Related Stories

Physicians to Address Care Issues at 14th Border Health Conference - 08/15/2019

Top physicians and other health care leaders will meet in Laredo, Texas, to discuss critical health care needs and the challenges that face communities along the U.S.-Mexico border, during the 14th Annual Border Health Conference.


Conference to Explore Border Health Challenges - 08/15/2019

At the convergence of two countries and two cultures, Texas’ border with Mexico has unique challenges and opportunities when it comes to health care.But what are those challenges, and how can the opportunities there be used to overcome them? Explore those questions and more at the 14th annual Border Health Conference, scheduled for Aug. 22 at the La Posada Hotel in Laredo.


Inpatient Psychiatric Hospitalization in Texas 1999 to 2010 - 08/14/2019

The primary purpose of the study was to examine the role public sector payers (Medicare and Medicaid) and providers (Texas state mental health hospitals) play in psychiatric hospitalization, using Texas annual hospital discharge files from 1999 to 2010. Psychiatric hospitalization, as defined by a primary behavioral health diagnosis (ICD-9 diagnoses 290-314.99) averaged 146,876 discharges per year, approximately 5.24% of all hospitalizations in the state. Children younger than 18 years accounted for 27,035 discharges per year. The top 4 diagnostic groups were depression (29%), bipolar disorder (22%), schizophrenia (18%), and alcohol-drug disorders (14%). More patients with schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders were served by the public sector, while more patients with depression or alcohol-drug disorders were served by private insurance. Interestingly, patients with bipolar disorder were distributed relatively evenly across both payment groups and ages. Length of stay decreased fr...


A Qualitative Approach to Understanding HIV-Related Stress in Texas - 08/14/2019

Much of the southern United States is characterized by unique social, structural, and political systems that may relate to increased stress and poor health outcomes for those living with HIV. Notably, research indicates that Texas has higher survival rates for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) than general southern trends, which might suggest that Texans living with HIV experience HIV-related stressors and coping strategies influential to health differently than those living elsewhere in the South. This study used grounded theory and semi-structured interviews to increase understanding of HIV-related stress in Texas. Participants (N=20) were 12 people living with HIV in Texas and 8 HIV-care providers in Texas. Results indicated 5 emergent stress-related themes: housing strain, substance use, limited financial abilities, relationship dynamics, and internal pressures and psychosocial resiliency. Results also highlighted some of the potential...


Report Positions TMA Response to Firearms Violence - 08/13/2019

“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.”


Migrants in Texas Detention Centers Need Basic Care, TMA President Says - 08/12/2019

Migrant parents and children housed in Texas detention centers must have access to basic necessities, including sufficient food, clean water, clean beds, and health and educational services. That is the message of a letter sent last week to state leaders and Texas lawmakers from several organizations, including the Texas Medical Association.


Talk to Patients About: Hib - 08/12/2019

Talk to your patients about Haemophilus influenzae type b – or Hib, which, despite its name, does not cause influenza. However, Hib causes several severe illnesses, particularly meningitis, mostly in children younger than 5.


Charting Medicine’s Statehouse Progress: A Successful Legislative Session for Physicians - 08/06/2019

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.


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.


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.


AIMing to Save Lives: More Standardized Care Could Bring Down Texas' Maternal Death Rate - 08/02/2019

Texas’ maternal death rate is still high, and public health officials are betting that more standardized care will bring it down with guidelines set up by the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM).


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.


What’s Killing Texans? Fixing Texas' System for Tracking Deaths - 08/02/2019

Distorted death statistics inaccurately portray how people are dying, with significant public health implications. System changes and physician education could help.


Keeping Kids Safe in and Around the Water: New AAP Guidelines - 08/02/2019

Drowning is the leading cause of death in children 1-4 years of age, and is the second leading cause of death in children under 14. In the March 2019 issue of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published a revised policy statement on “Prevention of Drowning.”


Firearms Safety: A Growing Public Health Threat - 08/02/2019

Michael Bagg was bothered by how his fellow students at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth in Houston reacted to the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, which killed 58 people. He started talking with a classmate about ways to address firearms that would improve safety while also respecting the rights of gun owners. Together, they came up with a preclinical curriculum for an elective class on firearms safety that has been taught at the school for the past two years. The course, which more than 100 students have attended, addresses topics such as the treatment of injuries and threat identification.


Swinging For Fairness: Law Creates New Ballgame for Surprise Billing - 08/02/2019

When Senate Bill 1264 was first introduced in February, insurers had the bases loaded, threatening to score a lopsided surprise-billing victory on one swing. With some deft pitching in the Texas Legislature, medicine worked its way out of the jam. The “baseball-style arbitration” measure by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) isn’t perfect, and like a hitter who’s getting busted inside, physicians will have adjustments to make. But the improved SB 1264 passed with a framework that’s fairer to everyone involved.   


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.


Opioids and Pharmacy: PMP Extension Granted - 08/02/2019

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).


Public Health: Tobacco Triumph - 08/02/2019

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.


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


Vaccinations Available for Tarrant County Kids, Adults - 08/01/2019

Uninsured and underinsured Tarrant County residents can get low-cost vaccinations to prepare for school, and to prevent harmful and potentially deadly diseases. The Texas Medical Association’s (TMA’s) Be Wise – ImmunizeSM program will join efforts with the Immunization Collaboration of Tarrant County (ICTC) to provide vaccinations to local kids, as well as adults.