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Am Fam Physician. 2002;66(9):1599-1601

AAFP Web Site Provides AMA Health Plan Complaint Form

The American Medical Association (AMA) has developed an online Health Plan Complaint Form (HPCF) for physicians and physicians' staff members to report their administrative and payment disputes with health insurers and third-party payers. The form gathers data on the types and severity of the administrative and payment problems that physicians and their staff experience on a day-to-day basis in the managed care environment. This information will be used to identify trends and to facilitate discussions with national health insurers to resolve these problems and complaints, and to promote legislative and regulatory changes. Physician names will be kept secure and confidential and will not be presented in any of the findings or reports derived from completion of the HPCFs. Physicians or physicians' staff members can access the HPCF online through a link on the Web site of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), Once connected, they can submit a complaint form by one of the following ways: (1) using an AMA Members-Only password to log in; (2) using an AMA Internet ID to log in; (3) using a medical education number to log in; or (4) printing the form and faxing or mailing it to the AMA. This form is also available directly from the AMA's Web site, at

HHS Provides Greater Access to Influenza and Pneumonia Vaccinations

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, Tommy G. Thompson, recently announced a new policy to allow greater access to influenza and pneumonia vaccinations, especially among older Americans and patients at high risk for illness. This policy allows nursing homes, hospitals, and home health agencies that serve Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to make annual vaccinations a routine part of patients' health care. These standing orders are permanent entries in patients' medical charts that prompt the physician to remind patients when it is time for their yearly influenza or pneumonia shot. The previous Medicare policy required a physician's order for immunizations for patients in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and home health agencies. Research sponsored by HHS' Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has shown that these standing-order immunizations increase immunization rates by making it quicker and easier for patients to receive them.

Minnesota Physician Chosen AAFP Family Physician of the Year

The AAFP Congress of Delegates named Darrell L. Carter, M.D., a practicing family physician from Granite Falls, Minn., the 2003 AAFP Family Physician of the Year for his more than 30 years of delivering quality and compassionate care to the people of Granite Falls. Dr. Darrell, as his patients affectionately know him, was named the 2001 Minnesota Rural Health Hero and has received the Physicians Recognition Award from the AMA and the Granite Falls Community Service Award. Since 1996, he has assisted in the development and teaching of Comprehensive Advanced Life Support (CALS) courses, a program that trains rural health providers to manage crisis health situations with limited resources. Dr. Carter also serves as volunteer medical director for Project Turnabout, a nonprofit chemical dependency/compulsive gambling program, and volunteers for the Granite Falls ambulance service. “Dr. Darrell works long hours yet consistently exhibits great stamina and infectious cheerfulness,” one patient wrote in a letter nominating Dr. Carter for this award. “He is the doctor of my lifetime, not just the doctor of the year.” Dr. Carter received his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School, and completed a family practice residency at the University of Minnesota.

AHRQ Awards $300,000 Grant to AAFP Family Practice Research Network

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has awarded a two-year grant worth $300,000 to the AAFP National Network for Family Practice and Primary Care Research. The grant will be divided, with $50,000 a year for improvements to the national research network's infrastructure and $100,000 a year to fund a pilot study of testing-process errors reported by family physicians and their office staff. Infrastructure improvements will include the recruitment of more minority physicians, development of a Web-based survey system, and development and implementation of a research training program for family physicians' office staff who assist with research projects. The pilot study of testing-process errors will involve eight family practice offices, including urban, rural, and suburban practices, and family practice residencies. The research team will study the identified errors and work with the practices to develop processes to prevent these errors. The national research network is a collaboration of volunteer family physicians who work with the research staff at AAFP headquarters on various research projects aimed at improving primary care.

AAFP's Walter H. Kemp Award Presented to Thomas J. Gates, M.D.

Thomas J. Gates, M.D., recently received the 2002 Walter H. Kemp Award of the AAFP, which recognizes a family physician who has written an outstanding article published in American Family Physician (AFP) during the previous year. Gates's award-winning article, “Screening for Cancer,” ( AFP, February 1, 2001) reviewed the types of evidence required to justify various screening tests for cancer and provided existing screening recommendations for cancers of the cervix, lung, colon, breast, and prostate. Dr. Gates is associate director of the family practice residency at Lancaster (Pa.) General Hospital. He received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School, Boston, where he had an emphasis on preventive and social medicine. He completed a residency in family medicine at the University of Utah Hospitals, Salt Lake City.

The selection criteria for this award are quality of editorial presentation, the scientific substance of the article, originality of thought, and relevance to the family physician's practice. Established in 1986, the award is named in memory of long-time AFP publisher Walter H. Kemp.

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Copyright © 2002 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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