AAFP Program Provides Updates on Health Care Issues
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has enhanced the Patient’s Voice in Washington program, which focuses on educating patients about legislative issues affecting access to health care. The program offers new “Issues in Health Care” information one-pagers and call-to-action alerts on a variety of topics, including medical liability. The sheets include facts about a health care topic and explanations of why the issue affects everyone, regardless of insurance, income, or health status. Topics include health care coverage for all, Medicaid, and family medicine training issues. A new call to action has been issued, asking family physicians to urge the White House to increase pressure on Congress to pass medical liability reform. For more information on the program, go to https://www.aafp.org/fpr/20050200/13.html. Health care one-pagers and call-to-action information are available to download at https://www.aafp.org/patientsvoice.xml.
“Together Rx Access” Offers Prescription Drug Discounts to Uninsured
Together Rx Access is a pharmaceutical company–sponsored initiative that provides discounts on more than 275 prescription drugs and other products and medications. The program provides discounts of 25 to 40 percent to individuals who have no coverage for prescription products and are earning up to $30,000, couples earning up to $40,000, and families of four earning up to $60,000. An estimated 36 million of the nation’s 45 million uninsured are eligible to participate. Companies sponsoring the program are Abbott Laboratories, AstraZeneca, Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Bristol-Myers Squib Co., GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen Pharmaceutica Products, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, Pfizer, Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, and Tap Pharmaceutical Products. The AAFP has issued a statement supporting the program. Participation is free, and patients can enroll online at http://www.togetherrxaccess.com.
HHS Redistributes $643 Million in Unspent SCHIP Funds
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced that $643 million in unspent State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) funds will be redistributed to help states avoid funding shortfalls in the 2005 fiscal year. States have three years to spend each year’s allotment, and in previous years Congress had allowed a portion of unspent funds to be reissued to states that had exhausted SCHIP funding. This year, 28 states will be receiving additional funds. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) manages the program, which is designed to provide health coverage to uninsured children whose families do not qualify for traditional Medicaid or cannot afford private insurance. To date, about 5.8 million children are enrolled in the program. More information is available online at http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2005pres/20050119a.html and http://www.cms.hhs.gov/schip.
NIH Report Updates List of Cancer-Causing Agents
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) of the HHS has released the 11th edition of the Report on Carcinogens. Newly listed human carcinogens include hepatitis B and C virus, some human papillomaviruses, lead and lead compounds, substances used in textile dyes, paints, and inks, and compounds found in grilled meats. The report added 17 substances to the list of cancer-causing agents, bringing the total to 246. Of that number, 58 are known human carcinogens, and 188 are reasonably anticipated human carcinogens, including heterocyclic amine compounds formed in eggs and meats cooked or grilled at high temperatures. More information is available online at http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/jan2005/niehs-31.htm, and the full report is available at http://ntp-server.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/toc11.html.
Genomics CME Video Series Available Online
The AAFP’s Annual Clinical Focus 2005 video programs on genomics are available online. The series includes eight curriculum-driven videos that include tools, patient information, and resources for physicians to use in practice. Each program is based on a clinical condition and includes one or more cases that illustrate the genetic implications of this condition. The first program focuses on how physicians can use a patient’s family history to predict and manage health conditions that include a genetic component. It includes a practice-based quality improvement project and 22 free continuing medical education (CME) credits for members. Throughout the year, other videos will focus on breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, colon cancer, bipolar disorder, newborn screening, hemochromatosis, and autism spectrum disorders. Members who complete the series will receive a certificate of completion. For more information and to start the program, go to https://www.aafp.org/acfgenomics.xml.
CMS Adds New Resource to Medicare Learning Network
CMS has updated their online learning network. The new Preventive Services Educational Resource Web Guide provides links to information about various preventive services covered by Medicare benefits. Services include an initial preventive physical examination and screening tests for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Brochures on bone mass measurements, mammography, Papanicolaou tests, pelvic examinations, colorectal cancer screening, prostate cancer screening, glaucoma screening, and immunizations provide an overview of the available benefits. The site also offers links to Web-based training modules for physicians and educational publications for patients. To access the guide, go to http://www.cms.hhs.gov/medlearn/preventiveservices.asp.
Online Registration Available for ALF and NCSC
Online registration is available for the AAFP’s Annual Leadership Forum (ALF) and National Conference of Special Constituencies (NCSC). ALF is scheduled for May 6–7, and NCSC May 5–7, in Kansas City, Mo. ALF provides members with an opportunity to develop leadership skills and network with family medicine leaders from across the country. NCSC gives participants a chance to suggest policy and programs that incorporate a special constituency focus to AAFP leaders. Special groups meeting at NCSC this year are women physicians, minority physicians, new physicians, international medical graduates, and physicians interested in gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues. Many elements of these meetings are combined and registration allows members to attend sessions at either meeting. To reserve a hotel room at the reduced rate, reservations must be received by Tuesday, April 5, 2005. To access more information and the registration forms, go to https://www.aafp.org/leader.xml.
AAFP Offers Members Help Recovering from Identity Theft
The AAFP has provided a new service to help members recover from identity theft. The program, ID Theft Assist, acts as an advocate for members who have had their personal identity stolen. The service includes financial and credit support, legal assistance, advice on how to take protective measures to avoid further instances of theft, and access to counselors. For more information on the program, go to https://www.aafp.org/idtheftassist.xml.