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September 13, 2000

Top Stories:

1. AMA announces new TV ad campaign on patients' bill of rights

2. AMA backs revised patients' rights bill

3. AMA wants senator to vote for patients' rights

Federation News:

4. MSNJ prompt pay survey shows physicians' discontent, names names

5. New MMS Web site emphasizes advocacy, personalization

6. Chest Foundation helps sorority women deliver anti-smoking message

7. VMS joins Medem

Public Health:

8. AMA Alliance strives to stop America's violence everywhere

9. National survey highlights drug trends, state estimates

10. AMA asks your help in distributing organ donation survey

Announcements:

11.2001 National Leadership Conference sets date

12. Sample letters diskette streamlines the writing process

13. Heads up: AMA to speak at White House news conference


Top stories:

1. All AMA announces new TV ad campaign on patients' bill of rights

The AMA and the 67 patient, doctor and health care provider organizations of the Patient Access Coalition, today announced a television advertising campaign to urge the U.S. Senate to pass a meaningful patients' bill of rights that protects patients from health plan abuses.

Dr. Lewers said the ad will remind voters that even though more than 80 percent of Americans say it's time for Congress to pass a real patients' bill of rights, the insurance industry is spending $100 million to kill the legislation.

"We are within one vote of victory in the Senate," said AMA Board Chair D. Ted Lewers, MD. "Time is running short and the Senate needs to put patients first and give them the protections they need and deserve."

"Tell your senators to stand up for patients and let America's doctors make your health care decisions -- not HMO bureaucrats," the ad proclaims.

The ads will run during CNN's "Inside Politics", "Larry King Live" and "Crossfire"; CBS's "Face the Nation"; ABC's "This Week with Sam Donaldson & Cokie Roberts"; Fox, MSNBC and CNBC news programs.

The ad, which begins airing tomorrow, Sept. 14, asks patients to call 1 (800) 833-6354 and urge their Senators to support strong patient protections.

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2. AMA backs revised patients' rights bill

The AMA is backing a revised version of the bipartisan patients' rights legislation passed by the House last year. The revised legislation is an attempt to overcome stalled conference committee negotiations that aimed to reconcile the House's strong patients' rights legislation with the Senate's "HMO protection act."

The revised bill still would cover all patients under private health insurance -- more than three times as many as would be covered by the Senate bill.

"The AMA strongly supports the revised version of the bipartisan patients' bill of rights," AMA Board Chair D. Ted Lewers, MD, told The New York Times. "It covers all Americans and holds health plans accountable for actions that harm patients."

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3. AMA wants senator to vote for patients' rights

The AMA National House Call urged Pennsylvania voters to tell Sen. Rick Santorum to vote for a real patients' bill of rights and not another HMO protection act. AMA President-elect Richard Corlin, MD, and Carol E. Rose, MD, president-elect of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, challenged Sen. Santorum to buck the insurance industry's $100 million campaign to kill meaningful patient protections.

"Senator [Arlen] Specter has courageously voted for a real patients' bill of rights. Thus far, Senator Rick Santorum has not," states an AMA advertorial that ran in newspapers in Philadelphia, Scranton, Allentown, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.

The advertorial's headline asks "What are HMOs so afraid of?" The body of the ad explains: "The answer is simple. . . some health insurance executives take home $10 million a year. And they certainly don't want a $100 test to get in the way."

This was the National House Call's first visit to Pennsylvania.

In other National House Call news, a Sept. 10 editorial in the Detroit Free Press urged Michigan Sen. Spencer Abraham "to side with public, instead of party leaders and insurers." The editorial remarks that Sen. Abraham can be the "the key vote to getting [the Norwood-Dingell patients' bill of rights] passed, but only if he's willing to stand up for the people he represents."

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Federation news:

4. MSNJ prompt pay survey shows physicians' discontent, names names

Eighty-three percent of New Jersey physicians said they have experienced excessive delays by HMOs in processing claims, according to a survey published in the September issue of New Jersey Medicine -- the health policy journal of the Medical Society of New Jersey (MSNJ). The study was conducted immediately prior to a New Jersey prompt pay law taking effect.

"Before this survey, any information provided by doctors on the efficiency of HMO reimbursement was considered hearsay or subjective," said Walter Kahn, MD, MSNJ president. "This survey validates the concerns and dilemmas facing physicians and proves that some HMOs have been more efficient in payment methods than others."

