About TMA Related Organizations TMA Calendar Site Map Contact Us

Monday, December 17, 2007

CALL CONGRESS ON MEDICARE NOW

Time is almost out for you to let Congress know it must stop the 10.1-percent cut in physicians' Medicare fees scheduled for Jan. 1. Deliver this three-part message:
  • Congress must act, before the year-end recess, to stop the cut planned for 2008 and increase payments so they cover physicians' costs of caring for patients.
  • Congress must dedicate new funding to make sure physicians are paid appropriately for the services provided. We cannot dig the hole any deeper. Putting off payment leads us further down the road toward devastating problems for physicians, patients, and Congress.
  • There is no acceptable solution other than a permanent fix to the Sustainable Growth Rate funding formula. Anything less amounts to the government abandoning its commitment to senior citizens.

HELP EVALUATE CANDIDATES FOR TEXPAC ENDORSEMENT

TEXPAC has published its 81st Candidate Briefing Document, a guide for legislative candidates seeking medicine’s endorsement in 2008. From “The Uninsured” to “Mental Health and Substance Abuse,” the Guide includes background information on TMA’s top priorities for the 81st Texas Legislature. Download it from the TEXPAC Web site or contact TEXPAC at texpac@texmed.org or (512) 370-1361.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM THE PRESIDENTS

TMA President Bill Hinchey, MD, and TMA Alliance President Mia Price have a holiday greeting for you. We’re delivering it through the TMA Web site.

TMA QUICK POLL

What is the most urgent health problem facing Texas now? Take our online survey.

MEDICINE URGES HEALTH PLANS: DON’T FOLLOW MEDICARE

Last week’s EVPGram discussed the letter TMA and state specialty societies are sending to commercial health plans, asking them not to follow suit if the 10.1-percent Medicare cut goes into effect on Jan. 1. The full letter is now online.

TMA LOOKS AT MEDICAID INVESTIGATIONS

Bob Emmick, MD, chair of TMA’s Patient-Physician Advocacy Committee, and John Holcomb, MD, who chairs our Select Committee on Medicaid and the Uninsured, met with new Texas Health and Human Services Commission Inspector General Bart Beevers to discuss policies, investigation tactics, and physician rights. We also addressed our concerns over a TMA member’s experience with an investigation. We have more work to do on these issues.

LEAD A FIRST-RATE TEAM

TMA has released Nonphysician Practitioners, second edition. This self-study guide tells you how to hire, supervise, and bill for the services of nonphysician practitioners. Get it from the TMA Store or call (800) 880-7955. Complete the program to earn 3 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ at no extra charge and become eligible for a discount from Texas Medical Liability Trust.

Monday, December 10, 2007

TMA DRAWS LINE IN THE SAND ON MEDICARE RATES

Congress has just a few days left to work this year before a 10.1-percent cut in physicians’ Medicare payments kicks in on Jan. 1. For physicians in most parts of Texas, the cut will be even greater. We urge all Texas physicians to call Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison and their representative today to deliver this three-part message:
  • Congress must act, before the year-end recess, to stop the 10.1-percent cut planned for 2008 and to enact payment increases that cover physicians’ costs of caring for patients.
    Congress must dedicate new funding to ensure physicians are paid appropriately for the services provided. We cannot dig the hole any deeper. Putting off payment leads us further down the road toward devastating problems for physicians, patients, and the Congress.
  • There is no acceptable solution other than a permanent fix to the sustainable growth rate funding formula. Anything less amounts to the government abandoning its commitment to senior citizens and Texans with disabilities.
  • What's wrong with Medicare? What can be done to save it? Podcast TMA posed these questions to three TMA leaders. Listen to the show and post your own thoughts in the “COMMENTS” section.

DEC. 31 DEADLINE TO MAKE MEDICARE DECISION

If you want to change your Medicare participation status, you must do so by the end of the year. You have three participation options for 2008. The American Medical Association has developed Medicare Participation Options for Physicians (PDF). Neither TMA nor AMA endorses any of the three; we just want you to have the information.

PROP 12 ON THE LINE IN FORT WORTH RACE

Voters in the Dec. 18 special election for Texas House District 97 face a stark choice: pediatrician Mark Shelton, MD, vs. a trial lawyer who campaigned against Proposition 12 and wrote a book called Cheaper to Kill than to Maim. Political analysts across the state credit the hard work of Tarrant County physicians and alliance members in getting Dr. Shelton to the runoff. TEXPAC is working hard to get out the vote for Dr. Shelton to protect our liability reforms.

MEDICINE URGES HEALTH PLANS: DON’T FOLLOW MEDICARE

TMA and state specialty societies in Texas are asking commercial health plans who key their payment rates to Medicare’s not to follow suit if the 10.1-percent cut goes into effect on Jan. 1. “Our organizations expect you and your corporate colleagues to do the right thing: Please encourage Congress to fix this problem,” says a draft letter we are preparing for Texas health plan executives. “Don’t follow along with their arbitrary cuts.”

START THE YEAR OFF RIGHT

TMA, TEXPAC, and specialty and county society leaders gather Jan. 4-6 in San Antonio for our second strategic planning session for the 2009 Texas Legislature. We need many voices delivering one message on behalf of our patients and our profession. Please join us.