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Home   Hot Topics   Governmental Affairs   Practice Management   Membership   Legal Information Jan. 19, 2012
TMA Weekly Headlines



AMA: Permanent 'doc fix' is only acceptable option
The Hill, Jan. 13, 2012    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A fresh round of negotiations will begin soon over another temporary "doc fix," and the doctors lobby says almost all the proposals on the table would be a failure. A short-term doc fix was part of the two-month tax bill Congress passed late last year. Lawmakers are set to meet later this month to reach an agreement on a yearlong bill, including a yearlong patch in doctors' Medicare payments — less than the two years that House Republicans had pushed. More



State releases reduced list of women's health clinics
Texas Tribune, Jan. 17, 2012    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Following a legislative session where lawmakers slashed funding for family planning and targeted Planned Parenthood, the Texas Department of State Health Services has released a much-reduced list of organizations that will receive state dollars to provide birth control, STD testing and cervical and breast cancer screenings for the state's poorest women. Between now and March 31, 2013, 41 womens' health providers will receive a total of $12.4 million, down from 71 agencies in the last biennium. More

Texas doctors fighting state change they say could disrupt life-saving care
Waco Tribune-Herald, Jan. 17, 2012    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Doctors are asking the state to reconsider payment cuts for care provided to low-income seniors, saying the change could cause some physicians to stop treating such patients and consequently disrupt life-saving care. The change, which took effect Jan. 1, involves seniors covered by two government health care programs. The so-called "dual-eligible" patients generally qualify for Medicare based on their age and for Medicaid because of their income. Registration required to view full article. More

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Opinion: Texas health insurance rebates are on the line
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Jan. 13, 2012    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
It sounds too good to be true, and if Texas regulators have their way, it won't happen. About 690,000 consumers are slated to get an estimated $160 million in rebates from health insurance companies by Aug. 1. But the Texas Insurance Department wants to slash that amount by three-fourths and phase in changes slowly. The department says the individual insurance market could be destabilized if companies have to make the payments and cut into profits. Consumer groups say that everything will be fine and that customers deserve their full refunds. A federal decision is expected within two weeks. More

Physicians can find themselves in the middle of medical guideline debates
American Medical News, Jan. 16, 2012    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Guidelines represent an attempt to review all the available and relevant data and recommend a course of action for a clinical situation. Why, then, should they differ? One important reason is that human beings create them. Guideline panels review the data, but data always require interpretation. When experts interpret data to create guidelines, they make subjective judgments. More



Teaching hospitals fight Medicare cuts
The Hill, Jan.    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Teaching hospitals are ramping up the pressure on lawmakers to reject cuts to their Medicare payments as Congress seeks to avert an almost 30 percent cut to physician rates on March 1. Proposed cuts to hospital outpatient departments, the Association of American Medical Colleges warned, would be "counter-productive and would reduce teaching hospitals' ability to provide outpatient care to vulnerable populations, and will make it more difficult to train physicians and other health care providers in an integrated, team-based environment." More
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Opinion: How doctors are trapped
John Goodman's Health Policy Blog, Jan. 16, 2012    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Every lawyer, every accountant, every architect, every engineer — indeed, every professional in every other field — is able to do something doctors cannot do. They can repackage and reprice their services. If demand changes or if they discover a way of meeting their clients' needs more efficiently, they are free to offer a different bundle of services for a different price. Doctors, by contrast, are trapped. To see how trapped, let's look at another profession — the practice of law. More

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Opinion: Cutting health care spending the old-fashioned way
The Washington Post, Jan. 16, 2012    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
It turns out that there is a way to control health spending: Clobber the economy. When unemployment rises, people lose health insurance. They see doctors less often; they put off elective surgery; they cut back on drugs. Even people with insurance behave similarly, because their pay may be down, they worry about job security or they want to avoid out-of-pocket costs for deductibles or co-payments. Of course, almost no one advocates this as a deliberate policy. But it does seem to work. Call it the Neanderthal Cure to Health Costs. More

When insurance fails
The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 7, 2012    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Many people assume insurance offered by their employer is a better deal than they can get on their own. But while the premiums can be lower, such policies have drawbacks. Employer-sponsored insurance has become much more common in recent years. Premiums from new sales of life, disability, supplemental-medical and other types of insurance sold through work sites totaled an estimated $5.4 billion in 2011, up from $2 billion in 1997, according to benefits-expert Eastbridge Consulting Group. More



Lawmakers revisit Texas Medicaid waiver
Texas Tribune, Jan. 17, 2012    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Texas lawmakers and hospital administrators took a hard look Tuesday at the state Medicaid waiver recently OK'd by the Obama administration. "This impacts every hospital in this state ... and every community," Tom Suehs, Texas' health and human services commissioner, said in a morning hearing. The waiver allows Texas to keep drawing down billions of federal dollars even as the state expands Medicaid managed care programs designed to curb costs and make care more efficient for Texas' neediest patients. More

Texas doctors lead open-notes movement
Houston Chronicle, Jan. 16, 2012    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Texas doctors are at the vanguard of what U.S. researchers say is an inevitable revolution to make consultation notes and other records easily accessible to patients. The idea, at odds with the decades-old attitude that medical records belong to doctors because they're the only ones trained to interpret them, is being tested in an ongoing national study that has already confirmed that patients want to read their notes but most doctors are still resistant. More




The articles in The Texas Medical Association Weekly Headlines are chosen from a variety of sources, Texas and national, to reflect media coverage of the medical profession and health care issues. Publication of any article does not imply that TMA has endorsed or supports its contents.
TMA Weekly Headlines
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