TMA Hot Topics
The Sustainable Growth Rate is gone, so now what's next? Is your practice ready for quality-based payment? Is that even the right direction for you to go? With the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) taking effect and the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System on the horizon, making no changes may cost you, but implementing changes (the wrong way) may cost you more. Evaluate what direction your practice should take and then do it right with these tips and tools.
Source: Hot Topics | 19 Jun 2017 | 2:01 pm
If you or your practice orders or refers for Medicaid patients — even if you do not otherwise participate in Medicaid — enroll in Medicaid before Oct. 1. If you already have a Medicaid provider number or have already enrolled as an ordering and referring-only practice, you’re way ahead of the game. Go kick up your feet. If you haven’t, you’d better get on it — Enrollment is required under the Affordable Care Act, and Oct. 1 will be here before you know it.
Source: Hot Topics | 19 Jun 2017 | 11:05 am
We knew you’ve been looking high and low for a comprehensive set of educational tools to help you figure out the MACRA Quality Payment Program (QPP) payment rules for the new pathways: Merit-Based Incentive Payment System and alternative payment models. So when the Physicians Advocacy Institute (PAI), in collaboration with health care consulting firm Healthsperian, asked us to work closely with them and other state medical associations to create a free MACRA QPP education initiative, we jumped at the chance. (TMA is a charter member of the PAI.)
Source: Hot Topics | 15 Jun 2017 | 2:11 pm
If you’re in a physician group that participates in the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System, gather everybody together soon and ask this question: “How are we going to report data under the new Quality Payment Program?” Why should you do this soon? Because you’re bumping up against a June 30 deadline, depending on how you choose to report.
Source: Hot Topics | 15 Jun 2017 | 11:09 am
Starting June 1, the Texas Department of State Health Services began offering additional molecular testing to identify variants in the very long-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase gene.
Source: Hot Topics | 15 Jun 2017 | 11:08 am
Think back over the past two weeks. Have any of your patients displayed symptoms of hepatitis A after eating raw or undercooked tuna? If you answered yes, it’s possible that their tuna roll was contaminated with the hepatitis A virus.
Source: Hot Topics | 15 Jun 2017 | 11:07 am
The U.S. Department of Justice recently announced that eClinicalWorks will pay the federal government $155 million to settle a federal False Claims Act lawsuit. The suit alleged that eClinicalWorks fraudulently obtained certification for its electronic health record system and provided kickbacks to customers who promoted their product..
Source: Hot Topics | 15 Jun 2017 | 11:07 am
Encourage your TMA county medical society, alliance, or medical student chapter to apply for a grant to support a community health improvement initiative that you, your colleagues, and community partners want to carry out. There are two deadlines to apply for this year’s grants: Aug. 15 and Dec.15.
Source: Hot Topics | 15 Jun 2017 | 11:06 am
The 2017 regular session of the Texas Legislature gaveled to a close May 29. For medicine, the session was a mosaic of many richly colored tiles with some dark spots and quite a few shades of grey. The artists were shifting alliances and divisions of senators and representatives, Democrats and Republicans, and various factions of the GOP.
Source: Hot Topics | 10 Jun 2017 | 11:11 am
The first case, a woman from Montgomery County just north of Houston, was reported to the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) in late April. The second case, a man in his 40s, was reported by the City of El Paso Department of Health in late May, according to the El Paso Herald-Post newspaper. The man, who has underlying medical conditions, had not reported travel outside of the city, the newspaper reported.
Source: Hot Topics | 7 Jun 2017 | 11:47 am
Texas is set to receive an injection of federal dollars as part of a nationwide effort to fight opioid addiction.
Source: Hot Topics | 4 Jun 2017 | 6:32 pm
Just minutes before Edinburg gastroenterologist Carlos J. Cardenas, MD, was installed as TMA’s 152nd president, the association’s House of Delegates elected numerous new officers, trustees, and representatives to the American Medical Association House of Delegates.
Source: Hot Topics | 1 Jun 2017 | 2:15 pm
The TMA Foundation (TMAF) Board of Trustees elected officers at its annual meeting in Houston. Officers serve a two-year term.
Source: Hot Topics | 1 Jun 2017 | 2:15 pm
You’re smart. You spent all those years in medical school. If you want to pass that wisdom on to others, and help protect your community from all of those pesky diseases that could be prevented with a vaccine, host a TMA Be Wise – Immunize® event.
Source: Hot Topics | 1 Jun 2017 | 2:12 pm
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has further delayed the start of some Medicare bundled payment programs until Jan. 1, 2018.
