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Monday, April 21, 2014

MEDNAX TEAM ALIGNS WITH TMA

TMA senior staff and I enjoyed a very positive meeting with the Texas leaders of MEDNAX, the national neonatal, maternal-fetal, pediatric, and anesthesia group. They affirmed their commitment to 100-percent membership in TMA and the county medical societies. We discussed mutual advocacy priorities and physician leadership development opportunities, and they described the practice's clinical research and quality initiatives. The MEDNAX team included Regional President Tony Lacaze; Regional Vice President Curt Pickert, MD; Hanoch Patt, MD, the practice medical director; San Antonio neonatologists Michael Battista, MD, and Alex Kenton, MD; and Fort Worth neonatologist Robert Ursprung, MD. Dr. Battista is a member of the TMA Council on Socioeconomics, and Dr. Kenton serves on the Council on Health Care Quality and the TEXPAC Board of Directors.

TEXMED 2014: IT'S WHAT'S FREE (TO MEMBERS)

The House of Delegates. More than 80 hours of clinical and practice management CME. More than 100 top-notch vendors in the Expo Hall. ZDogg, MD. Networking opportunities, business meetings, and social activities. TexMed 2014 is TMA’s annual meeting, May 2-3, at the Fort Worth Convention Center. And it’s free for TMA members. If you’ve never been to TexMed, make 2014 your year to start. Watch this short video to see what it’s all about. If it’s been awhile, now’s the time to come back. And if you’re always there, I look forward to seeing you in Fort Worth. Did I mention it’s free?

PHYSICIANS HELP CREATE A HEALTHY TEXAS ECONOMY

Texas’ practicing physicians are worth billions to the state's economy and $1.6 trillion to the whole country, according to a new report from the American Medical Association. The economic impact study found Texas physicians support 522,619 jobs and generate $78.6 billion in economic activity, including $43 billion in wages and benefits, and $2.5 billion in local and state tax revenues. “Unlike last week's Medicare payment data dump, these numbers are supported by solid analysis and reported in rich context,” said TMA President Steve Brotherton, MD. “The bottom line is that Texas' physician practices, without a doubt, are good for the economic health of our communities and our state.” IMS Health prepared “The National Economic Impact of Physicians” for the AMA.

THE HEALTH CARE "BUSINESS" — GOOD FOR EVERYONE BUT PHYSICIANS

 My latest post at Forbes.com talks about the tremendous investment opportunities health care reform is bringing to nearly every sector of the health care economy. Pharmaceutical companies have more patients to buy drugs; insurers have more lives to cover; for-profit hospitals have more people to put in their beds or run through their imaging centers; electronic health records vendors have government clout to force physicians to buy their products. Doctors, however, aren’t quite positioned to put such a positive spin on the outsized increase in demand for health care services. “From the physicians’ perspective, it means more patients in need of even more services in an era of over-regulation, incessant red-tape, and stagnant incomes,” Physicians Foundation CEO Tim Norbeck and I write in “Why Healthcare Is A Good Investment For Insurance, Pharmaceutical And Technology Companies - But Not For Physicians.” Do you agree? Let me know.

BLUE CROSS LEADERS EXAMINE POTENTIAL NEW PAYMENT MODELS

TMA staff and I met with some of the senior team at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) to discuss how payers can help medical practices successfully participate in quality initiatives and innovative new payment models. BCBSTX President Bert Marshall led the group that also included Dan McCoy, MD, the chief medical officer; and Bob Morrow, MD, the senior medical director.

SOUTHWEST MEDICAL VILLAGE OPENS ITS DOORS

I attended the open house at the new Southwest Medical Village in Austin. Led by Kevin Spencer, MD, of Premier Family Physicians, the 80,000-square-foot facility houses about 70 physicians representing 20 specialties and features a pharmacy and optometry practice. The team-based practice is modeled after Chris Crow, MD’s, Village Health Partners in Plano. We featured Southwest Medical Village in the cover story of March’s issue of Texas Medicine.

Monday, April 14, 2014

THREE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE DOC DATA DUMP

The release of physicians’ 2012 Medicare payment data has generated a lot of anger, stress, and confusion in the medical profession. Our phone lines have been jammed with physicians asking, “Why did this happen? Can I correct any inaccuracies? What are we doing about it?” We put out a special issue of TMA’s Action newsletter to address as many concerns as we can, but here some important answers for you. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) had to comply with several federal laws when it gave the public unprecedented access to physician Medicare payments and charges for services and procedures. The CMS online database contains information on more than 880,000 physicians and other health care professionals who collectively received $77 billion in Medicare Part B payments in 2012. Organized medicine won a court victory more than 30 years ago that kept the data private. But a judge reversed it in 2013, leading to last week’s release. CMS has no process for physicians to correct errors they find in the data. The biggest problem, as TMA President Steve Brotherton, MD, pointed out in numerous media interviews, is the presentation of the raw information out of context. The data do not account for physician expenses, such as drug and medical supply acquisition costs, investments in health information technology, and other expenses associated with operating any small business. We are very concerned that this will mislead patients, the general public, and elected officials. TMA is developing some talking points you can use to answer patients’ questions and will share them with you promptly.