News

Will You Get a Medicare Bonus or Pay Cut Next Year? - 07/11/2019

 If you participated in the 2018 Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) under the Quality Payment Program (QPP), it’s now possible to check whether you’ll receive a Medicare payment bonus or cut next year.  Physicians should check their 2018 MIPS performance feedback and 2020 payment adjustment as soon as possible in case the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) made mistakes when calculating your data, which happened last year. 


Get Up to Date on Texas' New Fetal Death Reporting - 07/11/2019

Currently, Texas physicians must report fetal deaths on paper forms. But beginning Aug. 1, those records will be filed electronically to the Texas Electronic Vital Events Registrar, also called TxEVER. To help physicians prepare for the transition, the Texas Department of State Health Services will host two physician-only webinars from 6:30 to 7:30 pm July 16 and July 30.


Problem With Medicare’s PECOS Being Resolved, Officials Say - 07/11/2019

A software update to Medicare’s Provider Enrollment, Chain, and Ownership System (PECOS) implemented last month has created problems associated with existing and new group reassignments. Because of this, data from PECOS to the Multi-Carrier System for these changes have been delayed for all Medicare Administrative Contractors.


TMA Pushes to End Surprise Bills – The Right Way - 07/10/2019

TMA’s chief lobbyist is working Capitol Hill this week to pass a bill that spares patients the pain of surprise bills but doesn’t give health insurance companies complete control over what it pays physicians who treat patients out of network.


Register Now for 2019 TMA Fall Conference - 07/10/2019

Join your fellow Texas physician leaders at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort near Austin on Sept. 13-14. Advance registration is now open online, and it’s faster and easier than ever to register.


New Laws Improve Texas' Opioid Prescription Process - 07/09/2019

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.


Talk to Patients About: Diphtheria - 07/08/2019

 Diphtheria infected more than 200,000 and killed 15,000 in the U.S. in 1920, but the growing use of vaccines during that decade caused rates to drop, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says. In the 1940s, the diphtheria vaccine was combined with tetanus and pertussis, and the shot became routine for children. Between 2004 and 2017, only two U.S. cases were reported, CDC says.


Talk to Your Patients About: Meningococcal B - 07/08/2019

Texas Medicine recently highlighted Meningococcal B, a bacterial infection that can affect the blood, brain, and spinal cord with lasting effects like learning difficulties, hearing loss, or limb amputation. The Meningococcal B vaccine is relatively new, having won Food and Drug Administration approval in 2014.


Time Is Running Out to Apply for a TMAF Grant - 07/03/2019

Helping your community to be healthier couldn’t be easier. Just apply for a Texas Medical Association Foundation grant that can help fund an immunization clinic, health fair, smoking cessation program, and more. To apply for a grant, submit a letter of intent by July 15, and a completed application by July 31. Applicants will be notified of grant decisions the week of Sept. 16.


Beware of Phony TMB or DEA Agents - 07/03/2019

The Texas Medical Board (TMB) is warning physicians and pharmacies of a scam involving criminals who sometimes pose as TMB officials. TMB passed along a report from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that says physicians registered with the DEA are receiving calls and emails from criminals who identify themselves as DEA personnel or other law enforcement agents.


Maternal Health Problems in Central Texas Underscore Statewide Crisis - 07/03/2019

Central Texas has significant maternal health challenges, including the highest rate of maternal death among black women, in part because of barriers to health care coverage and because resources are underused, according to a report by the nonprofit Texans Care for Children.


Health Care is Difficult to Afford, More Than Half of Texans Say - 07/02/2019

Health care is the toughest living expense for most Texans to afford, and many skip or postpone tests, medications, and basic procedures because of the cost. And that very well could be bad for their health, especially for the millions who lack insurance. Those are the findings of a statewide poll on the affordability of and access to health care in Texas published last month by the Episcopal Health Foundation.


Improve Your Work-Life Balance with These Simple Steps - 07/01/2019

You’re a busy physician, so you might not always have time to take care of yourself as well as your patients. But taking care of yourself doesn’t just mean focusing on your physical well-being. Your mental, financial, and emotional fitness need to be looked after as well. The Texas Medical Association’s Committee on Physician Health and Wellness can help you assess your work-life balance and determine your core values.


