Summer 2016


TMA House Acts on International Medical Graduate Reports

During TexMed 2016 in April the TMA International Medical Graduate (IMG) Section submitted two reports for consideration by the TMA House of Delegates (HOD). Here’s a look at those reports and their outcome.

Board of Trustees Report 8 was a review of the IMG Section to determine the continuation of the section. The house approved the recommendation that the IMG Section should continue for an additional year with a report back at TexMed 2017 to the HOD, through the Board of Trustees, on the section's specific contributions to TMA.

IMG Report 1 requested expansion of J-1 Visa Waiver opportunities in Texas. The house adopted the report, which recommends TMA support additional methods for helping underserved communities recruit physicians, including these improvements to the J-1 Visa Waiver program:     

  • Advocacy for reauthorization of the Conrad 30 program and for an increase in the annual waiver cap for Texas.
  • Advocacy for expanding the J-1 Visa Waiver program to allow physicians in private practice and other practice settings in Texas to be eligible for waivers.
  • Advocacy for funding the Southwest Border Commission and granting the status of “interested governmental agency” for the purposes of processing J-1 Visa Waivers for Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico. TMA should reach out to these three states to work together in advocating these changes.    

For details and a summary of actions on these and other HOD issues, visit the TMA website. Want to help with TMA policy? Plan to attend TexMed 2017 in Houston May 5–6.

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Save the Date: TMA Fall Conference Sept. 23–24, 2016

Mark your calendar for TMA Fall Conference, Sept. 23–24 at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa in Bastrop. The conference provides an opportunity for physicians and medical students to conduct TMA business, earn continuing medical education, and network with peers.  

The IMG Section Business Meeting will take place Saturday, Sept. 24, from noon to 2 pm. Check the IMG Section webpage for the meeting location. 

TMA’s special room rate is $209 for single or double occupancy. Reserve a room by calling (888) 421-1442, and ask for the TMA Fall Conference discount rate. The deadline to book your hotel reservation at the TMA rate is Sept. 2, 2016.  

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IMG Section Physician and Leader Elected to Emeritus Membership

The IMG Section would like to congratulate one of our own, Udipi Prabhakar Rao, MD, of Odessa on being elected to TMA Emeritus status during the House of Delegates at TexMed 2016. Physician members elected to Emeritus status must have rendered exceptional and distinguished service to scientific and/or organized medicine. Dr. Rao has demonstrated these qualities to organized medicine for more than three decades. 

Locally, Dr. Rao has played an active role in the Ector County Medical Society (ECMS), serving as the ECMS secretary (1987) and president (1988). He has represented ECMS members at the TMA House of Delegates for 25 consecutive years (as a CMS delegate, councilor, or IMG Section delegate). Dr. Rao has been integral in helping ECMS recruit new members, retain existing ones, plan meetings, and encourage members to run for office. In addition, he has become the resident expert at local hospitals, as well as ECMS, when it comes to questions regarding parliamentary procedure and physician rights. 

Dr. Rao also has been active in TMA and other organizations at the state level. He served on the TMA Board of Councilors as vice councilor from 1994 to 1997 and as councilor form 1997 to 2006. He has been active in TMA's IMG Section since its inception, serving as chair of the section's Governing Council in 2008. He has been a member of the Texas Indo-American Physicians Society, where he served at the state level as secretary/treasurer (1998–99), secretary (1999–2000), president-elect (2000–01), and president (2001–02).  

Aside from his efforts on behalf of organized medicine, Dr. Rao has earned the respect of the community as a practicing physician and as a mentor to residents and medical students. From 1981 to 2014, he had a busy solo practice in gastroenterology in Odessa. He also served as a volunteer faculty member at the Texas Tech University Health Science Center-Odessa. He has served in several leadership positions at the two hospitals in Odessa, including chief of staff and chief of medicine.  

Over the years, he has won the admiration of colleagues and patients, as demonstrated by his Award for Excellence in Community Service for Service as a Professional, given by the Heritage of Odessa Foundation in 2007. 

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IMG Member Elected to Foundation Board

Daniel Vijjeswarapu, MD, a Corpus Christi pediatrician in practice for 18 years, has joined the TMA Foundation (TMAF) Board of Trustees. His three-year term began in May. 

