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Am Fam Physician. 1999;59(9):2403-2404

HCFA Establishes a Y2K Information Telephone Line

The Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) has launched a new toll-free telephone line to help health care professionals prepare for year 2000. Callers to 800-958-HCFA (800-958-4232) will be able to get answers to Y2K questions that relate to medical supplies, their facilities and business operations as well as referrals for more specific billing information. The toll-free line will also update callers on HCFA's Y2K policies and provide general assistance to help callers prepare their own computer systems for year 2000. “While most providers are aware of the challenge, there are still many who have to take action to prepare their computer systems for the year 2000,” HCFA Administrator Nancy-Ann DeParle said. “That is why we are taking our role seriously to help them prepare for the millennium.”

HHS Announces $710 Million in Grants for HIV/AIDS Care

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Donna E. Shalala has announced awards of $710 million in formula grants to 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories to fund primary health care and support services for low-income persons with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Funded under Title II of the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, these grants include $461 million earmarked for state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAP), which provide financial assistance to purchase HIV medications. The CARE Act is administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the HHS. “The assistance that states and their AIDS Drug Assistance Programs receive under the CARE Act is instrumental to improving access to care and prolonging the lives of people with HIV/AIDS,” said Claude Earl Fox, M.D., M.P.H., administrator of HRSA. Title II formula grants are based on a calculation of the estimated number of people living with AIDS in the state or territory. The states receiving the largest grants including the ADAP funds are New York ($127.1 million), California ($95.9 million), Texas ($50.2 million) and New Jersey ($37.7 million).

NCI Awards Funds for a New Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded funds for a Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium, a network of medical centers to evaluate promising treatments for children with brain malignancies. The goal of the consortium is to speed the development of innovative, technically challenging therapies. The following nine academic research centers have been chosen to receive a total of $2 million annually for five years: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston; Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.; Baylor College of Medicine, Houston; St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tenn.; The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh; University of California, San Francisco; Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, Seattle; Children's National Medical Center, Washington, D.C. These centers will work together to carry out pilot studies and early trials of promising new therapies. The steering committee is chaired by Peter Phillips, M.D., The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. More information is available on the NCI's Web site at

Hearing Experts Launch a Campaign to Overcome Deafness

At a national summit on hearing health in March, the National Campaign for Hearing Health was launched to educate physicians, consumers and policy makers about the latest scientific and technologic advances in hearing health. The five-year, $12 million campaign was designed by the Deafness Research Foundation (DRF). “In addition to education, this campaign will strive to establish universal infant hearing testing, ensure access to hearing devices to all who need them, increase research funding and control toxic noise (sounds in the environment that damage hearing),” said John Wheeler, president and chief executive officer of the DRF. For more information about the campaign, contact the DRF at 800-829-5934 or visit the DRF Internet site at

Health Goals for the 21st Century Will Be Outlined in New Initiative

The Healthy People 2010 Initiative, which sets broad national health goals for the first decade of the new century, will be released on January 25, 2000, at the annual meeting of the Healthy People Consortium in Washington, D.C. The Consortium is a public-private alliance of over 350 national organizations and 270 state agencies that guides the Healthy People Initiative with the Department of Health and Human Services. The initiative defines the nation's health agenda and guides policy. Healthy People objectives that have been achieved in this decade include reduction of child and adolescent/young adult death rates; and, the rate of reduction of infant mortality is close to meeting the current national target.

AHCPR Announces New Topics for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) announced the initial list of topics that will be evaluated during the coming year by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. The new topics are chemoprophylaxis to prevent breast cancer; vitamin supplementation to prevent cancer or coronary heart disease; screening for bacterial vaginosis in pregnancy; developmental screening in children; screening for diabetes mellitus; newborn hearing screening; screening for skin cancer; counseling to prevent unintended pregnancy; screening for high cholesterol levels; postmenopausal hormone therapy; screening for chlamydial infection; and screening for depression. Suggestions for new topics to be considered should be sent to David Atkins, M.D., M.P.H., coordinator for Clinical Preventive Services, Center for Practice and Technology Assessment, AHCPR, 6010 Executive Blvd., Room 300, Rockville, MD 20852.

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Copyright © 1999 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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