Working to improve Texans’ access to health care in the 84th Texas Legislature
By Anna Chatillon
Policy coordinator for the Texas Women’s Healthcare Coalition
The Texas women’s Healthcare Coalition, of which TAFP is an active steering committee member, is a coalition of 47 health care, faith, and community-based member organizations. We are dedicated to improving the health and well-being of Texas women, babies, and families by assuring access to preventive health care for all Texas women. Access to preventive and preconception care—including health screenings and contraception—means healthy, planned pregnancies, and early detection of cancers and other treatable conditions. The TWHC was formed in response to the devastating legislative budget cuts to women’s health care in 2011.
Now that the prior level of funding has been restored, it is clear the restoration was only the first step toward ensuring that all women in Texas have access to the preventive care they need. Even now, only three in 10 women who need publicly funded health care have access to it. Texas desperately needs to appropriate more funding for women’s health care in the next legislative session. The consequences of failing to provide women access are too high, both in human costs and in financial implications, for Texans to accept.more
By Brad Wiewel
The Wiewel Law Firm
Asset protection is something that many physicians, including family physicians, don’t focus on until they have been threatened with a malpractice lawsuit. I know, because I have had more than my share of telephone calls from frightened physician clients wanting to know if it is too late to do the planning I recommended when we met at my office to discuss their estate plans.
Unfortunately, the answer is, “It’s almost always too late.” You must plan to protect your assets from being taken before a claim against you is pending, expected, or threatened.more
By Lloyd Van Winkle, MD
For years, we’ve been hearing about the decline — even death — of the small primary care practice, but I’m here to say that obituary is premature, if not flat-out wrong. When a recent study published in Health Affairs touted the value of small practices, I didn’t need convincing. I’m a small practice owner and have been for nearly 30 years.
The study found that primary care practices with one or two physicians had one-third as many preventable hospital admissions compared to practices with 10 to 19 physicians. The study also reported that smaller practices achieved their impressive results despite caring for a higher percentage of patients with chronic conditions than larger practices.more
An adaptation of the 2014-2015 incoming president’s address
By Dale Ragle, MD
TAFP President, 2014-2015
It is an honor and a privilege to serve my fellow family docs as TAFP President. There is no other group of people that I would rather serve and give my time to than you. I represent all of you, whether you are a solo, rural doc in west Texas where you may be the only doctor within 70 miles, a doctor in a big multi-specialty group, a resident in training, or a medical student aspiring for a career in family medicine. You all deserve my service and attention and you all shall get it.
The last three members to serve as president of our organization have initiated their terms with inaugural speeches about change and reform of our health care system. I too will tell you that our health care system is indeed changing and we are going to have to adapt in some way. The forces driving this change are bigger than TAFP, they are bigger than AAFP, and they are bigger than the AMA.more
TAFP serves as your voice in the Texas Legislature and we have a team of advocates with strong relationships throughout the Capitol community and in state agencies working on your behalf. We continue to make strides for the specialty, but we can’t do it without your help. TAFP members can make a difference and we invite you to get involved in the fight for family medicine.
The 84th Texas Legislature convenes on Tuesday, Jan. 13, and getting involved is possible no matter how much time you’re able to commit. Whether taking five minutes to read a TAFP Capitol Update and send a message to your representative, or a few minutes to donate to TAFPPAC online, or dedicating a day to see patients at the Capitol, your involvement matters. Here are a few opportunities to consider.
- Sign up to be a Key Contact – State and federal lawmakers are making decisions that directly affect your patients and your practice. As legislative battles heat up, legislators need to hear from family physicians about how medicine should be practiced. Physicians who sign up for TAFP’s Key Contact program serve as resources to their legislators, educating them on health care issues that affect the practice of medicine and patient care. As a Key Contact, TAFP will reach out to you leading up to and during the 84th Legislative Session with resources and guidance for connecting with your senator or representative. It can be as easy as sending an e-mail, but each member interaction adds to the total effort.
