Related Stories

New CMS Rule Allows More Physician Self-Referrals Under “Stark Law” - 12/04/2020

Physicians who have financial relationships with medical services facilities, such as labs and imaging services, are able to refer more Medicare or Medicaid patients to those facilities under a final rule published this week.


Patient Privacy’s New Frontier: AMA Aims to Keep Apps Honest With Personal Health Data - 12/01/2020

In the evolving world of health information technology, some vendors that store and transmit health information – such as the tech minds behind certain mobile apps – are getting their hands on patient data without any HIPAA leash to rein in their use of it. Now, organized medicine is doing its part to preserve patients’ privacy when their health information finds its way outside of HIPAA-covered organizations.


Reminder: Some Cures Act Reporting Provisions Required This Year - 11/24/2020

Although physicians have been given more time to comply with certain federal data-sharing provisions under the 21st Century Cures Act, other compliance regulations have not been delayed.


Feds Delay Enforcement of Data-Sharing Rules - 11/18/2020

Physicians will have more time to comply with federal rules aimed at improving data-sharing after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced yesterday it will delayenforcement of certain provisions from Nov. 2 to April 5, 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


End-of-Life Challenge Takes a New Turn - 10/30/2020

TMA fights decision that could strip physicians of their ability to exercise their conscience.


See Blue Cross Referral Chart, Colonoscopy Coding Tips - 10/14/2020

As a result of “feedback from the provider community,” Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas has removed 111 procedure codes from its preauthorization requirements related to additional care categories of codes.


Preserving Do No Harm: Supreme Court Tosses Challenge to Medical Ethics Committee Law - 10/13/2020

Twenty years after it took effect, Texas’ medical ethics committee review law has withstood challenge after challenge. The Texas Supreme Court is on the verge of ending the latest high-profile attack on the law that ensures physicians can uphold their professional obligation to “do no harm.” In October 2019, the state’s high court declined to take up Kelly v. Houston Methodist Hospital, in which the mother of a deceased patient attempted to overturn a provision of the Texas Advance Directives Act. Justices’ action leaves intact an appeals court decision that preserves physicians’ ability to use their medical judgment in end-of-life cases.


Upgraded Free Tool Helps With HIPAA Compliance - 10/12/2020

If you participate in the Medicare Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), you must complete your security risk assessment by Dec. 31. An upgraded tool from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services might make the assessment easier.


TMA Member Benefits: Future Proof - 09/26/2020

TMA Member Benefits: Future Proof In the past year, cyberattacks on healthcare facilities have increased by 35%. The cost of a breach can average of $402 per compromised record, plus fines. TMA makes robust security for your practice easy through education and services designed to manage the worst technology risks.


Dulling the Pain of Future Damages: High Court Ruling Addresses Periodic Payments - 09/02/2020

Texas Supreme Court decision carries new implications for periodic payment of future medical expenses.


Pandemic Poses Legal Pitfalls: TMA Seeks Better Liability Shields - 08/03/2020

Under Texas law, physicians treating COVID-19 patients in a volunteer capacity have potential defenses against lawsuits that might arise from that care. But for non-volunteer physicians on the COVID battlefield – often working in harrowing, overloaded settings, high on patient count and low on equipment – the same liability shields don’t exist. And with a resurgence in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations taking hold in June, the Texas Medical Association continued its pandemic-long push to extend liability protections to all frontline physicians, volunteer or not.


The Doctor - and Lawyer - Will See You Now: Medical-Legal Partnerships - 07/15/2020

Elderly woman. Low-income. Chronic pain. Needs to see a rheumatologist. Needs physical therapy. Struggling to pay rent. Has no insurance. Has no disability coverage. As a family physician at a federally qualified health center (FQHC) in Austin, Sharad Kohli, MD, sees a lot of cases like this. In similar health care settings, the patient might face two bad choices: wage bureaucratic war to obtain better health care benefits or simply give up. At People’s Community Clinic, Dr. Kohli referred her to an in-house lawyer who successfully appealed her denial of disability insurance. “[The lawyer] got her a significant income, which allowed her to pay her rent and also helped her get insurance through Medicaid and Medicare,” Dr. Kohli said. “And then she was able to see the rheumatologist and the physical therapist.” This kind of success helps explain why medical-legal partnerships (MLPs) like the one at People’s Community Clinic came about in 1993 and began expanding nationally after 2001. Te...


