By Jonathan Nelson
The House Select Committee on Health Care Reform wrapped up two days of hearings last week in pursuit of their interim charge to provide policy solutions before the January start of the next Texas Legislature. Committee chair Rep. Sam Harless, R-Spring, kicked off more than 15 hours of invited testimony by outlining the committee’s charge.
“We are directed to look at the rising cost of health care and health care plans as well as transparency of health care plans, confusing and unequal pricing and more,” Harless said. “Our goal is to increase access and improve affordability for medical care for all Texans including the uninsured and the underinsured.”more
By Anticipate Joy
As a physician you may be struggling with caring for the needs of others, while prioritizing your personal needs and you may be asking, “Is self-care selfish?”
It’s a common question.more
By Jonathan Nelson
As Texas lawmakers prepare for the 88th Texas Legislature scheduled to begin January 10, 2023, they will have an estimated $27 billion in extra revenue to spend, according to a letter to state leadership last week from Comptroller Glenn Hegar. On top of that, the state’s “rainy day fund” will have swollen to $13.6 billion when the Legislature convenes, an increase of $3.5 billion since the comptroller’s last report. Inflation on consumer goods and high prices for oil and gas have led to unprecedented revenues from sales taxes for the state.
The July 14 letter detailed a revision to the comptroller’s Certification Revenue Estimate, which is presented to the Legislature in advance of each regular legislative session.more
By TAFP COO Kathy McCarthy, CAE
I had the privilege of attending the HOSA International Leadership Conference on behalf of AAFP in June. HOSA-Future Health Professionals is a global organization with a mission to promote career opportunities in the health industry and to enhance the delivery of quality health care for all people. It includes middle school and collegiate students, but most attendees at the conference were high school students. The regional, state, and international conferences include business sessions to elect their leadership, educational seminars and workshops, and competitive events and exams. This was the first live international event for the organization since 2019 and there were more than 10,000 high school students from across the country and the world at the meeting (the lines at the Starbucks were a testament to size of the gathering).
AAFP has worked with HOSA the past few years to develop an exam and competitive event focused on family medicine, and my purpose for attending the conference was to help judge the first live competition. The high school students did at least two interviews with family physicians and medical students. The interviews along with their research informed a presentation on the specialty, the educational pathway, and more. They gave their presentations to a group of their peers before going to competitive events. In Texas, we have seven regions with competitions and a statewide event that had 18 competitors in the Family Medicine Physician event.more
Statement by Texas Academy of Family Physicians President Mary Nguyen, MD, in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling regarding Roe v. Wade.
Like all health care, abortion is a deeply personal issue. Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice or somewhere in between, today's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court will undoubtedly cause a great deal of confusion for many Texans and family physicians. While it will take time to fully understand how this ruling and existing Texas laws will affect patient care, I know family physicians will continue counseling their patients to make medical decisions together about what care is best for them.
The Supreme Court's decision to strike down Roe v. Wade ends a half-century of federal constitutional protection of abortion rights and allows each state to decide whether to restrict or ban abortion. In Texas, which already has a “trigger law” in place, that would mean a near total ban on abortion.more
By TAFP President Mary Nguyen, MD, and Texas Pediatric Society President-Elect Louis Appel, MD, MPH
We urge all physicians to become educated about the ongoing mental health crisis our youth and families are facing. These are the facts none of us can escape in our busy practices: one in four children suffer from a mental health condition, 50% of serious mental health disorders have been diagnosed by age 14, and suicide rates continue to increase for young people. COVID-19 has only worsened these worrisome national trends.
Between 2016 and 2020, the number of children ages three to 17 diagnosed with anxiety grew by 29%, and depression jumped by 27%. Those numbers are expected to grow even more as young people recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics declared a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health. In 2022 they released a Blueprint for Youth Suicide Prevention detailing prevention strategies designed to support pediatric health clinicians.more
By Tammy Wishard
In a recent advisory calling attention to health care worker burnout, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, highlighted the broad response the situation calls for: “We must ensure that every health worker has access to affordable, confidential, and convenient mental health care.”
If finances are keeping you or someone you know from seeking treatment for depression, anxiety, substance use, or other conditions, the Texas Medical Association’s PBF Wellness Fund is here to help overcome that barrier.more
By Anticipate Joy
It’s 2022 and sad to say the stigma surrounding seeking mental health services is still alive and well. Despite well-intended efforts to reduce the stigma, many people continue to see mental health issues as a sign of weakness, leaving those who suffer from mental illness feeling alone in their struggle. However, if mental health is a concern for you, you are far from alone. In 2019, 20.6% of U.S. adults experienced mental illness, representing 51.5 million people or one in five adults. 5.2% of U.S. adults experienced serious mental illness, representing 13.1 million people or one in 20 adults. Mental illness is more common than you might believe, demonstrating that you are not the only one struggling.
Of particular concern, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, early evidence suggests the rate of depression in physicians across age groups is 25%. A study evaluating barriers to treatment for physicians found that 70% of physicians with moderate to severe depression reported “getting an appointment that fits my schedule” as a major barrier to mental health treatment.more
Once a year, family medicine residents and medical students come together to engage in real talk about family medicine with family medicine leaders, educators, and recruiters at the National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students, held July 28 – 30 in Kansas City, Missouri. This year’s conference will inspire attendees to choose a dynamic career in family medicine — one that literally can take you anywhere. Attendees will hear from nationally recognized speakers.
National Conference also offers:
- An Expo Hall with 400 exhibitors including residency programs, physician employers, medical missions, fellowships, government agencies, and more.
