AAFP Policy Center Opens for Business in Washington, D.C
The Center for Policy Studies in Family Practice and Primary Care of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) officially opened on June 8. Located in Washington, D.C., the policy center will have an initial staff of five people and is headed by Larry A. Green, M.D., former chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Colorado, Denver. The center will seek to provide a family practice and primary care perspective to health policy issues and pursue relevant research questions, and publish its findings. The policy center is located at 2023 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036. The telephone number is 202-986-5708; fax: 202-986-7034; e-mail: email@example.com.
Coalition Issues Report on Health Insurance Coverage
The National Coalition on Health Care has just published a report describing the major forces undermining health insurance coverage in the United States today. The report, “Down a Dangerous Path: The Erosion of Health Insurance Coverage in the United States,” emphasizes that four major problems plaguing the health system—mounting costs, the growing number of uninsured persons, poor quality care, and the expanding gap between care available to affluent versus lower income Americans—are deeply interrelated. The coalition is a non-partisan alliance of approximately 100 member organizations committed to improving America's health and health care system. Copies of the report may be obtained from the coalition by calling 202-637-6830 or visiting the Web site at http://www.americashealth.org.
The National Tobacco Foundation Is Established
The November 1998 agreement between the state attorneys general and the tobacco industry called for the establishment of a National Tobacco Foundation, the purpose of which is to provide funds to state-run anti-tobacco activities around the country. Funded at $1.5 billion over five years, the foundation has allocated $250 million for the first two years for public education activities and $200 million in each of the subsequent years for this purpose. In addition, $25 million has been slated each year for “base funding” for evaluation and research activities. Formation of a board to oversee the foundation currently is under way, and funds are expected to become available in the year 2000. Representatives of the AAFP recently met with staff of the new foundation to discuss its activities and future involvement.
Medical Societies Launch National Campaign for Universal Coverage
Seven of the country's largest physician organizations have joined together to call national attention to the issue of care for the uninsured. In a joint statement released at a press event in Washington, D.C., on June 14, the organizations voiced support for health care coverage for all Americans, with at least a basic benefits package. The groups involved include the American Medical Association, American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Emergency Physicians and the American College of Surgeons.
E&M Documentation Guidelines: The Ball Is in HCFA's Court
The latest version of the Evaluation and Management (E&M) Documentation Guidelines was transmitted to the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) in early June. This action took place following completion of work on the guidelines by the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) Editorial Panel during its May 14–15 meeting. The editorial panel utilized comments from over 200 medical organizations and individual physicians in developing its final version of the guidelines. After review, HCFA is expected to begin pilot tests of draft guidelines and has previously announced that new E&M guidelines are unlikely to be implemented until 2000. In the meantime, both the 1995 and 1997 guidelines remain in use by Medicare carriers. The guidelines are available on the AMA's Web site at http://www.ama-assn.org/emupdate.
Breast Cancer Prevention Study Seeks Volunteers
The Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene (STAR), one of the largest breast cancer prevention studies ever, is now recruiting volunteers at more than 400 medical centers across the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada. The study will include 22,000 postmenopausal women at increased risk of breast cancer to determine if raloxifene is as effective in reducing the chance of developing breast cancer as tamoxifen has proved to be. STAR is a study of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project and is supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Women who participate in STAR must be postmenopausal, at least 35 years old and have an increased risk of breast cancer as determined by age, family history, personal medical history, age at first menstrual period and age at first live birth. For more information, call the NCI Cancer Information Service at 800-4-CANCER for information in English or Spanish. In Canada, call the Canadian Cancer Society at 888-939-3333 for information in English or French. Information is also on the NCI's clinical trials Web site at http://cancertrials.nci.nih.gov.
HRSA Announces a Managed Care Technical Assistance Center
The Center for Managed Care of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has launched the Managed Care Technical Assistance Center (MCTAC) for HRSA grantees, safety net health care providers, and health professions education and training programs. Pilot testing of MCTAC will begin in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The new center will provide information and state-of-the-art technical assistance on managed care issues, such as referrals to existing HRSA technical assistance resources, workshops and training, on-site consultation from leading managed care experts and Internet links. For more information on MCTAC, contact Tamara Allen at 301-443-1516 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.