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Friday, December 30, 2011

Doctors Explain Hidden Dangers of Concussions

Even doctors can miss the first signs of a concussion. Twelve year-old Suzanne suffered a concussion while playing soccer but stayed in the game. Her parents, both doctors, were not aware that their daughter was injured. “Even as physicians, we didn’t recognize it and allowed her to continue to play,” Suzanne’s mother Brenda Vozza-Zeid, MD, says.

Watch Dr. Zeid tell her daughter’s story, and learn about the signs and symptoms of a concussion.


Dr. Zeid says it is important to remove athletes from play and allow their brain to heal completely through mental and physical rest so that conditions do not worsen. When someone suffers multiple concussions, “there can be long-term effects in memory and judgment and even early Alzheimer’s, so diagnosing and treating very early are key” to preventing further brain injury, she says.


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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Physician Story: Pecan Pies

Douglas Curran, MD, loves caring for his friends and neighbors in Athens, Texas. “You build relationships that are just invaluable,” he says. He tells the story of one patient who regularly brought pecan pies to him at his office, until she lost her husband of many years. After several months of tearful conversations between doctor and patient, she finally returned one day with a surprise, showing Dr. Curran she’d reached a better place.




Thursday, December 22, 2011

Congress Plays Political 'Chicken' With America's Health Care

Dan McCoy, MD  
Dermatologist, Dallas, TX 
Online Radio Host, DocDano.com 
Past Chair, TMA Council on Legislation

Dr. McCoy speaks out on Congress’ failure to pass legislation stopping a 27.4-percent cut to doctors’ Medicare payments. The inability of Congress to fix the broken formula used to pay physicians to care for Medicare patients will create an “incredible disruption in health care for seniors and those that rely on government assistance for their health care,” Dr. McCoy explains.

Watch the video below:


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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Thousands of Texas Women May Lose Basic Health Care

By G. Sealy Massingill

As a physician, I am concerned that thousands of Texas’ uninsured women may soon lose access to basic preventive health care including family planning. Since 2007, Texas has supported the Women’s Health Program (WHP) — one of the most effective and efficient public health programs in the history of our state. A joint state and federal partnership, WHP has saved Texas millions of dollars by preventing more than 17,000 costly births under Medicaid.

WHP also has helped Texas’ low-income, uninsured (adult) women get important preventive screenings from a doctor, such as Pap smears, mammograms, and blood tests. Whether a woman is planning a pregnancy or wanting to delay getting pregnant, she needs basic preventive and reproductive health care. A healthy and well-timed pregnancy also helps ensure a healthy baby.

One out of four Texas women are uninsured. And each year, Texas has more than 400,000 births — about half of which Medicaid paid for. Without WHP, many of these uninsured women would not have access to care. In addition, it is disheartening that the Texas Legislature has added requirements that potentially could wipe out preventive care for uninsured women.

I have provided contraception and important health screenings for many low-income women over the years under WHP. These women sometimes come back with abnormal Pap smears or other abnormal test results, just like other women. They would not have the benefit of follow-up care and additional diagnostic screenings for serious diseases like cancer and HPV were it not for the Women’s Health Program. And many of our patients that we had previously seen for repeated pregnancies are now spacing their pregnancies or making the choice not to get pregnant because WHP gives them access to effective contraception and family planning care.

We as physicians know the substantial benefits to women who receive regular women’s health care and access to contraception. What we don’t know is how we will be able to care for all of Texas’ low-income and insured women without the Women’s Health Program.

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Because Your Doctor Cares: What You Need to Know About the New Health Law

We know the federal health law is big and confusing. Some parts of the new law started immediately. Others will roll out over the next 10 years. Texas physicians have carefully studied the Affordable Care Act so we can help you understand what the changes mean to you.

On a regular basis we will answer questions Texas patients have asked or provide information you need to know. Please feel free to submit your questions about the new law at Me&MyDoctor.

The Big Questions

Q. Will I still be able to see my current doctor?

A: Generally, yes. However, your doctor may or may not continue to participate in your health plan or in Medicare or Medicaid. Talk to your doctor.

Q. Will I still be able to get the care I need?

A: There is no simple answer to that. Much of what is in the new law has never been tried before. We (your doctors) pledge to do the very best we can to make sure our patients get the care they need.