Prescribing Changes in Texas: Know What You Need to Know - 06/28/2019

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. TMA will outline what prescribers can expect as a result of these advocacy efforts in a free live webinar on July 31.


Texas is No. 1 in “Hotspots” For Vaccine Exemptions - 06/27/2019

Houston, Fort Worth, Plano, and Austin are among the cities in the nation with the highest number of kindergartners who have not received vaccinations because of nonmedical reasons, according to the study published this week in the journal PLOS Medicine.


Don’t Change Poverty Level Adjustment, TMA Tells Feds - 06/27/2019

Possible changes to how the federal government determines the national poverty level could negatively affect the well-being and health care options for large portions of the population, a coalition of 10 state medical associations, including the Texas Medical Association, told the nation’s chief statistician this week.


AMA House Punts on Texas Plan to Fix QPP - 06/26/2019

A decision on whether the American Medical Association (AMA) will join the Texas Medical Association’s call for major changes to Medicare’s Quality Payment Program (QPP) will have to wait a few more months, the AMA House of Delegates decided at its annual meeting in Chicago last week. The QPP overhaul was just one of 11 resolutions the Texas delegation to the AMA took to the five-day meeting. Most of the other 10 received a very warm welcome.


Legislative Hotline: Governor Signs Key Prior Authorization Bill - 06/26/2019

The work of the 86th Texas Legislature passed its final stage at midnight Sunday, the deadline for Gov. Greg Abbott to to sign, veto, or allow bills to become law without his signature. Among those he signed this weekend was Senate Bill 1742, which requires greater transparency with prior authorizations and mandates that utilization reviews be conducted by a Texas-licensed physician in the same or similar specialty as the physician requesting the service or procedure. It also requires health plan directories to clearly identify which physician specialties are in-network at network facilities.


Raise Awareness About HIV Testing - 06/26/2019

An estimated 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And a lot of people who have HIV don’t know that they have it – about 162,500, or 1 in 7, people with HIV, the CDC said. That’s why the CDC has designated June 27 as National HIV Testing Day.


TMA to Congress: Undo Payment Freeze, Help Physicians With MACRA - 06/25/2019

Physicians participating in the Quality Payment Program’s Merit-Based Incentive Payment System and alternative payment models need help from Congress to succeed, and lawmakers need to undo an upcoming freeze on Medicare payments. That’s what the American Medical Association, the Texas Medical Association, and dozens of other medical societies told House of Representatives and Senate leaders in both parties in a letter sent last week.


EHR Rules Would Add to Physicians’ Costs, Burdens, TMA Says - 06/25/2019

Proposed rules to promote electronic health record interoperability across the health care system would place excessive burdens and costs on physicians, while making it more difficult for patients to access their electronic health information.  That’s the thrust of a pair of letters the Texas Medical Association wrote to two federal health agencies last week.


TMA: No Government Price Controls for Out-of-Network Billing Disputes - 06/25/2019

The government shouldn’t set the fees physicians are paid for out-of-network care. That’s the message the Texas Medical Association is sending to key members of the U.S. Senate as lawmakers consider a troubling federal bill.


Be On the Lookout for MIPS Audit Request - 06/25/2019

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has contracted with Guidehouse, a nationwide consulting firm, to audit physicians who participate in the Merit-Based Incentive Program, which is under the Quality Payment Program. If you submitted MIPS data for 2017 and/or 2018, you could receive a request for information via email or certified letter from Guidehouse.


Governor Vetoes Bill That Would’ve Protected Texas’ Youngest - 06/20/2019

Legislation to protect young children by using rear-facing car seats made it to the finish line during the legislative session that ended in May, only to be vetoed by Gov. Greg Abbott early this week. House Bill 448 by Rep. Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie) would have required children younger than 2 to ride in a rear-facing car set, unless the child is taller than 40 inches and weighs more than 40 pounds, or had a medical condition preventing him or her from sitting in such a seat.


Scammers Targeting Texas Pulmonologists Seeking $500 - 06/19/2019

The Texas Medical Association is warning pulmonary physicians to be aware of a scam involving a letter from a phony medical board that seeks $500 “for Pulmonary Disease Certification Status Verification.” Two Texas pulmonologists contacted TMA to report a letter from the “American Board of Pulmonary Disease” notifying them of a “very important requirement to continue certification in pulmonary disease at this time. You are on record having failed to previously register, and must comply.”