Once again waiting until the last minute, Congress passed a bill on New Year’s Day that averts the fiscal cliff, delays sequestration provisions for two months, and staves off the 26.5 percent cut in Medicare physician pay for another year.
The fiscal cliff agreement increases revenue largely by targeting married couples earning more than $450,000 a year and single people earning more than $400,000 a year by raising rates for wages and investment profits, but shields those earning less than $250,000 a year from income tax increases, the Washington Post reports.
As TAFP reported in the weeks leading up to this agreement, Congress had to find roughly $30 billion to pay for a one-year patch to the sustainable growth rate formula and considered reversing the Medicaid primary care bonus to offset the cost. Modern Healthcare reports (free registration required) that cuts will come from other Medicare programs, most of which affect hospitals, pharmacies, and dialysis clinics. The primary care bonus appears to be intact.more
As another year draws to an end and we’re once again waiting to see what Congress will do to about the SGR and the fiscal cliff-tastrophy, your TAFP Communications staff put together a list of the top 10 news stories from Texas Family Physician and TAFP News Now based on unique page views recorded through our analytics system.
Not surprisingly, it shows that family physicians are concerned about the practice environment and the future. These stories outline new regulations, administrative burden, experimental practice and payment models, and the future of the specialty.more
While visiting Dr. Justin Bartos, this year’s TAFP Physician of the Year, we convinced the North Richland Hills doc to join the family medicine revolution (#FMRevolution) and create a Twitter handle (@jbartos3). We are proud to say that our very own TAFP President, Troy Fiesinger, M.D., maintains his own blog (http://texasfamilydoc.wordpress.com) and is very active on Twitter (@TroyTxFamilyDoc). The Academy, of course, is also lively across multiple social media platforms including Twitter (@TXFamilyDocs), Facebook, and LinkedIn.
While it may seem as though I’m speaking in code, it’s actually just the language of the technologically advanced 21st century. Get used to these hashtags, handles, links, and profiles, because they are here for the long haul. But what can social media do for health care and doctors like yourself, you ask? Simply put, it makes things that you already do easier, digitally. In fact, Medscape reports that one in four physicians already uses social media on a daily basis.
Websites like the aforementioned ones allow you to network with other physicians, connect with patients, follow medical organizations, and stay up to date on just about any kind of news. The Medscape study also found that primary care physicians are usually motivated to use social media as a way to connect with peers and be influenced by them. The Academy uses social media to spread news to our members, keep in contact with similar organizations and people relevant to health care and the state of Texas, and network with like-minded people.more
On the eve of a recent photo shoot, I walked through my usual pre-shoot routine. Charge the battery. Empty the memory cards. Clean the lens. Load up the camera bag. A series of steps I’ve done so many times I could now complete successfully in my sleep. This shoot would be different, however. The following morning I would be shooting my first set of images for TAFP’s Texas Family Physician, a magazine I’m sure you are all aware of.
I took over Kate’s reins as your communications specialist early in October (no worries though, she’s still around!) and have been nothing but excited about working for TAFP. She spent a few weeks teaching me much of what she knows and I feel fortunate to have her as a mentor in the position.
Born and raised in the panhandle (mostly Lubbock), I ventured south to get my photojournalism degree from UT Austin. I’ve been here in Austin for over six years now, and am a true Texan at heart. I’ve worked as a freelance photographer for about that long as well, shooting everything from babies and families to editorial images.more
The amount of time and money physicians and their staffs spend on the administrative tasks of medicine is astounding. A recent perspective article in the New England Journal of Medicine quantifies it this way: “The average physician spends 43 minutes a day interacting with health plans about payment, dealing with formularies, and obtaining authorizations for procedures,” and physician practices hire coding and billing staff “who spend their days translating clinical records into billing forms and submitting and monitoring reimbursements.”
That translates to an annual cost of $361 billion spent on health care administration, and half of these expenditures are unnecessary.
The authors argue that standardization is key to reducing administrative costs, and much of this can be achieved through health information technology and electronic health records. Though they say the only entity with the “clout” to push through standards in medical transactions is the federal government, measures in the Affordable Care Act and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH)—like instituting regulations on payers and providing incentives to physicians and facilities—may start us on the right path when previous efforts have failed.more
The recent chatter of new medical schools in Austin and South Texas is back in the news, as Proposition 1 is on this year’s ballot in Travis County. If approved, the proposition would increase property taxes in order to fund healthcare services that will later be provided by a new medical school in Austin. Both schools will be a part of the University of Texas system.
As university systems expand and new medical schools open up, we must ask what they intend to do about the lack of primary care physicians not only in the state, but all across the country. Programs are being put into place to encourage students to pursue primary care, but are not widespread among schools.
AAFP Executive Vice President, Dr. Douglas Henley, M.D., addressed the shortage when speaking to the AAFP Congress of Delegates in Philadelphia last week. Henley describes a new type of medical education – “one which is more clinically oriented; one where all students are first educated and trained as ‘comprehensivists’ before seeking specialty training as residents; and one where students are taught to be leaders of efficient teams of health care professionals focused on delivering patient centered care to meet the triple aim of better care, better health, and lower cost.”more
The 2012 Primary Care Summit in Dallas is upon us and we are looking forward to seeing you there! Below you will find important information to make sure everything this weekend goes smoothly for you.
Important – This year’s Primary Care Summit will be held in the Dallas Ballroom on the 3rd floor. To make registration easier, TAFP staff will open registration Thursday evening, Nov. 1. Registered attendees may pick up their materials on Thursday from 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. at the TAFP Registration Desk on the 3rd floor of the Westin Galleria. Please note that you will still need to stop by the registration desk on Friday to sign in.more
Use TAFP resources to educate lawmakers on issues important to family medicine
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 83rd Texas Legislature convenes on Tuesday, Jan. 8, and getting involved is possible no matter how much time you’re able to commit. Whether taking five minutes to read one of TAFP’s Advocacy Action Item e-mails 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.more
An excerpt from the 2012 incoming presidential address
By Troy Fiesinger, M.D.
TAFP President, 2012-2013
Whether we practice in Houston or Henderson, Wichita Falls or Weimar, El Paso or Del Rio, Alpine or Austin; we are all Texas family physicians. We bring different perspectives to the Academy based on where we live and where we’re from. I know what it’s like to work in a large integrated health care system, run a community health center, and teach our future family physicians, but I don’t know how to run your practice. I want to hear from each of you about how we can strengthen family medicine and take care of our patients.
Our health care system is in the midst of a painful rebirth. The insurers, the government, and the hospitals are pulling us in different directions. We stand with our patients at the middle of this storm of abbreviations and acronyms: ACA, ACO, PCMH, EHR, and the Medicaid 1115 waiver.more
By Roland Goertz, M.D., M.B.A.; Chair, AAFP Board of Directors
By the year 2020, our nation is expected to face a shortage of 45,000 primary care physicians. To address this shortfall, as well as rising health care costs, the nation is seeing a movement to grant independent practice to nurse practitioners.
But, this flawed, stop-gap approach overlooks some obvious obstacles to replacing physicians with non-physicians. For example:more