News in Brief: Week of Jan. 21-25

January 23, 2013 04:45 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

[News in Brief]

NIH Panel Recommends Changing Name of Women's Disorder

According to a Jan. 23 press release(, an independent NIH panel is suggesting that the name of a common hormone disorder in women -- polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) -- be changed to more accurately reflect the illness. The current name "focuses on a criterion -- ovarian cysts -- which is neither necessary nor sufficient to diagnose the syndrome," making it a source of confusion, as well as a barrier to research progress and effective patient care, says the press release.

"The name PCOS is a distraction that impedes progress," panel member Robert Rizza, M.D., said in the release. "It is time to assign a name that reflects the complex interactions that characterize the syndrome. The right name will enhance recognition of this issue and assist in expanding research support."

According to the NIH, PCOS affects approximately 5 million reproductive-aged women in the United States. Women with PCOS have difficulty becoming pregnant due to hormone imbalances, and may have other signs and symptoms, as well, such as irregular or absent menstrual periods, acne, weight gain, excess hair growth on the face or body, thinning scalp hair, and ovarian cysts. Women with PCOS also are at risk for type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

AMA Designates $10 Million for Medical Education

The AMA recently announced a new project dubbed "Accelerating Change in Medical Education(" and said it would give $10 million -- distributed in $2 million increments per year during a five-year period -- to as many as 12 U.S. medical schools to help foster innovative change in medical school education.

In a request for proposals(, the AMA specified that money is available to M.D.-granting medical schools. Online registration( is required by Feb. 13, with letters of intent due by Feb. 15. Full proposals must be received from medical schools by May 15; recipient schools will be notified by July 1. The project begins on Sept. 1, 2013.

AAFP Public Health Award Nominations Now Open

Nominations are open for the Academy's Public Health Award (Members Only) and will be accepted until the close of business on March 1.

The award, which recognizes individuals -- both physicians and nonphysicians -- who have made or are making extraordinary contributions to the American public's health, will be presented at the 2013 Congress of Delegates in San Diego.

Nominations must be made by an active category member through that member's chapter using the appropriate application form. Nominees without an application will not be considered.

For more information, contact the AAFP at (800) 274-2237, ext. 3110, or via e-mail.

NCQA Offers PCMH Content Expert Certification

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) recently announced a credentialing program created for individuals with expert knowledge of the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) model of care.

According to a Jan. 17 news release, the PCMH content expert certification offered by the NCQA and aimed at individuals with specific knowledge of the NCQA's own PCMH recognition program will help medical practices seeking PCMH recognition assess the skill level and qualifications of any potential PCMH consultant a practice might hire.

Individuals who earn the certification must complete two PCMH educational seminars and pass a comprehensive exam that covers seminar material.

Website Helps Consumers, Small Businesses Shop for Health Insurance

HHS has issued new information( to help individuals, families and small businesses choose state-based insurance plans that are offered as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care Act requires health insurance exchanges to operate in each state by 2014 and to essentially function as insurance markets, allowing individuals and businesses to purchase insurance from qualified plans. The HHS information contains information and resources to help consumers and small businesses find health insurance plans to meet their needs and budgets.

It also includes a checklist( of seven steps individuals and families can take to prepare for enrollment. Open enrollment for the plans begins in October.

New Grants Designed to Help States Build Insurance Exchanges

HHS has awarded $1.5 billion in grants( to 11 states to help them develop and implement health insurance exchanges called for by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The agency awarded one-year level-one grants to Delaware, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina and Vermont so these states can begin the process of establishing health insurance exchanges. HHS also awarded multiyear level-two grants to California, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York and Oregon to enable the states to continue building health insurance exchanges.

HHS has awarded health insurance exchange grants to 49 states, the District of Columbia and four territories to plan their marketplaces. Thus far, 34 states and the District of Columbia have used federal grant money to develop insurance marketplaces.