The AMA is reminding Republican delegates and party leaders
that if a real patients' bill of rights is good enough for
Texas Gov. George Bush, it should be good enough for them. On
the convention floor, the AMA is using a selectronic billboard
(32 TV screens put together to make a big screen) to say,
"Senate GOP: pass a REAL patients' bill of rights." The ad
appears every five minutes and runs 19 hours a day.
"We'll take our case to anyone, anywhere, anytime,"
Ted Lewers, MD, chair of the AMA Board of Trustees.
"We will be relentless in our pursuit of this
legislation until they pass a real patients' bill of
The AMA has been campaigning for Senate passage of the
Norwood-Dingell patients' rights bill that an overwhelming
majority of the House of Representatives passed last year with
275 votes. Recent votes indicate that meaningful patients'
rights legislation is within one vote of approval in the
In the meantime, the AMA and other groups are aggressively
pushing for action by Congress after the August recess.
The AMA believes that a real patients' bill of rights must:
Allow physicians to make medical decisions -- not
Hold health plans accountable when they make decisions
that hurt patients;
Allow patients an independent, timely appeal if care is
delayed or denied; and
Protect all Americans covered by managed care plans --
not just some.
"The insurance industry is spending a fortune to kill this
bill, but we believe the Senate will put patients first and
address the only special interest that really counts -- the
needs of the American people," Dr. Lewers said.
Amid the buildup toward the World Conference on Tobacco OR
Health (WCTOH), the World Health Organization (WHO) today
released a 248-page report that claims Big Tobacco engaged in
a "global strategies to discredit and impede WHO's ability to
carry out its mission."
The report was conducted by an independent panel of experts
assembled by WHO Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland, MD,
who will give the opening address at the WCTOH, hosted by the
AMA, American Cancer Society and The Robert Wood Johnson
The WHO report cites evidence that the tobacco industry
systematically tried to discredit and stop the development of
WHO to combat tobacco use in Third World countries. The report
also quotes from a wealth of tobacco industry documents that
discuss the need to "allocate the resources to stop [WHO] in
their tracks," and "work with journalists to question WHO
priorities, budget, role in social engineering, etc."
The report's authors, Thomas Zeltner, MD; David A. Kessler,
MD; Anke Martiny, MD; and Fazel Randera, MD; urged the WHO to
increase public awareness of tobacco company influence on
international control policies.
The American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) wants to
ensure Medicare patients can continue to receive chemotherapy
in the setting of their choice. However, a recent HCFA
proposal to decrease reimbursement for chemotherapy drugs
would override existing congressional policy and create a
situation where physicians will no longer have adequate
resources to provide their patients in-office chemotherapy.
ASCO is telling legislators, HCFA officials and White House
staff that if HCFA's proposed rule goes forward, patients will
be forced to seek care elsewhere -- significantly interrupting
their medical treatment and personal care. Moreover, there is
no guarantee that the resulting flood of patients to hospitals
that would result as a consequence of the rule could be
handled by existing hospital resources.
ASCO encourages the Federation to ask:
HCFA to withdraw its proposal to insurance carriers
until a study of the full ramifications of its proposal on
the delivery of cancer care can be completed; and
Congress to mandate that a study of the ramifications of
the proposal be completed before any change in drug
reimbursement is contemplated.
Furthermore, ASCO actively supports language calling for
such a study proposed by Rep. Nancy Johnson (R, Conn.). The
legislation is scheduled to be addressed by Congress in
"If HCFA is not willing to withdraw the proposal pending
completion of studies, we support and will actively work for
legislation that would bar HCFA from implementing the plan,"
said Joseph S. Bailes, MD, ASCO immediate past president.
Without action, HCFA's revised reimbursement policy is
expected to go into effect Oct. 1.
Illinois State Medical Society (ISMS) President LeRoy
Sprang, MD, testified today for an end to physician
involvement in executions. Dr. Sprang was part of a large
contingent of public leaders who spoke at the Governor's
Commission on Capital Punishment in Chicago.
"Active physician participation in an execution is a
violation of the ethical standards of the profession," said
Dr. Sprang was joined by representatives from Amnesty
International, the Council of Religious Leaders, the United
Church of Christ, the Chicago Archdiocese, the Chicago Council
of Lawyers, the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs and the
Illinois Death Penalty Moratorium Project.
The Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY) is
pulling out all stops to try and prevent Gov. George Pataki
from signing two bills that will negatively change the
liability landscape for New York's physicians.
