Stories written by Joey Berlin

Physician-Led Results: TMA-Backed Bills Signed Into Law - 06/17/2021

An impressive number of medicine’s priorities already have been penned into law thanks to physicians’ hard work at the Capitol in person, virtually, and at the grassroots level.

AMA Report: Medicare Physician Spending Fell Sharply During First Half of 2020; Telehealth Spending Up - 06/17/2021

Thanks to the early shutting down and shutting in prompted by COVID-19, spending on Medicare physician services fell as much as 57% short of expected levels during April 2020, and nearly one-fifth below expected spending over the first six months of that year.

CMS Finalizes Lower-Than-Proposed Cost-Sharing for Marketplace Plans; Enrollment Closes Aug. 15 - 06/17/2021

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has settled on a lower maximum for consumers’ out-of-pocket costs for federal health insurance marketplace plans in 2022 than what the agency proposed last November.

Medicaid Waiver Extension Request Should Include Physicians, Uninsured Coverage, TMA Testifies to HHSC - 06/15/2021

Facing the loss of crucial uncompensated care funding, the Texas Medical Association is helping the state craft a request to the Biden administration to reinstate an extension on Texas’ Medicaid 1115 Transformation Waiver. And that request should include physicians in the safety net plan, Gary Floyd, MD, TMA’s president-elect for 2022-23, testified at a recent hearing.  

Ruling Could Promote Frivolous Lawsuits, TMA Tells Texas Supreme Court - 06/13/2021

A recent appeals court decision could weaken a key piece of Texas’ 2003 medical liability reforms meant to cut frivolous lawsuits off at the head. In a friend-of-the-court brief filed last week, TMA and Texas Alliance for Patient Access (TAPA) tell the Texas Supreme Court that the law narrowly limits the amount of discovery – the exchange of information in a court case – before the person suing must produce an expert report. And there’s good reason for that, the groups say.  

Bad Scope Bills Defeated - 06/11/2021

Among other ill-advised proposals put forth during this year’s session, the House of Medicine stopped every troublesome attempt by nonmedical professionals to creep into the practice of medicine during this session.

Confused About Face Covering Guidance? Read the New TMA FAQ - 06/11/2021

Now that COVID-19 vaccines are coursing through millions of bloodstreams, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has relaxed some of its recommendations on masking, it might be difficult for you to keep track of the current state of face coverings – and how it affects your practice.

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.

Wins on GME, Mental Health Funding Highlight Medicine’s Budget Year - 06/10/2021

When it comes to health care, as with so many aspects of life, money talks. And the Texas Legislature this year showed medicine’s advocates that it’s allocating the state’s money with Texas’ health needs in mind.

Coming Soon: TMA’s Updated Policies and Procedures Manual - 06/09/2021

Your practice’s policies and procedures manual has to be customized to fit your practice’s unique needs. If it’s not, now is the time to fix that. To help you stay compliant, the Texas Medical Association soon will release the 2021 Policies and Procedures: Guide for Medical Practices.

First Across the Finish Line: Medical Billing Tax Eliminated - 06/07/2021

More than a year of work and collaboration came to fruition with House Bill 1445 by Rep. Tom Oliverson, MD (R-Cypress), which classifies outsourced medical billing as being outside the realm of insurance services. When Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill on April 30, it nullified a medical billing tax scheduled to take effect Oct. 1.

Medicare Provides MIPS Relief Due to Texas Winter Storm - 06/02/2021

Certain practices affected by Texas’ statewide winter storm won’t have to submit data for Medicare’s Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) for 2021.

Medicare Eliminates Cost Category Factor in 2020 MIPS - 06/01/2021

Medicare is continuing to acknowledge recent extraordinary events in granting physicians relief from its Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS).

Senate Elects Physician Legislator in High-Ranking Position for Interim Session - 06/01/2021

In its final meeting of 2021, the Texas Senate elevated Sen. Donna Campbell, MD (R-New Braunfels), to president pro tempore for the upcoming interim session, making the emergency physician third in line for governor.

A Winning Wrap-Up: Medicine’s Biggest Victories of the 2021 Session - 06/01/2021

The strangest session of the Texas Legislature in recent memory wrapped up with a wild and twisty final weekend, and the Texas Medical Association was in the thick of it as it tried to get as many of medicine’s priorities to the governor’s desk as possible.

MIPSperceptions: Study Confirms Doctors’ View of Medicare Program as Burdensome - 05/31/2021

Physicians’ perceptions of Medicare’s Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) have run along these and other unflattering lines since MIPS first launched in 2017. But a Physicians Foundation-funded study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine sought to better quantify how physician practice leaders perceive MIPS, one of the two participation tracks in Medicare’s Quality Payment Program. (The Texas Medical Association has representation on the Physicians Foundation’s board of directors.)

PEAQ Performance: Blues Program Shows Little Progress in Addressing Physicians’ Concerns - 05/31/2021

Blues performance recognition program shows little progress in addressing physicians’ concerns over such quality programs

Develop a Personal Crisis Management Plan With This Physicians Foundation Tool - 05/26/2021

A 2020 survey by The Physicians Foundation found that 58% of physicians experienced feelings of burnout during the pandemic, but only 13% reported seeking medical attention for a mental health problem as a result of COVID-19’s impact on their practice or employment.

E-Cigarette Regulation Bill Nears House Passage - 05/26/2021

With the hourglass dropping sand faster and faster on the Texas Legislature’s 2021 session – four days to go as you read this – the Texas Medical Association was poised to move one step closer to a major public health win on Wednesday in the push to curb burgeoning e-cigarette use, particularly among Texas’ youth.

Telemedicine, Liability Bills Move Ahead - 05/25/2021

One of the Texas Medical Association’s prime priorities – expanded telemedicine – is one step closer to being a fixture in Texas health care after the state Senate passed a TMA-championed measure on Monday to make permanent some COVID-19-era allowances for telemedicine.

New Prior Auth Bill Would Make “Gold Cards” Continuous, If It Passes - 05/24/2021

The House of Medicine’s biggest tool left in this year’s legislative session to curb prior authorization passed the Senate last weekend but with an overhaul of the system that would exempt physicians from preauthorizations for certain services.

Longer Coverage, Longer Lives: COVID-19 Relief Bill Could Help With Medicaid Postpartum Coverage - 05/24/2021

TMA urges Texas to keep pregnant women on Medicaid 12 months postpartum following federal enticement in COVID-19 relief bill.

Final-Week Crunch Time: Budget Wins, 11th-Hour Bill Action - 05/21/2021

We’re officially in the final week of the Texas Legislature’s 2021 session, and the next few days figure to be a furious storm of finalizing, gear-shifting, and negotiating at the Capitol.

TMA Delegates Press Forward on Health Plan Accountability, Medicaid Payments - 05/21/2021

Economic practices by health plans, employers, and hospitals gave the Texas Medical Association House of Delegates no shortage of business to tend to Saturday when it comes to protecting and better positioning the profession of medicine.

UHC Expands Access to Digital Claims Portal, Optum Pay Basic - 05/20/2021

Starting this Saturday, May 22, UnitedHealthcare's Optum Pay basic claims portal will begin allowing unlimited users for each account. Practices can use the portal to manage claim payments and other digital administrative paperwork.