Legal

Texas Prepares to Implement “Gold Card” Prior Auth Bill - 11/30/2021

Soon, physicians who’ve had their fill of insurers’ burdensome prior authorizations will have the chance to earn their way out of them. The Texas Medical Association wants to make sure the  new law giving doctors that “golden” opportunity will be implemented as intended – and is pushing back against health plans’ attempts to reduce its impact.


Update: OSHA Halts Enforcement of Federal Vaccine Mandate - 11/23/2021

For now, the Biden administration’s sweeping vaccination requirement for large employers is on hold after a federal appeals court blocked the regulation from going into effect, quickly responding to a lawsuit from Texas and other states. If eventually implemented, however, the administration’s rule, issued as part of a pair of regulations on Nov. 4, will carry implications for physicians in larger practice settings.


TMA White Paper: Does COVID-19 Vaccine Passport Ban Affect Your Practice? - 10/21/2021

If you run a business, any business – including a medical practice – you may be subject to Texas’ new law barring businesses from requiring customers to produce COVID-19 vaccine documentation – now known in common parlance as a “vaccine passport.”


Offering Access to Patients With Limited English Proficiency - 10/19/2021

Under the Affordable Care Act and accompanying federal rules, certain medical practices must take “reasonable steps” to provide meaningful access to people with limited English proficiency (LEP). A new Texas Medical Association white paper provides members with information on their LEP obligations under the law and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rulemaking, including the most recent rules published in 2020.


Know Your ADA Obligations - 10/11/2021

If someone asked you about your training on federal requirements for accommodating patients with disabilities, would your answer sound something like this? “Oh golly. I have no idea. I’m sure I had to read or study something sometime. I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve been a doctor for quite a while, so I suspect I had to learn it somewhere, but I don’t remember where.” That’s an actual answer from one internal medicine physician in a recent study of doctors’ knowledge of their legal obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). And if the results of that small study are any indication, many physicians might be lacking in their knowledge on the subject.  


TMA Argues to Overturn Physician Dispensing Ban - 07/15/2021

Two Texas physicians are taking on the state’s general ban on physicians dispensing medications out of their offices, now with support from the Texas Medical Association for their argument that the prohibition does more to protect pharmacies than patient care.


DSHS Receives CDC Grant to Help Identify, Report Birth Defects - 07/07/2021

The state of Texas received an assist in combating birth defects when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded the Texas Department of State Health Services a grant for improved surveillance and diagnosis totaling $300,000 per year for five years, the state agency announced.


Dispensing With Reason? Overturning State Ban on Providing Drugs From Physician Offices - 07/03/2021

Only a handful of states effectively ban physicians from dispensing medications out of their offices. Texas is one of them. Two Texas physicians have taken their case to the courts, arguing that the ban is unconstitutional because it does more to protect pharmacies than it does to protect patients. And TMA is lending its support to that argument.


Livelihood on the Line: Surgeon Sues Hospital over Alleged Disparagement, Malicious Peer Review - 06/10/2021

San Antonio cardiothoracic surgeon sues hospital over alleged disparagement, malicious peer. In less than two years, San Antonio cardiothoracic surgeon J. Marvin Smith III, MD, says his distinguished surgical career spanning about five decades was effectively wiped out.


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.


New CMS Rule Allows More Physician Self-Referrals Under “Stark Law” - 12/04/2020

Physicians who have financial relationships with medical services facilities, such as labs and imaging services, are able to refer more Medicare or Medicaid patients to those facilities under a final rule published this week.


Preserving Do No Harm: Supreme Court Tosses Challenge to Medical Ethics Committee Law - 10/13/2020

Twenty years after it took effect, Texas’ medical ethics committee review law has withstood challenge after challenge. The Texas Supreme Court is on the verge of ending the latest high-profile attack on the law that ensures physicians can uphold their professional obligation to “do no harm.” In October 2019, the state’s high court declined to take up Kelly v. Houston Methodist Hospital, in which the mother of a deceased patient attempted to overturn a provision of the Texas Advance Directives Act. Justices’ action leaves intact an appeals court decision that preserves physicians’ ability to use their medical judgment in end-of-life cases.


Dulling the Pain of Future Damages: High Court Ruling Addresses Periodic Payments - 09/02/2020

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


Pandemic Poses Legal Pitfalls: TMA Seeks Better Liability Shields - 08/03/2020

Under Texas law, physicians treating COVID-19 patients in a volunteer capacity have potential defenses against lawsuits that might arise from that care. But for non-volunteer physicians on the COVID battlefield – often working in harrowing, overloaded settings, high on patient count and low on equipment – the same liability shields don’t exist. And with a resurgence in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations taking hold in June, the Texas Medical Association continued its pandemic-long push to extend liability protections to all frontline physicians, volunteer or not.


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.


“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.


TMA to TMB: Let Docs Decide Whether In-Person Visit Needed For Subsequent Opioid Scrips - 03/06/2020

The Texas Medical Association has some suggestions for the Texas Medical Board on how to implement the state’s new 10-day limit on opioid prescriptions for acute pain. A letter to the board says it should be up to the physician’s judgment whether a non-initial 10-day prescription for acute pain requires seeing a patient in-person.


Wage Rule Extends Overtime to More Employees - 02/07/2020

Some of your employees may have become newly eligible for overtime pay on Jan. 1. The U.S. Department of Labor has increased the minimum salary for exempt employees to $684 per week – $35,568 annually – from the previous level of $455 per week ($23,660 annually). Any employee earning less than $684 per week is automatically nonexempt and thus eligible for overtime pay.


Finally Settled: Hospitals Settle Physician's Anti-Competition Lawsuit - 01/08/2020

A Laredo oncologist confidentially settled a years-long lawsuit involving a pair of hospitals he alleged mischaracterized a past legal misfortune to terminate his privileges and eliminate his clinic from competing with the facilities.


TMA Supports Medical Ethics Committee Review Law in Latest Challenge - 12/20/2019

TMA has joined several other organizations on a friend-of-the-court brief in a case challenging the state's medical ethics committee review law. In the most recent challenge, the mother of a 10-month-old girl who since birth has been on life-support at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, has sued the hospital and obtained a temporary restraining order to keep her daughter on life support.


Warning: Watch Your Referrals - 10/01/2019

Federal anti-kickback law has changed, and it’s gotten broader. As a result, you may need to re-examine your practice’s compensation arrangements. That includes payments for laboratory referrals.  


No Docs of All Trades: Ruling Reinforces Expert Witness Reforms - 09/26/2019

Before Texas’ landmark liability reforms passed in 2003, gray areas in the law often led to serious green for people who sued physicians.


Fighting Back: Practice Wins Court Battle Over Defamatory Online Reviews - 09/03/2019

One practice’s recent legal battle epitomizes physicians’ worst nightmares when it comes to online reviews. Here’s an extreme but glaring real world example, straight from the documents in a lawsuit that Austin Eye first filed in October 2017 over


Court Rejects Hospital Challenge to Defamation Lawsuit - Again - 08/21/2019

Once again, Houston cardiothoracic surgeon Miguel Gomez, MD, has won in court in his battle to collect more than $6 million from Memorial Hermann Health System in a defamation lawsuit.


Medical Futility Law Sustained - 08/02/2019

Court tosses out challenge to ethics committee review of end-of-life care.