exemption from mandatory vaccines are Dripping Springs and Lake Travis.


Austin Schools Top Vaccine Exemption List - 08/30/2019

The Austin Independent School District has the largest share of students claiming a conscientious exemption from mandatory vaccines among the state’s biggest school districts.


Round Rock Schools Near Top of Vaccine Exemption List - 08/30/2019

The Round Rock Independent School District ranks third among Texas’ big school districts with the largest share of students claiming a conscientious exemption from mandatory vaccines.


Friendswood Schools Near Top of Vaccine Exemption List - 08/30/2019

The Friendswood Independent School District ranks ninth among major Texas school districts with the largest share of students claiming a conscientious exemption from mandatory vaccines.


Denton Schools Top Vaccine Exemption List - 08/30/2019

The Denton Independent School District has the largest share of students claiming a conscientious exemption from mandatory vaccines among the state’s big school districts.


Tell Congress: Protect Patients, Not Health Plans - 08/16/2019

Our U.S. senators and representatives are back home in Texas for the August recess, and Texas Medical Association President David Fleeger, MD, says their physician-constituents need to contact them to make sure they stop the surprise medical billing epidemic in a way that helps our patients – not big insurance companies.


Report Positions TMA Response to Firearms Violence - 08/13/2019

“The physicians of Texas continue to grieve with our fellow Texans over yet another heinous episode of gun violence,” Texas Medical Association President David C. Fleeger, MD, said. “This is more than a public safety problem – this is a public health crisis. Thus, it will require public health type solutions.”


Texan Continues String of Woman AMA Presidents - 08/02/2019

After 151 years of all-male leadership at the American Medical Association, a family physician from Texas broke through the glass ceiling on June 17, 1998. Twenty-one years later, another Texas physician is set to become the AMA’s sixth woman president – and its third in a row.


TMA Pushes to End Surprise Bills – The Right Way - 07/10/2019

TMA’s chief lobbyist is working Capitol Hill this week to pass a bill that spares patients the pain of surprise bills but doesn’t give health insurance companies complete control over what it pays physicians who treat patients out of network.


Retiring the R-Word: The Right Thing to Do - 07/03/2019

The AMA House of Delegates last month adopted policy that would put the first three phrases on the verboten list for physicians. Kudos to the delegates for recognizing that words, especially in the mouths and pens of powerful people like physicians, really do matter.


AMA House Punts on Texas Plan to Fix QPP - 06/26/2019

A decision on whether the American Medical Association (AMA) will join the Texas Medical Association’s call for major changes to Medicare’s Quality Payment Program (QPP) will have to wait a few more months, the AMA House of Delegates decided at its annual meeting in Chicago last week. The QPP overhaul was just one of 11 resolutions the Texas delegation to the AMA took to the five-day meeting. Most of the other 10 received a very warm welcome.


Houston Physician Is AMA Board Chair-To-Be - 06/17/2019

In 2020, Texas physicians will hold the largest reins of power at the American Medical Association. The AMA Board of Trustees last week chose Russell W.H. Kridel, MD, a facial plastic surgeon from Houston, as its new chair-elect. Dr. Kridel has been a board member since 2014 and served as secretary of the board last year. He will become chair following the AMA’s annual meeting in June 2020.


AMA Taps Texas Physician As Next President - 06/10/2019

Susan Rudd Bailey, MD, an allergist from Fort Worth, was unanimously elected today by the American Medical Association House of Delegates to be the next AMA president. “Challenging times remain for our health care system,” she told the delegates


Milestone Shows How Far Women Have Come in Medicine - 06/07/2019

After 151 years of all-male leadership at the nation’s largest physician organization, a family physician from Texas broke through the glass ceiling at the American Medical Association on June 17, 1998. Twenty-one years later, another Texas physician is poised to become the AMA’s sixth woman president – and its third in a row.


Texans Invite AMA to Join Crusade to Fix QPP - 06/04/2019

Don’t be surprised if the members of the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates leave their annual meeting next week talking with a Texas drawl. Not only is Fort Worth allergist Sue Bailey, MD, likely to be picked as the next AMA president; not only are Texans represented at almost every level of AMA leadership; not only is there a special reception honoring Louis J. Goodman, PhD, who is retiring as CEO of the Texas Medical Association; there’s also this little matter of 11 policy proposals the Texas delegation has submitted for the AMA house to consider.


An In-Your-Face Confrontation With the Anti-Vaccine Movement - 05/10/2019

Call it fate, karma, destiny. It was written in his stars, in his professional DNA. It had to happen. Houston pediatrician and microbiologist Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, just had to write Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism.


When the Sausage Starts to Smell - 05/09/2019

Today and tomorrow in the Texas House of Representatives are not for the meek or faint of heart. Sometimes even the boldest of women and men just have to look away.