Q. How much will this cost me?

A: Again, there’s no simple answer. Some preventive services, like vaccines and screening tests, will be fully covered. People on Medicare will find more of the costs of their drugs covered. But there are also penalties for people who don’t get health insurance. Experts do not agree on what will happen to the cost of insurance policies. But your doctors are concerned that costs to some patients will likely rise. How much is hard to estimate.

More important information on the ACA: The Kaiser Family Foundation has two important and fun resources available to help patients better understand the new law. Watch this informative and fun video. And, if you want to learn how the new law affects your health insurance coverage, click on this interactive map.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Gifting a New Bike? Give a New Helmet, Too

Santa wears a helmet when he rides
If you’re thrilling your child with a shiny new bicycle under the tree this holiday season, don’t forget to include the accessory that could save your child’s life — a new helmet. Old helmets or a sibling’s hand-me-down helmet may not provide the head protection needed, and could be dangerous to your child’s safety.

Even if your child’s old helmet appears in good shape, “there may be unseen dangers that could lessen its benefit,” cautions Craig Manifold, MD, emergency physician from San Antonio and a member of TMA’s Hard Hats for Little Heads Advisory Panel.

Used or hand-me down helmets also carry safety risks: Worn-out chin straps let helmets sit incorrectly on heads, and ozone and sunlight weaken and crack the outer plastic shell over time. The tiniest of these cracks can split open during a fall, injuring a child’s head. During scorching Texas summers, Dr. Manifold says, it’s important to “keep helmets stored in areas away from extreme heat” to prevent further damage.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Quit Playing Politics with Medicare Patient's Health

By C. Bruce Malone, MD, 
Texas Medical Association President

Dr. Malone’s statement is regarding Congress’ inability to fix the flawed payment formula used to pay physicians who care for Medicare patients. Physicians are facing a 27.4-percent on Jan. 1, 2012. Instead of fixing the problem or stopping the cuts for a year or two, Congress is recommending ONLY a two-month patch. A short, temporary patch is devastating to physician’ practices and threatens access to care for millions of Medicare patients.

"Congress needs to quit playing politics with the health and lives of Texas’ seniors, military families, and people with disabilities. The idea that it can simply slap a two-month patch on an almost 30-percent cut to physicians’ Medicare payments is ludicrous. Frankly, it appears that Congress is doing everything in its power to destroy the viability of our medical practices.

"In 2010, Congress did the same thing. Instead of working together to fix the decade-old problem, lawmakers instituted one short-term patch after another — five, in total — to stop a 25-percent cut. It resulted in an administrative catastrophe for physician practices and the program itself by causing millions of dollars in bureaucratic waste and months to straighten out, resubmit, and reconcile claims. Yet hospitals, skilled nursing homes, home health agencies, and inpatient rehabilitation facilities all received Medicare pay increases because they are paid by a different formula.

"If Congress truly cares about the health of its senior and military constituents, its members must work together and come up with a long-term solution. TMA believes, at a minimum, Washington needs to fix the broken physician payment system first. If that means delaying additional payment updates for other providers, so be it. Physician participation is the most essential element to ensuring Medicare patients get timely access to appropriate medical care."

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Safety Agency: Ban All Cell Phone Use in Cars

Last month I wrote about Texas cities that ban texting and driving. Now the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) wants to take bans on distracted driving a step further.

Earlier this week they recommended the United States ban all electronic portable devices behind the wheel, including Bluetooth speakers and headsets. The only exception would be emergency 911 calls. “No call, no text, no update is worth a human life,” said NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman.

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Family Planning Crisis hits San Antonio

The deep Family Planning cuts made by the 82nd Texas Legislature went into effect September 1, and the negative impact is becoming apparent in San Antonio. As a result of a $2.2 million cut to its family planning program, the University Health System (UHS) will close its "Westend" clinic, located in the Frank Garrett Community Center, on Feb 1.

As detailed in the San Antonio Express-News, neighborhood residents expressed dismay and disappointment at the loss of the clinic, one of 9 clinics transferred to UHS from the city's Metropolitan Health District in 2008. The Westend Clinic provides primarily family-planning services for men and women, including contraceptives, cancer screenings, and testing for sexually transmitted infections.

The budget produced by 82nd Texas Legislature slashed funding for the Family Planning program by two-thirds (from $111.5 million to $37.9 million) for 2012-2013. This is the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) program that provides federal funds to clinics and hospitals for checkups and birth control (not abortion) for low-income Texans.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Doctor Cannot Be on Time and Take Care of Your Needs

By Stewart B Segal, MD, FAAP 
Dr. Segal is a board certified family physician, founder of Lake Zurich Family Treatment Center in Illinois, and author of the book Diets and Other Unnatural Acts. He blogs at www.LiveWellthy.org.