According to the survey, "35 percent of responding physician practices experienced payment delays across all HMOs of greater than 30 days when filing electronically, while only 50 percent of those who filed manually were paid within the time frame stipulated by the new prompt payment law." The law stipulates HMOs must pay electronic claims within 30 days and manual claims within 40 days.

MSNJ believes that survey results will act as a baseline to gauge future payment performance.

The study cites Aetna, AmeriHealth, Cigna, PHS and Prucare for routinely exceeding 40 days for payment of manual submissions. Cigna and AmeriHealth were named for leaving the average manual Medicare submission payments more than 50 days overdue.

PHS, Horizon, AmeriHealth, and Prucare were cited by the MSNJ survey as significantly negligent for paying interest on delayed claims. Despite repeated requests from New Jersey Medicine, only Aetna issued a brief statement regarding its results.

AMA President Randolph D. Smoak, Jr., MD, applauded MSNJ's success in "collecting data that proves health insurers are consistently delaying payments to physicians."

The survey also was accompanied by an editorial from N.J. Governor Christine Whitman, who said that "delays in payments, unreasonable bureaucratic hurdles, and other process issues are unfair to everyone and can even impede the delivery of essential healthcare."

Read the study on the MSNJ Web site

For additional information, e-mail MSNJ's Neil Weisfeld or phone (609) 896-1766. For more information on the AMA's prompt pay initiatives, e-mail Matthew Katz or phone (312) 464-5921.

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5. New MMS Web site emphasizes advocacy, personalization

The Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) launched its redesigned Web site with one eye on membership and the other on advocacy. On the basis of member surveys, analysis of usage patterns, focus group results and expertise from an independent vendor, MMS determined that members were most interested in the society's advocacy efforts and what they mean to MMS members.

"We recognized that members increasingly want to interact with the society, but they want to do it online," said Frank Fortin, MMS communications director. "We're featuring advocacy because it's the most visited area on the MMS Web."

The advocacy section includes MMS position statements, testimony and public health initiatives.

MMS began the technical aspects of the redesign process in April but recognized the need more than a year ago, when a phone survey revealed that more than 90 percent of MMS members said they had access to the Internet. As a result, MMS is giving its members the ability to personalize their MMS members-only Web page.

Through the "Recommended Sites" section, MMS members can post their favorite Web sites for their patients and peers.

"We want the site to be as flexible as possible to the needs of physicians and patients," said Fortin.

Existing sites for the New England Journal of Medicine and member publication, Vital Signs, will continue as separate pop-up windows.

For more information, e-mail Fortin or phone (781) 893-4610.

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6. Chest Foundation helps sorority women deliver anti-smoking message

The philanthropic arm of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), The Chest Foundation, recently joined with the National Panhellenic Conference to create a pilot program that will train sorority women from five college campuses as anti-smoking advocates.

The Centers for Disease Control report that more than a third of high school girls smoke, and that women under the age of 24 have a more difficult time quitting smoking than men.

The Chest Foundation program will feature the "Women and Girls, Tobacco, and Lung Cancer Speakers Kit" to give on-campus presentations covering the health risks, history and public policy discussions concerning tobacco. The program also will survey women on the five campuses, and will compare the data from a survey of five non-program campuses to determine the program's effectiveness.

For more information, visit the ACCP Task Force on Women and Girls, Tobacco, and Lung Cancer Web site and e-mail ACCP's Marilyn Lederer

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7. VMS joins Medem

The Vermont Medical Society (VMS) this week announced it has joined Medem*, the e-health network founded by leading medical specialty societies and the AMA.

VMS is the third state medical society to partner with Medem this summer, and the 13th society in the last year. Medem anticipates several other societies joining the Medem network in the coming months.

"We are thrilled about joining the nation's premier physician-patient network," said John T. Chard, MD, VMS president. "Our partnership with Medem will give Vermont physicians important new tools to build on their trusted relationships with patients."

For more information, e-mail VMS's Betsy Cody or phone (802) 223-7898.

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Public health:

8. AMA Alliance strives to stop America's violence everywhere

This week's Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report demonstrated how the media and entertainment industry targets its products at children, and underscores the need for parents and educators to provide kids with positive, non-violent alternatives. The AMA Alliance's Stop America's Violence Everywhere (SAVE) campaign emphasizes conflict resolution, personal responsibility and self-esteem.

The Alliance currently is working in 600 communities on programs with schools and public leaders to provide children with safe, supervised activities.

"This year's 'I Can Stop Violence' campaign is the foundation of an effective outreach program that teaches children the steps in identifying conflicts, communicating feelings appropriately and resolving situations through non-violent means," said Susan Paddack, AMA Alliance president.

