Family Medicine Residency Match Numbers Are Up Slightly
In March, the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) presented data showing a 78.8 percent fill rate for family medicine residency positions, up from 76.2 percent in 2003. Of the 2,864 positions offered this year, 2,256 were filled. “The increase, though small, is good news,” said Michael Fleming, M.D., Shreveport, La., president of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), indicating that family medicine may have passed its recent low point. The 2004 data also show that the number of family medicine positions offered this year fell by 76. The percentage of family medicine positions filled by U.S. medical school seniors was 41.8 percent, which is down from 42 percent last year, but the decline represents the smallest decrease since 1996. Complete match data are available athttps://www.aafp.org/match.
Overall, 25,246 active applicants participated in the NRMP, a 5.3 percent increase since 2003 and the highest number in the program’s 52-year history. More than 80 percent of all matched applicants obtained one of their top three residency program choices. There were 641 couples in the match this year, the highest number ever.
Future of Family Medicine Project Releases Recommendations
In a supplement to the March/April issue of Annals of Family Medicine, the Future of Family Medicine (FFM) project released its report and recommendations. In April, the AAFP mailed the supplement to active members not already receiving Annals. The FFM project is a collaborative effort of seven family medicine organizations. The recommendations focus on three key areas: clinical practice, medical education, and the U.S. health care system. The 10 recommendations in the report incorporate 41 tactics that address issues important to family physicians, including health care coverage for all, electronic health records, professional development, and practice-based research. A number of organizations have issued declarations of support for the vision and recommendations in the FFM report, including the Institute of Medicine, the AARP, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Cancer Society, and the World Organization of Family Doctors. These declarations are available online at:http://www.futurefamilymed.org/x26833.html. The full supplement is available online at:http://www.annfammed.org. If you have comments about the report, please enter them through the online discussion group at the Annals site.
HHS Announces Medicare Discount Drug Card Sponsors
On March 25, 2004, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced the approval of 28 private sponsors to provide senior citizens and persons with disabilities savings on prescription drugs. Beginning June 1, Medicare beneficiaries with the new cards will receive discounts on prescription drugs, and low-income beneficiaries may receive an additional $600 to pay for prescription medicines in 2004 and 2005. HHS will offer several tools, including a Web site for comparing drug prices, to help senior citizens compare cards and choose the card that provides them with the best savings. Medicare-approved cards will be marketed to seniors by organizations offering the cards. Seniors will have to sign up for the cards directly through the participating organizations. This program implements part of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act, which became law December 8, 2003. In addition to less expensive prescription drugs, the new law improves preventive benefits and access to physicians and medical care for seniors, especially those living in rural areas. Program details and the list of sponsors are available online at:http://www.dhhs.gov/news/press/2004pres/20040325.html. HHS has provided a handout, “Guide to Choosing a Medicare-Approved Drug Discount Card,” at:http://www.medicare.gov/Publications/Pubs/pdf/11062.pdf.
Congress Okays Reimbursement to Organ Donors for Nonmedical Expenses
In late March, the House of Representatives and Senate approved the Organ Donation and Recovery Improvement Act, which is designed to reimburse living organ donors for travel and other nonmedical expenses involved in transplant surgery. The bill would allot HHS $5 million annually for fiscal years 2005 to 2009 for reimbursing qualified donors and $15 million in 2005 (with other funds available in later years) for grants to states, public awareness campaigns, and studies on improving organ donation rates. The bill also funds new programs to coordinate organ donations at hospitals and procurement agencies. The bill is available online at:http://thomas.loc.gov; type H.R. 3926 at “Bill Number;” click “Search;” and open the fourth version of the bill. The AAFP’s organ donation policy does not mention any type of reimbursement, but it does encourage family physicians to initiate discussion about organ donation with patients, particularly patients from populations less likely to include donors. The AAFP policy is available online at:https://www.aafp.org/x6957.xml.
National Library of Medicine AddsAnnals of Family Medicine to Index
After its first four issues, the earliest that a journal can be accepted for indexing, Annals of Family Medicine was selected for inclusion in Index Medicus and MEDLINE. Title and abstracts from all issues of the journal will be available to anyone conducting searches in the databases of the National Library of Medicine. The full text of Annals is available online at:http://www.annfammed.org. The journal is a collaboration of the AAFP, the American Board of Family Practice, the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, the Association of Departments of Family Medicine, the Association of Family Practice Residency Directors, and the North American Primary Care Research Group.