Summer 2016  

Congratulations to Newly Elected TMA YPS Officers

The TMA Young Physician Section (YPS) elected new YPS Executive Council members at TexMed 2016 in Dallas on April 29. 

Congratulations to the following newly elected officers:

Chair
Sandra Williams, MD, Houston

Chair-Elect
Lindsay Botsford, MD, Houston

Delegates
Alison Haddock, MD, Houston
Nicholas Steinour, MD, Austin
Lynn Stewart, MD, Austin
Gabriela Zandomeni, MD, Rowlett  

Alternate Delegates
Jason Acevedo, MD, Abilene
Jennifer Rushton, MD, Austin
Brian Temple, MD, Austin
Sara Woodward Dyrstad, MD, Odessa  

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TMA Leadership College Application Deadline Extended

TMA is now accepting applications for the TMA Leadership College Class of 2017. The deadline to apply has been extended to Friday, July 8. 

The TMA Leadership College, established in 2010 as part of TMA’s effort to ensure strong and sustainable physician leadership within organized medicine, is geared toward active TMA members younger than 40 or who are in the first eight years of practice. 

Graduates serve as thought leaders who can close the divide between clinicians and health care policymakers and as trusted leaders within their local communities. Many also receive priority consideration for appointment to TMA councils and committees. 

Visit the TMA Leadership College webpage for full program details, a class schedule, and application. For more information, contact Christina Shepherd by email or by calling (800) 880-1300, ext. 1443, or (512) 370-1443. 

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TexMed 2016: Delegates Vote to Preserve Billing Rights, Fight MOC Coercion

TMA "has the green light to fight for state legislation that will address two crucial issues for Texas physicians," thanks to the TMA House of Delegates, Council on Legislation Chair Ray Callas, MD, wrote in a letter to all TMA member physicians.  

Meeting in Dallas at TexMed 2016, the house on April 30 unanimously approved what Dr. Callas called: 

  • “The TMA Board of Trustees’ multifaceted plan to preserve physicians’ right to bill for services provided to our patients; and
  • “A Harris County Medical Society proposal that would free us from the extortion of the American Board of Medical Specialties’ maintenance of certification [MOC] requirements.”  

“As chair of the TMA Council on Legislation, I am tremendously excited by these actions, and I pledge to you that your TMA leadership will follow through,” Dr. Callas wrote. 

He pointed out that lawmakers in several other states have enacted laws to ban physicians from billing for services provided to patients out of network. These laws fall short of helping patients hold the very insurers who sell policies with narrow networks accountable for the lack of access to in-network physicians and health care providers. The Obama administration and several presidential candidates have proposed similar nationwide measures.  

“We will not let it happen here in Texas,” Dr. Callas said. “The plan the House of Delegates approved calls on TMA to push for legislation that holds insurance companies accountable for their inadequate and narrow networks. It extends the applicability of Texas’ exemplary mediation program for $500-or-more balance bills to all out-of-network physicians and providers and facilities. It keeps physicians aligned with patients' needs and best interests.” 

Read more about the plan and the extensive research that supports it in the cover story, titled “No More Surprises,” in the May issue of Texas Medicine.

The MOC proposal grew out of a new law that Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed in April. It would ban the use of MOC “as a condition of licensure, reimbursement, employment, or admitting privileges at a hospital” in Oklahoma.  

Dr. Callas said “several key Texas legislators … are quite interested in pursuing a similar measure here. The TMA house followed through perfectly.” 

The Harris County Medical Society submitted the resolution delegates adopted. It calls on TMA to “pursue legislation that eliminates discrimination by the State of Texas, employers, hospitals, and payers based on the American Board of Medical Specialties’ proprietary MOC program as a requirement for licensure, employment, hospital staff membership, and payments for medical care in Texas.” 

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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 (CME), and network with peers.

