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Dr. Mark Shelton responds to ‘stay at home’ order and concern over hospitals reaching capacity

Watch Pediatric Infectious Disease specialist Dr. Mark Shelton’s responses to WFAA, where he spoke about the importance of the recent stay at home order issued in Tarrant County. Originally aired on 3/24/20.

CMS Postpones 2019 MIPS Reporting Deadline to April 30

By Joey Berlin

Originally published on the Texas Medical Association website.

With a key deadline for clinicians in the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) approaching fast amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is giving those clinicians a month of extra time to submit their data.

CMS announced Sunday it is moving the deadline for MIPS-eligible clinicians to submit their 2019 MIPS data to April 30, instead of March 31.

Even if that’s not enough time, not submitting your data by then won’t hurt your bottom line. CMS also announced that MIPS-eligible clinicians who haven’t submitted their 2019 data by the April 30 date would simply receive a “neutral payment adjustment” – that is, no payment bonus and no 7% penalty – in calendar year 2021. (MIPS bonuses or penalties for a given performance year are assessed two years later.)

MIPS is a key piece of the agency’s Quality Payment Program, which requires eligible clinicians to participate in the program either through MIPS or alternative payment models.

CMS announced the MIPS extension among a host of new measures under its “extreme and uncontrollable circumstances” policy in order to ease the burden on clinicians participating in a number of federal quality reporting programs.

“In granting these exceptions and extensions, CMS is supporting clinicians fighting coronavirus on the front lines,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a release. “The Trump administration is cutting bureaucratic red tape so the health care delivery system can direct its time and resources toward caring for patients.”

Any clinicians who have already submitted their 2019 MIPS data, or submit their data by the April 30 deadline, will be scored and receive a payment adjustment under the normal method, CMS said. April 30 is also the new deadline for clinicians to revise their submitted data, if needed, by logging in to the QPP portal. For guidance on submitting your data, download this CMS guide (PDF).

CMS also reports it is evaluating options for providing additional relief for the 2020 QPP performance year (which would affect 2022 payments). Texas Medicine Today will update physicians when CMS releases more information.

The list of new exceptions and extensions for the QPP and other federal quality reporting programs is available here.

For questions, contact the QPP Service Center at (866) 288-8292 or by email.

Remember, you can find the latest news, resources, and government guidance on the coronavirus outbreak by visiting TMA’s COVID-19 Resource Center regularly.

Printable COVID-19 Materials to Use in Your Medical Practice

Physicians, below are a number of printable COVID-19 materials TMA has compiled so they are easily accessible for your practice throughout the pandemic.

Customizable Signs to Hang on Your Practice Door – In Color and Black and White

Customizable Permission Letter for School or Work

Coronavirus Alert for Health Care Settings – EnglishChineseKoreanSpanishVietnamese

Symptoms of Coronavirus – EnglishSpanish

Stop the Spread of Germs – EnglishChineseSpanish


The following is a message from American Medical Association EVP/CEO James L. Madara, MD. 

The COVID-19 pandemic represents an enormous threat to public health and an extreme challenge to physicians. Now, more than ever, physicians need a powerful ally in patient care. The AMA’s COVID-19 response strategy, attached, provides a road map for our initiatives in an unprecedented pandemic scenario. The strategy frames the AMA’s response in three key areas:

  • Providing clear, evidence-based guidance from trusted resources, including JAMA Network, the CDC, WHO, state and local agencies and AMA subject matter experts.
  • Building an interface with physicians on the front line, allowing them to share their experience with other physicians, the government and key health agencies.
  • Removing obstacles to diagnosis and treatment through our Advocacy, CPT, PS2 and other initiatives.

We are acquiring many ideas and we filter them through the above three strategic channels (keeping in mind the overarching view of what it is the AMA does well). Since early January, we have closely monitored the global outbreak of COVID-19 and compiled up-to-the-moment information for physicians. Here are some examples of what we’ve done recently viewed through the lens of our COVID-19 response strategy:

