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Am Fam Physician. 1998;58(7):1527-1528

Health Care Financing Administration Looks at Medicare Regulatory Burden

Nancy Ann Min Deparle, director of the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), has created the Physician Regulatory Issues Team to look at the workload for physicians and their employees as a result of Medicare regulations. The team, headed by Steven Gleason, M.D., a family physician, will conduct a global review of all Medicare regulations affecting physicians, as well as other rules and guidelines stemming from implementation of the Medicare program. The team also will look for areas where regulations are in conflict and consider strategies to address the problem. The Practicing Physician Advisory Committee of HCFA met in October to discuss the problem of the regulatory burden on physicians and will assist in the effort. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has long encouraged the committee to attend to this significant concern of practicing physicians. The AAFP will provide information to Dr. Gleason and his team about the specific concerns of family physicians.

Study Targets Postmenopausal Women at Increased Risk of Breast Cancer

The National Cancer Institute and the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) are seeking postmenopausal women at increased risk for breast cancer to participate in the Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene (STAR). The study will be conducted by NSABP and will compare tamoxifen with raloxifene, a drug for the treatment of osteoporosis that may also help prevent breast cancer. STAR investigators will enroll 22,000 postmenopausal women ages 35 and older who are at high risk of breast cancer. The NSABP's membership committee has selected 193 institutions in the United States and Canada to participate in the study, which will begin in early 1999. More information about STAR can be found on the NSABP Web site at Information can also be obtained by writing NSABP, P.O. Box 21, Pittsburgh, PA 15261 or by faxing NSABP at 412-330-4660.

Larry Green, M.D., Is Chosen to Head AAFP Policy Center

Larry A. Green, M.D., has been named by the AAFP as director of the newly established AAFP Center for Policy Studies in Family Practice and Primary Care. Located in Washington, D.C., the center will conduct research and analysis to provide a family practice perspective to policy deliberations. Since 1985, Dr. Green has served as professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver. He will direct the AAFP center part time until June 1, 1999, at which time he will begin directing the center full time. After two years as full-time director, he will return to the Colorado faculty. The center will also have an advisory board of public policy analysts and primary care researchers.

Congress Adjourns Without Passing Tobacco Control

A key health issue fell by the wayside during the final days of the congressional session. Comprehensive tobacco control legislation, a high priority for physician organizations, including the AAFP, was an issue that Congress failed to deal with prior to adjourning in October. Despite recent reports of significant increases in smoking among teenagers, no legislation addressing this area was passed. The issue is expected to be on the congressional agenda in 1999.

Physicians With Heart Project Airlifts Medical Supplies to Siberia

A delegation of volunteers from Physicians with Heart, a humanitarian project sponsored by the AAFP, the AAFP Foundation and Heart to Heart International, delivered medical supplies and visited participating hospitals on a 10-day trip to Siberia in October. The delegation included family physicians, AAFP staff and other participants. Two medical seminars on the nature of family practice in the United States were held in Novosibirsk and Akademgorodok. The AAFP participants included Neil Brooks, M.D., AAFP board chair; Gerald Keller, M.D., AAFP Foundation president; and Ron Christensen, M.D., a past AAFP director. AAFP staff included Daniel Ostergaard, M.D., vice president of education and scientific affairs, and Sandy Panther, executive vice president of the AAFP Foundation. This was the sixth Physicians with Heart airlift to be completed since 1993. The other airlifts were to St. Petersburg, Russia; Crimea, Ukraine; Armenia; Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, two countries in central Asia; and the Republic of Georgia.

NIAMS Funds Research on Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) has funded two new specialized centers of research as part of the federal medical research effort against systemic lupus erythematosus. The two centers are located at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. One of the centers will study the genetic aspect of systemic lupus erythematosus, and the other will also address genetics and immune mechanisms underlying disease flare-ups and organ damage. According to NIAMS Director Stephen Katz, M.D., Ph.D., the goal of the research is to develop better treatments, improve quality of life and prevent long-term illness and disability for patients with this disease.

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Copyright © 1998 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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