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Monday, December 15, 2008

TMA'S PRESCRIPTION FOR A HEALTHY TEXAS

TMA leaders have devised plans to pursue an ambitious agenda when the Texas Legislature convenes next month. We’ve spelled out our proposals in Doctor’s Orders, a new publication we’ve just posted on the TMA Web site. We will have the booklet in the hands of every Texas lawmaker before the holidays. A tight budget, narrow partisan margins in the Texas House and Senate, and anticipated all-out assaults on scope of practice and physicians’ ownership rights promise to make the 2009 legislative session particularly challenging for organized medicine. From health insurance accountability to protecting our liability reforms to tackling the obesity epidemic, TMA has written an extensive “2009 prescription for a healthy Texas.” Want to help? Here are five simple things you can do for your practice right from your office.

VOTE FOR HUFFMAN IN SD 17 SPECIAL ELECTION

Tomorrow is election day in the Senate District 17 special election to replace former Sen. Kyle Janek, MD (R-Houston). Republican Joan Huffman is TEXPAC’s pick in the Houston-Beaumont-Galveston-area race. If you live in the district, please vote.

ON THE ROAD WITH THE PRESIDENT

TMA President Josie Williams, MD, installed new officers at the Nueces County Medical Society and shared our legislative agenda at a joint meeting of the Midland and Ector county societies. Write to president@texmed.org to invite Dr. Williams to your county.

DEWHURST CONFERS WITH TMA LEADERS

TMA trustees Lyle Thorstenson, MD, and Bruce Malone, MD, and senior staff met with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to discuss the 2009 Texas Legislature. Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst asked for recommendations on health system reform and improvement.

TEXAN TO LEAD AMPAC

Congratulations to Sheldon Gross, MD. The pediatric neurologist from San Antonio is the new chair of the American Medical Association Political Action Committee Board of Directors. Dr. Gross’ election will mean good things for physicians and patients throughout the country.

NEW PRESIDENT FOR TMB

Gov. Rick Perry appointed Irvin E. Zeitler Jr., DO, a family physician from San Angelo, as the new president of the Texas Medical Board. He replaces Roberta Kalafut, DO, of Abilene, who helped lead the board through some turbulent times. "I applaud Dr. Kalafut's dedication to the mission of the board and steadfast leadership during her tenure as president, and I am pleased that she will continue to help protect the public as a member of the district review committee," Gov. Perry said. "I am equally pleased that Dr. Zeitler will be taking the reins as president, and know that he shares my strong belief that Texas must have a strong and fair medical board."

YOUR CHANCE TO LOBBY ON CAPITOL HILL

Online registration is open for the AMA’s 2009 National Advocacy Conference, March 10-11, 2009, at the Grand Hyatt Washington.

Monday, December 8, 2008

TMA TEAMS WORK ON HEALTH SYSTEM REFORM

Two TMA committees met at TMA headquarters to plan legislative solutions for both state and national health system issues. The select committees on National Health System Reform and on Medicaid, CHIP, and the Uninsured met jointly and in separate work sessions to tackle health system reform legislation that the incoming U.S. Congress and the 2009 Texas Legislature likely will address. The groups discussed national system reform proposals emerging from the U.S. Senate and President-Elect Barack Obama, and Texas Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and uninsured state budget issues. Joe Annis, MD, of Austin, a member of the American Medical Association Board of Trustees, addressed a joint session of the two committees as they worked on issues of importance to both groups. Chairs of the two select committees, respectively, are Doug Curran, MD, of Athens, and John Holcomb, MD, of San Antonio. Both select committees will have initial recommendations ready to go for the TMA Board of Trustees and the Council on Legislation before the legislature and Congress begin their 2009 sessions.

UTMB ALUMNI COME THROUGH

Graduates of The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) have fond memories of their days studying on the island and lots of compassion for today’s students. An e-mail request the TMA Foundation sent to all UTMB alumni raised more than $10,000 in just two days to help students who lost books, supplies, clothing, and much more due to Hurricane Ike. That is about the same amount the foundation raised in various other appeals over the previous six weeks. You can donate online for the students or for TMA’s Hurricane Ike Disaster Relief Fund. We are still accepting applications for relief fund grants for practices that incurred uninsured or nonreimbursable property damage and do not have adequate funding to cover the damage.

TEXPAC BACKS HUFFMAN IN SD 17 SPECIAL ELECTION

Republican Joan Huffman earned TEXPAC’s endorsement in the special election for State Senate District 17 to replace former Sen. Kyle Janek, MD (R-Houston), who resigned. Early voting begins today in the Houston-Beaumont-Galveston-area race. Election day is Dec. 16.

TMAIT: COVERAGE YOU CAN COUNT ON

Whether you’re a medical student or a physician about to retire, if you’re a TMA member, you know where to turn for the insurance and financial services you need. The TMA Insurance Trust (TMAIT) offers medical, life, income protection, group overhead, and ancillary insurance to TMA members and their group managers. For insurance and services tailored to the current stage of your medical career, check out TMAIT’s Coverage to Meet Your Changing Needs online, interactive toolkit.

Monday, December 1, 2008

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

I hope the entire TMA family enjoyed the holiday in some special way. Despite hurricanes, tough economic times, and significant stresses on the practice of medicine, we all have so much for which we can be thankful. I know I do, especially the opportunity to serve as your executive vice president and chief executive officer. Doing good, and doing it well, is quite fulfilling.

WHAT DOES WASHINGTON HAVE IN STORE FOR US?

President-Elect Barack Obama, his team, and Democratic leaders in Congress are making plans to move on one of the 2008 campaign's biggest issues: health care reform. What do Mr. Obama, Secretary of Health and Human Services-designate Tom Daschle, Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and others have planned? What would it all mean to patients and their physicians? And what do TMA and organized medicine plan to do to influence the outcome of the debate? To help you stay up to date, we’ve compiled a list of national health care reform resources on the TMA Web site. You can find links to:

  • The Obama plan, including the president-elect’s call for your ideas and suggestions;
  • The Daschle book: Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis;
  • The Baucus Call to Action white paper; and
  • TMA's Texas Medicare Manifesto II.

SAVE THOSE DATES

Grab your 2009 calendar and a big red pen, and be sure to circle these important dates. We need you to be a big part of our fight for patients and physicians in the new year:

  • 2009 TMA Winter Conference: Jan. 30-31, Hyatt Regency Austin
  • First Tuesdays at the Capitol: Feb. 3, March 3, April 7, and May 5. Be a lobbyist for a day and join the “white coat invasion” in Austin.
  • TexMed 2009: May 1-2, Hilton Austin and Austin Convention Center
  • 2009 TMA Fall Conference: Sept. 4-5, Hyatt Regency Austin

PRIMARY CARE ON THE ROPES?

In last week’s EVPGram, I reported on survey results released by the Physicians’ Foundation that depict widespread frustration and concern among primary care physicians nationwide. The December issue of Texas Medicine should land on your desk today or tomorrow with more details on the survey results, the stress on medical practices, and how TMA is working to help physicians of all specialties maintain the viability of their practices. The latest edition of Podcast TMA also explores these themes. Listen in as Texas Medicine associate editor Crystal Conde interviews retired Georgia pediatrician Walker Ray, MD, vice president of the Physicians' Foundation, and Juan Jose Ferreris, MD, a San Antonio pediatrician in a four-person practice.