The following article addresses a common complaint about physicians:

“Freewheel” responded to a previous article by writing the following, “you will not make me wait more than 10 minutes. My time is important, too.” One of the most common complaints I hear is “I waited over an hour to see you!” Waiting for an appointment, particularly when you are sick, is frustrating. Once you have that appointment, waiting for a doc who is running 1 hour behind provokes anger.

Meeting patients’ expectations for timely appointments during which their needs are fulfilled is almost impossible. I have to admit, my approach for the last 28 years is brilliant. When my doors open in the morning, we will see you on a first come first serve basis. You don’t have to call to be seen. And, when I come into your exam room, I am on time. (I do make a few appointments for wellness care).

As a patient, it is critical for you to understand why your doc is never on time. Here’s my typical day. I get up at 5:30am to get to the hospital at 6:30am. If all goes well and my patients don’t have any medical crisis, I get to the office on time. On a bad day, Mr. “MI” decides to drop his blood pressure, stop breathing and “code”. I can’t tell Mr. “MI” that he’s not scheduled for a “code” situation; I have to do what I have to do.

I’m lucky, Mr. MI recovers quickly and I get to the office only 15 minutes late. However, I’m behind schedule. For the sake of this article, assume I make appointments like most docs. I walk into Mrs. Ulcer’s room 15 minutes late. I apologize. Mrs. Ulcer is scheduled for a 15 minute appointment for stomach pain. She is 42 years old and has been having intermittent stomach pain for 3 months. When she scheduled the appointment, she told my staff she thinks she has an ulcer. At 2 am, she developed a fever (103 degrees) and severe pain.

Mrs. Ulcer does not have an ulcer. She has an infected gallbladder. Mrs. Ulcer needs surgery. She is alone in the office and can’t drive to the hospital. I call the paramedics, the ER, and the surgeon. I’m now an hour behind.

I apologize to the next 4 patients for being late. They are relatively easy and I’m now 1 hour and 15 minutes late. I walk into Mr. Aged’s room. He has a 15 minute appointment to follow up on his diabetes. Mr. Aged is sitting with Mrs. Aged; she appears concerned. There is a faint smell of urine in the room. Mrs. Aged says, “His blood sugars have been high over the last 2 weeks. He’s more forgetful than usual, stumbling a lot and dropping things.” Mr. Aged’s 15 minute appointment takes 45 minutes. Mr. Aged is on his way to the hospital. He’s had a stroke.

I’m 2 1/2 hours behind, I have to go to the bathroom, my patients are mad, and they are taking it out on my staff. I value their time, but I value their health more.

Your doc cannot be on time and take care of your needs. Your doc cannot tell Mr. MI to schedule his “code.” He cannot tell Mrs. Ulcer to come back in the morning as her appointment time had expired. Mr. Aged needs lots of attention, now!

Deciding how much time to allot for an appointment is like divining what the weather is going to be like next Monday. Either your doc gives you the time you need and is perpetually late, or your doc cuts your appointment short and moves on. If timeliness is of essence, then chose a doc who is in and out on time; and don’t expect him/her to meet your medical needs. If your medical needs are important, then don’t expect an on-time appointment.

You can help your doc improve his timeliness by reading the articles at LiveWellthy.org. Many are designed to help you formulate the answers to your doc’s questions before he/she asks them. The more proactive you are in caring for yourself, the easier formulating a differential diagnosis and treatment plan will be.

Always remember, the life you save may be your own.


Friday, December 9, 2011

NOT Funding Tobacco Prevention Costs Lives and Money

By Vince Fonseca, MD, MPH, FACPM
Population Health Institute of Texas and a member of TMA's Council on Science and Public Health


Dr. Fonseca comments on a new report that found U.S. state funding for tobacco cessation and prevention is at its lowest level in more than a decade. Texas ranks 39th.

“More than ever, this report shows that the states have squandered the opportunity presented by the tobacco settlement to significantly reduce tobacco use and its devastating toll on our nation,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “It’s no coincidence that progress against tobacco has slowed at the same time that states have slashed tobacco prevention funds. We cannot win the fight against tobacco unless elected officials at all levels step up efforts to implement proven solutions.”

