Action: Nov. 16, 2012

TMA Action Nov. 16, 2012  
News and Insights from Texas Medical Association


INSIDE: Change Coming to Your Medicare Claims  

Help Needed: Ideas to Fix Medicaid
Ask DPS Now for Your New Permit
Novitas to Process Medicare Claims
CMS Call Explains Fees, PQRS, E-Rx
Submit Immunization Data Electronically

TEXPAC Scores Big Election Wins
EHR or Not?
TMA Opposes New Chiropractic Board Rules
Make a Child’s Holiday a Little Safer
This Month in Texas Medicine

Help Needed: Ideas to Fix Medicaid

TMA's Physicians Medicaid Congress is working to improve Medicaid for those who currently rely on the program or may in the future. We need your help and your ideas. What changes would you like made to the program? At the top of the congress' list are establishing competitive physician payments, mitigating the dual-eligible physician payment cut, and stopping the Office of Inspector General witch-hunts.

We know there are many more improvements, specifically ways the state could simplify and streamline administrative and paperwork requirements.

Tell us what changes you want by participating in tele-town hall meetings on Nov. 27 and 28 at 7:30 pm CST. Please be prepared to offer specific examples.

  • Nov. 27: TMA will call physicians at their home phone numbers at 7:30 pm CST in Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fort Worth, El Paso, Galveston, Houston, Lubbock, and San Antonio.
  • Nov. 28: TMA will call physicians in small urban and rural areas of the state (same number and time).

The congress, consisting of representatives from TMA's Select Committee on Medicaid, CHIP, and the Uninsured, the Border Health Caucus, and specialty societies, will review all recommendations and vote on those that the congress believes should be the top priority. Then in January, TMA will work with state lawmakers to implement these changes.

Save the date and answer your home phone when TMA calls. If you prefer that TMA call you at another number, contact the TMA Knowledge Center by phone (800) 880-7955 or email.

Office Administrators Welcome
If you would like to invite your office administrator or other member of your staff, contact the TMA Knowledge Center by phone (800) 880-7955 or email.

If you cannot participate in the tele-town hall meeting, send your idea(s) to Helen Kent Davis by Nov. 30. The more detailed and specific information you provide, the better.

Ask DPS Now for Your New Permit

If you're one of the 12,000 physicians whose state permit to prescribe controlled substances expires at the end of January, you'd better submit your renewal application now.

That's because the Department of Public Safety (DPS) has had trouble processing applications for the past year and the backlog has caused physicians a lot of trouble. As December's Texas Medicine will tell you, one West Texas emergency physician came within days of not being able to work because of DPS delays in processing his application. He finally received his new permit after TMA staff intervened on his behalf. DPS has been responsive in working with TMA to resolve renewal issues, but problems remain.

The December Texas Medicine also will tell you about TMA's plan to file a red-tape reduction bill in next year's legislative session to address this and other issues that plague physicians in their practices. TMA will urge the legislature to: 

  • Move the renewal from one year to two years,
  • Run it concurrent with a physician's license renewal, and
  • Start the renewal process with the Texas Medical Board.  

TMA also wants DPS to automate the current paper-based renewal process and allow physicians to submit and pay for renewals online, similar to updating their medical licenses. A DPS spokesperson said the agency is examining that.

Novitas to Process Medicare Claims

Novitas Solutions takes over administration of physicians' Medicare claims in Texas and several surrounding states from TrailBlazer Health Enterprises on Nov. 19. It began handling Medicare claims for hospitals and skilled nursing facilities on Oct. 29.

TMA established the Novitas Resource Center on the TMA website. It tells you what you need to do right now, provides a link to the Novitas transition website, and lists the toll-free telephone number Novitas has set up to answer your questions. The number is (855) 252-8782.

Many physicians across the state are uncertain about Medicare, its future requirements, maintaining compliance and profitability, and the claim administrator transition to Novitas. It's not too late to get informed and prepare your practice for what lies ahead.

TMA's Medicare 2013 seminar offers the best opportunity for physicians to get in-depth and specific details on all things Medicare, including the Novitas transition, "incident to" billing, recovery audits, fraud and abuse, and other key topics. Beyond covering Medicare's upcoming core issues, the seminar also plans a virtual walkthrough of Novitas' website and processes to show exactly where to find local coverage determination policies, contact information, payment practices, and anything else physicians may need to reference.

To reserve a spot for yourself or a staff member, visit the TMA Education Center.




CMS Call Explains Fees, PQRS, E-Rx

Provisions of the federal Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) and Electronic Prescribing System in the 2013 Medicare physician fee schedule are the subjects of a free Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) National Provider Call from 12:30 to 2 pm CST on Tuesday, Nov. 20.

The call also will include an overview of the fee schedule.

If you are interested, click on the link above and register now because registration closes at 11 am CST on the day of the call or when available space has been filled.

You will receive an email immediately after registering that will include information on how to dial in to the call. Check your Spam or Junk email folders if you do not receive a confirmation email. You may need to add to your email Contacts list. CMS will email you a link to the program's slide presentation the day of the call.

CMS recently announced that it has begun distributing 2011 PQRS and eRx payments and feedback reports. Incentive payments in 2011 for both programs were 1 percent of a physician's allowable charges.

