Monday, October 5, 2015
Thursday, Oct. 1, was the mandatory date to switch to the ICD-10 coding system in the United States. The government’s paltry “grace period” notwithstanding, all claims to Medicare, Medicaid, commercial insurers, and other payers with a date of service on or after Oct. 1 must use ICD-10. If you run into problems submitting claims, email PaymentAdvocacy@texmed.org or send a report to TMA’s Hassle Factor Log. TMA staff will monitor the reports and contact health plans, Medicare, or Medicaid. If your practice is behind in its ICD-10 preparation, or if you’re just looking for some tips and tools to make the new system work more smoothly, see TMA’s ICD-10 Resource Center.
The TEXPAC Board of Directors voted to endorse Justice Michael Massengale for Texas Supreme Court Place 3. Justice Massengale has served on the First Court of Appeals since 2009, when then-Gov. Rick Perry appointed him, and he won reelection in 2012. “After completion of a very thorough vetting process, Texas physicians believe the decision is clear: Justice Massengale will be the best choice to serve on the Texas Supreme Court,” said TEXPAC Chair Brad Holland, MD. “We further believe he will be an unwavering protector of tort reform, he will help both patients and physicians, and he will interpret the law in a fair and objective manner.” After interviewing both candidates in the race extensively, TEXPAC board members said Justice Massengale clearly articulated his belief that the law is the law and judges should not legislate from the bench.
Once again, big changes are coming to Medicare. Although the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula is now history, the bill that repealed the SGR is likely to accelerate the movement towards value-based payment systems — for all physicians. Sooner rather than later, you will have to prepare to participate in a Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) or an alternative payment model system. Doing nothing may cost you. TMA can help you do it and do it right. Our day-long Medicare Now and Tomorrow seminar will help you develop short-term and long-term strategies to adjust. Registration is open now for the seven-city tour.
Rio Grande City family physician Tony Falcon, MD, is among nine Texans whom Gov. Greg Abbott appointed to the University Research Initiative Advisory Board. The program will provide matching funds to help public colleges and universities recruit prestigious, nationally recognized researchers to their faculty. The advisory board will review grant applications and recommend approval or disapproval to the governor’s office. Dr. Falcon, a long-time, active TMA and TEXPAC member, joins a group of business and philanthropy leaders on the advisory board.
While Texas politics is a year-round sport, the season really heats up in odd-numbered years just about the time mall elves and holiday music are making their crescendos. That’s why we hold our biennial political retreat the first week of December. Register today for TMA’s 2015 Advocacy Retreat, Dec. 4-5 at the Omni Barton Creek Resort in Austin. Join other physician leaders from around the state as we gather to recap the 84th Texas Legislature and discuss what the 2016 elections will mean for Texas medicine.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
In every session for more than a decade, Texas lawmakers have tried to pass legislation that would prevent physicians from billing for services provided out of network. TMA has stopped or deflected those bills, including a slew of proposals in the 2015 session. Physicians in other states have had less success, and now face stringent new laws on how much — or even whether — they can bill patients for the difference between the doctor’s charge and what the insurance company decides to pay. To forestall Texas from becoming the next casualty in this nationwide trend, the TMA Board of Trustees appointed a special Task Force on Balance Billing to develop policy, advocacy, options, and communication strategies. The task force, led by Trustee Keith Bourgeois, MD, met for the first time over the weekend.
With social media forcing big change in how traditional news organizations operate and making “disseminating false information easier than ever,” complicated and dry issues like health care sometimes get left out of the news, three veteran members of the Texas Capitol Press Corps told the audience at TMA’s 2015 Fall Conference. The hour-long panel discussion pulled the curtain back a bit on how reporters decide what to cover and how different media approach the same story. One tip they offered for doctors being interviewed: Drop the medical nomenclature and use very plain English whenever possible. In other highlights of the General Session:
- TMA President Tom Garcia, MD, reviewed medicine’s successes — and failures — in the 2015 Texas Legislature.
- Louisiana surgeon Frank Opelka, MD, chair of the American Medical Association’s Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement, laid out a blueprint for health care and medical education redesign.
- A panel of Texas experts provided a clinical update on hepatocellular carcinoma, a disease that afflicts and kills Texans more than people in any other state.