Texas Medical Board Suspends Orthopedic Surgeon for Missing Drug Tests

The Texas Medical Board has temporarily suspended a surgeon who formerly had privileges at area hospitals for failing to undergo drug and alcohol testing and testing positive two different times. The TMB says that Dr. Michael Francis O’Brien, an orthopedic surgeon, “poses a continuing threat to public welfare” if he continues in his practice. Past incidents impaired O’Brien, causing him to be put in a Texas Physician Health Program Monitoring and Assistance Agreement. When he missed his drug and alcohol tests, he violated the agreement. O’Brien had privileges at Children’s Health Plano Hospital from November 2015 to June 2017, but… Full Story

Bipartisan Texas Bills Go After “Unconscionable” Freestanding ERs

A bipartisan group of State Senators and Representatives, including local Democratic State Senator Nathan Johnson, filed legislation to allow the Texas Attorney General to address the unreasonable prices charged by freestanding emergency rooms. Johnson joined author Senator Kirk Watson, D-Austin and Representative Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont in filing legislation similar to an existing law that allows the AG to stop price-gouging for goods and services during natural emergencies and disasters. Freestanding ERs in the state represent 83 percent of all out-of-network emergency room services and end up costing Texans more than $3 billion a year in avoidable health care costs, which continues… Full Story

North Texas Legislator’s Bill to Fight Maternal Mortality By Extending Care

Representative Michelle Beckley of Carrollton is already making waves in Texas’ 2019 legislative section. The freshmen legislator defeated incumbent Republican Ron Simmons in November, and is now a joint author on a bill to extend care to mothers who received services through Medicaid. Co-authored with Houston-area representative Jessica Farrar, House Bill 241 would provide medical assistance for at least 12 months to a small group of women who were eligible for the Medicaid services prior to pregnancy. As it stands today, these post-partum women only receive the aid for 60 days after pregnancy. “Last year, Texas’s overall maternal mortality rate… Full Story

Physician Convicted of Distributing Millions of Narcotics in “Pill Mill”

A Dallas area physician faces 20 years in federal prison for overseeing the illegal prescription of nearly a million units of narcotics. Dr. Carlos Luis Venegas was convicted of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance at his alleged “pill mill” in federal court on Friday. “These pill mills help to perpetuate the tragic opioid crisis gripping our country,” said U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox via release. “Last year, America lost, on average, 116 people per day to opioid overdoses. We cannot allow unscrupulous conduct by physicians to add to the supply of dangerous drugs on the streets.” Trial evidence shower that Venegas supervised… Full Story

Market vs. Government: Two Ways Inevitable Recession May Change Healthcare

The United States spends 3.7 trillion dollars a year on healthcare, more than all but three nations’ entire gross national product. UT Dallas and UT Southwestern professor John McCracken, speaking at the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce’s Healthcare Conference, says that economic recession could be what forces the U.S. to change its healthcare spending habits. McCracken noted that the U.S. debt is 108 percent of its gross national product, and with the unfunded pension liabilities, it creates a precarious situation for the economy where a recession could force a massive change. “Time is running out, and there is  potential for… Full Story

The Texas Medical Association’s 2019 Legislative Priorities

With Texas making headlines regarding its uninsured rate and rural hospital closings, the Texas Medical Association has a tall task ahead of the 2019 legislative session in Austin. The 2018 election saw Democratic gains across the country, including Texas, but the state still remains in Republican hands. Legislators will have a chance to improve some of the state’s most persistent problems, and the TMA hopes to represent physicians and uphold its mission of improving the health of all Texans. The TMA is the country’s largest association with 52,000 physician members, and D CEO Healthcare spoke with the organization’s president Dr.… Full Story

How Are Hospitals Posting Their Prices, and Is It Helpful?

The Public Health Act was enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act, which requires hospitals to make a public list of the hospital’s standard charges starting this year, but the posted price doesn’t tell the full story. Insurance, a person’s health, and the negotiated rate between insurers and providers complicates the out-of-pocket payment, the posted prices might not mean much to the average consumer. President and CEO of the DFW Hospital Council W. Stephen Love says the council’s member hospitals support transparency, but warn to proceed with caution. “We support transparency and want people to make informed decisions,” he says.… Full Story

Medical City President Re-Elected to Texas Hospital Association Board

Medical City Healthcare’s president Erol Akdamar has been re-elected to the Texas Hospital Association’s board of trustees. THA represents the needs of hospitals in the state and federal government. Via statement, the THA said that it would be focused on funding for physician residencies at Texas’ teaching hospitals, a more pressing need with the opening of another medical school at TCU. The association also wants to expand behavioral health funding, service availability and access, enhance Medicaid reimbursement rates for rural hospitals and trauma facilities among others, and to improve the number of Texans with health insurance. Akdamar has served in… Full Story

Parkland Names New General Counsel and Executive Vice President

Parkland Health & Hospital System’s new Executive Vice President and General Counsel will be Steven J. Roth, who was formerly Senior Deputy General Counsel there, where he led the transaction efforts. His role will also include being the chief counsel for Parkland Community Health Plan, Inc. and the Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation. Roth has been with Parkland since 2001 and has more than 20 years in healthcare law. He led the effort to turn PCCI into a separate nonprofit research and software development corporation as well as the bond financing for the hospital’s new campus. Prior to going in house… Full Story

Judge Dismisses Blue Cross Lawsuit Over Low Reimbursement Rates

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas by 49 physician groups that claim the insurer is not paying enough for emergency medical care. The groups argue the there are 250,000 claims where Blue Cross’ reimbursement rate for out-of-network providers violates Texas insurance laws and regulations. In an emergency, patients are brought to the nearest hospital, which might not always be in network. “As out-of-network providers, the Provider Entities are not contractually bound to accept discounted rates of payment for the emergency medical services they provide to BCBSTX Members and instead expect to receive… Full Story