AAFP President Speaks at White House Event
Lanny Copeland, M.D., president of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), joined President Bill Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala at a White House event in September. The purpose of the event, held on the day Congress returned from its summer recess, was to encourage Congress to pass critical health-related legislation. Dr. Copeland highlighted the need for legislation to help patients and physicians, and he spoke of his experiences caring for patients in his home in southwest Georgia. He called for Congress to address passage of legislation for comprehensive patient protection; for Medicare reform; and for the privacy of medical records. He also asked Congress to step up efforts to enroll all eligible children in the Childrens' Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid. In addition to representatives of the press, over 150 representatives of health care, consumer, disability and other organizations were in attendance.
AAFP Endorses Patient Protection Legislation
On September 8, the AAFP announced its support for two comprehensive managed care reform bills. The two measures are HR 2723, the Bipartisan Consensus Managed Care Improvement Act of 1999, introduced by Reps. Charles Norwood (R-Ga.), John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) and Greg Ganske (R-Iowa), and the Health Care Quality and Choice Act of 1999, to be introduced by Reps. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and John Shadegg (R-Ariz.). Both bills contain key provisions that will allow patients to get the appropriate health care they need. The proposals apply to all health plans, so that all patients with health coverage are protected. They prohibit “gag” clauses that restrict or prevent communication between physicians and patients. They establish external review mechanisms and do not bind external review processes to the health plan definition of medical necessity. Further, they allow patients to sue health plans in state court if they are hurt by health plan decisions. AAFP urged swift congressional action on patient protection legislation.
NCI Study Will Assess Colorectal Cancer Screening Practices
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has launched a study to evaluate how screening for colorectal cancer is being performed in the United States and to help identify barriers to screening and appropriate follow-up. The study is designed to obtain nationally representative data on physician and health system factors that may affect use of screening and diagnostic follow-up related to early detection of colorectal cancer in community practice. A nationally representative sample of 1,389 primary care physicians, 1,042 specialists who conduct colorectal screening and 323 health plan medical directors will participate. More information about the study is on the NCI's Applied Research Branch Web site at http://www-dccps.ims.nci.nih.gov/ARB/.
Pisacano Memorial Foundation Announces Scholarship Recipients
The board of directors of the Nicholas J. Pisacano, M.D., Memorial Foundation, Inc., has announced the recipients of the 1999 Pisacano Scholarships. The scholarships are awarded to outstanding medical students who have made a commitment to enter family practice. The scholarships, valued at $50,000 each, are awarded to students attending U.S. medical schools who have achieved superior academic excellence, have exhibited strong communication and interpersonal skills, have shown character and integrity, and have demonstrated a commitment to community service. Since 1993, the foundation has selected 47 outstanding medical students to receive these scholarships.
The recipients of the 1999 scholarships are: Erika Bliss, University of California at San Diego; Leslie Brott, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio; Christine Dehlendorf, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle; Filomeno P. Gonzales, Jr., University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; and Sarah Morgan, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, Calif.
For more information concerning the Pisacano Scholars program and the Nicholas J. Pisacano, M.D., Memorial Foundation, contact Jane Ireland or Robert J. Cattoi at 606-269-5626 or 888-995-5700 or visit the foundation's Web site at http://www.njpmf.org.
AHCPR Releases Data on Hospital Admissions in the United States
The most common reasons for hospital admission in the United States in 1996 were infant birth (3.8 million admissions), followed by coronary atherosclerosis (1.4 million admissions), pneumonia (1.2 million admissions), congestive heart failure (990,000 admissions) and myocardial infarction (774,000 admissions), according to a recent report from the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR). The report, based on 1996 data, is the latest in a series of statistic publications from the AHCPR showing why Americans are hospitalized, how long they stay in the hospital, the procedures they undergo while in the hospital and the cost of hospitalization. The most expensive conditions or diagnoses in 1996 were spinal cord injury, infant respiratory distress syndrome, low birth weight, leukemia and heart valve disorders. Overall, patients stayed in the hospital an average of five days. The report, “Hospital Inpatient Statistics, 1996,” is available from the AHCPR Publications Clearinghouse, P.O. Box 8547, Silver Spring, MD 20907-8547; telephone: 800-358-9295.