Hello, Novitas? Is That You?
TMA will hold a tele-town hall meeting at 8 pm CDT on Oct. 25 as part of its ongoing efforts to help physicians prepare for the Nov. 19 switch from TrailBlazer Health Enterprises to Novitas Solutions for processing Medicare claims. Novitas representatives will join TMA physician and staff experts to give you a quick overview of what the transition means to you and to field your questions.
TMA will call you at your home phone number. If you would prefer TMA to call you at another number or if you would like to include your office administrator or another staff member, contact the TMA Knowledge Center by phone at (800) 880-7955 or by email.
TMA's Novitas Resource Center tells you what you need to do right now, provides links to the Novitas transition website, gives you a heads-up on training events such as the upcoming webinar in mid-October, and lists the Novitas toll-free phone number established to answer your questions. That number is (855) 252-8782.
While Texas physicians switch to Novitas on Nov. 19, hospitals and skilled nursing facilities will switch Oct. 29. Novitas will also handle Medicare claims in Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.
Novitas Posts E&M Score Sheets
Evaluation and management (E&M) procedures for Medicare exams can be quite confusing. But the Nov. 19 administrator transition from TrailBlazer Health Enterprises to Novitas Solutions is an opportunity to hit the ground running with new tools from your new Medicare administrative contractor – provided you familiarize yourself with them beforehand.
Novitas Solutions made its Evaluation and Management Exam Score Sheets available on their website in several formats to make the switch as simple as possible. Novitas sorted the score sheets by specialty; they are an easy reference for the level of care given and a way to ensure that you've accounted for every service rendered. Remember the old adage "If it isn't documented, it hasn't been done."
TMA's Medicare 2013 seminar series will cover E&M documentation and billing, as well as many other trends and changes coming to Medicare over the next year.
Survey Gauges Physician Dissatisfaction
Physicians are working fewer hours, seeing fewer patients, and limiting access to their practices in light of significant changes to the medical practice environment, according to a comprehensive new survey of practicing physicians by The Physicians Foundation.
Among the key findings of one of the largest physician surveys ever undertaken in the United States are:
- More than 60 percent of physicians would retire today if they had the means.
- Physicians see 16.6 percent fewer patients per day than they did in 2008, a decline that could lead to millions of fewer patients seen per year.
- More than 52 percent limit Medicare patients' access to their practices or plan to do so.
- More than 26 percent have closed their practices to Medicaid patients.
- Physicians spend more than 22 percent of their time on nonclinical paperwork, resulting in a loss of some 165,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) physicians.
The survey also found that over the next one to three years, more than 50 percent of physicians will cut back on patients seen, work part-time, switch to concierge medicine, retire, or take other steps likely to reduce patient access.
Texas physicians' responses to some of the key Physicians Foundation survey questions were generally along the same lines as their colleagues across the country.
Forty-five percent of Texas doctors described their feelings about the current state of the medical profession as somewhat negative, compared with 44.8 percent of physicians nationally. Sixty-seven percent of Texans said they would retire if they could, compared with 61 percent nationally. Thirty percent of Texas physicians plan to place new or additional limits on accepting Medicaid patients, compared with 22.2 percent nationally. The numbers for limiting acceptance of new Medicare patients were similar.
"It is clear that the introduction of nearly 30 million new patients into the U.S. health care system through health care reform, added to the already growing physician shortage, will have profound implications for patient access to medical care," said Walker Ray, MD, vice president of the foundation and chair of its Research Committee. "The rate of private practice physicians leaving the medical field, as well as changes in practice patterns that reduce the number of hours spent seeing and treating patients, is alarming. When these lost hours are added up, we get a much fuller and more ominous picture of the kind of access crisis that patients may soon face."
The Physicians Foundation Board of Directors will share the survey results with political leaders, policymakers, and the news media nationwide.
The survey, fielded online from late March to early June 2012 by Irving-based Merritt Hawkins for The Physicians Foundation, is based on responses from 13,575 physicians across the country.
Created by settlement of organized medicine's landmark antiracketeering lawsuit against America's largest for-profit HMOs, The Physicians Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that seeks to advance the work of practicing physicians and help facilitate health care delivery to patients. The foundation's activities include grantmaking, research, and policy studies. The foundation provides grants to nonprofit organizations, universities, hospital systems, and medical society foundations that support its mission and, since 2005, has awarded numerous multiyear grants totaling more than $28 million.
Louis J. Goodman, PhD, TMA's executive vice president and chief executive officer, is the president of the foundation.
Make a Difference on Nov. 6
Tuesday, Oct. 9, is the last day to register to vote in the Nov. 6 general election. Make sure you are registered to vote in this important election.
The Texas Medical Association Political Action Committee (TEXPAC), TMA's political arm, is positioned to help elect an unprecedented eight TMA and TMA Alliance members. This would give TMA more elected members than any other state in the country – a true testament to our organization and the public's trust in our message. (More information on medicine's candidates and the efforts by TEXPAC and the alliance will be published in the November issue of Texas Medicine.)
In addition to physician and alliance members, TEXPAC played a major role in defeating several anti-medicine incumbents and helping some new candidates win open seat elections.
These important dates lead up to Election Day:
First day of early voting – Oct. 22
Last day to apply for ballot by mail – Oct. 30
Last day of early voting – Nov. 2