TMAF, the philanthropic arm of TMA, raises funds to support the public health, quality of care, and science priority initiatives of the association and the family of medicine. TMAF raises funds and connects medicine, business, and community groups that carry out these programs at the local and state levels. To learn more about TMAF or donate, visit

Dr. Vijjeswarapu earned his medical degree from Rangaraya Medical College, Andhra University, in India. He completed his residency at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (now the McGovern Medical School) and did a general academic pediatric fellowship at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.  

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Focus on Member Services: Business of Medicine

Your TMA membership delivers expertise on the business of medical practice. Physician members turn to TMA for help with challenges like contract negotiation and structuring salaries and for access to dynamic programs like the TMA Leadership College.  

If you're just starting out, a TMA practice setup can put you on solid footing from day one without costing you a fortune in time and money.  

As a TMA member, you also have access to resources like these for running your practice "like a boss":     

  • Business of Medicine Resource Center: Regardless of what stage of practice you're in, TMA has tools to help you organize your finances, build a patient base, and make business decisions with confidence. 
  • Practice operations consulting: TMA’s experts can work with you to keep your practice at peak performance. Services range from an operations or revenue cycle assessment to an embezzlement risk review. Custom services are also available
  • Tools for surviving residency and beyond: Get convenient, on-demand access to the information you need to survive residency and to transition successfully into active practice MembersOnlyRed.
  • Insurance: You can protect yourself personally and professionally using exclusive products and services from TMA endorsed vendors, TMA Insurance Trust, and Texas Medical Liability Trust.     

Visit the TMA website for more information on how TMA can help you with the business side of medicine. 

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Plan a Helmet Giveaway During Hard Hats Month

As you dream about the cooler days of fall, start thinking about a bike helmet giveaway during October to celebrate TMA’s annual Hard Hats for Little Heads month. Your event can urge kids to “Get moving. Stay safe. Wear a helmet.” And it can help TMA cover all 254 of Texas’ counties

Physicians, medical students, county medical societies, and TMA Alliance chapters can host events. Look for a fall festival or National Night Out event with which to pair a helmet giveaway, or check out these ideas for events to come up with another idea for your giveaway.  

TMA provides everything you need for a successful event: free helmets, banners, event signage, promotional flyers, educational handouts, and media relations support. When you purchase up to 50 helmets, TMA will match your purchase with free helmets. Helmets are $7.60 each, including shipping. Be sure to order your helmets and other supplies at least a month in advance. 

Additionally, the Texas Academy of Family Physicians (TAFP) and the Texas Pediatric Society, the Texas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (TPS) offer their members a unique benefit. TAFP and TPS will cover the cost of up to 25 helmets for their members, and TMA matches that. So family physicians and pediatricians can get up to 50 helmets at no cost. And you can buy more helmets at TMA’s low price. 

To request an order packet, contact Tammy Wishard, TMA’s outreach coordinator, or call (512) 370-1470.  

Hard Hats for Little Heads is supported in 2016 through a TMA Foundation grant thanks to top donors — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, an anonymous physician and spouse, TMAF Make-A-Difference donors, and the Baptist Health Foundation of San Antonio — and generous gifts from TMA and TMA Alliance members, and friends of medicine.  

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CMS Extends Texas' 1115 Medicaid Waiver by 15 Months

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission announced it has reached an agreement with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on a 15-month extension of the state's 1115 Medicaid waiver. The waiver funds uncompensated care and the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment Program. 

For more information about the Medicaid Transformation Waiver, read "1115 Medicaid Waiver Up for Renewal" in the October 2015 issue of Texas Medicine

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TMA Launches New MACRA Resource Center

Turn to TMA's new MACRA Resource Center for the latest information about Medicare payment reform and the new payment tracks that are coming soon.  

The Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula is history, and the federal rulemaking process is under way for provisions in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). In SGR's place, MACRA requires physicians to choose between two major payment tracks beginning in 2019: the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and eligible alternative payment models (APMs). 

The resource center informs you about MACRA, and invites you to join TMA’s advocacy efforts to make the program less costly and confusing for physicians. It also connects you to education offerings and tools to help you prepare for the upcoming transition to MIPS and APMs. Over time, and as TMA learns more about the new regulations governing MACRA implementation, the association will update the resource center to keep you informed on everything you need to know about how physician payment reform will affect your practice, influence care delivery, and affect your bottom line. 