Source: Hot Topics | 1 Jun 2017 | 2:08 pm
As it does every two years, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s (HHSC's) Rate Analysis Department is reviewing CPT codes and making adjustments to the payments for those services. This time, the HHSC is proposing cuts in Medicaid payments for cardiovascular, gastroenterology, and robotic prostate surgery services. The problem is, practice costs are expected to increase in the coming years.
Source: Hot Topics | 1 Jun 2017 | 2:07 pm
Raise your hand if you’ve performed venous blood lead tests using Magellan Diagnostics’ LeadCare analyzer recently. If your hand is up, it’s possible that those tests may have returned underestimated blood lead levels, according to a national health advisory the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued last month.
Source: Hot Topics | 1 Jun 2017 | 2:06 pm
It looks like a controversial moratorium on expanding and building physician-owned hospitals – AKA POHs – could be repealed. That’s the good news. The better news is that a bill moving its way through Congress to put that repeal in motion has the support of more than 50 medical organizations, including the Texas Medical Association. We’re also talking about the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the American Medical Association, and multiple state medical societies.
Source: Hot Topics | 1 Jun 2017 | 2:06 pm
Now here’s something you might not know: More than 80 percent of medical clinics fall victim to employee theft — that’s employees stealing stuff from your practice, not somebody stealing your employees.
Source: Hot Topics | 1 Jun 2017 | 2:05 pm
Want to make a donation to the TMA Foundation (TMAF) go twice as far? Of course you do!
Source: Hot Topics | 1 Jun 2017 | 2:04 pm
Has your practice made a successful shift to quality reporting? Are you using health information technology to enhance patient engagement and preventative care? If so, get the recognition your practice deserves.
Source: Hot Topics | 1 Jun 2017 | 2:04 pm
If you participate in Medicaid’s Meaningful Use Program, you’re also eligible to receive incentives through the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). If you knew that, then you probably submitted data reports to get credit for 2016. If you didn’t submit those reports by May 15, you should have. That was the submission deadline to get credit for 2016 — the final year physicians could have begun participating in the Meaningful Use Program, which runs through 2021.
Source: Hot Topics | 1 Jun 2017 | 1:07 pm
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and the Perinatal Advisory Council (PAC) are seeking physician input as they create rules on the levels of care hospitals must provide maternity patients.
Source: Hot Topics | 1 Jun 2017 | 11:55 am
Delegating duties to an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), physician assistant (PA), or other nonphysician can be an excellent way to enhance your practice and improve your patients' access to quality medical care. But, a newly updated TMA white paper cautions, you have to do it right. Your license to practice may be at risk.
Source: Hot Topics | 25 May 2017 | 11:19 am
Medicare won't expand its bundled payment program for orthopedic surgery and won't start several similar programs for cardiac care until Oct. 1 — and maybe later — the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced.
Source: Hot Topics | 19 May 2017 | 3:28 pm
Removing patients' Social Security numbers from their Medicare ID cards is needed to protect their privacy, TMA and other medical societies say, but the way it's being handled will cause unnecessary confusion and delays in care.
Source: Hot Topics | 15 May 2017 | 1:22 pm
Laboratories must use a U4 modifier when submitting Medicaid claims for Zika virus testing, the Texas Medicaid and Healthcare Partnership announced on May 5.
Source: Hot Topics | 15 May 2017 | 1:21 pm
Physicians can now go online to determine whether they are exempt from the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) for the 2017 performance period. Remember, your 2017 MIPS scores can affect your 2019 Medicare payments.
Source: Hot Topics | 15 May 2017 | 12:51 pm
A civil rights ruling against a Houston physician exposes medical examiners and other government employed physicians to undue liability lawsuits, and should be overturned, according to a brief filed by TMA and other groups.
Source: Hot Topics | 15 May 2017 | 12:50 pm
TMA reminds its members they no longer need a Department of Public Safety controlled substances registration.
Source: Hot Topics | 15 May 2017 | 12:49 pm
Are you a primary care physician practicing in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin, El Paso, or the Rio Grande Valley? If so, medical students in your community need your support.
Source: Hot Topics | 15 May 2017 | 12:49 pm
Texas clinicians now have a comprehensive online resource for screening, diagnosing, and treating postpartum depression.
Source: Hot Topics | 15 May 2017 | 12:48 pm
The Texas Department of Public Safety has conditionally approved three physician organizations to prescribe low-THC cannabis to patients diagnosed with intractable epilepsy.
