Action: Sept. 4, 2013

TMA Action Sept. 4, 2013      News and Insights from Texas Medical Association            

INSIDE: Medicare Data Release Worries Medicine


Medicare Data Release Worries Medicine
National, State Lawmakers to Address Fall Conference
Pertussis Prompts Health Alert
Measles Outbreak Puts Texas in the Spotlight
“Hey Doc” Gives You Answers to Patients’ ACA Questions
CMS Webinars On EHRs, 1500 Claim Forms
You Can Help Design TMA's New PSO
Mobile Medicine Comes to Tech Tuesday
2014 Leadership College Class Chosen
Does Your Practice Have an ICD-10 Physician Expert?
What the TMA Foundation Did Last Year
Protect Your Community: Apply for a Vaccination Grant
TMA Honors Science Teachers
This Month in Texas Medicine

Medicare Data Release Worries Medicine

The potential release of Medicare physician claims data to the public "can have unintentional, adverse consequences for patients, providers, and the health care system" if not done correctly, the Texas Medical Association, the American Medical Association, and other state medical societies warned federal officials in August.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) asked for public comments on whether and how to modify its current data release policy after a Florida court lifted an injunction that prohibited the release. Groups can now file Freedom of Information Act requests for physician payment data, and CMS will decide to release the data on a case-by-case basis.

"For any data release program, safeguards must be in place to ensure that neither false nor misleading conclusions are derived from this information," organized medicine said in the letter to CMS. 

The medical societies urged CMS to adopt policies that:


  • Focus on release efforts that seek to improve health care quality;
  • Ensure accuracy of the data by educating those accessing the information and allowing physicians to review and correct any errors; and
  • Follow existing safeguards, including appropriate risk-adjustment and attribution methods, for any public reports that use the information.


"If used correctly, this data can provide accurate and meaningful information to patients, physicians, and other stakeholders that can improve quality at the point of care," the letter said. "We therefore support the appropriate use of Medicare claims data to inform and improve our health care system."

They urged CMS to work with physicians to develop policies to promote "the reliable and effective use of this information. We urge CMS to carefully consider how use of this data may change over time, and the role it may play in an evolving Medicare system. Our goal is to promote efforts focused on improving the quality of patient care while safeguarding against potential abuses that could negatively impact health care outcomes or diminish the privacy of Medicare physicians and patients." 

The letter also expressed concerns about a threat to patient and physician privacy from release of the information and misinterpretation of the data.

National, State Lawmakers to Address Fall Conference

The patient-physician relationship will be the focus of the TMA Fall Conference, Friday and Saturday, Oct. 18-19, at the AT&T Conference Center in Austin.

Saturday's session begins at 7:30 am with a  Dawn Duster session on TMA's new Physician Services Organization for Patient Care.

The general session begins at 8:45 am with remarks by TMA President Stephen Brotherton, MD. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) will follow with an update on issues in Congress.

Next on the agenda will be a panel discussion on Protecting the Patient-Physician Relationship. Panel members will be state Reps. Susan King (R-Abilene), Sarah Davis (R-Houston), and Nicole Collier (D-Fort Worth).

The session ends with a recap of the 2013 legislative session by Evan Smith, chief executive officer and editor-in-chief of the Texas Tribune

Need a flu or Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccination? If so, you can get one or both at the conference. Physicians and their families, medical students, and office staff can get a vaccination from 7:30 to 8:30 am on Saturday. The event is sponsored by TMA's Committee on Infectious Diseases and TMA's Be Wise — ImmunizeSM program. Flu shots will cost $27; FluMist, $40; and Tdap shots, $80.

Be Wise — Immunize is a joint initiative led by TMA physicians and the TMA Alliance, funded by the TMA Foundation through generous grants from H-E-B and the TMF Health Quality Institute. Since the program began in 2004, more than 235,000 vaccinations have been given to Texas children, adolescents, and adults.

Be sure to reserve your vaccination when you register for the conference.

TMA councils, boards, committees, and sections will meet during the conference.

Book your hotel reservation by Sept. 26 to receive a discounted room rate.

Be Wise — Immunize is a service mark of the Texas Medical Association.  

