Table of Contents: December 2006


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Vol. 102 No. 12  


The Day the Flu Vaccine Ran Out
Physicians were promised there would be enough influenza vaccine for every patient who wanted a flu shot this winter, but the 2006-07 flu season was barely under way when doctors across Texas began complaining they weren't getting all the vaccine they ordered. Federal officials say there's not really a shortage; it's a shipping issue.

By Erin Prather 


Begging for Shekels
Once again, physicians' Medicare fees are scheduled to be cut unless Congress permanently replaces the funding formula with one that reflects reality. And once again, it appears Congress will opt for a temporary fix at best.

By Ken Ortolon 


Volunteers Protected
State and federal laws shield physicians from liability when they volunteer to treat disaster victims, like last year's Hurricane Katrina evacuees, or when they volunteer for charitable organizations. But the protection is valid only if the physician doesn't get paid.

By Erin Prather 


Painful Marks
Forcing doctors to use a Texas Department of Public Safety form to prescribe Schedule II drugs needs to stop if Texas is to improve its mediocre national ranking in pain treatment, pain care advocates say. Getting rid of the intimidating form is one of the goals of the Texas Pain Summit held by TMA and other organizations this summer.

By Ken Ortolon 


Someone's Watching
Want to find out if your practice is meeting your patients' expectations? Try a mystery shopper. Mystery shopping is becoming popular in health care as patients have more choices. TMA Physician Services offers a mystery shopping service.

By Ken Ortolon 


The Father of Aerobics Is Still at It
Kenneth Cooper, MD, MPH, the father of aerobics, is still going strong at 75. He's dedicated his career to exploring the relationship between exercise, health, and longevity. As the nation's obesity crisis worsens, his work is more pertinent than ever.

By Erin Prather 


TMA Endorses Perry HIT Partnership
Aetna Modifier 57 Claims Resubmission Begins Jan. 1
CDC Says More Texas Kids Vaccinated Last Year
Retail Clinics Bad Idea for Kids' Health, AAP Says
Locum Tenens Physician Demand Increases
No Changes Needed for Most Medicare Part D Beneficiaries
Ask the TMA Knowledge Center 


Avoid a HIPAA Surprise
Make sure you know how your insurance companies handle the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 regulation that allows them to deny coverage for patients injured in what the insurer considers a dangerous activity. Otherwise, they may not cover the patient injured in a potentially hazardous recreational activity.

Modifier 52 and You
Use CPT modifier 52 (Reduced Services) for a service or procedure that is partially reduced or eliminated at your discretion. This is a way of reporting reduced services without disturbing the identification of the basic service. And, include a statement explaining the reduction of the service or procedure. Without it, Medicare will deny the code billed with modifier 52.

LabCorp Replaces Quest
LabCorp will become UnitedHealthcare's national laboratory services provider on Jan. 1, replacing Quest Diagnostics. It will participate with other laboratory providers as part of United's Texas laboratory network. Physicians who now refer UnitedHealthcare, PacifiCare, Secure Horizons, or Evercare patients or their lab specimens to Quest Diagnostics must begin using LabCorp or another participating lab on Jan. 1. 


Factors Associated With Reported Parental Knowledge of Children's School Backpack Contents in Central Texas (abstract)

By   Samuel N. Forjuoh, MD, MPH, DrPH; John A. Schuchmann, MD; and Saundra Mason, BSN, RN 


Medical Student Report
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