News in Brief: Week of June 11-15

June 13, 2012 05:50 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

Large Insurers Vow to Maintain Some ACA Provisions

Three of the nation's largest health insurance carriers -- UnitedHealth Group Inc., Humana and Aetna -- have said they will continue to cover some of the services now mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act even if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the law.

The three insurance carriers said they will continue to allow young adults as old as age 26 to remain on their parents' insurance plans and will continue to provide a third-party appeals process for coverage denials. The companies also said they would cover preventive benefits, such as immunizations, at no cost to beneficiaries.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on the constitutionality of the health care reform law later this month. The court could leave the entire law intact, or it could strike down some or all of the law.

Help NCQA Define New Specialty Practice Recognition Program

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) is developing a new product -- tentatively named the NCQA Specialty Practice Recognition Program 2013 -- that aims to support patient care coordination between specialty medical practices and primary care.

According to a June 8 press release(, the NCQA is seeking public comment on proposed standards that will guide the new program. The recognition program will build on the success of NCQA's patient-centered medical home recognition program. Ultimately, NCQA will award recognition to specialty practices that show they are coordinating care, providing timely access to care, using technology to reduce duplicative tests, improving communication with patients and supporting continuous quality improvement.

Comments may be submitted online( The comment period closes on July 6 at 5 p.m. EDT.

CMS Reports on Beneficiaries Accessing Free Preventive Services

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has enabled 14.3 million Medicare beneficiaries to receive at least one preventive service at no cost during the first five months of 2012, according to data( recently released by CMS.

This includes 1.1 million beneficiaries who have received a free medical exam as part of the Affordable Care Act's annual wellness visit, said CMS. In 2011, 32.2 million Medicare beneficiaries received one or more free preventive services.

The Affordable Care Act's preventive services provision ( effect in 2011, giving beneficiaries free access to cancer screenings, mammograms and other preventive services. Before 2011, beneficiaries were required meet to deductibles or copays when accessing many preventive services.

ABFM Foundation Makes Donation to Family Medicine History Endowment

According to a news release from the Center for the History of Family Medicine( (CHFM), the American Board of Family Medicine( (ABFM) Foundation has committed to donating $75,000 to the CHFM endowment during the next five years.

The April 28 decision by the ABFM Board of Directors will continue the ABFM Foundation's support of the center, and the endowment will help the CHFM become a self-sustaining entity.

"The ABFM Foundation and the ABFM are valued members of the family of family medicine, and we deeply appreciate their ongoing commitment to help us preserve the historic heritage of the specialty through their support of the center’s endowment," said Craig Doane, AAFP Foundation executive director, in the release.

Established in 1992 "to preserve the historical value and evolution of the specialty of family medicine," the CHFM endowment is a $1.5 million long-term growth fund.

Grant Aims to Fill Primary Care Pipeline

The GE Foundation recently awarded a $2.3 million grant to National Medical Fellowships (NMF) for the purpose of cultivating a U.S. pipeline of primary care professionals.

According to a June 7 press release(, the two-year grant will fund the creation of the GE-NMF Primary Care Leadership Program. The goal of that program is to provide future physicians and health care professionals an opportunity to experience primary care in community health centers. It is expected that the experience could increase the capacity of those centers around the country.

The NMF is a nonprofit organization charged with increasing minority representation in medicine and health professions in the United States.

ABIM Foundation Launches Video Series

A new video series(, dubbed "Finding Joy in Primary Care," was launched recently by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation and aims to show how clinical innovation -- including the building of a patient-centered medical home practice -- can help return the joy of practicing medicine to America's primary care physicians.

Content for the videos was derived, in part, from site visits and interviews with physicians -- including family physicians -- at 26 practices across the United States.

The ABIM Foundation's primary care conference, held in February, served as a springboard for creation of the four-part video series, which features portions of the plenary presentation from that conference.