Pertussis Prompts Health Alert

If Texas pertussis cases continue to be diagnosed and reported at the current rate, the deadly disease will reach its highest level in the state in more than 50 years, warns the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) in a health alert issued Sept. 3.


Doctors who suspect a pertussis infection must report it to their local health department within one working day. Patients who have pertussis should complete five days of antibiotic treatment before returning to work or school.

"This is extremely concerning," said Lisa Cornelius, MD, DSHS infectious diseases medical officer. "Pertussis is highly infectious and can cause serious complications, especially in babies, so people should take it seriously."

DSHS strongly encourages people to make sure their children's and their own vaccinations are current. Nearly 2,000 pertussis cases have been reported this year, including two pertussis-related deaths in infants too young to be vaccinated.

To better protect babies, DSHS recommends pregnant women be vaccinated during every pregnancy, preferably between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy. This helps protect the baby before he or she can start the vaccination series at 2 months and helps keep the mother from getting sick and infecting the baby. Fathers, siblings, extended family members, health care professionals, and others who are around newborns should also be vaccinated.

Further details on diagnosing and treating the disease are included in the DSHS health alert.



Measles Outbreak Puts Texas in the Spotlight

The measles outbreak in North Texas has been the focus of national news stories this past week, and TMA has been on call to respond. The TMA family has reinforced the importance of vaccinations and how one unvaccinated person can leave a community vulnerable to a preventable disease.  


At least 21 people in North Texas have the measles because some members of the Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark didn't have their children vaccinated.  

Jason Terk, MD, a Keller pediatrician and member of TMA's Council on Legislation, was featured in an NPR story. An NBC news story featured Ari Brown, MD, an Austin pediatrician. Both serve on TMA's Be Wise — ImmunizeSM Physician Advisory Panel.  

News coverage on CNN and NBC also brought attention to the efforts of the Immunization Collaboration of Tarrant County (ICTC) in conjunction with Be Wise — Immunize. ICTC vaccinated 4,400 children in August alone. And, since 1991, the coalition has vaccinated more than 90,000 children in the Fort Worth area. 

TMA's Be Wise ― Immunize program, of which ICTC is a collaborator, has given more than 240,000 shots to Texas children, adolescents, and adults since the program began in 2004.

Be Wise — Immunize is a service mark of the Texas Medical Association.     


TMLT Action Ad 4.13      

“Hey Doc” Gives You Answers to Patients’ ACA Questions

Americans' physicians are their most trusted source for information on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to a new national poll, but that's not where they're getting their news.

TMA is about to change all of that, and not by turning your practice into ACA information-central.


Using a combination of video, the Internet, traditional news media, and social media outlets, TMA's "Hey Doc" project will provide answers to the most frequently asked questions about the new ACA insurance marketplaces directly to your patients. The project will also give member physicians monthly fact sheets to help answer those questions that come up as the ACA marketplaces begin accepting applications on Oct. 1, 2013. The ACA's requirement that all Americans have health insurance (the "individual mandate") kicks in Jan. 1, 2014.

"Our goal is to position TMA and Texas physicians as caring sources of credible information within the maelstrom of confusion surrounding the ACA marketplace rollout," said Steve Levine, TMA vice president for communications.

Look for the "Hey Doc" project materials to begin appearing by mid-September.

In the meantime, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department awarded $67 million in grants to 105 organizations to be "navigators" to help consumers shop for and enroll in health plans through the marketplace. The eight Texas organizations that received almost $11 million in navigator grants are: 

*Selected as a navigator in more than one state. 


CMS Webinars On EHRs, 1500 Claim Forms

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will conduct webinars on Stage 2 of the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program and an updated 1500 Claim Form in September.


The one-hour EHR webinar begins at noon CDT on Wednesday, Sept. 11. It will review the Stage 2 requirements that begin in 2014. Click on the link to register, and CMS will send you information on how to connect to the webinar. You may email advance questions to Kathy Maris at CMS through Sept. 6. Use "Sept. 11 EHR Webinar" in the subject line of your message.

The 1500 Claim Form webinar runs from 2 to 3 pm CDT on Tuesday, Sept. 17. CMS says changes to the form include making it meet the requirements of the ICD-10 coding system you must begin using Oct. 1, 2014. The first part of this webinar will review the changes to the form, explain the transition timeline, and outline the steps practices need to take now. The second half will be a review of one practice management vendor's work to implement the changes to the form.



