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The Unwinding: What the End of the PHE Means for Telehealth - 02/01/2023

Throughout the pandemic, state and federal governments relaxed regulatory and payment barriers to health care by telemedicine. That includes paying for telemedicine visits at the same rate as in-person visits; allowing the use of non-HIPAA-compliant platforms; and removing so-called geographic site restrictions that would normally require a patient to be seen in the office. In 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) also announced a new set of telehealth billing codes, particularly for behavioral health.


The Unwinding: What the End of the PHE Means for COVID Vaccines, Testing, and Treatments - 02/01/2023

The COVID-19 crisis spurred an unprecedented combination of public health initiatives and funding, much of it made possible by the public health emergency (PHE) declared by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in January 2020. When the PHE expires, what will happen to crucial vaccines, testing, and treatments?


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.


Order Multiple COVID Vaccine Categories in New VAOS Process - 01/31/2023

A new process in the state Vaccine Allocation and Ordering System (VAOS) will significantly reduce the amount of data entry required from physician practices when ordering COVID-19 vaccines.


Many Adults Don’t Know They Should Get COVID Booster, CDC Survey Says - 01/31/2023

A lot of U.S. adults aren’t getting the COVID-19 bivalent booster, and a recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) helps explain why: Most likely, they don’t know about it, don’t know they’re eligible for it, or don’t think they need it.


As Flu and RSV Drop Omicron Subvariant Poses Unknown Threat - 01/18/2023

A flu and respiratory syncytial virus season that began early and intensely already may have peaked, but other illnesses, including the XBB.1.5 omicron subvariant of the COVID-19 virus, remain threats.


Challenge of a Lifetime: Jennifer Shuford, MD, Helped Lead Texas Through the COVID-19 Pandemic - 01/17/2023

Chief State Epidemiologist Jennifer Shuford, MD, found innovative ways to lead Texas through the COVID-19 emergency.


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.


Pfizer COVID Vaccine Available in Single Doses to Improve Outreach, HHS Announces - 12/05/2022

Physicians eager to combat COVID-19 continue to look for ways to make the vaccines easier for patients to access. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently took an important step in that direction by offering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to physicians in single-dose vials for patients 12 and older, says Dallas infectious disease specialist Trish Perl, MD, a member of the Texas Medical Association’s COVID-19 Task Force.


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.


Commissioned With Change : An Interview With HHSC Commissioner Cecile Erwin Young - 11/11/2022

As leader of the state’s largest agency, Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Cecile Erwin Young is faced with some of the largest health care challenges among some of the most vulnerable patient populations. She visited the Texas Medical Association’s Winter Conference in late January to talk to Texas physicians about their concerns in caring for those patients, especially during a pandemic.


Pandemic Pressures:COVID-19 Poses Serious Behavioral Health Challenges - 09/20/2022

The mental health fallout caused by COVID-19 radiates throughout Texas. In this issue, we look at four of the biggest challenges physicians are responding to as more people say that worry and stress related to coronavirus have negatively impacted their mental health.


Novavax COVID Vaccine Available to Help Reach Patients Hesitant About mRNA Vaccines - 09/06/2022

The recently introduced COVID-19 vaccine Novavax gives physicians another tool for combating the disease, and it enjoys two important differences from previous vaccines that are potential advantages, says San Antonio infectious disease specialist Charles Lerner, MD, a member of the Texas Medical Association’s COVID-19 Task Force.


Federal Telehealth Extension Bill Advances to Senate - 08/31/2022

Signaling strong support to build on the COVID-19-era gains in telemedicine, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill that would extend Medicare’s telehealth payment and regulatory flexibilities through the end of 2024, should the public health emergency end before then.


Use This Permission Letter to Excuse Students from School Due to COVID-19 - 08/31/2022

If you treat students suspected of exposure to COVID-19, the Texas Medical Association COVID-19 Task Force has created a draft letter you can use to document the patient's excusal or return to school.


New COVID Boosters Expected for Fall; Preorder by Aug. 30 - 08/29/2022

With new COVID-19 boosters on the horizon targeting the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron strains of the virus, Texas health officials have opened up preorders for these latest vaccines, which are expected to roll out this fall.


Public Health Emergency’s End Would Kickstart Medicaid Eligibility Re-Checks. Here’s How to Prepare - 08/19/2022

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.


Health Commissioner Reflects on Texas’ Pandemic Response, Honored by State Senate - 08/18/2022

Nearly two and a half years after the first positive COVID-19 test result was reported in Texas, Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, is taking stock of what happened next and how to prevent the next pandemic.


Purchase Bebtelovimab Directly From Distributor Starting Aug. 15 - 08/18/2022

With federally funded distribution of the COVID-19 therapeutic bebtelovimab coming to an end, physicians must now purchase the monoclonal antibody directly from the distributor starting the week of Aug. 15, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.


Feds Launch Evusheld Ordering Route for Smaller Entities, Quantities - 08/05/2022

Small physician practices now have a new way to access the COVID-19 preexposure drug Evusheld, and in smaller amounts. Practices also can benefit from a new helpline for information on the monoclonal antibody treatment that helps prevent COVID-19 infection among immunocompromised patients at high risk of severe illness.


Texas Sales Tax Holiday Includes Masks – Help Patients Prepare for School - 08/02/2022

The first day of the new school year is right around the corner, unfortunately during a time of rising COVID-19 cases. Fortunately, you can help promote healthy school environments during the pandemic and help your patients prepare starting with Texas’ sales tax holiday this weekend.


Long COVID's Long Shadow: Physicians Respond to an Influx of Long-COVID Patients - 07/29/2022

Long COVID has strained an already overburdened health care system and requires both multispecialty clinics and primary care physicians to meet demand.


CDC Authorizes Novavax Adult COVID Vaccine - 07/22/2022

There’s now a fourth COVID-19 vaccine option available in the U.S. after the federal government gave emergency use authorization to the Novavax vaccine for adults.


Q&A: The COVID Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 Subvariants - 07/19/2022

COVID-19’s ability to mutate into faster-spreading variants and subvariants makes it a dangerous moving target for physicians and other health care professionals.