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Have Your Say on Texas’ New Surprise Billing Law - 10/16/2019

The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) is holding a public hearing next week on rulemaking for the state’s new “baseball-style arbitration” law to address surprise medical bills. If you wish to speak at the meeting, TDI requests you submit written comments or a summary of your testimony by noon Friday, Oct. 18 “to facilitate a meaningful discussion.”


TMA Urges Public Education As Hemp-Based Products Become Legal - 10/16/2019

State health officials should take steps to ensure that a new law that legalizes the production and sale of hemp and some hemp products helps Texas physicians protect the health of patients who use those products. The Texas Medical Association sent that message in a letter last week to the Department of State Health Services, which was taking comments related to implementation of House Bill 1325.


Commentary: Texas Has a Secret Weapon Against Cancer - 10/14/2019

Cancer is the No. 2 cause of death in Texas and across the United States. The good news is that things change, and we can be active agents in making sure that they change for the better. Reauthorization of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) would do more than keep the ball rolling; it would save lives.


Charting Medicine’s Statehouse Progress: A Successful Legislative Session for Physicians - 10/08/2019

Legislation is just one piece of a healthy Texas. But it’s a big piece, and when the Texas Medical Association told the lawmakers of 2019 how it should fit, those legislators largely shaped it to what physicians and patients need. The house of medicine convinced lawmakers that raising the age to purchase tobacco to 21 was the right thing for the state’s present and future. Medicine also successfully persuaded the legislature and Gov. Greg Abbott to improve insurance network adequacy and directories, which will help with surprise medical bills.


State Health Advisory: New Syphilis Testing Requirements During Pregnancy In Effect - 10/04/2019

As of Sept. 1, Texas physicians are required to test pregnant women for syphilis three times: at the first prenatal visit, during the third trimester (no sooner than the 28th week), and at delivery. Previously, state law required testing at the first visit and during the third trimester.


Prescribing Changes in Texas: Know What You Need to Know - 10/01/2019

By now you might know that state lawmakers recently passed a number of changes to how prescriptions for certain pain medications must be written and processed, as part of a larger effort to fight prescription fraud and abuse. That's why the Texas Medical Association created a free on-demand webinar that outlines what prescribers can expect.


Vote for CPRIT - 09/26/2019

On Nov. 5, Texans will vote on Proposition 6, a constitutional amendment designed to extend CPRIT’s funding by $3 billion and keep the agency’s grants flowing for an estimated 10 additional years. (See “Vote for Proposition 6 on Nov. 5,” page 21.) TMA supports this effort to keep CPRIT’s current funding from running out in 2022.


Moving On: John Zerwas, MD, Trades Politics for Academics - 09/26/2019

John Zerwas, MD, trades politics for academics, but likely will remain a voice of influence


86th Texas Legislature Letters and Testimonies - 09/25/2019

During this legislative session, TMA councils and committees are locking down and promoting health care policies to ensure Texas’ patients have access to affordable and high quality health care. Here are TMA’s testimonies, comments, and letters to state lawmakers.


85th Texas Legislature Testimonies and Letters - 09/19/2019

TMA physician leaders already are working on behalf of their profession and their patients to improve Texas health care system. During this legislative session, TMA councils and committees are locking down and promoting health care policies to ensure Texas’ patients have access to affordable and high quality health care. Here are TMA’s testimonies, comments, and letters to state lawmakers.


We Need to Come in Force: Physician-Lawmakers Look Ahead to 2021 - 09/18/2019

A panel of medicine’s representatives in the Texas Legislature said Saturday that 2019 was a good year for medicine in Austin, but unfinished business remains for the next session in 2021.


Get Your Patients to Vote Against Cancer - 09/18/2019

A measure to extend Texas’ place as a leader in the fight against cancer is on the ballot, and you should encourage your patients to get out and vote. To help spread the message about Proposition 6, which extends funding for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), TMA has created a push card that you can place in your waiting room.


Doctors Drive New Opioid Laws - 09/18/2019

Several new laws will affect how physicians practice and how they prescribe controlled substances, including a delay on required checks of the state’s prescription monitoring program (PMP); a limit on opioid prescriptions for acute pain; and a new electronic prescribing requirement coming in 2021.


