The TMA is actively working to improve the health of Tennesseans. Our mission is not only to advocate for our member physicians but to set, promote and safeguard the standards for medical knowledge and education, the practice of medicine and the quality of medical care, as well as the sacred doctor-patient relationship and understanding between physicians and patients in Tennessee.
Our leaders and experts sit on boards and committees, monitor and work with state and federal regulatory agencies, make recommendations and adopt policies – all to ensure the health and safety of our citizens.
We care about the issues you care about – from Tennessee's prescription drug problem to the obesity epidemic to healthcare quality. Below are some public health advocacy issues the TMA has been active in:
To help tackle Tennessee’s status as a top misuser of prescription drugs, the TMA created the Tennessee Foundation for Quality Patient Healthcare. Together with the Tennessee Pharmacy Association, Tennessee Department of Health, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee Medical Foundation, the TMA created the Tennessee Prescription Safety Program (PSP), a comprehensive statewide program to track and address the prescription drug problem, identify and re-educate overprescribers, and raise awareness among the general public. The Association won laws in 2009 and 2011 toughening the state's "doctor shopping" rules, regulating pain clinics and cracking down on "pill mills" that were beginning to proliferate in Tennessee. Taking a step further, the TMA has adopted prescription safety as its signature public health issue and is currently forming partnerships to ramp up prescriber education, prescription monitoring and public awareness. The TMA Public Health Committee has also completed its first major public health issue brief, dealing with the topic of chemical dependency, including prescription drug abuse. Read the brief. For details on proper prescribing classes and more, please visit www.tnmed.org/education.
The TMA is committed to maintaining your access to quality care. By improving Tennessee’s medical liability climate, we can keep the doctors we have and even attract more physicians to our state. Two major reforms sought and won by the TMA are already making a difference. A law passed in 2009 to reduce the number of frivolous malpractice lawsuits has done just that, as well as aided in reducing the amount doctors pay for liability insurance. That helps them stay in business and stay in Tennessee, and to continue caring for high-risk patients or performing high-risk procedures without fear of being dragged into court unnecessarily. The following year, the TMA sought and won another law to set reasonable limits on the amount of non-economic or “pain and suffering” damages awarded in tort cases, while preserving full damages for economic costs and impact. The law took effect in October 2011 and is expected to improve the liability climate for physician practices as well as other businesses which, in turn, improves access for patients. The TMA continues to seek common sense reforms and will work to protect its reform successes in the years ahead. Read more about the TMA’s latest reform success.
Another major issue threatening access to health care in Tennessee is the continued threat of cuts to Medicare, specifically the amount Medicare and TRICARE pay doctors for taking care of our seniors and veterans. The root problem is Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula—a flawed funding mechanism that triggers deep, automatic cuts each year. Doctors are the only Medicare providers whose pay is calculated this way; hospitals, nursing homes, etc., are all receiving steady increases. If the cuts aren’t halted, many physicians say they will have to limit, freeze or give up caring for Medicare patients altogether. After more than a decade of temporary or “band-aid” measures by Congress to delay the cuts and keep Medicare going, the TMA and national physician groups are urging doctors and patients to band together to ask lawmakers to scrap the SGR once and for all and find a better, more fair way to pay doctors. Read more on the TMA’s “Act on SGR” page.
In the wake of hurricanes that prompted a 2009 House of Delegates Resolution, the TMA Public Health Committee began working with the Tennessee Department of Health to promote enrollment of physicians as disaster volunteers via the Tennessee Volunteer Mobilizer; educate physicians on disaster response, and coordinate physician response via the existing state infrastructure. The committee co-produced a Disaster Preparedness Guide for Tennessee Physicians with the DOH, and is working to promote volunteer physician sign-up with the state’s Tennessee Volunteer Mobilizer.
As a member of CHART (Campaign for a Healthy and Responsible Tennessee), the TMA was a strong supporter of Governor Bredesen’s Smoke-Free Workplace legislation in 2007. The hazards of secondhand smoke in public places and the benefits of a statewide ban are well-documented and the TMA continues to work and support efforts to protect patients from this hazard.
The TMA’s Public Health Committee tackled the problem of infant mortality in Tennessee over the past few years, creating a subcommittee to work with the Governor’s Office of Children’s Care Coordination (GOCCC) on reducing infant mortality and improving birth outcomes in Tennessee – particularly to educate the GOCCC about the need for comprehensive medical liability reform as it relates to this issue.
As the state’s largest physician organization, the TMA has strongly supported laws and programs aimed at raising awareness and curbing the incidence of domestic violence. This Association keeps doctors abreast of new reporting requirements and works with state and private agencies to educate its members about the resources and assistance available to them and their patients.
The TMA lobbies vigorously year after year to support and preserve laws that require the wearing of critical safety gear, particularly helmets, for those who ride motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles in Tennessee. For more information on the importance of this equipment to avoid severe or traumatic brain injury, click here.
The TMA adopted the AMA’s national campaign to urge NCAA colleges to ban alcohol advertising from their sports programming, ultimately signing eight Tennessee colleges and the South Atlantic Conference to the campaign.
The TMA promoted and endorsed the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association’s revised heat index policy, sending letters to statewide school personnel and news releases to Tennessee media backing the policy, and encouraging all schools to acquire heat index meters as part of their health safety policy measures. See the updated TSSAA policy here.
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Public Health Expert
If speaking to public health issues is your passion, the TMA needs you. To help raise our involvement and expertise in the public health arena, we are reaching out to physician experts on various public health topics. As part of our efforts, physicians would be called on to advise on public health topics, speak to the media or to be included in TMA news releases addressing various public health topics. Please take a minute to let us know which areas you care most about. Thank you!
Medical Emergency Volunteers
The Tennessee Department of Health is recruiting and registering licensed or trained medical professionals for volunteer service in the event of state public health or medical emergencies. The Tennessee Volunteer Mobilizer is a Web-based system designed to serve as a single, centralized source of information to ease the intra-state, state-to-state and state-to-federal deployment or transfer of volunteer health professionals and other volunteers. A part of the federal Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals, or ESAR-VHP, TVM gives Tennessee the ability to quickly identify and assist in the coordination of volunteers in an emergency. Click the TVM logo below to register as a physician volunteer.
Looking for a physician to comment on your public health story, or for a public health story idea?
TMA Insurance Issues Committee Chairman Dr. Jerry Thompson featured in this
Memphis news story on Recurrent Respiratory Papilloma (RRP).
HPV a Danger to Mother and Child: MyFoxMEMPHIS.com