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Bracing for the Big Ones: Novel Diseases like COVID-19 Could Test Texas' Public Health System - 03/31/2020

Novel diseases like COVID-19 could be a tough test for Texas’ public health system.


“Absurd” Contract Dodge Rejected: Court Lets Cancer Center’s Debt-Collection Suit Proceed - 03/31/2020

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


In Defense of Public Health: Peter Hotez, MD, on the Comeback of Preventable Diseases - 03/31/2020

Preventable diseases are back on the map, and Peter Hotez, MD, Texas’ most outspoken vaccine researcher, says physicians need to think globally to help stop the trend.


Texas Physicians Say: Remain Calm, Protect Yourself, Stay Safe - 03/17/2020

Statement by Texas Medical Association (TMA) President David C. Fleeger, MD, about Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s state of emergency declaration regarding COVID-19.


House Bill 3703 (86th Texas Legislature) and Expansion of Texas’ Compassionate Use Act - 03/12/2020

In its 2019 session, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 3703 (Rep. Stephanie Klick), effective immediately, expand­ing the list of diseases that may be treated with low-tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) cannabis. The bill also broadened the types of specialty physicians who may qualify to register with the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas to recommend treatment with low-THC cannabis to patients. A general discussion of these changes and more are discussed here.


Coronavirus vs. Influenza: The Differences and What We Need to know - 03/12/2020

As physicians, other medical experts, and the public learn more about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19, scientists are learning more about the similarities – and differences – between COVID-19 and influenza. Both viruses cause respiratory disease, yet the World Health Organization (WHO) reports there are important differences between the two and how they spread.


Fighting Epidemics: Robert Haley, MD, Wins Inaugural Nickey Award for Public Health - 03/12/2020

Robert Haley, MD's work on West Nile virus – along with numerous other achievements – earned Dr. Haley the inaugural Dr. Laurance N. Nickey Lifetime Achievement Award. Presented by the Texas Medical Association’s Council on Science and Public Health, the award recognizes a TMA member physician who has made outstanding contributions to medicine through a significant commitment to public health.


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.


What’s Better, Immunity From a Shot, or From the Disease? - 03/03/2020

Although suffering through a disease sometimes gives you immunity from catching that same disease later in life, vaccinating against diseases instead is the safest way to protect yourself and your loved ones.


Strength in Numbers: Texas Physicians Promote U.S. Census to Improve Funding - 02/28/2020

Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau tries to enumerate each person living in the U.S., and the stakes always are high. Physicians are trusted members of the community so they’re in a perfect position to talk to reluctant people about the importance of the census.


Under the Gun: How Texas Hospitals, Clinics Can Prepare for Active Shooter Situations - 02/28/2020

Texas hospitals and clinics may need to change how they prepare for active shooter situations.


Taking Their Lumps? TMA Works to Reverse Decision on Future Medical Expenses - 02/28/2020

Does a court have full discretion to decide how much of an award for future medical expenses is paid in periodic payments versus a lump sum? The 4th Court of Appeals said yes, allowing a patient to collect the majority of a $3 million award up front. Medicine is concerned the ruling goes against a tort reform protection requiring periodic payments to be based on evidence the jury used to determine the future-medical award. That ensures patients get the compensation they are due for their future medical expenses but only when they need it.


Learn More About Texas Youth Health at Symposium - 02/26/2020

If you’re interested in learning more about keeping Texas teens healthy and you’d like to make new connections to thought leaders and your peers, make plans to attend the Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy’s ninth-annual symposium, set for April 6-8 in San Antonio.


Spread the Word: Texas Needs Organ Donors - 02/25/2020

The Texas Legislature in 2019 designated Wednesday, Feb. 26, “Texas Bone Marrow, Blood, and Organ Donation Registry Day." It's an effort inspired by Anh Nguyen Reiss, MD, a Houston obstetrician and gynecologist who died in 2016 of myelodysplastic syndrome. Her unsuccessful effort to find a bone marrow donor spurred greater education about the need for more donors of all types.


Public Health: Tobacco Triumph - 02/19/2020

Texas physicians got the kind of huge win on tobacco issues they haven’t seen in decades – a law to keep tobacco products away from young people.


Reaching for the Cure: Texas Medicaid Doesn't Cover Hepatitis C Drugs Until Patients Are Seriously Ill - 02/18/2020

Infectious disease specialist Ogechika Alozie, MD, has a ready-made solution for patients diagnosed with hepatitis C now that five medications can rid patients of this deadly disease. But for Texas Medicaid patients, there’s a catch. The program does not pay for the cure based just on a diagnosis. Instead, Medicaid pays only after a blood test, biopsy, or sonogram shows the liver is so badly damaged that it’s on the verge of cirrhosis. At that point, patients who get the medication will be cured of their hepatitis C but more vulnerable to other deadly illnesses, like liver cancer.


Not Seeing Eye to Eye: Physician Employment of Optometrists Tested - 02/18/2020

A state board’s concerns over stopping conflicts of interest and a physician’s right to employ and delegate treatment to other professionals are colliding head-on. Now, it’s up to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to sort out what, in his view, the state’s optometry law allows.


Preserving Do No Harm: Supreme Court Tosses Challenge to Medical Ethics Committee Law. - 02/18/2020

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.


Clearing the Haze: Texas Physicians Demystify Vaping - 02/18/2020

The rise in EVALI deaths and hospitalizations has changed the conversation about vaping and gives physicians an opportunity to champion tighter rules and higher taxes on an untested, unhealthy product that remains lightly regulated in both the U.S. and Texas.


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.


Help Patients Stand Up to Be Counted in the Census - 02/05/2020

Physicians can improve census reporting by stressing the census’ importance to patients and explaining that it’s safe. The information people give is private and guarded from other branches of federal, state, and local governments. People will begin receiving official Census Bureau mail March 12, and the final counting will end July 31.


Texas Physicians Propose Mass Violence Prevention Strategies - 02/03/2020

How should Texas address the incidents of mass violence that have rocked the state in recent years? Physicians laid out medicine’s priorities before a special committee of the Texas House of Representatives late last week.


Grants to Promote Healthy Brain Development - 02/03/2020

Twelve Texas organizations whose programs help early childhood brain development will receive a share of $3.5 million in grants from the Episcopal Health Foundation (EHF), the foundation said last week.


CDC to Host Coronavirus Webinar Friday - 01/30/2020

If you are interested in learning more about the new coronavirus outbreak that began in China, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will host a webinar on Friday for physicians and other health care professionals.


Report Positions TMA Response to Firearms Violence - 01/29/2020

“The physicians of Texas continue to grieve with our fellow Texans over yet another heinous episode of gun violence,” Texas Medical Association President David C. Fleeger, MD, said. “This is more than a public safety problem – this is a public health crisis. Thus, it will require public health type solutions.”