Stories written by Emma Freer

Feds to End COVID-19 Public Health Emergency in Mid-May - 02/07/2023

After nearly three years and 11 extensions, the Biden administration recently announced the COVID-19 public health emergency will finally expire May 11, fulfilling its commitment to give states at least 60 days’ notice of its expiration.

TMA’s “Battle This Session” Begins: Fighting Scope Creep - 02/06/2023

As expected, several scope-of-practice expansion attempts have crept their way into the more than 800 bills the Texas Medical Association is already tracking so far this legislative session, underscoring why fighting scope creep is medicine’s top priority.

The Unwinding: What the End of the COVID PHE Means for Continuous Medicaid Coverage - 02/01/2023

After nearly three years and 11 extensions, the federal public health emergency related to COVID-19 is poised to end this spring, and with it, continuous Medicaid coverage for more than 2.5 million Texans.

Medicare Advisory Panel Recommends Physician Pay Raise - 02/01/2023

A key congressional advisory panel lent its support to a Medicare physician pay increase for the first time in several years, underscoring the need for comprehensive Medicare physician payment reform.

Medicare Bundled-Payment Model Could Expand Access to Value-Based Specialty Care - 01/26/2023

Medicare’s recent extension of a bundled payment model marks a rare opportunity for more specialists to participate in value-based care and could pave the way for better coordination with primary care.

New TMA Task Force on Alternative Payment Models Charts a Path Toward Value-Based Care - 01/26/2023

The shift from fee-for-service to value-based care is underway, with public and private payers introducing myriad new payment models in recent years. But many physicians find the variety of plans overwhelming, and the investments necessary to support them challenging.

Medicare Fee Schedule a Mixed Bag for 2023 - 01/26/2023

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently posted the 2023 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, which takes effect Jan. 1 and brings with it a mixed bag of consequences for physicians.

Record State Budget Opens Door for Health Care Investment - 01/23/2023

The 88th Texas Legislature kicked off earlier this month, and the Texas Medical Association is already tracking nearly 700 bills, including promising proposals to reduce prior authorization requirements and concerning ones regarding scope expansion.

New “Indicator” Helps Medicare Patients Find Physicians Who Offer Telehealth - 01/23/2023

Two recent developments may broaden Medicare patients’ access to telehealth services beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

Medicine Achieves Reduction in Medicare Physician Pay Cut Amid Push for Reform - 01/13/2023

After a concerted advocacy campaign by the Texas Medical Association and others in organized medicine, Congress lessened a Medicare physician pay cut that took effect Jan. 1. Despite this intervention, physicians still face declining Medicare payments in 2023 and in 2024, underscoring the need for comprehensive reform. Meanwhile, TMA experts continue to analyze other potentially positive provisions of the extensive spending law that averted the cuts and its specific implications for Texas.

UPDATE: Feds Poised to Extend COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Through Spring 2023 - 01/13/2023

After continued advocacy by the Texas Medical Association, American Medical Association, and other organizations, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services seems likely to extend the COVID-19 public health emergency  for an 11th time.

Hospitals, Especially Rural Ones, Face Increased Risk of Closure as Pandemic Funds Dwindle - 01/10/2023

Now approaching the fourth year since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas hospitals are still reeling from its impact, facing elevated expenses, depressed patient volume, and tighter margins compared with prepandemic numbers. Rural hospitals, in particular, are at a significantly higher risk of closing.

Legislative Priority #9: Network Adequacy, Surprise Billing - 01/06/2023

The Texas Medical Association wants to see enhanced enforcement of and accountability under state network adequacy laws and to protect Texas' surprising-billing law during the 2023 legislative session.

Legislative Priority #7: Prior Authorization Reforms - 01/06/2023

The Texas Medical Association hopes to build on the success of last session's "gold card" law when the state legislature reconvenes in January by advancing prior authorization reform.

Legislative Priority #6: Physician Autonomy, Corporate Practice Protections - 01/06/2023

During the 2023 state legislative session, the Texas Medical Association aims to protect physicians from being criminalized for the practice of medicine and to keep nonmedical entities from interfering with patient care.

Watch for MIPS Data Validation and Audit Request - 12/14/2022

Physicians who participate in Medicare’s Merit-Based Incentive Payment System soon may receive a data-sharing request, or audit, as part of a legitimate federal oversight process, and compliance is required to avoid penalties.

Growing Representation: TMA's Diversity in Medicine Scholarship Cultivates a Representative Workforce - 12/04/2022

The Texas Medical Association's recently renamed Diversity in Medicine Scholarship program aims to boost underrepresented applicants to Texas medical schools, physicians caring for medically underserved populations, and diversity within the physician workforce.

A Revolving Door: Persistent Staffing Shortages Plague Practices - 12/04/2022

Many medical practices that are struggling with staffing have found stopgap solutions, such as offering hiring wages and reconsidering their divisions of labor, but these may not be sustainable in the long term.

Accelerating Access: Texas' Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Membership Expands Care - 12/04/2022

Texas' recent membership in the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact has made it easier for physicians to provide telemedicine care across state lines while also strengthening the Lone Star State's appeal to eligible, out-of-state physicians hoping to relocate.

Medicare to Expand Coverage for Colorectal Cancer Screening - 12/02/2022

Medicare patients soon will benefit from expanded coverage of colorectal cancer screening tests, following advocacy by the Texas Medical Association and others in organized medicine.

Physicians Can Save on Their 2022 Tax Bills With These Year-End Tips - 11/29/2022

After nearly three years of COVID-19 pandemic response, persistent Medicare pay cuts, and myriad other financial pressures, physicians may feel the weight of keeping their practice doors open. But they still have time to maximize their personal financial health ahead of the looming tax season.

TMA Joins Fight Against Scope Creep in “Sweeping” Federal Legislation - 11/21/2022

Organized medicine is banding together to oppose a piece of federal legislation that advocates say would expand the scope of practice for nonphysician practitioners (NPPs) like nurse practitioners and physician assistants at the expense of Medicare and Medicaid patients.

Marketplace Enrollment Could Help Blunt Potential Uninsured Surge as Public Health Emergency Ends - 11/11/2022

AA number of positive changes expanding access to and affordability of federal marketplace health plans could be coming just in time as Texas’ uninsured rate stands to worsen after the end of the public health emergency.

CDC: “Brie” Mindful of Listeria Outbreak Linked to Cheese - 11/01/2022

Don’t cut, bake, or serve recalled cheeses this holiday season.

Mental Telehealth Paves the Way: Pandemic Flexibilities Expand Access to Care - 11/01/2022

Texas physicians say pandemic-era behavioral telehealth regulatory changes have already proven beneficial – and could be maximized with additional policy reforms, like payment parity for all telehealth visits; in the meantime, the gains of the past few years have forged a path toward future telehealth expansion beyond behavioral health.