Source: Hot Topics | 15 May 2017 | 12:47 pm
Under the new Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) rules, physicians submit data on their 2017 performance, and that data will affect their 2019 Medicare payment rates. TMA has compiled some easy steps you can take now to avoid the 4-percent Medicare penalty in 2019.
Source: Hot Topics | 2 May 2017 | 11:23 am
Physicians, hospitals, and other health care providers throughout Texas would lose substantial protections against frivolous medical lawsuits if a bill working its way through the nation's capital becomes law, two Texas medical groups say.
Source: Hot Topics | 1 May 2017 | 10:42 am
TMA reminds physicians and providers that buying medical devices and drugs from illegal or unlicensed sources not only puts patients in danger but also can result in criminal charges, fines, and jail time.
Source: Hot Topics | 1 May 2017 | 10:20 am
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched an online training series to help clinicians apply its opioid prescribing guidelines for adults with chronic pain.
Source: Hot Topics | 28 Apr 2017 | 3:16 pm
Physicians, check your mailboxes to find out whether you are eligible or exempt from the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) for the 2017 performance period and what that may mean for your 2019 Medicare payment rates.
Source: Hot Topics | 28 Apr 2017 | 3:15 pm
Follow in the footsteps of the physicians who influenced your work in primary care. Sign up to serve as a physician mentor for the 2017 General Internal Medicine Statewide Preceptorship Program (GIMSPP), hosted by the Texas Chapter of the American College of Physicians (ACP).
Source: Hot Topics | 28 Apr 2017 | 3:08 pm
Less than a month-and-a-half remains until the Texas Legislature adjourns, and recent weeks provided encouragement for many of medicine's foremost interests in the 2017 session.
Source: Hot Topics | 20 Apr 2017 | 7:52 pm
TMA and DocbookMD are offering a new, free white paper to help answer your HIPAA questions about the proper use of mobile technology in health care.
Source: Hot Topics | 19 Apr 2017 | 2:44 pm
In an effort to address the very real and debilitating crisis caused by the misuse of opioid pain medicines, the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission has recommended a mandate that all prescribers and pharmacists check the state's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program before prescribing any controlled medication.
Source: Hot Topics | 19 Apr 2017 | 1:02 pm
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has pushed back to May 30 the deadline for physician office-based laboratories to meet new financial reporting requirements.
Source: Hot Topics | 17 Apr 2017 | 12:06 pm
TMA's Hassle Factor Log recouped more than $1.8 million in unpaid insurance claims for physician members last year. If you have unresolved payment issues, know that your TMA membership gives you access to help to get you paid.
Source: Hot Topics | 17 Apr 2017 | 12:05 pm
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology recently released updated SAFER Guides to help health care organizations assess and optimize the safe use of electronic health records (EHRs).
Source: Hot Topics | 17 Apr 2017 | 12:03 pm
The Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services has detected the year's first West Nile virus-infected mosquitoes in the county and warns that could be a bad sign.
Source: Hot Topics | 17 Apr 2017 | 12:01 pm
The Texas Department of State Health Services has expanded its Zika Testing Criteria for residents of the Lower Rio Grande Valley in an effort to quickly identify and respond to new infections of the mosquito-borne virus.
Source: Hot Topics | 17 Apr 2017 | 11:55 am
TMA joined with the American Medical Association and 104 other medical societies in asking the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to defer implementation of the 2015 Edition of certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT).
Source: Hot Topics | 6 Apr 2017 | 12:34 pm
The 60-day bill-filing deadline for the Texas Legislature has come and gone, allowing one thick puff of smoke to finally clear from the 2017 legislative fire. Now, medicine can focus on the hottest logs in the fire pit. For TMA, that means more than 1,400 pieces of legislation to track, with measures that address such smoldering topics as the network inadequacies that fuel surprise-billing issues; public health issues like vaccination exemptions and tobacco use; proper definition and regulation of telemedicine; and troubling scope-related legislation that would allow other practitioners to infringe on the practice of medicine.
Source: Hot Topics | 6 Apr 2017 | 12:32 pm
The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled Monday in favor of a Lubbock physician entangled in a question of whether Texas or New Mexico law should apply in a liability case involving care that was provided in Texas but for a New Mexico patient.
Source: Hot Topics | 6 Apr 2017 | 12:31 pm
Starting April 1, all participants of the Medicaid electronic health record incentive program for program year 2017 or later must complete a Third Party Attestation Authorization Form indicating whether you intend to use a third party to complete your meaningful use attestation.
