TMA President Michael E. Speer, MD: Installation Address

Saturday, May 19, 2012

TMA House of Delegates
Sheraton Dallas
Remarks of incoming President Michael E. Speer, MD

Over the past several months, more and more people have come up to me and asked,“Michael, what is your number 1 goal as TMA President?”

My answer is simple. My primary goal as your President is to increase physician membership in TMA.

Why? Because the more physician boots on the ground and the more physician voices in the air when discussing medical issues with mothers, fathers, grandfathers, grandmothers, aunts, cousins and … by the way … legislators, the more we are heard, and respected. The level of that respect translates directly into what we can do for our patients … for our practices … for our profession.

By being members of TMA, physicians have accomplished much in practice viability and in advocacy. By representing all physicians in Texas, TMA is the voice for the specialists and for the primary care physicians. Our issues, no matter your area of practice, are astoundingly similar: We want better outcomes for our patients. We want to be treated as professionals, not as hourly workers on an assembly line.

What have we, what has TMA, done for us lately? What have we done lately to advance that agenda? Let me remind you of several examples just over the past decade:

  • In March 2001 we took the for-profit health insurance companies to court and won over 2 billion dollars worth of changes in favor of physicians.
  • In 2003: TORT REFORM!
  • If that were not enough, that same year we established new standards for prompt payment of claims by health plans.
  • In 2005, we stopped legislation that would have imposed a health care tax on physicians’ practices
  • In 2006, we convinced lawmakers to exclude all revenues from Medicare, Medicaid, TriCare, the Indigent Care Program, Workers' Compensation, and the Children's Health Insurance Program from the new business tax. Additionally, we persuaded the state comptroller to allow you to deduct copayments and deductibles from taxable revenue.
  • In 2011, just last year, TMA passed legislation that provided first-in-the-nation protections for clinical autonomy and independent medical decision making for physicians employed by hospitals and nonprofit health care corporations.
  • We also passed reforms eliminating anonymous complains at the Texas Medical Board and giving physicians better due process. 

Currently, we are nearly 46,000 members strong. I want 50,000. That’s right … 50,000.

But why should your colleagues join? I have given you a lot of reasons. Let me focus on one.

Tort reform alone has decreased our medical liability premiums by one-third to one half since its passage. This is true whether you are paying as a sole practitioner or you are in a very large group that is self-insured. If your policy cost you $15,000 a year per physician back in 2002, you currently save a minimum of $5,000 a year, every year!

TMA and county society dues are a fraction of that number. Each of us knows of at least one non-member physician … probably a whole lot more than that. Therefore, I challenge you and every TMA physician to go out and multiply.

Personally, I am prepared to meet any and all non TMA physicians … one-on-one, in pairs, or in large groups … anywhere across this great state of ours. I will visit as many of you this year as possible. You may see me at your specialty meeting … in your home town … or both. By this time next year, we should all be on a very comfortable, first-name basis.

But I do not want just numbers. I want strength … I want strength for us and for our patients.

Yes, when I appear at the Capitol to testify in support of an item in our Healthy Vision 2020 agenda, I want the head-turning, eye-opening impact that the 50,000 number has. But I also want legislators to put down their papers and pay attention to what we're saying. And, after we are done speaking, I want them to come up to me, to you, and ask how they can help us accomplish what we want.

That’s it.

Thank you for the privilege.

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