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Home   Hot Topics   Governmental Affairs   Practice Management   Membership   Legal Information Feb. 9, 2012
TMA Weekly Headlines



Cuts closing doors for doctors?
NewsWest 9, Feb. 7, 2012    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Bhanu Gorania took over as manager of Permian Basin Physicians back in 2003, around the time the clinic had gone bankrupt for the third time in 12 years. "It was my own retirement fund that was funding the clinic," Gorania said. "I live here seven days a week since then. I spend more time at office than I do at home or on vacation or anything because that is our own personal money at risk here." So far her efforts and those of her staff are working, with patients getting the care they need, but that could get harder. More



Essential health benefits bulletin draws fire
HealthLeaders Media, Feb, 7, 2012    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
In December 2011 the Department of Health and Human Services surprised just about everyone when it announced via a bulletin that instead of establishing essential health benefits (EHB) at a federal level for the state health insurance exchanges, it was considering passing that job onto the states. The immediate reaction was generally negative with consumer groups and some industry stakeholders expressing concern that the state approach would result patchwork interpretations of EHB. More

State health department now enforcing sonogram law
Texas Tribune, Feb. 6, 2012    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The Department of State Health Services has released guidelines for women's health clinics and will begin enforcing Texas' abortion sonogram law, agency officials said. "We'll be providing technical assistance along the way, but facilities need to follow the law, and we'll be checking up on that during our facility inspections," DSHS spokeswoman Carrie Williams said. More

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House and Senate at impasse on Medicare payments
The New York Times, Feb. 6, 2012    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
House and Senate negotiators are deadlocked over how to prevent a deep cut in Medicare payments to doctors who treat millions of Medicare beneficiaries, an impasse that could threaten broader legislation on a payroll tax cut. Lawmakers in both parties said they wanted to give doctors a small increase, but could not agree on how to cover the cost. The issue, which is being negotiated as part of the talks over maintaining a reduction in payroll taxes for 160 million Americans, pits health care providers against one another — doctors versus hospitals — in a type of conflict that is most likely to become more common as the federal government tries to throttle back the growth of Medicare costs. More

GOP looks set to block Democratic fix for Medicare doctors
TPM, Feb. 8, 2012    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
House GOP leaders are set to shoot down a silver-bullet pay-for to fix Medicare physician payment rates, sources close to leadership tell TPM, even though the idea has strong support among Democrats and some key Republican lawmakers. The doc fix is being negotiated as part of the payroll tax cut package and momentum to use war savings to eliminate the Medicare flaw has recently halted due to GOP divisions over the idea. More



Texas primary likely delayed as court redraws maps
The Associated Press via KTRK-TV, Feb. 7, 2012    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Last-ditch negotiations to save the April 3 Texas primary appeared dead Tuesday, throwing the state's messy redistricting battle back to a federal court that must now sort through a widely panned partial deal and pick a new primary date. The court had set a Monday deadline for the state and a coalition of minority rights groups to reach a compromise, but several black and Hispanic groups splintered at the bargaining table. There was no signal that talks had resumed Tuesday, meaning the judges will almost certainly delay the primary at least two weeks as they draw new political maps. More

Physician groups say 5010 standards hurt cash flow
Medscape Today News, Feb. 3, 2012    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
New federal standards designed to streamline electronic insurance claims are instead slowing them down, hurting physician cash flow and pushing some practices into financial distress, the head of the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) warned Feb. 1. "Many practices face significantly delayed revenue, operational difficulties, a reduced ability to treat patients, staff layoffs, or even the prospect of closing their practice," said Susan Turney, MD, the president and chief executive officer of the MGMA, in a letter to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. More
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Many hits, rather than a big one, pose greatest concussion risk
NPR,    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
High school football players have changes in their brain function long before they have recognizable signs of a concussion, according to a new study. The more hits a player got, the more brain function changed. The findings support the growing belief that a concussion comes as the result of a succession of insults, not just one bad hit. More

Medicaid changes challenge hospitals to do things differently
Houston Chronicle, Feb. 6, 2012    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The goal is lofty: Improve and expand health care for millions of Texans. But with billions of dollars at stake and the new project under way before the rules are even written, decisions made over the next few months are causing anxiety in many Harris County hospitals. The new rules — part of a complicated, first-of-its-kind project approved by the federal government — will determine who gets paid for providing charity care, and how much. More

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Obama seeks deal on birth control
The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 8, 2012    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The White House is looking for a way to address the concerns of religious leaders upset by President Barack Obama's decision to require religious employers to cover contraceptives in employee health plans, according to people familiar with the discussions. The decision sparked a backlash from Catholic leaders, and the White House is trying to tamp down the dispute as it provides campaign fodder for Republican presidential contenders. The White House signaled Tuesday that it was open to a compromise on new rules requiring Catholic and other church-affiliated employers to include birth control coverage in their health plans. (Registration required to view full article.) More

Real insurance could never operate with an 85 percent loss ratio
John Goodman's Health Policy Blog, Feb. 7, 2012    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Politicians, bureaucrats, and people in general are very fixated on how much of our premiums go to administrative costs, including executive salaries and profits, of health plans. It's easy to understand a politician winning applause for promising that she'll ensure health plans spend more of their revenue on patient care. The rules appear to be having the opposite result. But there is an even more fundamental question: Why are politicians not attacking other (non-health) insurers who spend only 70, 60, or even 50 cents on the dollar in claims? More



Editorial: An unplanned benefit for Planned Parenthood
Houston Chronicle, Feb. 7, 2012    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A variety of unexpected developments startled women's health supporters recently, starting with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation's surprise funding cut to Planned Parenthood. Now that the uproar has begun to subside, however, another revelation may turn out to have the most lasting impact of all: The public understanding of what Planned Parenthood really does. The surprises began when the Komen foundation announced it would no longer fund Planned Parenthood, a longtime partner in its fight against breast cancer. 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
Colby Horton, Vice President of Publishing, 469.420.2601   Download media kit
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