You Can Help Design TMA's New PSO

TMA is establishing the TMA Physician Services Organization (PSO), a physician-led organization that will offer services that bolster clinical and financial autonomy, and you have an opportunity to help us design it.


Dan McCoy, MD, chair of the TMA PSO Task Force and a member of the TMA Board of Trustees, says TMA needs feedback from physicians like you to ensure that we structure and design the PSO to bring you the most benefit.

TMA will conduct online focus groups allowing you to confidentially share your experiences with and thoughts about the challenges of being a physician in Texas today. The one-hour focus groups are scheduled on these dates:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 17, 4-5 pm CDT;
  • Tuesday, Sept. 17, 6-7 pm CDT;
  • Wednesday, Sept. 18, 4-5 pm CDT; and
  • Wednesday, Sept. 18, 6-7 pm CDT.

To participate in the focus group, you need only a telephone and access to a standard Internet browser (Internet Explorer or Google Chrome for a PC; or Safari, Firefox, or Chrome from an Apple MAC).

Each focus group will be limited to 25 physicians to allow for highly interactive sessions. You can register to participate in a focus group by emailing Include your top two session choices. We will confirm registrations and provide log-in information and instructions via email.    


 TMAIT Action Ad 4.13  

Mobile Medicine Comes to Tech Tuesday

Mobile technology has moved well beyond simply making a phone call or sending a text message. There are now full practice mobile solutions for everything from patient registration to HIPAA-secure consultations. This year, for the first time, sales of tablets will outpace the sales of laptop computers, confirming the rapid move toward a more mobile medical industry and a more mobile patient.


September's Tech Tuesday webinar, The Mobile Movement: Technology on the Go, will discuss the exciting trends in mobile technology as they apply to your practice, your patients, and your work flow. It will also highlight how you can increase efficiency – and reduce costs – through the use of mobile communication tools as compared with more traditional methods.

Register today and join us on Sept. 17 from noon to 1 pm CDT for the Tech Tuesday webinar, The Mobile Movement: Technology on the Go, and remember that Tech Tuesday programs will continue on the third Tuesday of the month through the end of the year. 



2014 Leadership College Class Chosen

Twenty-five physicians from across Texas have been chosen as the Class of 2014 of the TMA Leadership College (TMALC). The class, chosen from a record 58 applicants, is the largest one yet. The first class had 28 applicants.


TMA established the leadership college in 2010 as part of its effort to ensure strong and sustainable physician leadership within organized medicine. It is designed for active TMA members younger than 40 or who are in their first year of practice. TMALC graduates are thought leaders who can close the divide among clinicians and health care policymakers and are trusted leaders within their local communities. TMALC includes more than 40 hours of classroom instruction. Classes begin in October.

The TMALC Class of 2013 graduated at TexMed 2013 in May.

An educational grant from The Physicians Foundation supports TMALC. The Physicians Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) national organization that seeks to advance the work of practicing physicians and to improve the quality of health care for all Americans. Louis J. Goodman, PhD, executive vice president and chief executive officer of TMA, is president of the foundation.

For more information, call (800) 880-1300, ext. 1443, or (512) 370-1443, or email Leadership College



Does Your Practice Have an ICD-10 Physician Expert?

Every practice, no matter how big or small, needs the leadership, knowledge, and foresight of a physician expert to properly and efficiently implement ICD-10 next year. He or she must become familiar with every aspect of ICD-10 and be a content expert to partners and staff. As the executive of the implementation process, that doctor must make sure all necessary tasks have been delegated and keep the conversion on track.


Becoming an ICD-10 content expert requires education and a strong grasp of the operational requirements. TMA's new live seminar, Achieving ICD-10 Implementation Success, will guide you and your staff through ICD-10 conversion. Register yourself and your staff today.

By now, the early stages of ICD-10 planning should be well under way, if not finished, for most practices. As the one-year countdown to the transition date approaches, it is important that your practice's physician expert lead the charge toward the implementation process and shift the focus from preparation to a more hands-on understanding of ICD-10. This includes practicing coding with the new code set and auditing old and new charts to access practice readiness. During this final year leading up to the transition, it is important to become an expert in applying ICD-10 codes to patient diagnostic settings so that on Oct. 1, 2014, everyone involved in the process is used to documenting and coding for the new standard.