Opioids and Pharmacy: PMP Extension Granted - 09/16/2019

When it came to opioids and pharmacy matters, some of the major pieces of medicine’s 2019 agenda came down to something everyone wishes they had more of: time. Physicians need it to get comfortable with a mandate to check the state’s prescription monitoring program (PMP). Patients need it to make sure the pain medications they’re prescribed do what the drugs are supposed to do. The legislature listened, and TMA achieved wins on both counts, as well as on increased transparency from pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).


Opioids, Telemedicine, Legislative Update to Highlight TMA Fall Conference - 09/10/2019

Physicians Meet to Address Health Care Priorities. Navigating the opioid crisis, using telemedicine to expand a medical practice and help more patients, and top issues from the 2019 Texas Legislature highlight the 2019 Texas Medical Association (TMA) Fall Conference. 


New Laws Improve Opioid Prescription Process in Texas - 08/06/2019

The 2019 Texas Legislature enacted three new laws that will change the way physicians prescribe opioids, including House Bill 3284, which delays the mandate for physicians check the state’s prescription monitoring program, known as PMP Aware, for prescriptions tied to opioids, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and carisoprodol. The bill pushes back the requirement from Sept. 1, 2019, to March 1, 2020.


New Laws Reshape Texas Health Care Landscape - 08/05/2019

New laws are about to transform health care in Texas, addressing long-term issues like surprise medical billing, raising the tobacco-use age, and improving Medicaid. The 2020-21 state budget also includes vital funding increases for women’s health programs, graduate medical education (GME), and community mental health services


When Do New Opioid Prescribing Requirements Take Effect? - 08/02/2019

To combat the ongoing opioid crisis, state lawmakers passed several measures that change how physicians and other health care professionals will prescribe opioids. However, provisions of the laws take effect at different times, so prescribers should be aware of the deadlines and effective dates of each requirement. Below is a chart showing when each provision takes effect.


Physician-Legislator Rep. John Zerwas, MD, Steps Down, Joins UT System - 08/02/2019

One of medicine’s long-time and most influential state legislative champions, Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Richmond), has been named The University of Texas System’s new executive vice chancellor for health affairs. On Wednesday Representative Zerwas announced that he will step down from elected office as of Sept. 30. He will start his new position Oct. 1.


On Call at the Capitol: TMA's 2019 Legislative Agenda - 08/02/2019

When the 86th Texas Legislature convenes on Jan. 8, TMA will build on its major successes of 2017, renew some of the biggest battles that stalled two years ago, and tackle relatively new ones. Physicians will make their case to a somewhat new makeup of lawmakers as they pursue better Medicaid coverage for postpartum women, insurer accountability for narrow networks, more funding for community mental health, and many other aims.


Respecting the Roles: TMA Battles Another Round of Scope of Practice Bills - 08/02/2019

When nonmedical professionals ask the Texas Legislature for the authority to practice medicine, TMA mounts a full-court press, letting lawmakers know why there are some roles only physicians can fill.


TMB: Back on Track - 08/02/2019

Two years ago during the 2017 regular session, the Texas Legislature put the practice of medicine in the state in serious danger, failing to renew the Texas Medical Board (TMB) and the state’s Medical Practice Act. In 2019 House Bill 1504 by Rep. Chris Paddie (R-Marshall) put TMB back on the standard 12-year sunset cycle, renewing the board through 2031.


Scope of Practice: Shot Down - 08/02/2019

When it comes to shooting down dangerous attempts to expand non-medical practitioners’ scope of practice, TMA’s advocacy army once again proved to be expert marksmen in 2019. Medicine trained its scope on bills that would have allowed nurse practitioners, chiropractors, and optometrists, among others, to wade into the practice of medicine.


Medicaid: Reforms, But No Raise - 08/02/2019

Medicine didn’t get everything it needed from lawmakers for Medicaid, including TMA’s biggest and boldest ask of the 2019 session. Still, progress TMA achieved on managed care reform and other facets of Medicaid will advance physicians’ efforts to care for the most vulnerable Texans.


Insurance: Network Solutions - 08/02/2019

Charting Medicine’s Statehouse Progress TMA went into this session looking to attack insurer network inadequacy and health plans’ use of care impeding prior authorization demands. On both fronts, medicine scored solid legislative wins that will make it