Visit the new TMA MACRA Resource Center to learn the basics, join in advocacy, compare the two payment tracks, explore continuing medical education opportunities, connect to services, and more. 

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New Infographic Promotes Whooping Cough Vaccination

TMA's new whooping cough infographic can help you educate expecting moms about the importance of vaccination to keep babies from catching this serious, potentially deadly illness.  

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends women get the Tdap vaccination (a combination vaccination that protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) during each pregnancy. While the vaccination may be given any time during pregnancy, CDC suggests pregnant moms receive it between 27 weeks and 36 weeks of gestation, or during the third trimester.  

Infants typically catch whooping cough from a family member or caregiver, so CDC also recommends those who will come into contact with the baby be up to date on their pertussis vaccination. That includes parents, siblings, grandparents, childcare providers, and health care workers. For the best protection, CDC recommends family members get the shot at least two weeks before they have contact with the baby. 

Download TMA's bilingual whooping cough infographic, provided by TMA's Be Wise — ImmunizeSM program, to post on your practice website or other social media site, or to post copies in your exam rooms. To order hard copies, contact Tammy Wishard, TMA's outreach coordinator, by email or by phone at (512) 370-1470 or (800) 880-1300, ext. 1470. TMA also has produced a flu infographic and a human papillomavirus (HPV) infographic.  

Be Wise — Immunize is a joint initiative led by TMA physicians and medical students, and the TMA Alliance. It is funded in 2016 by the TMA Foundation thanks to major gifts from H-E-B and TMF Health Quality Institute, along with generous contributions from physicians and their families.

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

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Oppose VA Rule for Independent Nurse Practices

As TMA expected, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published a proposed rule that would allow advanced practice nurses (APRNs) — nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and clinical nurse specialists — to practice independently within the VA health system. While this doesn’t change state scope-of-practice laws for APRNs working outside the VA system, it overrides those laws for care being provided inside VA.  

Veterans’ service organizations and more than 90 members of Congress are opposing this change on the grounds that it jeopardizes veterans’ safety. Comments on the draft rule are due July 25. TMA, AMA, and other medical societies will file formal comments in strong opposition. Please take a few moments to tell VA officials what you think of their plan. Submit comments via TMA’s Grassroots Action Center, on the government’s rulemaking website, or through the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ Safe VA Care website. 

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Special Travel Deals for TMA Members

TMA is proud to announce a newly approved travel program for members through Gohagan & Company, a leading provider of international and domestic travel experiences. TMA members, friends, and family are invited to take the inaugural tour Feb. 12–21, 2017, to explore the Wonders of the Galapagos Islands. Bohn Allen, MD, and his wife, Ann, will serve as hosts throughout the trip.  

View the Galapagos Islands brochure for more information, or call (800) 922-3088 to book today. Then save the date for these additional tours in 2017:   

  • Italian Lakes and Venice: May 11–19, 2017
  • The Great Journey Through Europe: June 15–25, 2017
  • Symphony on the Blue Danube: June 22–July 1, 2017
  • The Riviera and Islands of France, Italy, and Spain: Oct. 2–10, 2017   

And don't forget: TMA members can always access a worldwide inventory of hotels and car rentals with exclusive discounts. Whether travelling for work or pleasure, you can take advantage of savings that average 10- to 20-percent below the best available rates. As a special summer vacation giveaway, if you book a hotel or car between now and Sept. 30, you will be entered to win a free booking. 

Find more information on these programs by visiting the TMA Group Discount Programs page

Are You Getting the Most From Your TMA Membership?

Check TMA's return on investment calculator to see what other benefits and services you can tap into. 

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Connect With TMA on Social Media

Are you keeping up with TMA on social media? 

TMA is very active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. We also have a robust YouTube channel with hundreds of videos by and about TMA. These pages help us communicate with our more than 49,000 members and keep you informed about news, events, member benefits, and our advocacy efforts.   

We hope you will follow, like, tweet, and engage with us. We’d also like to hear from you! If you have any social media questions or suggestions, contact Jen Rios in the TMA Communication Division at   

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