For more information and TMA aids in the ICD-10 transition, see our online ICD-10 Resource Page.



What the TMA Foundation Did Last Year

See the impact TMA Foundation-funded initiatives are making on the health of Texans in its 2012 annual report, Creating a Healthy Now & a Healthy Future: A Strategic Priority.


Each program is linked to TMA's strategic plan through a focus on prevention, quality and access to care, and educating Texans to make smart health decisions. From small Texas towns to big Texas cities, you'll see the impact that medicine, business, and community is making in TMAF’s 2012 annual report. 


 PC Action Ad Sept 13     

Protect Your Community: Apply for a Vaccination Grant

The recent measles outbreak in North Texas reminds us how one unvaccinated person can cause a serious disease outbreak. TMA can help you keep your community healthy. Apply for a TMA Be Wise — ImmunizeSM local impact grant to prevent measles, flu, and bacterial pneumonia or to protect babies from pertussis. 


You have until Oct. 1 to submit your application for a grant of up to $2,000. Grantees have until December 2014 to use the funds.

Grants are available to TMA physician clinics/practices, medical students, TMA Alliance members, and county medical societies. Events can target a particular vaccination or focus on a certain population, such as the elderly. Contact Tammy Wishard, TMA's outreach coordinator, at (800) 880-1300, ext. 1470; or (512) 370-1470 to find out more.

TMA's Be Wise ― Immunize program has given more than 235,000 shots to Texas children, adolescents, and adults since the program began in 2004. Be Wise — Immunize and the local impact grants are funded by a grant TMA has received from the TMA Foundation thanks to generous support from H-E-B and the TMF Health Quality Institute and gifts from physicians and their families.

Be Wise —Immunize is a service mark of the Texas Medical Association.



TMA Honors Science Teachers

TMA and the TMA Foundation will honor deserving Texas educators again in 2014 with the Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching.


Three Texas science teachers will receive $5,000 each and an expense-paid trip to TexMed 2014 in Fort Worth in May. Their schools will receive $2,000 awards to use toward the science curriculum. In addition, second-place winners receive $500 for their schools.

The annual awards recognize and reward elementary, middle, and high school teachers who share their energy and enthusiasm for science with their students, as innovative teaching supports the basic premise of medicine – that health care has a scientific foundation.

Who is eligible? All Texas state-certified, full-time public and private school science teachers with a minimum of two years of classroom experience who will return to teach during the 2014-15 school year. All areas of science are welcome.

To nominate science teachers or to apply, visit the TMA website, where you will find more information and the appropriate forms. The deadline for nominations is Oct. 19; for applications, Dec. 28. TMA will ask all nominees to complete an online application packet.

Questions? Email Gail Schatte at TMA, or call her at (800) 880-1300, ext. 1600, or (512) 370-1600.

The awards are supported by the TMA Foundation thanks to an endowment established by Dr. and Mrs. Ernest C. Butler of Austin; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, which has generously supported the program for nine years; Dr. Gerard and Mrs. Carrie Ventura of Nacogdoches, who have supported the program for two years; and the Potter-Randall County Medical Society in Amarillo. 


This Month in Texas Medicine

The September issue of Texas Medicine marks the 10th anniversary of tort reform with an examination of how it has lowered your liability premiums, brought more doctors to Texas, and improved patients' access to care. You can also read about optimism that the Sustainable Growth Rate may be on its way out, the new TMA-won law against "silent PPOs," and how physicians are working to reduce maternal deaths. And, you'll find out what the Bridges to Excellence program is all about and learn what a "doctorpreneur" is.

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. 

Live Webinars  

The Mobile Movement: Technology on the Go 

Live Seminars

Achieving ICD-10 Implementation Success

Physician Health and Wellness, Ext. 1342  

Getting Older: Beats the Alternative!
9/20-21 Montgomery

Healthy Physicians: Healthy Patients
9/7 Houston
10/26 San Antonio



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Last Updated On

January 27, 2016