Academic medical centers and the academic physicians they employ have long been committed to quality patient care, research, community service and education of future physicians. They serve as a very important piece of the medical profession, and TMA relies on their knowledge and experience to ensure that Texas remains a premier state for medical training, research, and establishing practices.
Leadership and Policy Development
- The Council on Medical Education coordinates the association's medical education activities, with a focus on developing policy on medical education-related issues and concerns. Three times a year, the council meets with medical school leadership for dialogue and informational exchange on current issues and areas of mutual interest.
- Subcommittee for Academic Physicians comprises representatives from all 10 health-related institutions. They address faculty-specific issues and communicate with their peers, TMA leaders, and the membership on these topics.
- TMA's Committee on Physician Distribution and Health Care Access conducts analysis on changing trends in the physician workforce including the pipelines feeding into the profession.
- Committee for Continuing Education evaluates continuing medical education needs and promotes high-quality CME programs for Texas physicians.
- International Medical Graduate (IMG) Section. TMA is one of only 11 state medical societies with a representational group devoted to the unique issues and concerns of all IMG physicians.
- Medical Student Section. Serves as forum for medical students to participate in development of TMA and AMA policy. Encourages development of student leaders and programs in medical student chapters at each medical school. Helps satisfy students’ strong altruistic interests through a variety of ongoing public health programs.
- Resident Physician Section. Advocates for physicians and patients through resident physician involvement in creation of TMA and AMA policies. Provides a communication resource and structure to address residents’ unique needs and issues.
- Young Physician Section. Physicians under the age of 40 or in their first eight years of practice participate in activities and programs relevant to the physician just entering practice.
Health and Science Initiatives
- Be Wise - Immunize A program to improve immunization rates in Texas through immunizations and health screenings for underserved populations, in cooperation with public and private partners.
- Hard Hats for Little Heads A matching bicycle helmet donation program created to help Texas physicians prevent head injuries in their communities.
- Physician Oncology Education Program serves as a cancer education project dedicated to reducing cancer morbidity and mortality through collaboration among the public, private, and volunteer sectors of the state.
- Public health alerts on diseases and position papers on cancer, tobacco usage, stroke, and obesity.
- Public health advocacy on border health, obesity/diabetes, children’s mental health, and infectious disease control.
- Disaster preparedness and response. Coordination with academic institutions, Texas Department of State Health Services, county medical societies, and others, e.g., for hurricanes, evacuations (Eldorado).
- Educational initiatives to prepare for, recognize, and treat a bioterrorism attack.
Be Wise — Immunize is a service mark of the Texas Medical Association.
Scholarships and Awards
Practice Management Solutions
- New practice set-up services;
- Operations assessment;
- Management and office staff recruitment;
- Coding and documentation review
- Billing and collections training;
- Compliance and risk management;
- Health information technology education (seminars, CME opportunities, and publications);
- Electronic medical record implementation guide and toll-free technology help line;
- Hassle Factor Program to monitor health plan payment trends, and document and investigate payer problems;
- Private insurance initiatives to address specific claim issues at meetings between leading payers and TMA leadership/staff;
- Personal consults with TMA staff experts on Medicare, Medicaid, health care payment plans, and payment hassles;
- A forum to facilitate interinstitutional collaboration in the development and sharing of online curricular content for educating medical students;
- Programs and services tailored to academic physicians’ needs including training and curriculum development for staff.
- And, the Practice Consulting team can tailor programs and services to your needs, including training and curriculum development for staff.
Education and CME Opportunities
- TMA provides hundreds of free CME credits at each of its three annual conferences.
- The Texas Medical Association Website offers online and home study CME , options, including ethics;
- Practice management seminars on topics like health care payment plans, health information technology, billing and coding, prompt pay, risk management, Medicare, and more;
- Learn @ Lunch audio seminar series for a quick and easy way to stay up to date on important issues; and
- Resources for quality-of-care and patient-physician education.
TMA’s Value to Academic Medicine
Legislature Adds $30 Million, Including New Expansion Money, for GME
After hearing from the Texas Medical Association, Texas medical schools, and teaching hospitals that medical school enrollments are growing more rapidly in Texas than entry-level graduate medical education (GME) positions, the Texas Legislature appropriated more than $30 million in additional state support for GME in the state’s next two-year budget.
The 2014-15 state budget takes steps to reverse some of the GME funding lost in the 2011 legislative session and establishes new grant programs to stimulate GME growth. The total amount of state dollars dedicated to GME increased from $67 million in 2012-13 to $97 million for 2014-15, an increase of 45 percent. The historic peak in GME support was $106 million in 2010-11.