TMA-YPS will host a casual mixer with the Resident and Fellow Section on Friday, Sept. 23 at 8 pm with a joint business meeting to follow. The meeting will be a legislative kickoff with information you need to know about the upcoming legislative session, how to affect policy within TMA, and much more. Check the YPS webpage for meeting location and mixer details. 

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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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 (members only).
  • 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 of practicing medicine. 

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 Recent Residency Grads: Protect Your Income Without Hassles

For a limited time, recent residency graduates can enroll in up to $5,000 per month in guaranteed-issue long-term disability coverage, without medical or financial underwriting. Simply submit an online form, and you’re covered through TMA Insurance Trust.  

See TMA member-exclusive rates and learn more

Special long-term disability insurance includes:   

  • A guaranteed issue offer for those within 60 days of their residency graduation date; no medical or financial underwriting required.
  • Monthly benefit amounts of up to $5,000 available.
  • 30-day, 90-day, and 180-day waiting period options to choose from.
  • A future insurability option, which allows you to purchase an additional $5,000 per month of coverage prior to age 45 without providing evidence of good health.
  • A catastrophic disability benefit that allows you to receive an extra 20 percent of your existing benefit if unable to perform at least two of the five activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, etc.).
  • Coverage issued by the Prudential Insurance Company of America.   

Since 1955, TMA Insurance Trust has served as the trusted advisor for Texas physicians, their families, and their employees. Created and exclusively endorsed by TMA, TMAIT is proud to partner with TMA member physicians to meet their personal insurance needs and protect their livelihood. TMAIT walks alongside physicians throughout their entire career journey from medical school to residency and all the way through to retirement. Learn more at www.tmait.org

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CMS Extends Texas’ 1115 Medicaid Waiver by 15 Months 

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) announced it has reached an agreement with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) 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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 MACRA: Good, Bad, or Downright Ugly for Physicians?

TMA and Texas physicians cheered when Congress repealed Medicare's Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula last year. The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) not only removed the constant threat of Medicare payment cuts, but it also promised to simplify the ever-tightening thicket of federal regulations that strangle physicians' practices. 

TMA is less than enthusiastic, however, about the CMS' plans to implement the new law. TMA is studying the 426 pages of proposed MACRA regulations carefully and sent TMA chief lobbyist Darren Whitehurst and Angie Ybarra, TMA's director of clinical advocacy, to Washington for in-depth discussions with the American Medical Association and national specialty societies. A TMA staff team listened carefully to two MACRA briefing sessions that AMA set up with CMS officials.  

According to TMA executive vice president and chief executive officer Louis J. Goodman, PhD, here are the association’s topline observations so far:     

  • MACRA is far more complex, confusing, and controlling than the Physician Quality Reporting System, meaningful use, and value-based modifier programs it is replacing.
  • Compliance will be especially difficult for small practices that may end up with Medicare payment penalties, even if they spend the time and money to jump through all the new regulatory hoops.
  • The system of bonuses and penalties pits physician practices against one another so that there will be winners and losers, regardless of how well practices “perform” on these new quality standards.     

TMA needs physician feedback (email macra@texmed.org) as it develops detailed official comments on the draft regulations. In the meantime, the association urges physicians from practices of all sizes to visit TMA’s MACRA Resource Center to learn about the new law and proposed regulations. 

In addition, read “Bracing for MACRA” in the July issue of Texas Medicine to learn about the new quality-based payment pathways Congress designed to replace the SGR and how TMA is helping practices navigate the labyrinthine Medicare payment paradigm.  

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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 using the sample letter on the TMA Grassroots Advocacy Center, or via the government’s rulemaking website or the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ Safe VA Care website

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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 approach.  

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 (TPS), the Texas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 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, email Tammy Wishard, TMA’s outreach coordinator, or call (512) 370-1470.  

Hard Hats for Little Heads is supported in 2016 through a TMA Foundation (TMAF) 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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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 jennifer.rios@texmed.org

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Stay Connected 
Keep up with important news, and connect with colleagues across the state through TMA’s Young Physician Section webpage

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