Stories written by Joey Berlin

Medical Billing Tax, Prior Auth, Telemedicine Hit Committee Hearings - 04/09/2021

The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to take a look today at a bill that would protect billing companies from a tax currently scheduled to begin in October – and protect physicians and patients from any of those costs billing organizations pass on to them.

House Passes Measure to Prevent Medical Billing Tax - 04/07/2021

Thanks to tireless work from a physician-legislator, the house of medicine took a huge step Tuesday toward preventing a planned tax on medical billing services that would take money out of patients’ and physicians’ pockets.

Legislative Hotline: Medicaid Continuous Coverage Measures Advance - 04/06/2021

The House Human Services Committee this morning OK’d legislation supporting TMA’s longstanding goals to extend Medicaid coverage for both pregnant women and children.  

Legislative Hotline: Budget Talk; TMA Bills Advance Toward Passage - 04/05/2021

Budget discussions at the Texas Capitol are looking better for the house of medicine than they did at the start of the legislature’s 2021 session. But physicians need to keep letting lawmakers know how important its priorities are for the state’s 2022-23 funding.  

Threat Level High: Ransomware a Bigger Threat - 04/01/2021

COVID-19 has made a booming illicit business – ransomware – boom even louder. And the more medical practices and organizations fall victim to ransomware cyberattacks, the more illustrative it becomes how important it is to prevent such an attack.

Federal Fairness? Congressional Measure Addresses Out-of-Network Payments - 04/01/2021

Congress in December 2020 passed surprise-billing legislation as part of a wide-ranging coronavirus relief bill, tying a bow on federal lawmakers’ primary health care focus just prior to COVID-19. Texas already had set up its own system for state-regulated plans in 2019 with Senate Bill 1264, which took effect last year.

Shelter in a Storm: Liability Legislation Would Protect Physicians in Disaster - 04/01/2021

The Texas Alliance for Patient Access (TAPA) announced in early March that Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) and Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) would soon file COVID-19 liability legislation that would enhance liability protections to shield more physicians from lawsuits for care delivered during pandemics, hurricanes, and other catastrophic events that inject chaos into their good-faith medical efforts.

Medicine Trains Its Sight on Scope Expansions - 04/01/2021

A court decision siding with chiropractors is the latest of many scope tests in the legislature and the law.

TMA Opposes Vaccine Scare-Tactic Bill; Disaster Response Takes Center Stage - 03/31/2021

TMA today stood in strong opposition to a bill that the house of medicine believes could discourage vaccinations with a smokescreen of complicated, technical information that could scare parents of young patients.

Senate Committee Unanimously Passes Bill to De-Fuse Youth E-Cigarette Use - 03/31/2021

A Senate committee unanimously passed a bill today that would establish a framework for taxing e-cigarettes by requiring a person to obtain a permit from the state before selling those products.

Medicaid Medical Directors: Telemedicine Critical, But Must Be Clinically Appropriate - 03/31/2021

A new white paper examines the “digital divide” between telehealth and certain groups that have trouble accessing it, such as Medicaid patients and rural populations.

GME Funding Bump Granted in Senate Budget Draft - 03/29/2021

After a proposed infusion of nearly $50 million into the latest draft of the Texas Senate’s budget for 2022-23, medicine has new hope for the state giving graduate medical education (GME) the financial support it deserves to keep the physician pipeline open.

Legislative Hotline: Independent Prescribing for APRNs: A Bad Idea - 03/24/2021

The house of medicine sent a handful of its advocates into the ring to stop this year’s effort to give advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) more authority to perform medical acts without physician supervision.

A Busy Tuesday for Medicine: Dangerous Eye Surgeries, Extended Postpartum Coverage, Prior Authorization - 03/23/2021

Organized medicine sent an army of physicians – including TMA President Diana Fite, MD – to tell senators why a bill giving therapeutic optometrists the authority to perform a lengthy list of surgical procedures is a short-sighted idea.

The Latest COVID-19 Relief Bill: Hits and Misses for Medicine - 03/22/2021

The third major COVID-19 relief measure includes promising funding for a variety of important health measures in Texas. But there’s also the prospect of a Medicare physician payment cut.

Scope Expansion Bills Moving Forward. Help TMA Protect Health Care - 03/22/2021

Scope of practice will take center stage this week as the Texas Medical Association keeps its eye on and fights bad legislation that would give non-medical professionals the authority to practice medicine.

Time to Strengthen – Not Weaken – the Advance Directives Act - 03/18/2021

TMA is working in support of bills that would create more clarity around do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order laws and would allow for patients and their families to have a greater understanding of the medical ethics-committee process.

Connecting Texas: TMA Backs Expanded Broadband Bill - 03/17/2021

TMA testified today in support of a bill to expand broadband access in Texas – thereby expanding the state’s telemedicine capabilities. Telemedicine has become “a very important tool in the physician toolbox to take care of patients,” as well as an important tool to extend care to underserved areas of the state, TMA said.

Legislative Hotline: Prior Auth for Chronic Disease Drugs Goes Before Insurance Panel - 03/16/2021

Two TMA physicians were scheduled to offer their perspective today to the House Insurance Committee on why the state should pass a bill that generally would bar prior authorizations for prescriptions for autoimmune and chronic diseases.

Legislative Hotline: TMA Urges Committee to Prevent Medical Billing Tax - 03/15/2021

The Texas Medical Association went to work today in hopes of torpedoing a state medical billing tax currently scheduled to take effect Oct. 1.

Legislative Hotline: Moving Forward on COVID-19 – TMA Offers Recommendations to Senate Committee - 03/10/2021

In testimony before the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Austin oncologist Debra Patt, MD, recounted many of the challenges medicine faced during 2020 – and continues to face during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Legislative Hotline: TMA Stresses Importance of Limiting Visitation at LTC Facilities During Outbreak - 03/09/2021

With testimony today, the Texas Medical Association is putting its support behind a bill that would allow residents of nursing or assisted-living facilities to designate at least one “essential caregiver” whom the facility couldn’t prohibit from in-person visitation, even if the resident tests positive for COVID-19.

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.