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July 16, 2009
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Final Version of House Bill Would Give Primary Care Doctors a Pay Boost
from Medpage Today, July 14, 2009
The House of Representatives' final healthcare reform bill includes a number of new rewards for primary care physicians as part of its package for extending health insurance to nearly all Americans. The bill -- which runs to more than 1,000 pages -- would expand coverage to 97 percent of all Americans, leaders of the House told reporters during a press briefing. They said a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is still forthcoming. More

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GOP's Grassley Key to Senate Hopes on Bipartisan Health Care Deal
from The Wall Street Journal, July 14, 2009
Democrats now have a supermajority in the Senate. But their top priority, a health-care overhaul, may well need the blessing of a veteran Republican, Iowa's Chuck Grassley, if it has any hope of becoming law. The senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee has used his close ties with committee Chairman Max Baucus to play a big role in shaping legislation. So far, most of that role has been to delay. More

For Doctors in Congress, Little Harmony on Health Care
from The New York Times, July 11, 2009
In the struggle to overhaul the nation's health care system, 16 physicians have ended up in ringside seats — as members of the House and Senate. But they have taken different lessons from their experiences in medicine, and they do not agree on what a bill should look like. More

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Taking Another Look at McAllen
from John Goodman's Health Policy Blog, July 14, 2009
Atul Gawande published an article in The New Yorker about a month ago, laying out in great detail what he viewed as the inadequacies of the health care system in McAllen, Texas, and compared them to what he views as far superior systems. He concluded that we needed to replicate the management systems (not-for-profit, salaried employees, team approaches to service delivery) of the Mayo Clinic in places like McAllen, and indeed, throughout the United States. More

Report: Texas Health Premiums Skyrocketed This Decade
from The Dallas Business Journal, July 13, 2009
Family health insurance premiums in Texas have spiked 104 percent since 2000, according a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Status Quo Report includes state-by-state data on health-care cost and quality, including the increase in premiums, as well as the percentage of state residents without insurance and overall quality ratings. The report is part the Obama Administration's push to pass health-care reform legislation. More

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Obama's Surgeon General Pick is a Rural Doctor
from The Austin American-Statesman, July 14, 2009
When Hurricane Katrina wrecked the little clinic in Bayou La Batre in the coastal backwaters of Alabama, Dr. Regina Benjamin laid out medical charts to dry in the post-storm sun and hopped into a pickup truck to check on her patients. When she had trouble treating Southeast Asian immigrants in the shrimping community because she could not understand them, she went to a nearby Vietnamese pool hall to find an interpreter. More

Electronic Health Records: A Texas Model
from The New York Times Bits Blog, July 13, 2009
The Obama administration this week will outline what the nation’s doctors and hospitals must do to qualify for billions of dollars in government support to adopt electronic patient records. The most closely watched part of the announcement will be further definition of what the economic stimulus legislation called the “meaningful use” of digital health records. More

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Who Really Profits from Digital Medical Records?
from The Dallas Morning News, July 14, 2009
An unprecedented effort to computerize the nation's hospitals and physician offices could be the key to reducing crippling health care costs – or a giveaway to technology vendors whose sales will be subsidized by taxpayers. Computerizing the paper-based world of medicine was a significant component of this year's $787 billion stimulus package, which reserved $45 billion for hospitals and physicians to adopt electronic health records. More

TMA President Opposes Decision to Eliminate Health Course
from KLBJ News Radio, July 13, 2009
Texas Medical Association President Dr. William Fleming says the decision to remove health from the list of state-required courses will have a far-reaching and negative impact. "Texas currently ranks among the highest in the nation for obesity, also for teen pregnancy and other risky behaviors. As a state, we need to do everything we can to help prepare teens to be healthy adults." More

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Physicians Caught in Bureaucratic Nightmare While Children Suffer
from Medical News Today, July 14, 2009
While only two-thirds of Texas doctors treat Medicaid patients, a Texas government agency is using tactics that might turn more doctors away from the program, according to the Texas Medical Association (TMA). In one recent example, Texas' Office of Inspector General (OIG), a Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) agency, told San Antonio physician Milissa Aldridge, MD, that she can treat Medicaid patients only if she pays the state nearly $1 million. The OIG monitors Texas Medicaid to prevent and reduce waste, abuse, and fraud. In dispute in Dr. Aldridge's case are a clerical error and a misplaced letter from years ago. More

Small Business Faces Big Bite
from The Wall Street Journal, July 15, 2009
House Democrats on Tuesday unveiled sweeping health-care legislation that would hit all but the smallest businesses with a penalty equal to 8 percent of payroll if they fail to provide health insurance to workers. The House bill, which also would impose new taxes on the wealthy estimated to bring in more than $544 billion over a decade, came as lawmakers in the Senate raced against a self-imposed deadline of this week to introduce a bill in time for action this summer. More

Wick Installed as TMAA Chief, Fleming as TMA President
from The Tyler Morning Telegraph, July 13, 2009
D'Anna Poole Wick was installed as the 92nd president of the Texas Medical Association Alliance at the annual convention held recently at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Smith County Medical Society Alliance President Rhonda Reuter said. In addition to Mrs. Wick being installed, Dr. William H. Fleming, M.D., of Houston, was installed as Texas Medical Association president. More

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