AAFP Joins Center for Practical Health Reform
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has joined the Center for Practical Health Reform (CPHR) as a National Associate. AAFP President Mary E. Frank, M.D., will serve on CPHR's National Advisory Panel. The CPHR has organized a national effort to address the health care system's deepest problems by uniting consumers, business, labor, and health care around a comprehensive plan. The action plan focuses on finding solutions that facilitate, rather than restrain, market-based management and competition. The key points of the plan are to control cost without sacrificing quality, tie every patient to funding for basic care, and rebalance health care liability. For more information on CPHR, go to http://www.cphr.com. The AAFP's proposal for achieving health care coverage for all is available online at https://www.aafp.org/x13722.xml.
Grants Are Available for Family Medicine Research Projects
The Joint AAFP/AAFP Foundation Grant Awards Program supports research that will advance the specialty of family medicine and promote the evidence-based medicine that family physicians need to provide complete patient care. Each year, the AAFP Foundation awards a number of grants, in amounts up to $30,000, for research projects conducted by family medicine researchers. The deadline for grant applications is June 1, 2005. For application guidelines, go to https://www.aafpfoundation.org/x448.xml. General information about the awards program is available online at https://www.aafpfoundation.org/x270.xml.
AAFP Offers Online Resource for Meeting HIPAA Security Rule Deadline
The AAFP has provided an online guide for physicians who are unsure whether they will be compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) security rule by the April 21, 2005, deadline. The security portion of HIPAA focuses on safeguarding protected health information that is created, maintained, or transmitted electronically. The resource, “The HIPAA Security Rule Manual: A How-To Guide for Your Medical Practice,” was developed to help small medical practices complete the compliancy task. The 138-page manual includes a step-by-step security risk analysis, model policies, procedures, and forms, which can be customized. It is available to download, in PDF or text formats, from http://members.aafp.org/members/cgi-bin/hipaa_security.pl for $50.
CDC Issues Reminder About Proper Use of Antibiotics
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is releasing a new series of print and radio public service announcements to raise awareness about proper antibiotic use for parents and healthy adults. The message is part of a national campaign, “Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work,” started last year by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), CDC, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to reverse public perception that antibiotics cure everything. Several of the new advertisements focus on the Spanish-speaking Latino population. The campaign supports a new set of guidelines recently issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the AAFP, which encourage physicians to limit the use of antibiotics for treating ear infections in children. The guidelines support initial pain relief and observation measures first for otherwise healthy children with relatively mild ear infections if they can be assured of adequate follow-up. Antibiotics are only advised if the ear infection symptoms do not improve in two or three days. For more information on the ad campaign, go to http://www.cdc.gov. For the AAFP guidelines on ear infections, go to https://www.aafp.org/x26481.xml.
NIH Opens 2005 Director's Pioneer Award Program
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced the Director's Pioneer Award program, a key component of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research. The award supports scientists with innovative approaches to challenges in biomedical research. In September 2005, the NIH expects to announce five to 10 awards of up to $500,000 in direct costs per year for five years. The self-nomination process includes a three- to five-page essay, a biographical sketch, a list of current research support, and three references. Nominations may be submitted online between March 1 and April 1, 2005, at http://nihroadmap.nih.gov/pioneer/nominateself.aspx. For the complete award announcement, go to http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-05-021.html.
CMS to Provide Coverage for Patients Trying to Quit Smoking
The HHS has announced that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) intend to provide new coverage allowing certain beneficiaries to receive counseling to help them quit smoking. CMS proposed to extend smoking cessation coverage to patients who smoke and have been diagnosed with a smoking-related disease or who are taking certain drugs whose metabolism is affected by tobacco use. Medicare's latest prescription drug benefit will cover smoking cessation treatments that are prescribed by a physician. The proposed new policy is available online at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/coverage. After reviewing comments from the public forum, CMS will issue the final policy. For more information, go to http://www.hhs.gov/news.
HHS Provides $100 Million to States for Energy Aid
The HHS has provided $100 million in emergency funds through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help low-income families pay their heating bills this winter. Persons interested in applying for assistance should contact the local LIHEAP agency. An agency directory is available online at http://www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/liheap/directry.htm. For a listing of the funding provided to each state, go to http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2004pres/20041223.html.