ICD-10 Update Creates Problems for PQRS Reporting, Value Modifier
As if physicians don't have enough headaches and hassles to deal with to keep their practice doors open, the latest news from the American Medical Association is not good. It turns out the Oct. 1 ICD-10 update will negatively affect some physicians who participate in quality reporting for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) and Value-Based Payment Modifier (VM) programs. To determine whether the update affects your specialty, review the list of affected quality measures.

Be in the Know When You Purchase an EHR
The recently updated TMA EHR Vendor Comparison Tool provides TMA member physicians access to an assessment of EHR products that have a solid Texas market base. It gives physicians a view of company information, product functionality, pricing, and interoperability capabilities when comparing EHR systems.

Half of All U.S. Physicians Say They Are Burned Out
U.S. physicians love their patients and hate paperwork. Unfortunately, a newly released survey by The Physicians Foundation finds that the paperwork is winning. Fifty-four percent of physicians surveyed say their morale is somewhat or very negative, and 49 percent say they either often or always feel burned out.

Register Now for the Texas Quality Summit
This fall, TMA is hosting a unique event to help you improve performance, increase efficiency, and continue to deliver high-quality care. Join your colleagues for the Texas Quality Summit Nov. 18–19, and get the latest resources and hands-on training to take your practice to the next level. Register now, as seating is limited.

CMS Releases PQRS Feedback Reports, QRURs
If you submitted data to Medicare's Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) for the 2015 program year, now is the time to review your quality reports. The reports include information about your quality and cost performance and whether you'll get hit with penalties or receive bonus payments. Access and review your reports now, as the deadline to appeal any errors is Nov. 30, 2016.

Houston Judge Changes Course, Says DOs Can File Commitment Papers
Physicians across Texas are breathing a sigh of relief — at least for now — thanks to Harris County Probate Judge Rory Olsen's decision to allow doctors of osteopathy (DOs) to file Certificates of Medical Examinations needed for mental health commitments. TMA and a host of other physician organizations have been fighting the judge's initial ruling, which prohibited DOs from signing the commitment papers.

TMA Supports JUA's Ability to Write New Business
On Oct. 5, TMA sent a letter urging Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) Commissioner David Mattax to prevent the Texas Medical Liability Insurance Underwriting Association (JUA) from suspending the writing of new business. The JUA, established in 1975, is "critically important as a last stop gap to assure that licensed physicians and health care providers are able to continue to provide medical and dental care for their Texas patients," TMA wrote.

TMF Launches Quality Payment Program Network
The TMF Quality Innovation Network Quality Improvement Organization (QIN-QIO) has created a new network to help physicians and clinicians make the transition under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) to participate in Medicare's new Quality Payment Program and its Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). To learn more and create a free account, visit the TMF Quality Payment Program web page.

What Happened to 2017's Half-Percent Medicare Fee Hike?
Zero. That's how much physicians' overall Medicare fees will go up next year, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS') complex rule on the 2017 proposed Medicare Physician Fee Schedule.

Looking for an Excuse to Walk? Join the Step It Up! Challenge
As promised, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, released a nationwide, two week-long challenge to promote walking. The challenge began on Thursday, Oct. 13.

Nominate a Gifted Texas Science Teacher Who Deserves Recognition
TMA is giving away $24,000 in cash prizes. Help spread the word. Three Texas science teachers will receive $5,000 each and an all-expense paid trip to TexMed 2017 in Houston for the award ceremony. Their schools will receive a $2,000 award to use for the science curriculum. Second-place winners receive $1,500 and another $1,000 for their schools.

Yes, This Campaign Season is Almost Over

Almost lost in the interminable slog through the mud of the 2016 presidential campaign are the critically important races for key Texas courts and the state Senate and House of Representatives. Luckily, TEXPAC and engaged local physicians around the state have kept their fingers on those races and prepared a strong slate of endorsed candidates to recommend to TMA members.


Last Chance to Win $5,000 for Your Champion of Health
You have until Oct. 31 to nominate a program in your town or city that promotes healthy lives and healthy communities for a $5,000 grant. The   2017 John P. McGovern Champion of Health Award focuses on exceptional projects that address urgent threats to the public's health and those that further TMA Foundation's mission: to help physicians create a healthier future for all Texans.

TMA Offers New Cyber Security and Ransomware Tools
Ransomware has reached Texas, and its emergence highlights the importance of up-to-date security. Health care is particularly vulnerable to the ransomware threat. KPMG's 2015 Health Care and Cyber Security Survey, which polled 223 U.S.-based health care executives, found four-fifths of respondents said cyber attacks had compromised their information technology.

HHSC Offers STAR Kids Webinar for Physicians
If you participate in Medicaid, don't forget about the STAR Kids managed care program coming Nov. 1. The legislature directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to develop the managed care program specifically designed for children aged 20 years and younger who have disabilities.

TMA, California, Florida Form Joint Venture
TMA and the medical associations of California and Florida have formed PSO Services, LLC, a physician services organization with a national scope. The new company will offer a suite of market-based services to support physicians who want to remain independent during this time of increasing government regulation and changing payment models. Working to leverage the trust that physicians place in their state associations, PSO Services will focus initially on developing physician-owned networks to enter into value-based care contracts and manage population health.

Texas Hits Record for New Physician Applications
The Texas Medical Board (TMB) finished is fiscal year last month having received a record number of new physician applications. TMB received 5,544 new applications, up 3 percent from the previous year's record 5,377 applicants.

