Health Initiatives Are Proposed in State of the Union Address
In his January 19 State of the Union address, President Clinton proposed several new health programs aimed at helping the elderly, disabled and uninsured. Again this year, he proposed a Medicare “buy-in” program for persons ages 55 to 64 who currently are unable to obtain health insurance coverage. In addition, the Administration proposes financial assistance, primarily through taxes, for those needing long-term care and their families. With a price tag of over $6 billion, this would be a major investment. Further, he proposes using tax credits to encourage small businesses to offer health insurance to their employees, as well as using tax incentives to help unemployed disabled persons become employed. Additionally, he proposes grant programs of $1 billion to help over 30 million uninsured adults get medical care through local health clinics and hospitals. While details of the proposals have not yet been submitted to Congress, they currently are under development by the Administration.
Patients' Bill of Rights Is Introduced in the Senate
Moving quickly in the new Congress, Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and several Democratic colleagues introduced S. 6, a Patients' Bill of Rights, in the Senate on January 19. The measure would provide consumers with enforceable patient protections, including access to necessary care under their managed care plans, an appeals process, a ban on “gag” clauses and on financial incentives to deny care, and the right to hold health plans accountable when they make medical decisions that result in harm. In addition, he introduced S. 10, the Health Protection and Assistance for Older Americans Act, which expands access to Medicare for individuals ages 55 to 64 and provides financial assistance to elderly individuals needing long-term care and to their caregivers.
Health Commission Calls for More Diversity in Health Care Work Force
The Pew Health Professions Commission has issued a report calling for greater racial, ethnic and socioeconomic diversity in the health care work force. The panel, chaired by former Sen. George Mitchell, urged health professions schools to change their admissions policies to more accurately reflect the diversity of the American public to ensure that the country receives culturally sensitive health care in the 21st century. Included in the report are specific recommendations for each of the individual health professions, such as allied health, dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy, and a revised set of competencies for the health professions for the 21st century. The Pew Health Professions Commission is a program of the Pew Charitable Trusts and is administered by the University of California Center for the Health Professions. The executive summary of the report, titled “Recreating Health Professional Practice for a New Century,” can be found on the Internet at http://www.futurehealth.ucsf.edu/pewcomm.html
. For more information, contact the center at 415-476-8181.
Proposals Are Sought for Putting Research to Work in Medical Practice
The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) is seeking proposals for studies aimed at implementing research findings and evidence-based tools and information in everyday clinical practice. These include clinical practice guidelines, algorithms, treatment protocols, practice parameters, quality indicators and continuous quality improvement initiatives. The AHCPR expects to award up to $2 million in FY 1999 to fund the first year of projects resulting from this Request for Applications (RFA). To obtain a copy of the RFA, see “Translating Research into Practice” on the AHCPR Web site at http://ahcpr.gov/funding
. The RFA and application forms are also available from Equals Three Communications, Inc., 7910 Woodmont Ave., Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814; telephone: 301-656-3100.
Voters Point to Medicare as the Top Health Issue for the 106th Congress
A survey of Americans who voted in the November congressional elections found that health issues are considered by most Americans who voted to be among the most important issues addressed by Congress this year. The survey was conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. Of the 16 issues that voters were asked about, the following seven issues, including three health issues, received significant support from those surveyed: Keeping Social Security financially sound (80 percent); keeping Medicare financially sound (73 percent); helping the uninsured obtain health care coverage (61 percent); passing tougher anti-crime laws (60 percent); establishing federal education standards for public schools (55 percent); health maintenance organizations/managed care reform (54 percent); and cutting taxes (50 percent). However, the survey found substantial party partisan differences on policy options, suggesting that enacting major health legislation during the next session of Congress may be difficult. Copies of the questionnaire and data from the findings are available by calling the Kaiser Family Foundation at 800-656-4533 (document no. 1452). Information can also be obtained on the Kaiser Web site at http://www.kff.org
Internet Resource for Physicians Who Treat Patients with HIV
The Community Provider AIDS Training Project (CPAT) is an Internet resource designed for health care professionals who treat patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The Web site address is http://itsa.ucsf.edu/warmline. The site includes information about training programs, guidelines for treatment and the latest development in HIV drugs, and contains articles on HIV and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). CPAT is located at the University of California San Francisco in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at San Francisco General Hospital. It is sponsored by the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Family Physicians.