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Am Fam Physician. 2000 Mar 1;61(5):1239-1240.

AAFP Center for Policy Studies Launches a New Web Site

The Center for Policy Studies in Family Practice and Primary Care of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) now has a Web site. Features of the Web site include a library, information about internship opportunities, and links to various sites and other resources. The site is found at http://www.aafppolicy.org.

The center officially opened on June 8, 1999 and is located in Washington, D.C. It is headed by Larry A. Green, M.D., former chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Colorado, Denver. The center will seek to provide a family practice and primary care perspective to health policy issues and pursue relevant research questions and publish its findings. Collaborations with individuals and organizations seeking similar goals are welcomed by the center. The telephone number is 202-986-5708; fax: 202-986-7034; e-mail: policy@aafp.org

President Clinton's Budget Is Sent to Congress

President Clinton sent his final budget to Congress on February 7, 2000. The budget for the Department of Health and Human Services proposes outlays of $421.4 billion for Fiscal Year 2001, an increase of 9 percent over the previous year's budget. Of this, the amount for discretionary programs, as opposed to entitlement programs such as Medicare, is $48.6 billion. The budget calls for a new voluntary prescription drug benefit for Medicare beneficiaries that would cost $38.1 billion over five years. Additionally, several programs are slated for increases, including the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Indian Health Service and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (formerly called the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research), which would receive a budget of $250 million should the Administration's proposals prevail in Congress. Other programs do not fare as well, notably support for health professions education, including family practice training programs, which again this year are eliminated from the President's budget. Despite this lack of support from the Administration, Congress has a history of appropriating funds for health professions education; however, retaining the support will again require intense advocacy from the family medicine community.

Former Senator to Chair Committee of National Rural Health Experts

Former Kansas Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker has been named the chair of the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health—a 14-member board that advises the Secretary of Health and Human Services on issues concerning the provision and financing of health care services in rural areas. Kassebaum Baker served three terms as a senator from Kansas and is a former chair of the Labor and Human Resources Committee. She was a strong advocate for rural health issues during her years in Congress. At a meeting of the committee in February, a comprehensive report on the status of public health in the nation's rural areas was released. The report, “Rural Public Health Issues and Considerations,” highlights the role played by rural public health departments, most of which are located in small towns with a population of less than 50,000. The report focuses on the following six threats to rural health services delivery: a leadership void; difficulty with attracting and retaining well-trained health professionals; increasing demands on rural safety-net providers; managed care's impact on existing funding mechanisms; the need for advanced technology; and the fragmented layers of federal, state and local funding. For more information, call Tom Morris, Office of Rural Health Policy, at 301-443-4269.

ISMP Leads Congressional Briefing on Medication Errors

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) joined forces with the American Hospital Association and the American Pharmaceutical Association in January to brief members of Congress on medication error prevention and effective methods for reporting medical errors. Sen. Jim M. Jeffords (R-Vt.) sponsored the briefing. At the briefing, ISMP presented its new conceptual framework for adverse event and error reporting in health care. According to the ISMP, the fundamental goal of reporting should go beyond counting errors to focus instead on learning about adverse events, gaining new knowledge about causes of errors and sharing that knowledge with the entire health care community to prevent those errors from happening again. The complete document is available on the ISMP Web site at http://www.ismp.org. ISMP provides independent, multidisciplinary, expert review of errors reported through the USP/ISMP Medication Errors Reporting Program.

National Committee for Quality Assurance Releases HEDIS 2001 Draft

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) has released for public comment the latest iteration of the Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set (HEDIS 2001), the tool used by most of the nation's health plans to evaluate their performance in key areas such as clinical care, access and service. HEDIS 2001 adds a measure related to pneumonia, the fifth leading cause of death among elderly persons. The new measure, Pneumonia Vaccination Status for Older Adults, is intended to encourage the health care community to focus more attention on ensuring that elderly persons receive this immunization. HEDIS now includes measures related to many of the nation's health concerns including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, pneumonia, mental health, depression, chlamydia and smoking. To view the draft of proposed changes for HEDIS 2001, visit the NCQA Web site (http://www.ncqa.org). Comments on the draft can be sent to Daphney Paul, NCQA, 2000 L St., N.W., #500, Washington, D.C. 20036 or send comments by e-mail to hedis@ncqa.org. The final version will be available in July.


Copyright © 2000 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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