Four Family Physicians Are Now in U.S. Congress
The November elections resulted in four family physicians being chosen to serve in the U.S. Congress. Three family physician incumbents in the House were returned to their seats this election cycle. They are: Delegate Donna Christian-Green, M.D., (D-Virgin Islands); Rep. Tom Coburn, M.D., (R-Okla.); and Rep. Vic Snyder, M.D., (D-Ark.). In addition, another family physician, Ernest Lee Fletcher, M.D., (R-Ky.) was elected from the sixth congressional district of Kentucky. Family physicians are now the largest medical specialty group serving in Congress. Other physicians in the House include an ophthalmologist, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, an obstetrician-gynecologist and an internist. Heart surgeon Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) serves in the Senate.
Use ‘Old’ Codes for Pneumococcal and Influenza Virus Vaccines, HCFA Says
The Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) wants to alert physicians that it will not be processing claims for bills that reflect the influenza virus vaccine and pneumococcal vaccine (HCPCS codes 90657, 90658, 90659, and 90669) until April 1, 1999. Even though the influenza code 90724 has been replaced by the new codes noted above, HCFA says it is unable to make the necessary electronic system changes to enable Medicare contractors to process claims for bills that reflect the HCPCS codes. The holdup has been caused by required changes and testing in the claims processing systems for Y2K compliance. Therefore, HCFA has told its Medicare contractors to continue to accept and process bills containing the old codes and to hold claims containing the new influenza and pneumococcal codes until April 1, 1999.
New AAFP Policy Center Seeks Views of Family Physicians
Larry Green, M.D., the first director of the American Academy of Family Physician's Center for Policy Studies in Family Practice and Primary Care, is seeking input from practicing family physicians about what are the most important policy issues facing family physicians. If you have ideas or suggestions that could help focus the efforts of the new policy center, please e-mail LGreen@AAFP.org or write Larry A. Green, M.D., AAFP, 2021 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036-1011.
William Jacott, M.D., Heads JCAHO Board of Commissioners
The Board of Commissioners of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) has selected William E. Jacott, M.D., associate professor and head of the Department of Family Practice and Community Health, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, and vice chair of the board of directors of the University of Minnesota physician faculty practice organization, as chair for the 1999 calendar year. Dr. Jacott previously served on the Board of Trustees of the American Medical Association (AMA). He is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other new officers include John Noble, M.D., Boston University School of Medicine, vice chairman; Bernard L. Hengesbaugh, executive vice president and chief operating officer of CNA Insurance in Chicago, treasurer; and Dennis R. Barry, Moses Cone Health System, Greensboro, N.C., secretary. The JCAHO is an independent, not-for-profit organization that evaluates and accredits more than 18,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, including almost 11,000 hospitals and home health agencies, and over 7,000 other health care organizations that provide long-term care, behavioral health care, laboratory and ambulatory care services. It also accredits health plans, integrated delivery networks and other managed care entities.
NCI Launches Network to Study Genetic Predisposition to Cancer
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded cooperative agreements for a new Cancer Genetics Network, a major research initiative to create a national network of centers specializing in the study of inherited predisposition to cancer. Eight awards are to institutions that will make up the network, and three awards are to institutions that will provide supporting information technology infrastructure. NCI hopes to expand the network in the future. The following institutions have received the awards: Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.; Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, Seattle; Georgetown University Lombardi Cancer Center, Washington, D.C.; Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore; University of California, Irvine; University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston; and University of Utah, Salt Lake City. The informatics and information technology group includes the University of California, Irvine; Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; and Yale University, New Haven, Conn. Mechanisms will be developed to provide broad access to information about genetic services and educational materials.
Physician Compensation Remains Flat for Second Straight Year
According to the Physician Compensation and Productivity Survey produced by the Medical Group Management Association and sponsored by Cejka & Co., St. Louis, 1997 was a stagnant year for physician compensation overall. The survey notes that the rate of compensation for primary care physicians only increased an average of 0.42 percent in 1997, compared with nearly a 4.5 percent increase in 1995 and a 1.4 percent increase in 1996. At the same time, subspecialists overall experienced a 0.48 percent decrease during 1997. However, subspecialists continue to have a significantly higher median compensation than primary care physicians. The median compensation for subspecialists in 1997 was $220,476 and the median compensation for primary care physicians was $135,791. Other topics in the report include hospitalist compensation, five-year trends and male-versus-female physician compensation. According to the report, the most significant trend in physician compensation over the past five years is the flattening of the rate of increase in compensation. The survey may be purchased. For more information about the survey, contact Laurel M. Weinstein, MGMA Survey Operations project manager at 888-608-5601 or 303-397-7895; e-mail: email@example.com. The Web site for MGMA is http://www.mgma.com.