Addressing the Root of Surprise Bills for Texans

Recently there has been much attention in the media and at the Texas Capitol placed on surprise bills for Texas consumers. One bill aimed at addressing surprise billing, Senate Bill 507 by Senator Kelly Hancock, is a step in the right direction for consumers to have an option for recourse against large medical bills.

However, expanding mediation efforts does not address the root of the problem, which is why we must supplement Senator Hancock’s efforts by taking aim at a new target. The “surprise” associated with medical bills stems from surprise coverage – when a patient is woefully underinsured and pays a larger out-of-pocket expense than anticipated for medical care.

Read More

TAFEC Highlights Flaws, Biases in a Rice University Study on Healthcare Provider Utilization

A recent study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, which was conducted by Rice University and funded by Blue Cross Blue Shield, finds that freestanding emergency centers (FECs) are cheaper alternatives for emergency medical care than hospital-based emergency centers.

Outside of that critical finding, the study diverges on a less academic path to intentionally criticize the FEC model, misattributing or mischaracterizing data along the way.

Read More

Texas Legislators File Bills to Increase Health Insurance Transparency, Oversight

AUSTIN, TexasApril 3, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The Texas Association of Freestanding Emergency Centers (TAFEC) supports legislation introduced in the Texas Legislature aimed at increasing oversight of health insurance companies and protecting consumers from surprise medical costs.

The bills, many of which have bi-partisan support, seek to increase transparency in the health insurance industry, ensure the Texas Department of Insurance has the resources to enforce current statutes regulating health insurance companies, and allow healthcare providers to advocate on behalf of their patients for fair payment.

Read More

Sponsor Feature: Austin Generator Service

When it comes to the FEC market, the Austin Generator Service Team is “second to none” in delivering exceptional results! We are the industry experts who provide a complete approach to FEC Emergency Standby Generator requirements. Success begins with more than selecting a suitable generator system. It must be properly installed and maintained by trained professionals. And beyond our technical and industry expertise, the AGS Team cares about you and your experience.

Read More

Member Highlight: Dr. Gillian Schmitz

My background had previously been practicing emergency medicine at academic medical centers and serving in various leadership roles at the state and national level with the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). I started becoming frustrated by hospital inefficiencies, long patient wait times, suboptimal patient care, and physician burn-out in a hospital setting. I started moonlighting at Inwood and Full Spectrum Emergency Rooms, both physician-owned independent free standing emergency departments about 18 months ago. I quickly realized how free standing departments offer a much better health care delivery model and I have been hooked ever since. I now work full time at Full Spectrum ER, part time at First Choice ER, and am the first free-standing emergency physician to serve on the Board of Directors for ACEP. As a national leader for our specialty, I serve as the Board liaison to our free-standing section and advocate for physician satisfaction, excellence in patient care, and improved health care delivery through free standing emergency medicine.

Read More

Misinformation Clouds Benefits of Freestanding Emergency Centers

Around the country, lawmakers, health insurers, and healthcare providers are attempting to address rising healthcare costs. While many factors contribute to this problem, among the most discussed are surprise billing and out-of-network healthcare. But much of what we hear about these issues is misleading, particularly when it comes from insurance companies, who attempt to blame rising healthcare costs on freestanding emergency centers (FECs).

In Texas, there are more than 325 FECs in operation. Their popularity is a testament to free market principles that have introduced much needed competition, resulting in increased access to care and convenience in the form of reduced wait times and a more dignified care environment compared to traditional hospital ERs.

Read More

A Day in the Life: John Hennessy, RN

My name is John Hennessy, I am a registered nurse and I am also the Charge Nurse at Golden Triangle Emergency Center Orange. I have worked with GTEC since we opened on April 1st 2015. A typical day at GTEC Orange involves assessing and treating patients. Being the charge nurse, I also assume managerial responsibilities. I am an advocate for my fellow nurses and patients and make sure everything runs smoothly.

Read More

TAFEC Passes Resolution to Increase Health Insurance Data Collection

AUSTIN, TexasFeb. 28, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The Texas Association of Freestanding Emergency Centers (TAFEC) has called on the Texas Legislature and the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) to increase the collection of health insurance payment data to establish clear standards for the usual and customary reimbursements that insurance companies are required by law to pay healthcare providers on behalf of policyholders.

Currently, Texas law requires insurance providers to pay for non-contracted emergency health care at the usual and customary rate for emergency care. However, there are no uniform guidelines for insurance companies to follow, which allows insurers to determine their own arbitrary rates. While some insurers provide adequate payment for services, others are paying at a percentage below what is legally required, which means patients do not receive the full benefit of the coverage they purchased.