And step up they should. Why? Tobacco use takes a tremendous toll on Texans and Texas’ economic costs — much of which we could prevent by funding proven community and clinical preventive services. The 1998 tobacco settlement provides a lot of money for this effort; unfortunately, much of it is not being spent on tobacco prevention. In fact the $5.5 million annual allocation for the next two year budget represents only about 0.3 percent of $1.9 billion that Texas collects from settlement payments and tobacco taxes3. These services could benefit workers, employers, insurers, and the public. In fact, while relatively few health services actually save money, tobacco cessation and prevention services do.

Tobacco's Toll in Texas
Adults who smoke15.8%
High school students who smoke21.2%
Deaths caused by smoking each year24,500
Annual health care costs directly caused by smoking$5.83 billion
Residents' state & federal tax burden from smoking-caused government expenditures$563 per household
Annual tobacco company marketing in state$622.4 million
Ratio of tobacco company marketing to total spending on tobacco prevention114.2 to 1
http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=5237245821624295346

Cost to Texans: Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in Texas. It causes about 24,570 adult deaths over the age 35 each year in Texas1: cancer — 9,941; heart disease — 8,305; lung disease — 6,324. Smoking puts all Texans at risk, especially children, through involuntary smoking: breathing secondhand smoke (SHS). SHS is associated with an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia in children. Adults exposed to SHS are at increased risk for head and neck, and lung cancers, and heart disease. About 29 percent of Texas adults work in indoor worksites that still allow smoking.

Cost to Texas economy: We all pay for smoking-related costs with our tax and health insurance dollars. The direct medical expenses due to smoking reached approximately $7.58 billion in Texas in 2009, or $7.80 per pack. Lost productivity due to smoking reached $12.82 billion in 2009 or $13.20.2 Thus, the total costs are about $21 per pack, while the smoker pays about $5.52. All of us pick up the rest, including Medicaid costs of about $1.31 per pack. Altogether, the Texas household tax burden (federal/state) for smoking harms is about $563.3

Then there are health and health care disparities related to smoking. In 2007, only 40 percent of Texas smokers (27 percent of Hispanic smokers) stated that they were advised to quit smoking by their provider, and only 22 percent were offered nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) (11 percent of Hispanic smokers). In 2010, 7.7 percent adults with a college degree smoked versus 19.9 percent for those without a high school education.

So we see the human and economic harms from smoking are very large in Texas. Physicians, smokers, and their families/friends know that smoking is very addictive and that quitting is hard. Quitting takes practice. Like other chronic conditions, controlling smoking requires successful self-management. About 70 percent of smokers want to quit, and 50 percent make a quit attempt each year.

What evidence-based efforts can we do in Texas to control tobacco-related harms?

Protect our workers: Your job shouldn’t be hazardous to your health. Smoke-free workplaces will improve employee health, decrease smoking-related health costs and lost productivity among employees and employers, help smokers quit, and prevent others from starting or relapsing. In Texas Medicaid alone, reducing the exposure to secondhand smoke would have saved the state $31 million over the 2011-12 biennium from reductions in heart attacks, stroke, adult respiratory disease, and childhood asthma.4

Warn about the dangers: Remember the 24,507 deaths each year in Texas? And then there are smokers who quit. From the tobacco industry perspective, all of these smokers need to be replaced. The tobacco industry spends about $622 million each year in Texas to market tobacco products to kids and young adults. Compare that number to the $5.5 million Texas spends on tobacco prevention. Quite a contrast, isn’t it?

Enforce the laws that Texas has to prevent sales to minors.

We know that tobacco prevention and control programs work. We just need to fund and implement them. We all deserve it.

1 Average annual estimates for 2000-04, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Adult Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Morbidity, and Economic Costs calculator.
2 American Lung Association and Pennsylvania State University. Potential Costs and Benefits of Smoking Cessation for Texas. April 2010.
3 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. A Broken Promise to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 11 Years Later. December 2009.
4 Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Comprehensive smoking ordinances and their potential impact on Texas Medicaid Spending. 2011.

Funding Cuts Hurt Children With Autism

By James G Baker MD MBA
Child Psychiatrist and Chief Executive Office
Metrocare Services, Dallas, Texas


In my clinic a few weeks ago I saw a teenage boy with autism who is struggling with his behavior both at home and at school. The family pediatrician had tried all sorts of medications to help but to no avail. His parents were exhausted from managing him, as he is a big youngster, and quite strong when he gets agitated. 

