Senate Confirms Tommy Thompson to Head DHHS
The Senate confirmed former Wisconsin governor Tommy G. Thompson as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) by a vote of 100-0 on January 24. Thompson was instrumental in the creation of “BadgerCare,” a health insurance program in Wisconsin for low-income people, and in the initiation of comprehensive welfare reform in his state. Thompson, a Republican, praised his predecessor, former DHHS Secretary Donna Shalala, and pledged to use his new post to continue to work toward health care reform, long-term care for seniors, opportunities for the disabled and biomedical research.
AAFP Launches Public Awareness Campaign
Look for the story behind the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) in the newspaper and on the radio, as the AAFP kicks off a public awareness campaign. The $3.5 million, three-year project will tell the story of family practice in advertisements in USA Today and The Washington Post and on National Public Radio's “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.” The advertising campaign reflects the public's concern with finding up-to-date medicine and technology when choosing a physician. The campaign will focus on the ongoing state-of-the-art training that family physicians receive in advanced medical technology and treatments. Research for the advertising campaign was provided by The Mellman Group.
AAFP Offers Plan for Expanding Health Care Coverage
At a Capitol Hill news conference coinciding with the return of Congress in January, AAFP President Richard Roberts, M.D., J.D., called for the expansion of health care coverage in the United States. “We can't keep doing what we've been doing because it's not working,” Dr. Roberts said. In 1998, the AAFP Board of Directors convened a task force of its members to reassess strategies for achieving universal health care coverage. In addition to outlining findings and principles, the task force recommended strategies that, if taken as a whole, would guarantee access to and coverage for basic health services for everyone in the United States. The AAFP wants feedback on its proposal (on the Web athttps://www.aafp.org/unicov). By the end of the year, the AAFP hopes to draft a final plan and seek a congressional sponsor.
New Resources Offered on Preventing Youth Violence
The National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center is making information available online (http://www.safeyouth.org) for persons interested in preventing violence. The site was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the White House Council on Youth Violence. Visitors to the site can access information on current research, statistics, fact sheets and more. The site includes topics on identifying youths at risk, youth suicide, community-based collaboration and after-school programs. The site also features sections designed for parents and teenagers.
Health Care Issues at Forefront of Voters' Minds, Survey Reports
A post-election survey of voters found health care issues ranked near the top of voters' priorities for spending budget surplus, reports the Kaiser Family Foundation-Harvard School of Public Health. Medicare ranked in the top three issues of importance to voters, along with education and Social Security. The survey also found that voters support patients' rights legislation and helping the uninsured. However, voters differed by party on how important health care was to their vote, the scope and cost of legislation they would support and how to go about Medicare reform. “This survey suggests that elected officials from both parties will have to compromise significantly to reach any consensus on health issues,” said Drew E. Altman, president and chief executive officer of the Kaiser Family Foundation. Altman said the survey revealed more potential to reach a deal on expanding insurance or drafting a patients' rights package. This was the fifth post-election survey conducted by the Kaiser-Harvard team since 1992.
Participants Needed for Breast Cancer Prevention Study
Primary care physicians are being asked to help recruit volunteers for a multicenter breast cancer prevention trial. The Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene, or STAR, is a study of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project and is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. The STAR trial will compare the efficacy of these drugs in preventing breast cancer in 22,000 postmenopausal woman at increased risk of the disease. More information on the trial can be found athttp://www.nsabp.pitt.edu and athttp://cancertrials.nci.nih.gov.
Federal Task Force Will Study Antimicrobial Resistance
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health have formed a task force to address the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance in the United States. The task force's top priorities are to conduct surveillance, prevention and control, research and product development. More information about the action plan can be found online athttp://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/.