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Leveraging LARCs: Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives Part of Texas’ Solution to Unwanted Pregnancies, Maternal Deaths - 10/17/2019

Today LARCs are one of the safest and most-effective types of reversible birth control, but their reputation took a huge hit in the 1970s thanks to the Dalkon Shield intrauterine device (IUD). Memories persist of news reports about the shield’s many defects. This mistrust of LARCs — along with other obstacles to their wider use — hamper progress toward a wider goal for Texas medicine: improving maternal health and reducing maternal deaths across the state.


Health Officials Lay Out Blueprint for Making Texas Healthier - 10/16/2019

Texas health officials Wednesday released their inaugural "Blueprint for a Healthy Texas," which identifies 12 health care target areas most important to the state and lays out plans for addressing them in 2020.


“Blueprint” Can Chart Course Toward Healthier Texans - 10/16/2019

Please attribute this statement about the Blueprint for a Healthy Texas initiative to David C. Fleeger, MD, president of the Texas Medical Association (TMA). “Congratulations to Executive Commissioner Dr. Courtney Phillips and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission for launching this ambitious multipoint initiative to improve the health of Texans..."


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.


TMA to Host Panelists to Highlight CPRIT’s Cancer-Fighting Achievements - 10/15/2019

As Texans head to voting booths in early November to choose whether to extend Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) funding, the Texas Medical Association (TMA) and Texas Public Health Coalition (TPHC) will explore the state’s cancer research and prevention advancements, at its third Distinguished Speaker Series event. 


Prevention of Opioid Abuse Through Education - 10/15/2019

HB 405 was written to require collaborative efforts and involve many stakeholders who are involved in the health and well-being of mothers and infants across our state. This is the best way to ensure that as many women as possible hear about NAS and its harmful outcomes. Creating more awareness of what causes NAS and potential impacts of the condition will only help our state become a better place for all mothers and babies. HB 405 would help bring needed attention and resources to help educate our state on NAS.


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.


TMA Supports Texas A&M Vaping Ban - 10/09/2019

“The Texas Medical Association strongly commends the Texas A&M University System’s ban of vaping products on all of its campuses and properties. As current nationwide investigations and health warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirm, these products can be dangerous and even lethal, even though manufacturers have marketed these devices as safer alternatives to smoking."


House Bill 3703 (86th Texas Legislature) and Expansion of Texas’ Compassionate Use Act - 10/09/2019

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 treat-ment with low-THC cannabis to patients.


TMA Celebrates 25 Years of Bike Helmet Giveaways With Events Statewide in October - 10/08/2019

The Texas Medical Association (TMA) will give away nearly 3,500 bicycle helmets to Texas children in October to celebrate the 25th birthday of its Hard Hats for Little Heads program. Since starting Hard Hats for Little Heads in 1994, TMA has given away more than 325,000 helmets to Texas children.


Texas Neighborhoods Worlds Apart in Life Expectancy - 10/08/2019

The Houston-based Episcopal Health Foundation last week issued a report comparing the life expectancy at birth of someone born in each of Texas’ 4,709 census tracts. Given the growing recognition of the importance of social determinants of health, I thought I’d dive into the report to find some good examples to share with you. I didn’t realize how deep that dive would become.


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.


November Ballot Will Decide Future of Cancer Research in Texas - 10/03/2019

Billions of dollars in cancer-fighting grants, research, and preventive care are on the line when Texas voters go to the polls on Nov. 5. Physicians and other supporters hope voters will elect to continue funding the state’s cancer-fighting agency, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).


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.


The Doctor - and Lawyer - Will See You Now: Medical-Legal Partnerships - 09/27/2019

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...


The Changing Face of the Opioid Epidemic - 09/27/2019

Opioid abuse and overdose deaths continue to rise in the U.S., with more than 46,000 opioid-related deaths in 2017, up from 5,000 in 2000, data show. But the problem can’t be explained in total deaths alone. The crisis also has changed in character since 2001, new data show.


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


Watch for Imelda-Caused Health Problems - 09/26/2019

Physicians in Southeast Texas should be on the lookout for potential respiratory and intestinal illnesses in the coming days – a result of air and water pollution caused by Tropical Storm Imelda last week.


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.


Eustace Primary School Students to Receive Bike Helmets - 09/24/2019

To protect children from head injuries and encourage exercise, Henderson County physicians and their spouses will partner with the Texas Medical Association’s (TMA’s) Hard Hats for Little Heads program to give more than 300 Eustace children a free bicycle helmet.


Prepare for Disasters with TMA’s Help - 09/24/2019

Tropical Depression Imelda deluged parts of Southeast Texas late last week, serving as an all-too-real reminder of the devastation that natural disasters can cause. Whether you or your practice have been directly affected by the storm, or if you are caring for patients who have been, look to the Texas Medical Association’s Disaster Preparedness and Response Resource Center for up-to-date information and tools.


Division of Population Health and Medical Education - 09/23/2019

The Division of Population Health and Medical Education focuses on public health, scientific, and patient safety issues throughout the state, emphasizing areas in which high-quality medical care and scientific expertise can benefit all Texans. In addition the division maintains close relationships with academic medicine and monitors physician workforce trends.