His parents came to our community center seeking respite services. Respite is a service that pays for a professional who can give parents a break for a few hours from the 24-hour caretaking that many children with developmental disabilities require. It is a “safety net” service that we, as taxpayers, have traditionally funded through laws passed by our legislature. 

Although generally savvy politically, my new patient’s parents were totally unaware of the recent cutbacks in state funding that left their son — and many other children and families — on a waitlist for respite services. Fortunately there is no wait for behavior therapy, and so one of our dedicated young clinicians started working with the boy both at home and at school. 

He is doing better now, but I was struck by how this family’s timing in seeking services left them caught up in the ever-changing currents of public-sector funding streams for health care. After all, if they had come to my clinic just a few months earlier, they would have received the respite they sought. 

Cuts in funding now and the unknowns about the costs of future health system reform offer huge challenges for public-sector physicians who want to provide high-quality care to all of our patients yet sometimes lack the funding to offer a patient any service, at all. It seems to me that taxpayer and legislator education is critical if physicians and patients are to successfully navigate the choppy waters ahead in health system reform.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Interesting Post: How Doctors Die

I enjoyed reading this post at Zocalo Public Square by Dr. Ken Murray, clinical assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Southern California. Dr. Murray offers an interesting look at end-of-life care from the point of view of how physicians chose to spend their final days.

These two paragraphs give you the gist of the story, but I urge you to read the entire piece:

It’s not a frequent topic of discussion, but doctors die, too. And they don’t die like the rest of us. What’s unusual about them is not how much treatment they get compared to most Americans, but how little. For all the time they spend fending off the deaths of others, they tend to be fairly serene when faced with death themselves. They know exactly what is going to happen, they know the choices, and they generally have access to any sort of medical care they could want. But they go gently.

Of course, doctors don’t want to die; they want to live. But they know enough about modern medicine to know its limits. And they know enough about death to know what all people fear most: dying in pain, and dying alone. They’ve talked about this with their families. They want to be sure, when the time comes, that no heroic measures will happen—that they will never experience, during their last moments on earth, someone breaking their ribs in an attempt to resuscitate them with CPR (that’s what happens if CPR is done right).
Have you spoken to your family about what you want done, or not done, for you if the time should come that you can no longer express your own wishes? Here are some resources to explore.

Funding Tobacco Cessation Protects Children

By Jason V. Terk, MD, pediatrician in Keller, TX


Dr. Terk comments on a new report that found U.S. state funding for tobacco cessation and prevention is at its lowest level in more than a decade. Texas ranks 39th.

As we pediatricians begin our annual slide into wintertime cold and flu season, we brace ourselves. The annual onslaught of respiratory viruses that affect so many of our young patients is here. Our practices are swarmed with infants and children sick with infections that frequently affect their breathing. And children who cannot breathe well also cannot drink, eat, or sleep well. This makes their illness last longer and often to become more serious.

However, probably the single worst contributor to a child’s respiratory infection is exposure to secondhand smoke. In my practice, young parents are more frequent users of tobacco and more likely to have the smallest children. Almost invariably, when I see infants coming in with respiratory viral infections who have secondhand tobacco smoke exposure, I can count on those infants being sicker for longer. They also have a higher chance of being hospitalized.

Improving funding for tobacco smoke cessation efforts means so much not only to the people who are smoking but also to the most vulnerable Texans — our children.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Squandering the Chance to Stop Tobacco Epidemic in Texas

By Joel Dunnington, MD
Professor of Radiology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Vice President, Harris County Medical Society

Dr. Dunnington comments on a new report that found U.S. state funding for tobacco cessation and prevention is at its lowest level in more than a decade. Texas ranks 39th.

Tobacco is the No. 1 preventable cause of death in the Texas and the United States; 24,500 Texans will die from tobacco-caused diseases this year. More than 300,000 Texas high school students smoke and 29,000 Texas children start smoking every year. Children in Texas purchase an estimated 73.4 million packs of cigarettes a year. More than 500,000 Texas children currently under the age of 18 will die from their smoking.

In 1998, Texas signed a landmark legal settlement with major tobacco companies following a lawsuit filed in 1996. As a result, Texas will receive around $14.1 billion over 25 years. The state of Texas also collects taxes on tobacco. So in FY 2012 (Sept. 1, 2011-Sept. 30, 2012), the state collected about $1.9 billion total in settlement payments and tobacco taxes combined. During this same period, the tobacco industry spent approximately $665 million marketing in Texas, to get more children and adults to smoke.