Source: Hot Topics | 6 Apr 2017 | 12:30 pm
Fort Worth pathologist May Owen, MD, blazed many a trail during her long career in medicine. Now, digital versions of the papers and records that document her path are available in the Portal to Texas History.
Source: Hot Topics | 6 Apr 2017 | 12:29 pm
Physicians who are not participating in the Medicare electronic health record incentive program, also known as meaningful use, will be penalized by Medicare beginning Jan. 1, 2018. To prevent the penalty, physicians must have either attested to meaningful use by March 13, 2017, or applied for a hardship exemption by July 1, 2017.
Source: Hot Topics | 6 Apr 2017 | 12:25 pm
TMA and the Texas Association of Health Plans announced a joint effort to reduce red tape and administrative burdens for physicians and providers who participate, or want to participate, in the Texas Medicaid program. The two organizations selected Aperture, LLC, for a statewide credentialing verification organization contract to be used by all 20 Medicaid health plans in Texas to streamline the credentialing process.
Source: Hot Topics | 6 Apr 2017 | 12:23 pm
A Harris County jury has awarded $6.4 million in damages to a Houston cardiothoracic surgeon whom TMA supported in his years-long battle with Memorial Hermann Health System over a defamation claim.
Source: Hot Topics | 6 Apr 2017 | 12:22 pm
The Texas Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program extended the deadline for physicians to attest to receive incentives for program year 2016. The new deadline is May 15, 2017.
Source: Hot Topics | 15 Mar 2017 | 10:51 am
The potential for electronic health records (EHRs) to transform health care remains constrained by the lack of effective health information exchange technology, TMA says in a letter to U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands).
Source: Hot Topics | 1 Mar 2017 | 10:05 am
Improving the health of all Texans through prevention is the focus of two grants recently approved by the TMA Foundation Board of Trustees.
Source: Hot Topics | 1 Mar 2017 | 9:56 am
An Austin attorney is sending demand letters to physicians and providers across the state alleging that their websites are not accessible to people with visual disabilities and that he will personally sue them unless they pay him $2,000 plus attorney fees.
Source: Hot Topics | 27 Feb 2017 | 6:21 pm
In its Report to the 85th Legislature the Sunset Advisory Commission recommends breathing 12 more years of life into the Texas Medical Board and goes into great detail about TMB's oversight of physicians who prescribe "extremely addictive and dangerous drugs, particularly drugs designed for patients with chronic pain, as some of these drugs contribute to an epidemic of addiction and overdose throughout the country." The commission recommends "the board target its inspections of pain management clinics toward the top prescribers, that the board more effectively monitor prescribing patterns through the newly enhanced Prescription Monitoring Program (PDMP), and that physicians and physician assistants be required to search the program and review a patient's prescription history before prescribing dangerous pain medications."
Source: Hot Topics | 22 Feb 2017 | 3:19 pm
In a significant win for organized medicine and the nation's patients, federal judge Amy Berman Jackson blocked the proposed Anthem-Cigna merger. She found that the merger would have substantially lessened competition for the sale of health insurance to national employers, resulting in higher prices and diminished prospects for innovation. Anthem Inc. planned to take over Cigna for $50 billion. American Medical Association findings show the Anthem-Cigna merger would enhance market power in 85 metropolitan areas within 13 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, and Virginia.
Source: Hot Topics | 15 Feb 2017 | 11:07 am
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar issued a report examining health care-related spending by 68 state agencies and higher education institutions from 2011–15.
Source: Hot Topics | 15 Feb 2017 | 11:06 am
One month into Texas' 2017 legislative session, the ramp-up is beginning as medicine and lawmakers ready for what's certain to be a flurry of activity related to health care.
Source: Hot Topics | 15 Feb 2017 | 9:48 am
Reporting deadlines for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), Value-Based Payment Modifier, and meaningful use programs are fast approaching. This data submission timeframe is happening at the same time CMS is rolling out the new Quality Payment Program, Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), and advanced alternative payment models required by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). Are you confused about the alphabet soup of quality reporting? If so, get help from the TMF Quality Innovation Network and TMA Practice Consulting.
Source: Hot Topics | 14 Feb 2017 | 10:52 am
This year’s Texas Primary Care and Health Home Summit will be the fifth annual statewide conference focused on expanding access to high-quality, person-centered primary care for Texans and their families. Sponsored by TMA, the summit will offer stakeholders the opportunity to learn about innovative primary care models, including the health home. Attendees will become conversant with best practices for innovation in primary care and will have opportunities to interact with program experts at various stages of implementation. Register now to attend the summit May 11–12 at the Sheraton Gunter in San Antonio.
