Tennessee doctors prep for political issues with nurses, insurers and lawyers

The Commercial Appeal
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Dr. John Hale of Union City clearly likes to tell the story about an electrician who walked into his office to have a spot on his head examined by the primary care physician.

The patient had been to a walk-in clinic twice, where no one had touched the spot but prescribed antibiotics on the electrician’s first visit, followed by steroid and antifungal creams on his second.

Hale said he asked for a pair of forceps, properly diagnosing the problem as a splinter stuck in the man’s scalp from working in an attic.

“So I pulled the piece of wood out, looked and I said, ‘You’re cured.' ”

As president of the Tennessee Medical Association, it’s a story that Hale tells as the Nashville-based physicians’ association --- created by state lawmakers in 1830 --- girds to press for its legislative priorities. The General Assembly cranks up in January.

Hale, a primary care physician with Memphis-based Baptist Memorial Health Care’s Baptist Medical Group, uses the story to press TMA’s opposition to allowing advanced practice registered nurses in the state to diagnose and treat patients without a physician’s supervision.

The bill that the TMA will work to have lawmakers pass is named the Tennessee Healthcare Improvement Act. It calls for physician-led coordination and collaboration.

Hale and the medical association’s chief executive, Russ Miller, visited Memphis today and spoke with editorial page representatives at The Commercial Appeal.

He and Miller highlighted two other upcoming bills that are priorities that the TMA, which includes the Memphis Medical Society as an affiliate, wants lawmakers to pass:

  • The Healthcare Provider Stability Act, which would regulate and make more transparent the ability of insurance companies to change fees and payment policies.

  • An amendment to the Tennessee constitution clarifying that the General Assembly can cap noneconomic damages in cases including medical liability. Groups with an opposing view include trial lawyers through the Tennessee Association for Justice and the New York-based Center for Justice & Democracy.


For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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