News in Brief: Week of Aug. 1-5

August 03, 2011 08:00 pm News Staff

HHS Requires New Insurance Plans to Cover Preventive Services for Women At No Cost

HHS has issued new guidelines(www.hrsa.gov), which were developed by the Institute of Medicine, that require new health insurance plans to cover such preventive services as well-woman visits, breast-feeding support, domestic violence screening and contraception without charging a co-payment, co-insurance or a deductible.

Last summer, HHS released new insurance market rules based on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The rules require that all new private health plans cover several evidence-based preventive services, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, blood pressure checks and childhood immunizations, without charging a copayment, deductible or coinsurance. The Affordable Care Act also made recommended preventive services free for people on Medicare.

The latest guidelines attempt to build on that progress by making sure women have access to a full range of recommended preventive services, according to HHS.

AAFP Booklet Compiles Pertinent 2011 Match Facts

A plethora of information about the 2011 National Resident Matching Program, or NRMP, is available in a new booklet titled "AAFP Annual Report on the National Resident Matching Program". Details provided in the report, which was prepared by the AAFP's Division of Medical Education, are based on data from the NRMP advanced data tables for 2011.

The booklet includes summaries of 2011 Match results, tables of fill rates for various specialties from 2001 to 2011, and a series of nine graphs that depict, among other things, family medicine positions offered, filled, and filled by U.S. seniors every year from 1991 to 2011; a comparison of primary care positions filled by U.S. seniors from 2001 to 2011; and the 2011 NRMP family medicine results by regions. The final table shows a comparison of the 2010 and 2011 Match fill rates in family medicine by region and by state.

Beacon Evidence and Innovation Network to Facilitate Information Sharing

In 2010, HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, or ONC, awarded 17 grants totaling $250 million to communities on the cutting edge of health information technology. The 17 grant recipients, which are known as "beacon communities," are scattered from coast to coast and beyond and include sites in Spokane, Wash., Cincinnati, New Orleans, Providence, R.I., and Hilo, Hawaii.

A recent announcement regarding the Beacon Community Cooperative Agreement Program(healthit.hhs.gov) reveals that lessons learned during the course of the program will be shared via the newly created Beacon Evidence and Innovation Network(www.academyhealth.org).

According to the announcement, the ultimate goal of the network is to "generate actionable, rigorous evidence from the beacons on identifying strategies for leveraging health information technology to improve patient care and reduce costs."

The network also will facilitate cross-site technical assistance and the convening of experts who can share information on key topics with members of the beacon community.

Complete AMA Survey, Help Guide CMS Decisions on Annual Wellness Visit

CMS is seeking public comment on how Medicare's annual wellness visit -- as mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- is impacting physician practices. The agency is particularly interested in assessing the effect of the pre-visit health information/risk assessment component of the visit.

To help provide an accurate physician response, the AMA is asking physicians to respond to a short online survey(survey.qualtrics.com) and submit responses no later than Monday, Aug. 8.

According to the AMA, the survey takes just minutes to complete and includes questions about how physician practices conduct and bill for preventive services for Medicare patients.


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