President Bush Releases Budget Details
In April, President Bush released the details of his previously developed budget blueprint, providing specific information about the impact on individual programs. The proposed budget for the Department of Health and Human Services is increased for fiscal year 2002 by 5.1 percent for discretionary programs, an increase of more than $4 billion. The budget targets spending for children, adding to current programs and developing new ones, including a $22 million increase for immunization programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To help address the problem of uninsured Americans, the President proposes tax credits of $1,000 for singles and $2,000 for families to encourage people to purchase health insurance. The budget also calls for increasing the number of community health centers from 3,200 to 4,400, and doubling the number of patients served by 2006. Funding for the National Institutes of Health would be increased by $2.75 billion and funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality would be increased by $36 million, with $3 million earmarked for patient safety programs. Unfortunately, programs aimed at training health professionals, including primary care physicians, are targeted for a decrease of $213 million, leaving $140 million for these programs.
AAFP Will Participate in Annual Seminar on Breast-Feeding
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) is a cooperating organization in the 29th Annual Seminar for Physicians on Breastfeeding, to be held July 5–7 in Chicago. Lactation management techniques and the latest breast-feeding research will be presented. Seminar topics include contraception and breast-feeding, contaminants in human milk and health problems in lactating women. Physicians who attend can receive 16 prescribed hours of CME and enhance their ability to help patients breast-feed successfully. The seminar is sponsored by La Leche League International. For more information or to register, visit La Leche League’s Web site athttp://www.lalecheleague.org/29th.html.
Program Offers Tips on Teaching Bicycle Safety
A program designed by family practice residents and endorsed by the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians for teaching bicycle safety is now online. Strap & Snap is a lively, educational presentation that teaches children the importance of wearing helmets while riding their bikes. The program is aimed for third graders because by this age, most children are riding a bike and are receptive to the message about preventing head injuries. In the presentation, children learn about the brain and why wearing a helmet is important to protecting the brain. The Strap & Snap script and other materials are available online (http://coloradoafp.org/strap_snap/) along with a list of supplies needed for the presentation. For more information, contact Kathleen Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AAFP Deems Privacy Rule ‘Cumbersome, Costly and Time-Consuming’
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ final rule on the privacy of health information will make the compliance process “cumbersome, costly and time-consuming for family physicians,” says AAFP Board Chair Bruce Bagley, M.D., Albany, N.Y. Dr. Bagley says the AAFP supports the use of electronic medical records because, under proper constraints, electronic records may protect patient information better than paper records do. And while the AAFP agrees with the general intent of the privacy rule, Bagley notes that many provisions in the final rule are problematic. For AAFP’s comments, go tohttps://www.aafp.org/gov/fed/20010330.html.
Lawmakers Seek Physicians’ Comments on Medicare
In an effort to gather feedback on Medicare, physicians are being asked to complete an online questionnaire of 10 items. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce is conducting the review. The Committee’s goal is to improve the delivery of quality health care to patients. To achieve this goal, the committee is looking for ways that Congress can work with the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) to eliminate waste, mismanagement and bureaucratic delays in the program, says Committee Chair W.J. “Billy” Tauzin. To give feedback, visithttp://www.house.gov/commerce/hcfasurvey.htm.
AAFP Joins Initiative to Combat Prescription Drug Misuse
AAFP Director Karla Birkholz, M.D., Phoenix, announced that the AAFP will renew its efforts to fight drug addiction by putting it support behind a public health initiative to fight the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs. “Substance abuse is a treatable medical illness that, if left untreated or inadequately treated, incurs undue costs for the affected individual and for society as a whole,” said Dr. Birkholz. “Scientific studies confirm that the treatment and prevention of some addictive diseases are cost effective.” The National Institute on Drug Abuse, AAFP and six other organizations are cooperating in the initiative.
Help Offered for Improving Care to Hispanic Patients
The Health Resources and Services Administration has published a book to help health care professionals understand and respond more effectively to Hispanic patients. “Quality Health Services for Hispanics: The Cultural Competency Component” emphasizes the need to improve communication with Hispanics. Knowledge of health-related beliefs, attitudes, practices and communication patterns can aid the physician in working with this patient population, according to the book’s authors. The book is available by calling HRSA at 888-ASK-HRSA or by visiting its Web site athttp://www.ask.hrsa.gov.