Table of Contents: January 2007


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Vol. 103 No. 1   


A New Game Plan
TMA played defense during the 2005 session of the Texas Legislature, but the association plans to go on offense this year. TMA plans to launch an aggressive push to improve physician payment rates in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, and work to make it easier for patients to know who owns health care facilities and easier for employers and patients to know exactly what their premium dollars are buying from health plans. And, medicine will again fight scope-of-practice battles and defend the 2003 medical liability reforms.

By Ken Ortolon 


When All Else Fails
The old method doesn't seem to be working all that well, so state health officials have joined their federal counterparts in embracing a new strategy to reduce the state's alarming rate of sexually transmitted diseases. They're now recommending physicians try expedited partner therapy -- treating an infected patient's sexual partners without an intervening medical evaluation or professional prevention counseling. Eduardo Sanchez, MD, then commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, sent a letter to colleagues endorsing the practice last May.

By Erin Prather Stafford 


Take a Number
There's a big reason you need to apply for a national provider identifier (NPI): You won't get paid if you don't have one. As of this coming May 23, all physicians, allied health professionals, hospitals, and health care facilities that electronically bill Medicare, Medicaid, or any other governmental or private health care payer must have an NPI to bill for their services. But as of mid-November, only about half of the affected professionals and health facilities across the country had applied to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for their new NPI.

By Ken Ortolon 


Seal of Approval
The federal government is pushing for expanded use of health information technology, but so far many physicians are reluctant to make the investment. They're concerned over cost, reliability, and the system becoming obsolete soon after they buy it. The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology is trying to ease some of those worries by certifying products.

By Erin Prather Stafford 


Delegates Struggle With Medicare Cuts … Again
Harris County Medical Society Gets AMA Award for Katrina Efforts
State Begins New CHIP Perinatal Program
Resolution of Aetna RICO Lawsuit Settlement Compliance Issues
TMA Winter Conference First Weekend in February
Stop Embezzlement Before It Starts
Cruise to Alaska and Earn PHR CME
Are You Making the Most of Your Medical Career?
"Stamping Out Disease" Exhibit Available in Spanish
Major Insurers to Cover Higher Newborn Screening Fee 


Herpes Zoster Vaccine for Medicare Patients
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends Americans over age 60 be immunized with the herpes zoster vaccine to prevent shingles, but that doesn't mean Medicare Part B will cover it.

Create Custom Preventive Care Reports 
The U.S. Health and Human Services Department is offering software for your PDA or desktop computer that allows you to create preventive care reports tailored to your patients.

Does the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) consider you a "covered entity" if you receive but do not transmit health information electronically? No.

Tips on Submitting Medicare Claims
TrailBlazer Health Enterprises says incorrectly filed Medicare secondary payer (MSP) claims are still one of the top 10 billing errors. The Texas Medicare carrier offers several tips for filing accurate MSP claims. One of them is filing claims electronically instead of on paper. 


Interpersonal Violence in Texas: A Physician's Role        

By Rita E. Schindeler-Trachta, DO, and F. David Schneider, MD, MSPH 


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