Policy and Health Issues in the News
Am Fam Physician. 2007 Jun 15;75(12):1759-1760.
AAFP Calls on Congress to Compensate Coordination of Care
Testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee's Subcommittee on Health in Washington, D.C., the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), Rick Kellerman, MD, Wichita, Kan., urged Congress to adopt a Medicare physician payment system that reimburses physician practices for providing a patient-centered medical home to manage and coordinate care. Studies have shown the value of a medical home founded on enhanced self-management by patients, an organized and sophisticated delivery system, evidenced-based support for clinical decisions, information systems, and links to community support groups, Kellerman said. Such a model would improve health care quality and cost-effectiveness, as well as better integrate patient care into the overall health care system and increase patient satisfaction, he argued. The AAFP supports a system in which patients would choose a medical practice as their medical home. Under a revised payment structure, Medicare would compensate physicians for coordinating care. Medicare also would pay these medical homes for designated activities that fall outside the realm of face-to-face visits, such as coordination among consultants, ancillary providers, and community resources. For more information, visit http://www.aafp.org/news-now/government-medicine/20070514kmantestimony.html.
Drug Manufacturer Warns of Upcoming Vaccine Shortage
Pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck & Co., Inc. has projected that, beginning in July, supplies of its measles-mumps-rubella-varicella vaccine could be depleted. This could result in back orders for the combination vaccine in the coming months, and the drug company expects the vaccine to remain unavailable through the end of 2007. Merck officials attribute the pending shortage of the vaccine to lower amounts of varicella-zoster virus in recently manufactured bulk vaccine lots than had been expected. According to a notice in the May 11 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the drug company notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the pending shortfall in February. The company has since been using its available supply of varicella-zoster virus to manufacture its varicella-only vaccine and its newly approved zoster vaccine. For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5618a6.htm, or http://www.aafp.org/news-now/clinical-care-research/20070518mmrvshortage.html.
Primary Care Collaborative Advocates Focus on Medical Home
The Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative, a group that has been working to raise awareness about the value of the personal medical home, was formally introduced to the public and the U.S. House of Representatives in May. Members of the collaborative—which include the AAFP, other physician groups, health care organizations, and employers—agree that placing primary care and the patient-centered medical home at the center of the health care debate will help efforts to improve America's health care system. According to the AAFP, the collaborative represents close to 50 million American workers and nearly 330,000 physicians. Collaborative partners will encourage adoption of the patient-centered medical home concept through an aggressive legislative agenda and by enlisting the support of additional employers, employer groups, and health care stakeholders. For more information, visit http://patientcenteredprimarycare.org, or http://www.aafp.org/news-now/government-medicine/20070517collaborative.html.
Conferees Discuss Ways to Fill Family Medicine Pipeline
Members of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM) shared initiatives for addressing the shortage of family physicians during the STFM Annual Spring Conference in late April. Since 2003, studies have documented a growing shortage of primary care professionals and the impact of that shortage on access to care. Ensuring a full family medicine pipeline requires a comprehensive approach that includes personal and institutional outreach to students most likely to enter primary care; legislative advocacy that results in improved support for primary care education, student debt reduction, and appropriate payment for primary care services; and institutional activism that changes medical school admissions policies. Possible initiatives include working with state legislatures to advocate support of scholarship and loan forgiveness legislation, participating in medical school admissions committees, and working with state legislators and medical schools to implement or expand rural scholars programs that target students in rural and underserved areas. For more information, visit http://www.aafp.org/news-now/resident-student-focus/20070517stfmpipeline.html.
AAFP President Reviews Progress of Public- and Private-Sector Advocacy
AAFP president Rick Kellerman, MD, reviewed the Academy's progress in public- and private-sector advocacy during a report to participants at the Annual Leadership Forum and National Conference of Special Constituencies on May 5 in Kansas City, Mo. Kellerman told attendees that the national demonstration project, overseen by TransforMED and the Preparing the Personal Physician for Practice project, will provide a road map for family medicine practices and residency programs that plan to implement elements of the New Model of Care. Kellerman also noted that many businesses are asking for input from the AAFP on how to use primary care as a foundation for a well-functioning health care system. In addition, Kellerman said, pressure from the AAFP and its primary care colleagues led to an update in work relative value units for primary care physicians, and federal lawmakers are seeking AAFP input on legislation affecting primary care. For more information, visit http://www.aafp.org/news-now/professional-issues/20070509kellermanupdate.html.
Revived Family Medicine Residency to Focus on Community Medicine
Less than one year after its announced demise, the Duke University Family Medicine Residency Program said it would recruit residents for a revised program for July 2008. Restructured to emphasize community-based continuity clinics, the revived residency program also requires clinical leadership coursework and confers a certificate of clinical leadership. The new family medicine residency program will focus on meeting community needs and will work to match training with the reality residents will face when they enter private practice. The residency program's inpatient rotations will be concentrated into the first year, and continuity and community clinics will be scheduled daily throughout training. This approach is intended to expose residents to inpatient care while reflecting the decrease in hospital admission rates from primary care physicians. For more information, visit http://www.aafp.org/news-now/resident-student-focus/20070509dukeresidency.html.
AAFP Launches Web Resource with Information on Presidential Candidates
The AAFP has launched a new Web-based resource, Campaign for U.S. President 2008 (http://www.aafp.org/online/en/home/policy/federal/presidentialrace.html), to keep its members updated and informed during the Presidential primary process. The online resource lists each of the candidates running in the Democratic and Republican primaries and caucuses, gives a description of their positions on health care issues, and indicates whether they have put forth proposals to pay for their health care plans. The site also contains a calendar that provides dates of scheduled candidate appearances, debates, and primaries and caucuses leading up to the general election on November 6, 2008. The AAFP has also sent out a survey asking the Presidential candidates a series of questions about family medicine issues, and will post the results of that survey on the campaign Web resource when they are available. For more information, visit http://www.aafp.org/news-now/government-medicine/20070517presidentialrace.html.
CMS Offers Online Learning Resource on EHRs, Care Management
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has launched a new Web-based education venue called Doctor's Office Quality Information Technology (DOQIT) University. The e-learning platform is designed to help physicians adopt and implement electronic health records (EHRs) and care management practices, according to CMS. Learning modules in the program address topics such as identifying and implementing quality and process improvement methods, minimizing waste and reducing errors, and managing change and transition at various levels. Disease-specific learning modules—beginning with a module on diabetes—will also be added to the site. Each of these modules will incorporate a patient self-management component, which is critical to successfully managing care for patients with chronic disease, CMS said. For more information, visit http://www.aafp.org/news-now/practice-management/20070508doq-ituniversity.html, or http://elearning.qualitynet.org.
Registration Open for 2007 AAFP Scientific Assembly in Chicago
The 2007 AAFP annual scientific assembly will be held in Chicago, Ill., on October 3–6. Topics will include diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, musculoskeletal conditions, and clinical procedures. Attendees can also learn more about the New Model of Care, practice enhancement, EHRs, Maintenance of Certification plus Self-Assessment Modules (SAM) sessions, and career satisfaction. For more information or to register online, go to http://www.aafp.org/online/en/home/cme/aafpcourses/conferences/assembly.html.
—AFP and AAFP News Now staff
For more news, visit AAFP News Now at http://www.aafp.org/news-now.
Copyright © 2007 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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