In a flurry of electronic and fax communications, MSSNY is
having its members use its grassroots advocacy Web site, which
has a "pop-up" letter for physicians to sign and send to the
MSSNY wants Gov. Pataki to reject:
A physician profiling bill that would establish an
unfair airing of both settled and awarded amounts of suits
against physicians; and
A contingency fee bill that would eliminate the
statutory limitation on contingency fees for attorneys for
all medical, dental and podiatric malpractice actions. The
current sliding scale schedule was enacted in 1976 in
response to the medical liability crisis that existed at
"We want the governor to reject this misguided legislation,
and we want to make it as streamlined as possible for our
members to voice their opinions," said Charles M. Aswad, MD,
MSSNY executive director.
For more information, e-mail MSSNY's Mike Murphy or phone (518)
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) wants Congress
to help save the eyesight of approximately 20 percent of the
Medicare population. AAO is supporting legislation (HR 2620)
it helped write with Reps. Mark Foley (R, Fla.) and John Lewis
(D, Ga.) that would provide a glaucoma detection eye
examination every two years for Medicare-eligible patients, 60
or more years-old, with a family history of the disease.
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the
United States and is the number one cause of irreversible
blindness in African-Americans, so to let such a void continue
would be a travesty," said Catherine Cohen, AAO vice president
of governmental affairs.
AAO will try to include HR 2620 in Medicare reform
legislation when it is considered later this year. Currently,
the bill has 22 cosponsors.
For more information, e-mail AAO's Sandra Remey, or phone
The Mississippi State Medical Association (MSMA) believes
the carrot is mightier than the stick when it comes to helping
physicians battle addiction. Since 1998, MSMA and the
Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure have run the
Mississippi Recovering Physicians Program, a confidential
treatment program for physicians who come forward voluntarily
with alcohol or drug addictions.
MSMA believes physicians are more likely to seek help if
they know they won't immediately face sanctions or be reported
to the National Practitioner Data Bank.
Mississippi is one of only nine states that does not place
its physicians, who are battling addiction, on public Web
sites. However, physicians will be reported if they suffer a
"We want to allow physicians the chance to get the help
they need without having to fear for their professional
lives," said William Roberts, MSMA executive director.
Sixty physicians went through the program in the past year.
For more information, e-mail MSMA's Karen Evers or phone
The AMA currently is conducting a survey on public
attitudes toward genetic
medicine including genetic testing for inheritable
diseases, and it seeks your participation through a short
Current advancements in science are making genetic medicine
an important issue for physicians and their patients. This
June, an international team of scientists from both the
private and the public sectors announced a completed rough
draft of the human genome. As scientists move forward with the
human genome project, more applications toward clinical
medicine will become available.
While the possibility of getting individual genomes
sequenced is still many years away, finding out more about
consumer attitudes now can help the AMA as it prepares
materials and resources for physicians on genetic medicine.
Tobacco use by college students, a successful tobacco
control program aimed at youth, validating the federal
estimates of deaths caused by smoking, and the risks of cigar
smoking will be among the new research presented in the
upcoming JAMA theme issue on tobacco. A media briefing
will be held Aug. 8 during the World Conference on Tobacco OR
The 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between state
attorneys general and the tobacco industry was supposed to
influence the ways Big Tobacco markets its products. However,
research conducted at the University of Illinois at Chicago
(UIC) reveals tobacco marketeers have simply shifted their
strategy and their dollars.
The findings indicate tobacco companies have increased
their point-of-purchase exposure by using interior and
exterior advertising of tobacco products, promotions --
including multi-pack discounts, and branded functional
objects, such as clocks and shopping baskets.
"We know that, like advertising and promotional strategies
used in publications with high youth readerships, the
point-of-purchase environment has high levels of youth
exposure and is likely to influence youth perceptions and use
of tobacco," said Frank Chaloupka, UIC professor of economics
and the study's lead researcher.
The AMA Office of Group Practice Liaison is seeking
nominations to the AMA Advisory Committee on Group Practice
Physicians. The advisory committee, comprised of 10 group
practice physicians, advises the AMA Board of Trustees and
oversees the newly created Group Practice Caucus. Comments and
suggestions for the committee are welcome at any time.
On Dec. 2, the caucus will meet at the AMA Interim Meeting
in Orlando, Fla. to discuss the issues important to the group
Nominees to the committee should be practicing group
practice physicians who are AMA members and active in
organized medicine. The committee's charter runs from July 1,
2000, to June 30, 2002 and the committee meets prior to the
Interim and Annual meetings. The AMA pays travel and meeting
Nominations -- including a letter of recommendation,
candidate's curriculum vitae and information about his or her
group or faculty practice -- must be received by Aug. 18 in
the Office of Group Practice Liaison, American Medical
Association, 515 North State Street, Chicago, Illinois 60610.
For more information, or to send comments to the advisory
committee, e-mail Keri Bahar or phone
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, or if
you have difficulty opening the attached files, please e-mail
Blaney-Koen or call (312) 464-4415.