- Workshops on topics such as career planning, health policy and advocacy, leadership and development, and research.
- The ability to influence AAFP policy and develop leadership skills in the student and resident congresses.
- Enhance your clinical skills, such as providing trauma-informed care, understanding reproductive and maternal care in family medicine, learning procedures, and more.
By Samantha White
If you haven’t yet registered for the upcoming TAFP C. Frank Webber Lectureship and Interim Session happening April 8 – 9 in Austin, there’s no time like the present! In addition to the incredible 16.25 CME credits offered Friday and Saturday and our standard council meetings happening Friday morning, we have a series of exciting firsts for TAFP on Saturday.
Our first Member Assembly at Interim Session will take place at breakfast and include a great discussion on trends in health care from author Peter Valenzuela, MD, MBA. Attendees will receive a copy of his new, insightful book Doc-Related.more
By Jonathan Nelson
Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan announced interim committee charges for the 87th Legislature on March 10 including several items of interest to family physicians and their patients. The speaker also announced the creation of two special interim committees, one on health care reform and the other on criminal justice reform.
“The interim charges are the result of my conversations with House colleagues from across the state, many of whom have concluded there is more work to be done to reform the state's health care and criminal justice systems,” Speaker Phelan said in a press release. “That’s why I have formed two interim committees to devote special attention to these issues, which I consider of utmost importance heading into the next legislative session.”more
By Larry Kravitz, MD, and Lily Cormier
Such high hopes when it all began in 1970, with a new specialty that renamed itself and decided to take primary care seriously. Family medicine is now more than 50 years old, with 133,000 physicians in the United States. Where will it all be 50 years from now?
There is an old African proverb, “Until the lion learns to write, every story will glorify the hunter.” We see our medical past in terms of our victories, but we minimize our failures. So we do as well with the future; we expect to build on our successes, and don’t understand that our failures tag along and can poison the wellspring of our dreams. As long as we keep applying the template of our distorted past to our expectations of the future, we will never see it coming. The future threatens to run over us from behind as we’re squinting our gaze to a glorious distant horizon. The future is all around us right now, but it is clouded by the rose-colored lenses we insist on wearing. We don’t need a false prophet nor do we need a harbinger of doom, but there are two conflicting futures ahead and we need to embrace them both.more
By Anticipate Joy
Do you ever find yourself feeling alone in dealing with various personal and professional life stressors? As a result, do you find yourself turning inward and isolating? The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that social isolation is associated with about a 50% increased risk for dementia and other serious medical issues.
It’s important to keep in mind, not only is loneliness a high-risk factor for depression, but it is also a risk factor for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and arthritis.more
Fast moving market changes pose challenges and opportunities for family doctors in every sector
By Tom Banning, TAFP CEO
I love a good Yogi Berra quote to start off a column and few have ever been as appropriate as this one is for family physicians today: The future ain’t what it used to be.
Changes in the health care marketplace here in Texas and across the country pose significant challenges and opportunities for our members, whether they practice in rural or metropolitan communities, regardless of where they fall on the broad spectrum of practice types. I believe addressing these changes is among the most pressing issues we face as an Academy.more
By Samantha White
TAFP Past President Glen Royce Johnson, MD, passed away February 20, 2022, at his home in Pinecrest, Florida.
After completing medical school and residency at Howard University, Johnson joined AAFP in 1976 and quickly rose the ranks in both AAFP and TAFP. He served as a TAFP alternate delegate then delegate to AAFP’s Congress of Delegates in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and became the first Black physician to serve as TAFP president in 1986. Johnson was a director on the AAFP Board of Directors, then AAFP vice president in the early and mid 1990s, and eventually served as AAFP’s alternate delegate then delegate to the American Medical Association in the late 1990s and early 2000s.more
TMA fund supports medical families in crisis
By Tammy Wishard
A dedicated physician finds himself struggling with dementia in his later years, with his wife by his side caring for him. To provide needed income, the Johnsons (not their real name) sell their home and relocate to their smaller vacation residence in another part of the state, leaving behind lifelong friends.
Funds dwindle as the couple makes needed accessibility updates to the home and pays for health insurance. As the days and months pass, and with no support from family, the wife begins to wear down from her role as caretaker. She needs a break. Mrs. Johnson reaches out to TMA’s Physicians Benevolent Fund (PBF) for assistance, and PBF fills the need, providing funding for respite care so she can have a few hours each week to tend to her needs.more
Access psychopharmacology clinical support with The Waco Guide
By Zach Sartor, MD
We are living amid a mental health epidemic. One in five people experience mental illness yearly, and the volume of mental and behavioral health disorders will increase in the future due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Primary care is the de facto mental health system in the United States. Primary care clinicians serve most patients receiving treatment for mental illness, prescribing a majority of psychotropic medications in the process. However, two-thirds of family medicine physicians cannot connect their patients with essential mental health support services. Therefore, most behavioral health care services occur in the primary care office. Although the situation is dire, this challenge represents an opportunity to provide high-value mental health care in the primary care context. Family medicine can lead the way forward.more
By Sabari Sundarraj, MD
I know most of us have started adapting to the new way of life in our practice. However, some of us are still skeptical. I'm hoping to reach out to the skeptical ones among us.
The reason I say that is I was in your shoes as I started my career in a brick-and-mortar practice. In 2017 when my twins were born and after a short parental leave, I returned to work. I was starting to get tired of watching my nanny’s videos during lunch hour on their developmental milestones rather than being there to enjoy them. I give kudos to all the physician moms who did it, who are doing it, and who will do it, but it is not my cup of tea.more