GME formula funding, which took a 31-percent hit in 2011, was partially restored, with a 15.5-percent, or $8.8 million, increase over the 2012-13 biennium, increasing from a total of $57 million in 2012-13 to $66 million for 2014-15, as shown in the graph below. The per-capita amount increased by 9 percent, or $880 over the biennium, from $9,364 to $10,244 (see second graph). House Bill 1025, a supplemental appropriations bill, authorizes $9.25 million for GME expansions, and House Bill 2550 is the spending vehicle for $5 million more for growing GME placed in Senate Bill 1, for a combined $14.25 million in new monies to fund the following new programs in 2014-15:
- Hospital GME planning grants to fund one-time grants of $150,000 to hospitals not currently offering GME and not under Medicare GME funding caps;
- Funding for accredited, unfilled, and unfunded GME positions; and
- Funding for newly developed GME positions, including the potential for development of new GME programs.
This session was the first in a several years in which lawmakers took a hard look at GME in Texas and its impact on ensuring an adequate physician workforce, said Michelle Romero, associate director for advocacy for TMA. There were two major differences this session:
- An interest by the Texas legislature in offsetting a higher amount of the total costs for training a resident, allowing for $65,000 to be paid per resident a year in the new grant programs, and
- New grant money to stimulate GME growth.
In comparison, the state GME formula dollars provide $5,122 per resident per year towards the teaching side of GME costs and no monies for the hospital portion. Further, these formula dollars are allocated across the board for all eligible resident positions. The new programs for incentivizing GME growth will allocate funds through a competitive grant process.
Residency programs in family medicine will receive a higher level of state support, due to a doubling of the appropriation for this program at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). Funding increased from $5.6 million in 2012-13 to $12.78 million in 2014-15, an increase of 128 percent, or $7.2 million. This increase, however, falls short of the historic funding peak, which was $21.2 million in 2010-11.
The state’s Physician and Nurse Trauma Fellowship grant program received continued funding of $4.5 million for 2014-15. This program was created in 2011, with strong legislative stewardship by Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Simonton), an anesthesiologist who practices in Houston. The grant program is designed to expand the availability of physicians and nurses with specialized training in trauma care. THECB also administers this grant program.
Loan Repayment Program Funded
Lawmakers gave a strong financial endorsement of the state Physician Education Loan Repayment Program (PELRP), providing $33.8 million for 2014-15, an increase of over 500 percent over the $5.7 million in the 2012-2013 budget. The funds were so low for the current biennium that THECB, the administering agency, has been unable to accept new applications since 2011.
To allow the new funds to be committed as quickly as possible, the board is accepting applications for FY 2014 through Aug. 31. Physicians who agree to practice for four years in primary care health professional shortage areas (HPSA) can receive up to $160,000 to repay medical school loans.
The PELRP website features a fact sheet and application for enrollment. It also has the ranking criteria used to determine which applicants will be accepted into the program.
In addition, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website includes a search function that allows you to find out if your practice is in a HPSA by entering your street address.
Officials hope to sign 100 physicians for loan repayment by Aug. 31. Please help TMA spread the word about the renewed availability of these valuable funds.
“The quickest way to get physicians out to underserved areas is to offer loan repayment,” Ms. Romero said.
Under HB 2550, the PELRP will be expanded even further in FY 2014 to allow physicians who treat relatively high levels of Medicaid patients also to qualify for loan repayment, even in areas NOT designated as HPSAs. This expansion is similar to the previous Frew loan repayment program. The implementation delay for this aspect of the program is due to the need for the board to adopt new program rules and enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Applications from physicians practicing in HPSAs will receive priority over Medicaid, non-HPSA applications.
Medical Education Funding
Medical education will get a 7-percent boost in medical student formula funding from $42,180 per student/year to $45,282 in 2014-15. TMA and its partners helped stop off-shore medical schools from potentially buying up core clinical clerkship spots in Texas hospitals, and repealed a 2011 law that forced international medical graduates (IMGs) who are not U.S. citizens or are not holders of “green cards” or employment visas to spend three years working only in medically underserved areas. It was strongly anticipated this law would have had a chilling effect on new IMGs selecting Texas for a practice location.
New Primary Care Physician Pipeline Innovations Program
HB 2550 establishes a new grant program to promote innovations at medical schools in the development of more primary care physicians for the state. A total of $2.1 million was appropriated for this program for 2014-15 to encourage medical schools to establish new programs with similar goals as the Family Medicine Accelerated Tract program at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock, which produces new family physicians in six rather than seven years. These grant dollars are to encourage similar types of innovations at Texas medical schools to produce more primary care physicians.
Funding cuts were restored for the Joint Admission Medical Program, for a gain of $3.2 million or 46 percent, from $7 million in 2012-13 to $10.2 million in 2014-15. This program is a physician pipeline program intended to promote greater diversity in the Texas physician workforce. It provides a variety of support programs to help educate and train more physicians from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.