TMA Ask the Expert: Practical Guidance for Employed and Independent Physicians
By Emma Freer

Employed physicians and their colleagues in independent practice face different challenges. But all Texas physicians, whether an employee or an employer, can take advantage of guidance from the Texas Medical Association.

During two recent TMA Ask the Expert events – “Practical Guidance for Employed Physicians” and “Practice Help for Independent Physicians” – association staff and health care attorneys offered general information and fielded questions from the audience. The podcast recording for the session on independent physicians is now available in TMA’s Education Center, where member physicians can access it for free and earn 0.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ (enduring). 

During the session on employment, held virtually on March 24 – also soon to be available via podcast – discussion centered on contracts. Michael Kreager, founder of the San Antonio law firm Kreager Mitchell and author of Employment Contracts for Physicians: The Comprehensive Guide, a TMA publication, identified key aspects of physician employment contracts and discussed options regarding post-employment noncompete restrictions.

“The thing that I look at right off the bat is, ‘How can you get out of the contract if it’s not a pleasant place to work?’” he said. “And if you [get out], do you have to stay for a while … and what effect does it have on your compensation?”

TMA staff also discussed other contract elements, including compensation models; no-fault termination clauses; and force majeure clauses, which may exempt physicians from certain contract obligations during so-called acts of God, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. 

During the session for independent physicians, held virtually on March 31, Diane Carter, a partner at Husch Blackwell’s Austin office, and TMA staff tackled common challenges including regulatory compliance, billing and coding, nonphysician practitioners, and alternative payment models.

Ms. Carter says she occasionally hears from small practices whose owners aren’t sure whether to invest the time and money necessary to develop a compliance plan. Such plans are intended to prevent the submission of erroneous claims and to detect fraudulent activity.

“From a regulator’s standpoint, there’s no excuse not to know,” she said, adding that the consequences of noncompliance can be severe – and costly.

TMA staff fielded other physician questions, including those about how to handle insurance audits, recruit effectively, and vet a debt collection agency.

Learn more by visiting TMA’s Ask the Expert webpage for the full recordings and more resources on these and other topics, and to stay up to date on events.

Last Updated On

May 04, 2022

Originally Published On

May 04, 2022

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Emma Freer


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Emma Freer is a reporter for Texas Medicine. She previously worked in local news, covering city politics, economic development, and public health. A native Clevelander, she graduated from Columbia Journalism School and the University of St. Andrews.

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