  • Building an interface with physicians on the front lines
    • Speaking directly to power on behalf of physicians
    • Conversations and updates with our Federation partners and AMA Ambassadors
    • Learning from and sharing first-hand accounts of physicians on the front lines. Listen to JAMA Editor Howard Bauchner, MD interview Maurizio Cecconi, MD in Italy and NIAID’s Anthony Fauci, MD;  read how the Permanente Medical Group developed new approaches to preserve PPE. 
    • Listening to and answering questions from physicians on twitter, leveraging ambassadors to engage and spread the word, and will be conducting Twitter chats to answer physician questions and share experiences. 
    • Called on the Administration for $100 billion dollars to support front line health care personnel and providers.
  • Removing obstacles to diagnosis and treatment
  • AMA Head: Lack of protective gear for health care workers is ‘unacceptable’
  • AMA Calls on Administration to Use Every Lever to Address Protective Equipment Needs, Lack of Tests in COVID-19 Fight
  • Mobilizing a dramatic increase in the nation’s telemedicine capacity through its advocacy and publication of the Quick Guide to Telemedicine in Practice, a new resource to help physicians implement remote care.
  • Developed new CPT code for coronavirus.
  • Eased restrictions on the use of laboratory developed tests for COVID-19 testing to expand local access. 
  • Administration exercising flexibility in reducing regulatory burdens by allowing physicians to care for Medicare beneficiaries in States other than where they are licensed, waiving enrollment requirements and expediting enrollment, and waiving the requirement for Medicare patients for a 3-day hospitalization prior to covering skilled nursing facility care.  
  • Worked with HHS on the development of new recommendations for deferring non-urgent elective procedures that are consistent with recommendations of the American College of Surgeons. 

The AMA’s COVID-19 news and video coverage is promoted across the AMA website, email, Morning Rounds, all social platforms and Apple News. Since COVID-19 coverage began through March 18, nearly 390,000 users have consumed COVID-19 content from the AMA website, including nearly 17,000 clicks/referrals to JAMA and EdHub resources.


AMA Letters:

  • March 19  Letter to Congressional Leaders re: urgent steps to help preserve viability of physician practices due to the demands of COVID-19.
  • March 18  Letter to Seema Verma re: CPT code clarification in light of COVID-19 with remote physiologic monitoring and telephone evaluation and management.
  • March 16  Letter to Michael Pence re: Request for assistance with shortage of personal protective equipment for health care professionals.
  • March 13  Letter to Alex Azar re: Medicare assistance for solutions facing the nation with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Sign-On Letters:

Press releases to date:

March 20:

March 19:

March 18:

March 17:

March 13:

March 10:

March 5:AMA statement on Congress passing supplemental COVID-19 appropriations

President’s Paragraph – December 2019

Giving Thanks

By David Donohue, MD


Texas is growing from, and in, all directions.  A dearth of pediatric neurosurgeons in some regions of our state prompted our pediatric neurosurgical group to help.  We have been affording 24/7 coverage to children’s hospitals in two other cities over the past 18 months.   The arrival of new pediatric neurosurgeons to the afflicted hospitals has finally provided longed-for relief, especially to my partners, who shouldered more than their share of the clinical and administrative load.  It is gratifying to witness my younger colleagues deftly assume the care of pediatric neurosurgical patients in Tarrant County and beyond. My Cook Children’s neurology staff also helped keep the wheels turning this year.


TCMS officers filled in, and advised, enthusiastically during my absences from TCMS board meetings and special events occasioned by my travels, demonstrating their usual good will and devotion to the organization.  The increasing scope of Project Access testifies to Tarrant County physicians’ altruism.  TCMS members quietly serve on unheralded committees (e.g., Physician Wellness) that do a world of good for physicians.  Any contributions I may have made pale in comparison to theirs. The Tarrant County Physician editorial committee has striven to render my dollops of prose throughout Volume 91 less incoherent, while working to create publications the whole membership can enjoy.


Their dedication to the family of medicine remained evident throughout 2019.  Highlighting important public health concerns, including pediatric head injury (Hard Hats for Little Heads) and immunization efforts sponsoring public education and free vaccination events (Be Wise Immunize)—vital in these days of appalling immunization agnosticism.  Their contributions continue:  community outreach, funding of Allied Health scholarships, and offering solace to families of our deceased or disabled physicians.  Together with TCMS staff, our Alliance is recruiting more young Alliance members and drawing their physician spouses into organized medicine. 


“Things ran smoothly” is a huge understatement.   Especially satisfying is witnessing completion of the TCMS building renovation.  Our staff arranged and executed many TCMS organizational, political, and social events this year.  Beyond the business of running TCMS, our staff facilitates developing working relationships between TCMS physicians and established community players, including City Hall, the DFW Hospital Council, both medical schools, EMS, and the press.  TCMS staff are the operations backbone of Project Access.


Most of all, I want to thank Angela, who encouraged me to participate in the TCMS years ago.  There is virtually no Alliance duty or position that she has not undertaken at either the state or local level.  As my term expires, she reminds me that the disappointment one senses before the incomplete project or unmet goal betrays not failure, but lofty goals yet to be achieved. 

Let’s continue aiming high.

Follow our links below to learn more about TCMS!