Two of the state’s top physicians urged their colleagues at 2015 TMA Winter Conference to jump feet first into advocating for their patients and their professions. Sen. Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown), chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, recalled how he lobbied for tort reform in 2003 as an orthopedic surgeon participating in TMA’s very first, First Tuesdays at the Capitol. “I come from your world,” he said. “I understand your issues.” TMA President Austin King, MD, reminded his colleagues that perceptions trump reality in many places, including the Texas Legislature. He called on physicians to share their realities of patient care with their elected representatives. Among other conference speakers:
- John Carlo, MD, chair of the Dallas County Medical Society’s (DCMS’) Emergency Response Committee, talked about the “infectious fear” that accompanied the Ebola virus cases in Dallas last fall. All while trying to battle the actual outbreak, he said, physician leaders had to overcome “the primal fear of infectious disease stoked by the swirl of antiscience beliefs, media exploitation, and political theater.” He credited DCMS leadership with persuading several area schools districts to keep their campuses open. “If the school districts closed, with no evidence of risk, how would they ever know when to open again?” he asked.
- A member of the American Medical Association Board of Trustees told the conference AMA is pushing to regain last year’s momentum to replace Medicare’s flawed Sustainable Growth Rate formula. Oklahoma City pediatrician Mary Anne McCaffree, MD, praised the leadership of Texans in Congress on the issue. She also said AMA is working to undo the “regulatory tsunami of meaningful use, PQRS [Physician Quality Reporting System], and value-based modifiers” before they swamp physicians’ practices.
- Paul Burka, senior executive editor of Texas Monthly magazine and dean of the Texas Capitol Press Corps, shared tales of his 40 years in Texas politics and his insights into the current crop of state leaders. “Texas physicians and TMA are important to Texas and its future,” he said. Mr. Burka called our 2003 medical liability reforms “a turning point in Texas political history,” and he said Gov. Gregg Abbott is on his way to being one of Texas’ best governors.