Source: Hot Topics | 14 Feb 2017 | 10:15 am
U.S. District Judge John Bates sent a clear message last month when he issued an order imposing an injunction on Aetna's $37 billion acquisition of Humana, which focused largely on buying up Humana's Medicare Advantage business. The judge found the merger would "be likely to substantially lessen competition" in the Medicaid Advantage market. Indeed, it would have a significant impact across Texas — and 13 other states — likely enhancing Aetna's market power to concerning levels per the federal government's own standards, according to a comprehensive American Medical Association analysis.
Source: Hot Topics | 31 Jan 2017 | 9:56 am
Ransomware has reached Texas, and its emergence highlights the importance of up-to-date security. Health care is particularly vulnerable to the ransomware threat. KPMG's 2015 Health Care and Cyber Security Survey, which polled 223 U.S.-based health care executives, found four-fifths of respondents said cyber attacks had compromised their information technology.
Source: Hot Topics | 31 Jan 2017 | 9:55 am
Completely updated after an eight-year modernization project, a revised edition of the Code of Medical Ethics is available from the American Medical Association in hardcover or e-book. The revised edition contains ethical guidance improved for relevance, clarity, and consistency to help physicians keep pace with emerging demands they face with new technologies, changing patient expectations, and shifting health care priorities.
Source: Hot Topics | 31 Jan 2017 | 9:55 am
TMA is proud to announce the association ended 2016 with more than 50,000 members! Reaching this major milestone is an first for any state medical association, and the achievement is much more than a feather in TMA’s cap.
Source: Hot Topics | 31 Jan 2017 | 9:54 am
Medicine won some relief in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS') final rule implementing the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). Responding to medicine's vehement concerns, CMS decided physicians who at least try to comply with the new rules next year will see no penalty in their payments in 2019, the first year the penalties were set to apply. That's because starting in 2017, physicians' performance on various quality, cost, technology use, and practice improvement measures determines cuts or bonuses in their payments two years later.
Source: Hot Topics | 15 Dec 2016 | 12:02 pm
In response to outreach from U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), House Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands), and other House Republican leaders, TMA provided a list of nine health care policy suggestions for the next Congress to consider.
Source: Hot Topics | 15 Dec 2016 | 10:38 am
TMA works diligently to give you the tools you need to tackle the challenges of technology. Whether you need help selecting an electronic health record (EHR) or understanding the EHR incentive program or information on e-prescribing, TMA has the resources. You can find links to all of these tools on the Technology page of the TMA website.
Source: Hot Topics | 15 Dec 2016 | 10:32 am
"The Corporate Practice of Medicine," TMA's latest white paper, focuses on the development of the corporate practice of medicine prohibition, current applications and prohibitions, potential exceptions to the law, key considerations in relevant corporate practice of medicine court cases, and penalties for violations of the corporate practice of medicine doctrine.
Source: Hot Topics | 31 Oct 2016 | 9:18 am
U.S. physicians love their patients and hate paperwork. Unfortunately, a newly released survey by The Physicians Foundation finds that the paperwork is winning. Fifty-four percent of physicians surveyed say their morale is somewhat or very negative, and 49 percent say they either often or always feel burned out.
Source: Hot Topics | 18 Oct 2016 | 5:22 pm
TMA's biennial Physician Survey identifies emerging issues, tracks the impact of practice and economic changes, assesses physician priorities, and develops data to support TMA advocacy efforts. TMA has distilled the preliminary findings of one part of that survey into a two-page infographic that highlights Texas physicians' perceptions of the pros and cons of electronic health records (EHRs).
Source: Hot Topics | 11 Oct 2016 | 1:11 pm
Oct. 16, 2016, brings a new requirement for a sign to post on your practice walls, as well as a plan for fulfilling its promise. TMA’s new white paper has all the details about accommodating your patients with limited English proficiency.
Source: Hot Topics | 7 Oct 2016 | 2:08 pm
New state law governing the delegation and supervision of prescribing privileges for advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants went into effect Nov. 1.
Source: Hot Topics | 20 May 2016 | 7:52 pm
Affordable Care Act: Find What’s Missing. Keep What Works. Fix What’s Broken.
Source: Hot Topics | 4 Dec 2013 | 11:27 am