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Am Fam Physician. 2001 Apr 1;63(7):1279-1281.

Funds for NIH Research, Health Professions at Issue in Budget

The Bush administration budget blueprint, released in February, contains few specifics regarding individual health programs, but does signal changes to come. The proposed budget includes $23.1 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a $2.8 billion increase from current funding. Research on cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease is highlighted as a priority area, along with the Human Genome Project.

In contrast, while not specifying a dollar amount, the blueprint states that funding for health professions programs, which includes support for family practice and other primary care education programs, will be reduced. The proposal emphasizes that grants for health professions education were developed in response to a physician shortage and that currently there is no physician shortage. It also notes that the professions served by these programs are “well paid” and that the market is sufficient to regulate supply. Therefore, support for health professions will concentrate on the nursing shortage and improving diversity.

Physicians with Heart Airlift Returns from Vietnam

Delegates for Physicians with Heart returned recently from a humanitarian mission to Vietnam, where they delivered $4.25 million worth of medical supplies to Vietnam and met with Vietnamese medical professionals to promote the development of family practice. “In Vietnam, the concept of family practice is extremely new, and we are often greeted by a mixture of great interest and skepticism about the breadth of our specialty,” said Daniel Ostergaard, M.D., vice president for international and interprofessional activities at the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). Five family physicians traveled to the Institute for Health Strategy and Policy in Hanoi to meet with about 20 Vietnamese medical professionals and health system researchers to provide some insight into the world of family practice in the United States. Physicians with Heart is an international humanitarian project sponsored by the AAFP, the AAFP Foundation (the philanthropic arm of the AAFP) and Heart to Heart International (a humanitarian medical relief organization). The airlift received support from pharmaceutical companies and transportation was provided by the U.S. State Department.

Physician Organizations Favor IOM's Call for Action

Physician groups are voicing support for the recent report of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) titled “Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century.” The report, released March 1, described the nation's health care system as disjointed and inefficient and called for an overhaul. The study went on to say that patients lack the up-to-date information they need to control health care decisions and too often are put in harm's way by poor quality of care. In a joint statement, the AAFP, American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine and the American Medical Association expressed support for the report. The organizations emphasized their commitment to learning about the nature of issues related to quality and to developing solutions addressing them. The IOM report may be found at http://national-academies.org.

AAFP Hails Bill to Allow FDA Regulation of Tobacco

The introduction of a bill that would give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate tobacco products was met with enthusiasm from the AAFP. The efforts by the authors of the bill, Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) and Bob Graham (D-Fla.) should be supported, said AAFP President Richard G. Roberts, M.D., J.D. Dr. Roberts called tobacco use one of the greatest health risks facing patients and says the FDA should have full jurisdiction over tobacco products and nicotine delivery devices. Nicotine products should be subject to pertinent regulations regarding food, food additives and pharmacologically active ingredients, said Dr. Roberts. Tobacco use causes more than 400,000 deaths each year—one of every five deaths in the United States.

HRSA Announces $40 Million in CAP Grants

More than $40 million in federal money will be available from fiscal year 2001 funds under the Community Access Program (CAP), part of the Department of Health and Human Services' effort to improve access to health care by uninsured Americans. About 40 local communities will share in the grants, which will be used to integrate providers—especially those who treat the uninsured—into networks that offer a range of services to the uninsured. In the initial round of grants, announced September 2000, 23 networks of health care providers, hospitals, community health centers and local governments shared about $22 million in CAP funds. CAP is administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Organizations interested in obtaining applications for the funds may phone HRSA at 877-477-2123. Completed applications are due by May 7; awards will be announced in September.

Multimedia Education Kit Explains Human Genome Project

The Human Genome Project has created a free multimedia kit to serve as an educational tool for high school students and the general public. The kit, titled “The Human Genome Project: Exploring Our Molecular Selves,” includes a multimedia CD-ROM, video documentary, a commemorative wall poster and an informational brochure, “Genetics: The Future of Medicine.” The Human Genome Project began in 1990. For more information, to request a free kit, or to use select kit components online, visit http://www.nhgri.nih.gov/educationkit.


Copyright © 2001 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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