This roundup includes the following news briefs:
The AAFP is applauding House passage of a bill that would negate the automatic doubling of student interest rates that occurred on July 1 after lawmakers allowed an existing law to expire.
The Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act(www.govtrack.us), H.R. 1911, sailed through the House and now goes to President Obama, who is expected to sign the measure into law. In a prepared statement, AAFP President Jeff Cain, M.D., of Denver, said the bill represents "an important step toward helping build the primary care physician workforce."
"This legislation lessens the impact of debt by retroactively reducing and capping interest rates on undergraduate, graduate and PLUS loans taken out after July 1, 2013," said Cain. "Without the reduction and cap, the increased cost of a loan would likely become a further deterrent to students who would prefer primary care careers but choose more lucrative subspecialties."
Cain also called for building the primary care physician workforce "with additional actions to defer interest on medical student loans until young doctors complete their residency training." This includes making interest on the loans tax-deductible and increasing support for primary care education and residency training programs, said Cain.
Nearly 75 percent of newly minted allopathic physicians -- specifically, U.S. medical school graduates in the 2012-13 academic year -- reported that their education included team-based training involving other health care professionals, such as nurses, dentists, pharmacists and osteopathic physicians.
According to an Aug. 2 press release(www.aamc.org) from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the information was gleaned from data collected from 14,836 medical school graduates who participated in the AAMC's 2013 Medical School Graduation Questionnaire. Responding graduates represented all 130 U.S. medical schools and accounted for 82 percent of graduates. This was the largest number of respondents since the questionnaire's inception in 1978.
The AAMC noted that 84.4 percent of students graduated with medical school debt. On average, students owed $135,084, a debt increase of 2 percent compared to 2012 reporting. The percentage of graduates planning to enter loan forgiveness programs increased from 29.4 percent in 2012 to 38.1 percent in 2013.
The Obama administration is seeking nominations for an initiative that will recognize the contributions of local change agents in improving health outcomes and reducing health disparities in their respective communities.
The initiative, known as the Champion of Change for Public Health and Prevention, will include a White House event this fall to honor individuals who take innovative approaches to support longer, healthier lives for patients in their communities. Administration officials are asking the public to nominate(www.whitehouse.gov) local change agents by midnight, Aug. 9.
- According to a White House blog(www.whitehouse.gov), a change agent's work may involve
supporting community and clinical prevention efforts to address chronic disease, increase education and outreach, and integrate primary and behavioral health;
- creating healthy and safe communities by promoting healthier schools, homes, and workplaces;
working to address health disparities and empower all Americans to make healthy choices by addressing health concerns that disproportionately affect certain populations;
- strengthening public health infrastructure and improving public health's capacity to detect and control disease and other threats;
- increasing the uptake of important preventive services; and
- promoting tobacco use prevention.
A new report released by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) calls for a national plan that would facilitate the evaluation of obesity prevention efforts and policies at the national, state and community levels.
The report, Evaluating Obesity Prevention Efforts: A Plan for Measuring Progress(www.nap.edu), is available online for no charge.
According to an Aug. 2 press release(www8.nationalacademies.org), the report concludes that current investments in obesity programs and policy evaluations are sporadic, at best. Furthermore, that lack of consistency has created barriers to understanding how well interventions are working and what level of investment is needed in the future.
Authors of a report brief(www.iom.edu) point out the need for an obesity evaluation task force or other entity to oversee and implement a national obesity evaluation plan.