TMA Backs Definition of Emergency in Obstetrical Case
Last month, TMA signed on to the Texas Alliance for Patient Access' (TAPA's) friend-of-the-court brief to support the application of the willful and wanton standard in a lawsuit involving emergency obstetrical care. TMA, TAPA, and other signatories contend emergency care provisions apply to medical care provided in an obstetrical unit without the pregnant patient first having been evaluated in a hospital's emergency department.

TMA, AMA Oppose Bill That Would Threaten Patient Safety
TMA and the American Medical Association have serious concerns about proposed federal telemedicine legislation that would preempt state laws governing medical licensure, medical practice, and professional liability. The legislation would change the originating site of care from the patient's location to the physician's location, ostensibly to enable telemedicine across state lines for patients in the TRICARE program. TMA signed on to AMA's letter to Congress to object to the serious threat to important and demonstrated patient safety protections provided by adherence to licensure and medical practice laws in the state where the patient receives services.

TMB Adopts Call Coverage Rules
At its Aug. 25 meeting, the Texas Medical Board (TMB) voted to adopt without change its recently proposed call coverage rules. The rules outline requirements for two models for call coverage: a reciprocal call coverage arrangement for physicians in the same or similar specialty and a nonreciprocal arrangement that does not require reciprocal call coverage.

DSHS Grand Rounds Event Focuses on Down Syndrome Law

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is hosting a free Grand Rounds presentation, Down Syndrome Today: New Information and New Obligations for Clinicians, on Wednesday, Oct. 5 from 11–12:30 pm in the K-100 Lecture Hall in Austin (see Central Campus-Austin map) and via live webinar.


Boost Community Immunity With a Be Wise — Immunize Grant
Do you want to help improve the health of your community by hosting a shot clinic? Apply for a grant from TMA's Be Wise — ImmunizeSM  program by Nov. 1 to support your local vaccination event. The grants of up to $2,500 are available to TMA-member physician practices/clinics, county medical societies, TMA Alliance chapters, and medical student chapters.

I.C. System Helps You Collect More Patient Payments
Patient debt collection can severely hamper a practice's productivity and diminish your bottom line. Recent studies show that only 21 percent of patient balances not collected up front, at the time of service, are ever collected. When staff spends valuable time on collections, practices stand to lose even more. In fact, practices would have to cut costs by roughly 31 percent to make up for lost patient revenue.

Focus on Member Services: Future-Proofing Your Practice
As medical practices collect and store more information electronically, physicians will encounter more frequent technology breaches. The cost of a breach can be huge: an average of $402 per compromised record, plus fines. TMA makes robust security for your practice easy through education and services designed to manage the worst technology risks.

TMA Survey Documents the State of EHRs in Texas
TMA's biennial Physician Survey identifies emerging issues, tracks the impact of practice and economic changes, assesses physician priorities, and develops data to support TMA advocacy efforts. TMA has distilled the preliminary findings of one part of that survey into a two-page infographic that highlights Texas physicians' perceptions of the pros and cons of electronic health records (EHRs).

Is MACRA Worth Your While?
Does it make financial sense for your practice to participate in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) programs?

PQRS Feedback Reports, QRURs Coming Soon: Are You Ready?
This month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will release the 2015 Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) feedback reports and annual quality and resource use reports (QRURs). To access your reports online, you must first set up an Enterprise Identity Management System (EIDM) account. Setting up an account can take up to two weeks. Prepare to access your reports by registering for or reactivating your EIDM account now.

PAT Transitions to Pharmacy Board; Expect Delays
Effective Sept. 1, you will no longer be able to log in to the Prescription Access in Texas (PAT) website  with your login information. That's because the Texas Prescription Monitoring Program will transfer from the Texas Department of Public Safety to the Texas State Board of Pharmacy (TSBP) and will transition to a new type of software. TSBP advises there will be a delay in prescription history of up to two weeks during the transition.

STAR Kids Takes Effect Nov. 1; Training Available

If you participate in Medicaid, don't forget about the implementation of the STAR Kids managed care program on Nov. 1. The legislature directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to develop the managed care program specifically designed for children aged 20 and younger who have disabilities.



New Rules Say You Must Address Language Barriers
Oct. 16, 2016, brings a new requirement for a sign to post on your practice walls, as well as a plan for fulfilling its promise. TMA’s new white paper has all the details about accommodating your patients with limited English proficiency.

TMA's Medicaid Recommendations Can Improve Care, Reduce Costs
As state lawmakers begin preparing for the 2017 legislative session, TMA and four state specialty societies delivered a detailed, five-page document with significant recommendations to improve the Texas Medicaid program.

Walking Goes Viral With the U.S. Surgeon General
On Oct. 5, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, plans to release a two-week #StepItUp challenge to celebrate his call to action on walking and walkability. TMA wants you and your patients to participate. Join Walk With a Doc Texas leaders by getting moving during the two-week period. You can prepare now.

TMA Tries to Lift New Medicare Burden From Small Practices
According to Texas Medicine magazine, the new government requirement is putting a strain on smaller medical practices — and over time, could force some doctors to retire or surrender their small medical practice. That could reduce patients’ access to doctors’ care.

Feds Announce First-Year Break on MACRA Penalties
Responding to strong concerns from the Texas Medical Association and other physician organizations, a top federal official announced Thursday that physicians who at least try to comply with new Medicare payment rules next year will see no penalty in their 2019 payments.

Delegating and Supervising Prescribing Privileges for APRNs/PAs
New state law governing the delegation and supervision of prescribing privileges for advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants went into effect Nov. 1.  MembersOnlyRed

Find It, Fix It, Keep It: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Affordable Care Act: Find What’s Missing. Keep What Works. Fix What’s Broken.