Read More

TDI Interventions Yield Payments to Health Care Providers and Policyholders

AUSTIN, TexasFeb. 13, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The Texas Association of Freestanding Emergency Centers (TAFEC) is releasing a recent analysis of complaints made to the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) on behalf of out-of-network health care providers that demonstrates how chronic and abusive underpayment by insurance companies is the primary cause of surprise medical bills for patients.

In the fall of 2016, a third-party billing company acting on behalf of freestanding emergency centers filed complaints alleging that insurers ignored their legal obligations to pay all or part of claims for reimbursement submitted on behalf of policyholders for services rendered at the centers, and requested TDI's intervention. The billing company filed so many complaints that the agency's resources were overwhelmed and the company began holding complaints until those that had been filed were resolved.

Read More

A Day in the Life: Annie Kovatch

Hello, my name is Annie Kovatch, I am the Charge nurse at Golden Triangle Emergency Center in Port Arthur.

Read More

Freestanding Emergency Centers: A Solution to Healthcare Challenges

By Dr. Janna Welch
Dr. Janna Welch is an ER physician at Five Star ER, the Assistant Program Director – University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School Emergency Residency Program.


Following the election, we have been made painfully aware of the problems facing our country. The many challenges of our changing healthcare system are among the biggest, and that is no less true for Texas.


Read More

TAFEC Member Highlight: Dr. Henry Shih

I took a non-traditional route into the freestanding emergency department industry. I was born in Auburn, AL and grew up in Huntsville, AL.  I first went to optometry school at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Following optometry school, I was commissioned in the US Navy where I served for seven years. At that point, I decided to return to school and received my MD from The University of Alabama.

Read More

A Day in the Life: Danny Carey - RN

My name is Danny Carey and I am an emergency room RN at Golden Triangle Emergency Center (GTEC) in Port Arthur, TX. I have been with GTEC since we opened our doors in 2014.

Read More

Member Highlight: Greg Hadden

The practice of medicine has changed a lot in the 15 years.  The emergency medical care that we provide our patients has improved significantly.  However, this is true in spite of the fact that forces outside emergency physicians’ control have needlessly increased the emotional, mental, physical, and time burden on us as individual physicians. Physicians have less control over our hospital-based practice environment than ever before.

Read More

Sponsor Highlight: Texas Systems Group (TXSG)

Sponsor Highlight: Texas Systems Group (TXSG)

Read More

A Day in the Life: Angela Webb - RN

I have been with Golden Triangle since its inception in July of 2014 for the Port Arthur location, and April of 2015 for my current Orange location.

Read More

Freestanding Centers Could Boost Healthcare Access in Rural Texas

Read More

Positive Economic Impact of Freestanding Emergency Centers

As chief medical officer of Elite Care, a freestanding emergency center with facilities in San Antonio and across the state, I would like to address some of the assertions made about emergency care in a recent Viewpoints column, "Freestanding emergency rooms threaten health of Texas business," by a representative of the Texas Association of Business.

All emergency rooms see low acuity patients - lots of them. This is because patients are not doctors, so the determination of whether symptoms are emergent or non-emergent can only be made after seeing a doctor. For this reason, the prudent layperson standard was created.

Read More

Freestanding Emergency Rooms Get Bum Rap

Freestanding emergency rooms are taking it on the chin in the media as the low hanging fruit that some businesses and consumers want to blame for their out-of-pocket health care expenses, but the facts and objective, generally accepted business principles don’t tell that story. What is the true story?

Read More

Sponsor Highlight: Mortara Instrument

Founded in 1982 by David W. Mortara, PhD, Mortara Instrument was born with a guiding philosophy: design to a need, keep it simple, and make it economically accessible. Building on this philosophy, Mortara has created the Surveyor™ patient monitoring product line which is born of a 30-year cardiology heritage and promotes efficiency and reliability in surgical environments, emergency departments, recovery environments, or anywhere critical patient monitoring is needed. Mortara has been recognized as a leading designer, developer, and manufacturer of diagnostic cardiology and patient monitoring technologies. All of its products are “Built with Pride” in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

It’s really quite simple when it comes to patient monitors. It’s all about your patient. Our innovative new Surveyor patient monitors set the bar high by keeping it simple and smart. At the core of this platform is one of the most advanced and widely used ECG algorithms in the world - Mortara’s renowned VERITAS™ suite of algorithms. Recognized for excellence, VERITAS is the choice of caregivers across the globe. Our Surveyor patient monitoring solution includes a variety of offerings to help you keep a watchful eye on your patients.

Read More