ADVANCED ACADEMIC DEGREES FOR PAs
TMA was opposed to a bill introduced in 2017 that would have created a new academic degree to effectively give physician assistants independent practice. The current version of the bill is much improved and TMA moved to neutral after all previous reasons for opposition were satisfactorily addressed. It does not give PAs independent practice but requires collaboration in a physician-led, team-based care model, regulated by the Board of Medical Examiners. TMA also successfully persuaded sponsors to remove the term "doctor" from the bill to avoid patient confusion in a clinical setting. PAs who earn the degree will be called "Essential Access Providers."
MAINTENANCE OF CERTIFICATION
For the second year in a row, TMA will have legislation filed to give physicians relief from the costly, burdensome and in many cases valueless requirement of Maintenance of Certification (MOC). TMA will work to try to prohibit hospitals and health insurance companies from requiring MOC for physician credentialing or network participation.
PAYMENT REFORM / EPISODES OF CARE
Decisions about the state’s episodes of care payment model are continually made without physician agreement and in many cases with physician opposition. The Tennessee Health Care Innovation Initiative must be fixed in TennCare before any other programs move further. TMA is prepared to have legislation filed in 2018 if fundamental flaws in the design are not addressed.
The Tennessee Farm Bureau and the insurance industry have pushed the Tennessee General Assembly to remove the ban on the corporate balance of medicine. TMA wants to protect physicians’ rights to balance bill and will continue to fight for a solution that is fair to all parties, especially physicians and patients. TMA will oppose any effort that gives health insurance companies even more undue leverage to force providers to accept unfair contractual terms.
PATIENTS FOR FAIR COMPENSATION - UPDATE!
A Georgia-based group called Patients for Fair Compensation has since 2015 lobbied the Tennessee General Assembly to shift physician liability cases from the civil court system to a government-run administrative system. Doctors raised fundamental concerns about verifying proponents’ claims that their plan would save the state money, and preserving medical liability insurance in the event a patient compensation system did not work. The opposing groups could not resolve fundamental issues, and Patients for Fair Compensation has assured TMA that it does not plan to introduce any related bills in the 2018 legislative session.