- Serve as a Physician of the Day – As a service to the Texas Legislature, TAFP coordinates the Physician of the Day program. TAFP-member family physicians volunteer to staff the Capitol Health Services Clinic for a day during each legislative session or special session, demonstrating first-hand the value and necessity of family physicians in Texas. The Physician of the Day is introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives and his or her name becomes a permanent part of the official legislative record. Sign up on the Physician of the Day page of TAFP’s website.
- Join TAFPPAC – The TAFP Political Action Committee speaks on behalf of TAFP members through grassroots involvement, personal relationships with elected officials, and political campaign participation and contributions. TAFPPAC is a non-partisan political action committee that supports candidates who demonstrate support for issues important to family physicians and our patients. TAFP members can give a one-time donation or sign up to be a monthly donor on the TAFPPAC page of TAFP’s website.
Thank you for registering for the 2014 Primary Care Summit in Dallas. TAFP is looking forward to seeing you at this year’s event.
Registration opens as scheduled on Friday, Nov. 7, at 6:15 a.m., in the 3rd floor foyer. The conference begins Friday morning at 7 a.m. with our CME breakfast lecture.
At the close of this year’s AAFP Congress of Delegates, TAFP’s Lloyd Van Winkle, MD, announced his intention to run for AAFP President-elect in 2015. Van Winkle has just completed his second year of a three-year term on the AAFP Board of Directors.
Van Winkle has practiced family medicine in rural Castroville, Texas, for almost 30 years. He is the medical director and CEO of United Physicians of San Antonio ACO. He is a clinical associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio and he is the health officer for Castroville and La Coste. He has served as medical director of the Medina Valley Emergency Medical Service for more than 25 years. He is an aviation medical examiner and a quality reviewer for Texas Medical Foundation Health Quality Institute, and he provides expert testimony for Texas Medical Liability Trust, defending family physicians in medical malpractice litigation.
A member of the AAFP since 1985, Van Winkle has served as a delegate and alternate delegate to the AAFP Congress of Delegates for the past 10 years. He also has served on the AAFP Commission on Membership and Member Services, and as chair of the AAFP Committee on Communications and the Subcommittee on Awards.more
Thank you for registering for the 2014 Primary Care Summit in Houston. TAFP is looking forward to seeing you at this year’s event.
Registration opens as scheduled on Friday, Oct. 17, at 6:15 a.m., in the 3rd floor foyer. The conference begins Friday morning at 7 a.m. with our CME breakfast lecture.
During 2013, 119 women were killed in Texas by their male intimate partner, according to the Texas Council on Family Violence. This included 21 women who had previously taken steps to leave their violent relationships, and 55 children who were present for and watched their mothers die.
Not only is October Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but Oct. 8, 2014, was designated as Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day, educating health care professionals about the importance of screening for domestic abuse. I spent the day at a meeting of the Task Force on Domestic Violence listening to three survivors speak about their experiences with family violence. Established by House Bill 2620 in the 83rd Texas Legislature, the task force is charged with researching the impact of domestic violence on mothers’ mortality and health, and infants’ mortality, health, and development.more
posted 9.12.14, updated 10.2.14
Pharmaceuticals containing hydrocodone will be reclassified from Schedule III to Schedule II as of Oct. 6, 2014. The Drug Enforcement Administration published the final rule making the change in the Federal Register in August. The change is intended to curb abuse of hydrocodone, but it will require some changes in the way physicians and pharmacists handle these prescriptions. After the reclassification:
- Prescriptions for hydrocodone combinations cannot be faxed or called in to a pharmacy; instead they must be written on the official Schedule II prescription form issued by the Department of Public Safety, or they may be submitted electronically directly to the pharmacy;
- Hydrocodone prescriptions cannot be refilled; they will require a new prescription for each order; and
- Physicians will not be able to delegate authority to prescribe hydrocodone combinations to nurse practitioners and physician assistants outside of hospital or hospice settings.