The FTC found children under 17 were targeted in:

  • 80 percent of R-rated movies studied by the FTC;
  • 70 percent of "mature"-rated video games; and
  • 100 percent of music recordings with explicit-content labels.

In testimony this morning before Congress, FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky noted that "studies indicate that there is some correlation between exposure to violent materials and aggressive attitudes and insensitivity to violence . . . the question is: What is to be done?"

To learn more about how the AMA Alliance can help bring its anti-violence efforts to your community, e-mail Catherine Potts or phone (312) 464-4474.

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9. National survey highlights drug trends, state estimates

Public health policy makers now will find it easier to compare, develop and revise prevention and treatment strategies for their state's illicit drug, alcohol and cigarette use. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration recently released information from the 1999 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA)

The expanded Household Survey, which recorded information from more than 70,000 people, marks the first time that the report provides estimates that can be compared across states and the District of Columbia.

The national data showed 14.8 million Americans were current users of illicit drugs in 1999 -- meaning they used an illicit drug at least once during the 30 days prior to the interview. By comparison, the number of current illicit drug users was at its highest level in 1979 when the estimate was 25 million.

The survey also reported an estimated 57 million Americans as having smoked cigarettes in 1999. Among youths, three brands accounted for most of the use:

  • 54.5 percent of current smokers 12 to 17 years of age report Marlboro as their usual brand;
  • 21.6 percent of youth smokers used the Newport brand; and
  • 9.8 percent smoked the Camel brand. No other cigarette brand was reported by even 2 percent of youths.

The report also found race/ethnicity differences for youth smoking tendencies:

  • 58.4 percent of white smokers and 59. 7 percent of Hispanic youths smoked Marboros;
  • 73.9 percent of black adolescent smokers reported Newport as their usual brand.

Additionally, the survey highlights trends in alcohol use and substance use prevalence; new use of substances including cigarettes, cigars, marijuana, heroin and prescription-type pain relievers (for non-medical use); and prevention-related and substance dependence and treatment data.

Read the state-by-state analysis in the survey

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10. AMA asks your help in distributing organ donation survey

To assist the AMA in its efforts to educate physicians and patients about organ donation, the AMA Organ Donation Program has developed a short survey to help it understand how organ donation is perceived from a patient's and a physician's perspective. The AMA encourages its Federation partners to share the survey with their members.

Take the survey

"We also have an extensive FAQ Web page to clear up some of the myths and provide reliable information for those who have questions about organ donation," said Priscilla Short, who directs the AMA's organ donation efforts.

For more information, e-mail the organ donation program

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Announcements:

11. 2001 National Leadership Conference sets date

The 2001 National Leadership Conference (NLC) -- formerly the National Leadership Development Conference -- will take place March 3-6 in Washington, D.C. A highlight of this meeting will be the first presentation of the AMA's Pride in the Profession Awards.

Registration fees will remain the same as this year. For AMA Members, Alliance and Federation representatives, early registration costs $400; after January 15, registration will cost $470.

For unified societies and medical societies with fewer than 500 members, early registration costs $290, after Jan. 15, it will cost $360.

Students and resident physicians can register for $75.

The themes, speakers and other details for the 2001 NLC currently are under discussion.

For more information, e-mail the AMA's Rose Wietrzykowski or phone (312) 464-4325.

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12. Sample letters diskette streamlines the writing process

The AMA's "Handbook of Physician Office Letters" offers more than 175 sample letters on diskette that provide blueprints for content, tone and format of important correspondence. The sample letters include common correspondence with patients, insurance companies, lawyers and hospitals.

The handbook costs $60. To order, call (800) 621-8335 or visit the AMA Physician Catalog Web site and go to the "Managed Care Resources" category under the AMA Book and Product Catalog.

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13. Heads up: AMA to speak at White House news conference

AMA Executive Vice President E. Ratcliffe Anderson Jr., MD, tomorrow will emphasize the need for a real patients' bill of rights at a news conference with President Bill Clinton and Ron Pollack, the chief executive of Families USA. The news conference is scheduled to begin at 12:15 p.m., ET.

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*This link will take you off the American Medical Association Web site and will take you to a Web site maintained by Medem, an e-health network founded by the AMA and other leading medical societies.

External links to Web sites and e-mail addresses are offered to provide readers with additional sources of news and information. The AMA is not responsible for the content contained in these external sources.

If you have any questions regarding this newsletter please e-mail Daniel Blaney-Koen or call (312) 464-4415.

Last updated: Sep 21, 2000

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