Meanwhile, lawmakers only allocated $5.5 million for tobacco prevention for FY 2012. Overall, Texas’s spending on tobacco prevention amounts to 0.3 percent of the estimated tobacco-generated revenue the state collects each year from settlement payments and tobacco taxes. Only 11 other states spend less than Texas on controlling the No. 1 preventable cause of death — tobacco.

Texas is not just wasting a lot of its tobacco settlement money and tobacco tax receipts on anything but tobacco prevention. Over the years, the legislature has systematically stripped the Texas Department of State Health Services Tobacco Control Section to a bare minimum. The office decreased staff from four members to two this year. The regional tobacco control staff was cut in half from 14 to seven members. The legislature also stripped the Texas Comptroller’s Office of funding for the Texas STEP program for enforcement of laws against selling cigarettes to children. The funding for the Texas Quitline, which helps smokers quit smoking, also was cut.

In 2000-04, a pilot project in East Texas sought to find out what is needed to encourage grade schools children not to use tobacco. The pilot project spent $3 per person, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This program demonstrated that by using $3 per person, a comprehensive tobacco control and prevention program can make a difference. It demonstrated a significant 37-percent drop in grade 6-12 smokers and a 26-percent reduction in smoking in adults aged 18-22. Only a concerted effort throughout the state, with an expenditure of at least $3 per person on a comprehensive tobacco control program, can maintain these impressive numbers.

It is one thing to fight the efforts of the tobacco industry in recruiting replacement smokers for the 24,500 that die each year in Texas. It is an even larger problem to fight the legislature over the wasting of $1.9 billion in tobacco income each year. The only thing more addicting than nicotine, is nicotine money.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Your 10 minute office visit needs 8 people and 45 minutes of work

By Mary Pat Whaley, FACMPE
From http://www.blogger.com/www.managemypractice.com

I sat at the checkout desk in my practice last week for the first time and as always, it was a revelation. If you haven’t worked your check-in and check-out desks recently, I highly recommend it.

An insured patient that I checked out was shocked when I said the charge for her visit was $100. She said, “But he was only in the room for ten minutes!” I was briefly at a loss for words. I recovered, we agreed on a payment plan, I made a note on her encounter form for the billing office and she left.

I’ve been thinking about our conversation, and thinking about what that $100 is supposed to cover…

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Grandma and the Big Bad SGR!

A huge Medicare cut looms for doctors and Medicare patients. Who might that affect? People like grandma — and those who love her, as the child in this video shows.




Unless Congress acts, on Jan. 1 doctors who care for Medicare patients face a 27.4-percent pay cut, because of a flawed funding formula called the SGR. Then millions of seniors (like grandma) and people with disabilities — and military families whose insurance is TRICARE — might have trouble finding a doctor's care.

Texas doctors continue to ask Congress not to cut Medicare payments and to allow seniors to continue to see the doctor of their choice. You can help by asking Congress to fix the broken physician payment system and keep doctors for Medicare patients. Click on the Stop Medicare Meltdown box to the right of this blog post.

UPDATE: Our video has received 1,700 hits and counting! Read what other bloggers are saying about Grandma and the Big Bad SGR:

Doctors Angry as Medicare Meltdown Looms

The following statement can be attributed to C. Bruce Malone, MD, president of the Texas Medical Association. Thirty-one days from now – Jan. 1, 2012 – physicians’ Medicare payments could be slashed more than 27 percent, jeopardizing access to care for millions of Medicare patients. TMA physicians are extremely worried about how this decade-old issue could affect their patients. Physician groups nationwide are asking Congress to fix the problem. However, there is no indication of a solution.

“It makes us [doctors] angry that Congress puts us and patients in this position. We love our Medicare patients and want to continue to care for them.

“Yet in 30 days, our Medicare payments could drop below the cost of providing their care. Doctors have no choice but to consider limiting the number of Medicare patients they see. No doctor wants that to happen. Our Medicare patients and military families deserve better.”

Extra Links: 

What do Americans Think of the New Health Law?

Want to know what Americans think of the new federal health law? Here’s what one tracking poll says. Even though Americans gave the new law a slight better rating this month than last, it doesn’t mean the public is clamoring to support it. Americans are still more likely to dislike the health law than favor it, according to a November tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation released yesterday.

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