Table of Contents: March 2008

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Vol. 104 No. 3  


Slightly Better Than Nothing
Congress has again failed to fix the fatally flawed Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate formula for calculating physician fees, thus a 10.5-percent cut looms in June. Lawmakers are running the risk physicians will throw up their hands in frustration and bolt from Medicare. Just like they did with Medicaid and workers' compensation.

By Ken Ortolon 


Tort Reform Under Attack
Former Dallas Cowboys running back Ron Springs' wife has begun a legal effort that challenges the cap on noneconomic damages in the 2003 Texas tort reforms. She's filed a liability lawsuit in Dallas and is expected to continue to challenge the cap in federal court. 

By Crystal Conde


Prove Your Worth
A Federation of State Medical Boards committee is recommending that state medical boards across the country require physicians seeking relicensure to demonstrate competence through testing or other mechanisms. Texas Medical Association leaders and other Texas physicians don't think much of the idea.

By Ken Ortolon 


So Far, So Good
Physicians aren't seeing the shortages of influenza vaccine that has plagued them in the past and prevented many people from being immunized. A record 132 million doses of vaccine are available for the 2007-08 flu season. A collaboration between vaccine makers and the National Influenza Vaccine Summit, plus a new manufacturer, has helped make more vaccine available.

By Crystal Conde 


Swipe It
A TMA-backed "smart card" pilot project soon to be launched will tell state officials if such cards will improve efficiency in physician offices, reduce overhead costs, and possibly even improve cash flow. The cards give physician offices access to patients' insurance coverage information in real time.

By Ken Ortolon 


Scope-of-Practice Fghts Looming in 2009
TexMed Coming in May
Texan on Medical Staff Task Force
Physicians Wanted
HIT Summit in Houston
Ask the TMA Knowledge Center
" I Did What Had to Be Done


OSHA Rules
Even if your practice employs   fewer than 10 people, you must comply with the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration's Bloodborne Pathogens Standard.

Hello, I'm Sick
Do you know the CPT codes for telephone consultations? They are 99441-99443.

Phony Auditors
Because phony auditors are lurking out there, it's a good idea to verify credentials of anyone claiming to be an auditor.

E-Mail Etiquette
Basic e-mail etiquette can help ensure effective office communication.

Medicare MACs
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is replacing all its fiscal intermediaries for Part A claims and carriers for Part B claims nationwide.

Things Change
If the diagnosis changes between the time you get authorization and the procedure is performed, contact the insurance carrier or its utilization review agent and request a new authorization. 


Pattern of Chlorine Gas Exposures Reported to Texas Poison Control Centers, 2000 Through 2005 (abstract)

By Marcia Becker, MPH, CHES, and Mathias Forrester, BS 



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