Stories written by Emma Freer

Under Construction: Alternative Payment Models Pose Challenges for Specialists - 06/24/2022

Many physician specialists face a conundrum: Without a dedicated alternative payment model in place for their specialty, there's little incentive for them to break away from the fee-for-service paradigm.


What's New in Value-Based Care: TMA Task Force, Payment Models Accelerate Shift from Fee-for-Service - 06/24/2022

Once dubbed unicorns, value-based care (VBC) models that eschew fee-for-service payment in favor of rewarding quality have materialized; the Texas Medical Association aims to be on the crest of this wave with the formation of its new Task Force on Alternative Payment Models.


Value-Based Care for All: Practices of All Sizes Can Make the Switch - 06/24/2022

Moving away from fee-for-service requires taking on risk as well as hiring staff, launching new programs, and investing in data analysis, but practices of all stripes have made the switch successfully.


State Leaders Issue Proposals for School Safety, Mental Health Funding - 06/21/2022

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) called on state leaders to spend nearly $180 million on mental health and school safety programs in a series of proposals following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde last month.


Feds Declare “Long COVID” a Disability - 06/10/2022

Although the pandemic rages on, there may be some relief in sight for people with lingering effects from COVID 19 infection – or “long COVID” – as well as consequences for the physicians who treat and employ them. The Biden administration in late


TMA Fighting to Stop Yet Another Medicare Pay Cut – and Looking for System Overhaul - 06/08/2022

After decades of Medicare physician pay cuts – the latest of which is set to take effect on July 1 – the Texas Medical Association and others in organized medicine have set their sights on comprehensive reform.


Voice of Reason: TMA’s Board of Councilors Tackles Ethical Policymaking - 06/08/2022

Established in 1903, the Board of Councilors renders and updates opinions on matters of medical ethics, from abortion and medical use of cannabis to physician-assisted suicide and restrictive covenants, among other responsibilities.


Protect Your Practice With TMA CME - 06/06/2022

Recent mass shootings, including at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on March 24 and at a medical office building in Tulsa, Okla., on June 1, have spotlighted the tragic need for attack preparedness.


What's Next for Prior Authorization: Texas' 'Gold Card' Law Winds Through Rulemaking - 05/31/2022

Physician advocates, alongside the Texas Medical Association, are looking to this fall’s legislative races as they monitor the rulemaking underway to implement the "Gold Card" law and prepare to push for additional reforms during the 2023 legislative session that kicks off in January.


Contract Do’s and Don’ts: How to Negotiate From a Place of Strength - 05/31/2022

By leaning on Texas Medical Association resources and their own health care attorney, physicians can gain confidence and better negotiate favorable terms to secure their economic success.


Information Unblocked: Rules Requiring Docs to Give Patients Prompt Access to EHRs Prove Mostly Useful - 05/31/2022

The information blocking regulations stemming from the 21st Century Cures Act, which Congress passed in 2016, broaden patients' access to their electronic medical records and have proven mostly useful since taking effect in April 2021.


Cigna to Request Records for Certain Office Visits, Unleashing Possible “Administrative Nightmare” - 05/26/2022

Cigna recently began alerting physicians to a new billing policy that could have far-reaching consequences for Texas physicians, practice staff, and patients.


Texas Medicare Contractor Answers Critical Care Coding Questions - 05/25/2022

Confused about how to quantify critical care services or delegate such services to nonphysician practitioners? You’re in luck.


Peaks From the Valley: E. Linda Villarreal, MD, Reflects on Her TMA Presidency - 05/20/2022

Edinburg internist E. Linda Villarreal, MD, says her term as Texas Medical Association President focused on innovation, collaboration, and conversation.


Natural-Born Healer: Incoming TMA President Gary Floyd, MD, Cares for His Profession - 05/20/2022

Throughout his 43-year career, Fort Worth pediatrician Gary Floyd, MD, has been an active participant in organized medicine; soon, he'll ascend his biggest platform yet as the Texas Medical Association's 157th president.


Public Health Emergency’s End Would Kickstart Medicaid Eligibility Re-Checks. Here’s How to Prepare - 05/20/2022

After strong advocacy by the American Medical Association and other organizations, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services appears poised to extend the COVID-19 public health emergency for a 10th time.


CMS Proposes Delay of New Value-Based Payment Model - 05/18/2022

As Medicare once again prepares to delay a new payment model several years in the making, Houston radiation oncologist Andrew Farach, MD, is applauding that decision, saying its current version doesn’t give small and rural practices a fair shake.


Closing the Loop: Payers Address Social Drivers of Health - 05/17/2022

Houston family physician Lindsay Botsford, MD, received a call in late February from a Medicare patient with shingles. She prescribed an antiviral medication to treat the infection – and then the real work began.


Vaccine Equity Gains: COVID-19 Vaccine Rate Disparities Narrow Amid Physician-Led Outreach - 05/13/2022

When the COVID-19 vaccine rollout began in mid-December 2020, many physicians, advocates, and community leaders worried the health disparities laid bare by the pandemic would repeat themselves.  But improved data collection and innovative outreach efforts – many of them led by Texas physicians and medical students – have helped close these gaps.


Deadlines Approaching for COVID Relief Fund Late-Reporting - 05/13/2022

If you got a loan from the federal COVID-19 Provider Relief Fund’s (PRF’s) first reporting period and requested to report your funds late, watch out for the government’s response to that request. And, if you got a loan from the fund’s second reporting period, good news: The deadline to request to report late has been extended – but you’ll have to act fast.


Delegates Prioritize Prior Authorization, Pandemic Relief - 05/06/2022

As private practices continue to navigate red tape and ongoing pandemic pressures, Texas physicians pushed the Texas Medical Association to do more to address onerous prior authorization requirements and to advocate for federal disaster loan forgiveness.


TMA Ask the Expert: Practical Guidance for Employed and Independent Physicians - 05/04/2022

Employed physicians and their colleagues in independent practice face different challenges. But all Texas physicians, whether an employee or an employer, can take advantage of guidance from the Texas Medical Association.


CMS Reweights MIPS Cost Category to Zero Due to the Pandemic - 05/04/2022

As a result of the ongoing public health emergency, physicians will find some much-needed, if temporary, relief from burdensome reporting requirements under Medicare’s Merit-Based Incentive Payment System.


New TMA President Gary Floyd, MD, Calls on Physicians to Unite as a Profession - 05/03/2022

Keller pediatrician and long-term advocate Gary W. Floyd, MD, invoked George Strait and called on Texas Medical Association members to band together in the face of “more public questioning and pushback than we’ve ever encountered” during a speech to TMA’s House of Delegates on April 30, following his installation as the association’s 157th president.


Closing Keynote: The Future of Health Care Is Health Assurance - 05/02/2022

Imagine it’s 2030. The COVID-19 pandemic is a distant memory. Medications are delivered by drones. Broadband is a universal utility. And the health care industry has shifted from caring for sick patients to ensuring the health of all patients through consumer-friendly, data-centric preventive care, significantly narrowing health inequities in the process.