Covered for COVID? Business Interruption Insurance Could Come in Handy - 07/01/2020

Business interruption insurance could come in handy for losses related to COVID-19.


Text Orders Securely and Within Guidelines - 05/13/2020

The Joint Commission now says it’s OK to text orders, with certain requirements. If you do send orders via text messaging, be sure to establish guidelines in writing in your practice’s policies and procedures manual.


Is Your Patients’ HIPAA-Protected Information Secure? - 05/13/2020

A guide from TMA-endorsed DocbookMD helps smaller practices understand the risks of using mobile devices and how to stay HIPAA-secure.


“Absurd” Contract Dodge Rejected: Court Lets Cancer Center’s Debt-Collection Suit Proceed - 04/30/2020

Appeals court denies “free speech” challenge to cancer center’s debt-collection suit.


No Double-Dipping: Tacking Settlement Money onto Negligence Awards at Issue - 04/30/2020

Like many broad legislative measures, Texas’ 2003 medical liability reforms continue to be a target for opponents long after being signed into law. The Texas Medical Association is fighting again to defend them. The measure under siege this time prevents patients who file negligence or other lawsuits from adding to their damage award through family members’ settlements stemming from the same case – that is, no “double-dipping.”


TMA to TMB: Let Docs Decide Whether In-Person Visit Needed For Subsequent Opioid Scrips - 03/06/2020

The Texas Medical Association has some suggestions for the Texas Medical Board on how to implement the state’s new 10-day limit on opioid prescriptions for acute pain. A letter to the board says it should be up to the physician’s judgment whether a non-initial 10-day prescription for acute pain requires seeing a patient in-person.


The Legacy of ARIES: Outdated Technology Interferes with HIV/AIDS Treatment - 02/28/2020

Texas developed the AIDS Regional Information and Evaluation System in the early 1990s to administer federal grants from the then-new Ryan White program, which provides HIV- and AIDS-related health services for patients who can’t get health care coverage or financial resources any other way. Physicians say the reservoir of medical data can be valuable, and without it, they can’t get the funds they need to treat these patients. But the outdated reporting system – which still operates on 1990s technology – causes serious headaches and detracts from patient care.  


Wage Rule Extends Overtime to More Employees - 02/07/2020

Some of your employees may have become newly eligible for overtime pay on Jan. 1. The U.S. Department of Labor has increased the minimum salary for exempt employees to $684 per week – $35,568 annually – from the previous level of $455 per week ($23,660 annually). Any employee earning less than $684 per week is automatically nonexempt and thus eligible for overtime pay.


Taking Privacy to a New Level: Texas Lowers Reporting Threshold for Security Breaches - 01/27/2020

Federal requirements have not changed, but starting Jan. 1, breach notification requirements will become even more stringent for Texas physicians or medical entities. The Texas Legislature dropped the threshold for breach reporting from 500 patients to 250. House Bill 4390 also requires medical entities to report breaches to the Texas attorney general’s office within 60 days of the breach.


Finally Settled: Hospitals Settle Physician's Anti-Competition Lawsuit - 01/08/2020

A Laredo oncologist confidentially settled a years-long lawsuit involving a pair of hospitals he alleged mischaracterized a past legal misfortune to terminate his privileges and eliminate his clinic from competing with the facilities.


TMA Supports Medical Ethics Committee Review Law in Latest Challenge - 12/20/2019

TMA has joined several other organizations on a friend-of-the-court brief in a case challenging the state's medical ethics committee review law. In the most recent challenge, the mother of a 10-month-old girl who since birth has been on life-support at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, has sued the hospital and obtained a temporary restraining order to keep her daughter on life support.


Laptop Encryption Helps You Stay HIPAA Compliant - 12/19/2019

If you or your practice store financial or patient information on laptop computers, you could face hefty fines if those devices are lost or stolen. Thankfully, one important step toward protecting patient data, and yourself, is simple thanks to widely available encryption tools.


Don’t Let it Happen to You: Practice Fined Over Social Media - 12/09/2019

As more people go online to research products and services, online reputation management has become increasingly relevant for physicians.Because of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, physicians cannot respond to online reviews in any way that reveals PHI. Even if a patient discloses their own personal information in a review, physicians cannot respond with the same level of disclosure.