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Monday, July 1, 2013

TMA PSO SURGING FORWARD

I’m very excited about the strong steps our nascent Physician Services Organization for Patient Care is taking. The project’s steering committee, chaired by TMA Board of Trustees member Dan McCoy, MD, convened for the first time to make some key strategic decisions. Other members of the steering committee are TMA Board Chair Carlos Cardenas, MD; Trustee David Fleeger, MD; Austin Regional Clinic CEO Norm Chenven, MD; and Bruce Malone, MD, the former TMA president. The Dallas and Harris county medical societies are key players along with a number of senior TMA staff members. We will announce the hiring of a general consultant later this week. By next Monday, we will issue a request for information to service and software providers who may want to participate.

CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE RELEASES NEW MEDICARE PAYMENT PLAN

Leaders of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee released the framework of a plan that, in their words, “would repeal SGR and, in return, replace it with an improved fee for service system in which providers develop quality measures that will lead to better care in a more efficient manner.” For several years, the panel has worked with members of the House Ways and Means Committee to draft a solid replacement for Medicare’s faulty Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. Two Texas congressmen — Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Vice Chairman Michael Burgess, MD (R-Lewisville), and Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands) — have played major roles in drafting this legislation. Representative Burgess called it “a common sense solution that keeps doctors in practice and maintains access for their patients.” Replacing the SGR is one of the key elements in TMA’s federal advocacy agenda. Look for an action alert after the July 4 holiday asking you to contact Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and your representative in support of repealing the SGR, stopping ICD-10, and allowing Medicare beneficiaries to contract directly with physicians for care.

RIP, BOB DONALD, MD

I am extremely sad to report the passing of Bob Donald, MD. The former chair of the TMA Board of Trustees was an outstanding physician, a great leader, and a man of utmost integrity. So many of us learned so much at his knee. An internist, Dr. Donald is probably remembered most for his contributions to emergency medicine. He was a force in the development of Houston’s first municipal ambulance service and a founder of the American College of Emergency Physicians. Contributions in Dr. Donald’s memory may be made to the TMA Foundation.

SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE SESSION CONVENES TODAY

Gov. Rick Perry has called the Texas Legislature back for another 30-day special session beginning today. Items on the agenda include road funding, juvenile justice, and abortion regulation. TMA policy on abortion is neither for nor against the controversial procedure. However, we will continue to express our opposition to legislative intrusion into the patient-physician relationship and the details of the practice of medicine, and to legislatively created standards of care.

HAND OUT A TMA CARROT FOR BETTER HEALTH CARE JOURNALISM

Yes, it’s true, some reporters out there really do get the story right. And don’t you think they need some encouragement to keep it up? For the first time, TMA’s Anson Jones, MD, Awards program is accepting nominations from the family of medicine. Send an email to ansonjones@texmed.org to recognize reporters in your area for hard work and great health care reporting. We’ll let the reporters know their work’s been recognized and enter it into the competition.

HAPPY SUMMER, FROM EVPGRAM

After this issue, your EVPGram begins its annual summer break. We’ll return to your in-box after Labor Day. In the meantime, keep up with TMAvia Texas Medicine, Action, and other e-publications. Of course, we’ll bring you a special EVPGram whenever necessary. Happy summer.