Additional information about both of these programs is available on the TMA website at and

Submit Immunization Data Electronically

Physicians can now use their electronic health record (EHR) to submit adult and pediatric immunization data to ImmTrac, Texas' immunization registry operated by the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Part of Stage 1 meaningful use requires physicians to meet 20 of 25 criteria. Physicians must choose one public health measure from two in the menu set. One of two public health measures requires submission of immunization data to an immunization registry. To meet this measure, physicians must demonstrate the "capability to submit electronic data to immunization registries or immunization systems and actual submission according to applicable law and practice."

Detailed instructions on how to register for ImmTrac and how to submit data for the meaningful attestation requirements are on ImmTrac's website. Additional information is available on the ImmTrac FAQ page.

Physicians needing help with meeting meaningful use may want to turn to one of the Texas regional extension centers (RECs) established solely to help physicians with the EHR Incentive Program. The RECs are able to help all physicians but may be able to discount services for primary care physicians. Details about the REC program are available on the TMA website in the REC Resource Center.

For more information, call the TMA Health Information Technology Department at (800) 880-5720 or email HIT.


TMLT Nest Egg Ad  



TEXPAC Scores Big Election Wins

The Nov. 6 election was another successful one for the Texas Medical Association Political Action Committee as Texas voters elected a record seven TMA and TMA Alliance members to the Texas Legislature.

Sen. Robert Deuell, MD (R-Greenville), was reelected to the Texas Senate, while Rep. Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown), and Donna Campbell, MD (R-New Braunfels), were elected to their first Senate terms.

In House elections, Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Simonton), and Rep. Susan King, a TMA Alliance member, won new terms. Newcomers Greg Bonnen, MD (R-Friendswood), and J.D. Sheffield, DO (R-Gatesville), will join them.

In a tough State Senate race in Fort Worth, Rep. Mark Shelton, MD, lost to incumbent Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis. The vote was close: Only 1,600 votes separated them.

Voters reelected U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (R-Texas), to another term in Congress. 

EHR or Not?

The Louisiana State Medical Society (LSMS) wants to know why physicians don't incorporate electronic health records (EHRs) in their practices. LSMS is conducting a nationwide survey of physicians' adoption of EHRs. The society received a Physicians Foundation grant to expand on a previous statewide study.

The report on the national survey will address:

  • Factors that discriminate between non-adopters and adopters;
  • The presence of specific regional drivers (or inhibitors) of EHR adoption; and
  • The patterns of adopters that lead to meaningful use.

Physicians who take the survey are eligible to win an e-reader.  

TMA Opposes New Chiropractic Board Rules

The Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners (TBCE) is at it again. The board has lost numerous court battles with physicians over its attempts to expand chiropractors' scope of practice by passing a rule. This time, TBCE proposed a new definition of biomechanics, one of the keys to that profession’s statutorily prescribed scope.

The new rule defines "biomechanics" to cover tendons, ligaments, and joint capsules as well as "the nervous system that allows a body or part of a body to move from one place or position to another or to maintain position."

TMA and the Texas Neurological Society (TNS) promptly fired off a letter complaining that the rule goes way beyond any medical or standard English definition of biomechanics.

"It is inappropriate for the TBCE to manufacture its own definition of biomechanics in such a way that it circumvents the statutory limitations placed on the scope of chiropractic," TMA President Michael Speer, MD, and TNS President Sara Austin, MD, wrote. "This proposed rule incorporates terms to ultimately encompass procedures and areas of practice that are prohibited by statute."

What Can Practice Production Numbers Tell You?

Consider these factors if your production isn't consistent.  

A practice management tip from
TMA Practice Consulting


Make a Child’s Holiday a Little Safer

Soon, there will be more little Texans riding bicycles because some not-for-profits organizations give bikes to underprivileged children as a holiday gift. Help ensure they have a safe experience when riding their new bike by giving the gift of health: a helmet.

Your donation of $25 or more to the TMA Foundation will enable TMA's Hard Hats for Little Heads program to partner with several groups that conduct holiday giveaways. Make your donation before Dec. 21 so each child receives a lifesaving helmet with his or her new bike!

Hard Hats for Little Heads is made possible through a grant from the TMA Foundation thanks to top donors – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, Prudential, and an anonymous foundation – and gifts from physicians and their families. 

This Month in Texas Medicine

The November issue of Texas Medicine tells you about the impressive list of physicians and TMA Alliance members running for office in the Nov. 6 general election. You'll also learn how proposed changes in the state employee health plan could affect you, how physicians responded to the West Nile virus outbreak, and why the state wants specific information on causes of death. You’ll also learn how the DocbookMD app can enhance the care you give your patients.  

 Check out our digital edition

Texas Medicine RSS Feed

Don't want to wait for Texas Medicine to land in your mailbox? You can access it as an RSS feed, the same way you get the TMA Practice E-Tips RSS feed.  

E-Tips RSS Feed

TMA Practice E-Tips, a valuable source of hands-on, use-it-now advice on coding, billing, payment, HIPAA compliance, office policies and procedures, and practice marketing, is available as an RSS feed on the TMA website. Once there, you can download an RSS reader, such as Feedreader, Sharpreader, Sage, or NetNewsWire Lite. You also can subscribe to the RSS feeds for TMA news releases and for Blogged Arteries, the feed for Action.  

This Just In ...

Want the latest and hottest news from TMA in a hurry? Then log on to Blogged Arteries.

TMA Education Center  


The TMA Education Center offers convenient, one-stop access to the continuing medical education Texas physicians need. TMA's practice management, cancer, and physician health courses are now easier than ever to find online.

Physician Health and Rehabilitation, Ext. 1342

Interventions for Health: PHR Training Session and 20th Annual Retreat
2-22/23 Horseshoe Bay

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