Medically Underserved Are Focus for NCSC Delegates

Boosting Targeted HIV Screening Among Other Topics Tackled

May 09, 2012 05:05 pm Matt Brown Kansas City, Mo. –

Julio Menocal, M.D., of Frederick, Md., IMG delegate and co-author of a resolution encouraging FPs to participate in health care programs that target the under- and uninsured, testifies May 4 before the Reference Committee on Health of the Public and Science during the National Conference of Special Constituencies.

Members of the Reference Committee on the Health of the Public and Science (HOPS) were cheered during the May 5 business session of the National Conference of Special Constituencies (NCSC) here, as delegates voted unanimously to adopt all of the recommendations contained in the consent calendar they presented.

"I think that is the first time that has ever happened in the history of the NCSC," quipped 2012 NCSC Convener Jay Lee, M.D., M.P.H., of Long Beach, Calif., before thanking the reference committee for a job well done.

But although the final consent calendar spurred no debate, the list of resolutions presented during the reference committee hearing on May 4 generated passionate testimony.

According to IMG delegate Julio Menocal, M.D., of Frederick, Md., co-author of a resolution encouraging family physician participation in programs designed to benefit those who are under- or uninsured, the number of patients who fit this description currently sits at one out of every seven individuals and has grown to be nearly 50 percent in some parts of the country. With such an obvious need out there, FPs are an obvious choice to be at the forefront of participation in such programs, he testified.

"It is our own neighbors, friends, associates and family members who are affected by the economic downturn," Menocal said. "These communities have fed us … and empowered our personal growth and wealth when times were good. …Yet family physicians across the nation are sitting on the fence on this issue, while their own communities are in need."

Menocal said that he doesn't see any reason why FPs are not running to the aid of these patients.

story highlights

  • Delegates to the National Conference of Special Constituencies adopted a resolution calling for the AAFP to encourage family physician participation in programs that cater to under- and uninsured individuals.
  • Delegates also voted to recommend that the AAFP adopt the CDC's 2010 HIV testing guidelines, as well as encourage increased targeted HIV screening for men who have sex with men.
  • Other issues the reference committee considered included enhancing FP training to care for members of the armed services.

"A recommendation from the AAFP Board to its members to take a lead in the struggle to help populate the ranks of the physicians that cater to the poor will be a strong tool to motivate our colleagues in this campaign," he said. "Even when the (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) goes into effect, an estimated 6 to 7 percent of our population will remain uninsured, so join me in bringing this message to our colleagues and join me in helping the AAFP take leadership in addressing the health care needs of the poor in this nation."

Regarding another important health issue, delegates voted to recommend that the AAFP adopt the CDC's 2010 HIV testing guidelines, which call for routine HIV screening among all individuals ages 13-64 regardless of risk factors. The Academy currently "makes no recommendation for or against routinely screening for HIV in adolescents and adults who are not at increased risk for HIV infections."

Delegates also voted to recommend that the AAFP encourage increased targeted HIV screening for men who have sex with men (MSM). Testimony in support of this resolution centered on making members aware that higher-risk populations should be screened more than annually. The AAFP's current policy recommends that "HIV testing should be done at periodic intervals, preferably annually, for those at increased risk."

"The spirit of this resolution is in the context of the current policy of the AAFP, which lists MSM in a long list of high-risk groups," said GLBT delegate Keisa Bennett, M.D., M.P.H., of Lexington, Ky. "We want to highlight the fact that MSM are by far the highest-risk group and may need extra emphasis."

Among other measures considered by the same reference committee, NCSC delegates voted to recommend that the Academy

  • urge its members to acquire training and provide medical care specifically related to sequelae of trauma and mental and behavioral health concerns experienced by members of the military, while also providing an appropriate CME curriculum and certificate to recognize excellence in military medicine;
  • recommend that children should not carry over-the-shoulder backpacks that weigh more than 15 percent of their body weight;
  • join the National Marrow Donor Program with the goal of developing a campaign to increase the number of minority bone marrow donors, as well as contact its Be the Match registry and encourage the registry to use its funds to evaluate how best to disseminate information regarding the need for minorities to be included in the registry;
  • make a formal recommendation to the FDA to modify nutrition labels to replace the word "sodium" with "sodium (salt)"; and
  • investigate the new Department of Transportation requirements for certification of medical examiners who conduct commercial driver license physical exams and educate members about those requirements.

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