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Governor's Newsletter, Winter 2001-02

Frances M. Friedman, MD, FACP
Governor, New Hampshire Chapter

Governor's Column

I know this is a long awaited letter to you from your "small Gov"-(as my son likes to call me). We had a very successful Fall Meeting in Hanover. There were about 50 attendees, which is about our norm. Very high comments were received from those who attended on the quality of the lectures given. For the first time after the meeting we had a cocktail party, which was much appreciated by those who stayed. It was a wonderful opportunity for many of the members to discuss their practices, how things were going and just to interact with other internists.

For those who couldn't attend the Fall Meeting, I am happy to report that the Chapter is very solvent. After paying for the Fall Meeting, we still have a little over $19,000.00 in our account. At the Fall Meeting we continued to have the contests among the medical residents. This year the first-place winner was Arvand Chandrakantan. He gave a very interesting presentation about a case of Wagner's granulomatosis. The second-place winner was Carole Bibeau, and third-place went to John Araujo.

We have a very active student interest group this year. There are three, second-year students who have been running the program, and have had very good attendance at their meetings. The New Hampshire Chapter helps this interest group by paying for their dinners. They usually meet about once a month. We have been bringing internists who have various subspecialties or general medicine practices to talk to the group about aspects of being an internist.

We have not done as well in stimulating the medical residents. There is still no good program here amongst the medical resident house staff. The National Office has been considering cutting back on the amount of their dues, and that Resolution was passed along from the Board of Governors to the Regents for action. Our New Hampshire Council did talk about helping pay for part of their dues, hoping to spark some interest in the ACP-ASIM, and we currently are negotiating with the Department of Medicine.

The deadline for ACP-ASIM advancement to Fellowship is June 1, 2002. Please remember that there are many of you who are eminently qualified and should look into advancing to Fellowship. It is not going to cost you any more money, but it is an honorific title that many of you have earned many times over, not only in the work that you do in the community, but the service that you perform on your hospital committees and the like. Please give Fellowship serious consideration.

As you can well imagine, a debate about the recertification that has been proposed by the ABIM continues. The Regents recently voted overwhelmingly to renegotiate this with the ABIM and have decided to adopt a hard-line about the current measures needed to become recertified. I'm sure that if any of you have taken the more recent recertification and have any valuable input about how this has been a positive or negative experience, you should let the National Office know your views. If not them, then you could at least let Bob Englund (robert.j.englund@hitchcock.org) and I know so that we can make your voices heard.

We, as a Council, met in November, and are looking into the next year's Annual Chapter Meeting. I have asked Bob Englund to five you an update on this in his Governor-elect portion. I am sure he would like to hear your views about what you might like to have at the Chapter Meeting, and either let he or I know your views if there is some particular scientific aspect you want to cover or a more social or economic aspect.

I hope this all finds you in good spirits. Kindest regards!!

ACP-ASIM Announces Bioterrorism Response Recommendations

At a press conference held in Washington in late November, ACP-ASIM President William J. Hall, MD, FACP, announced that the College is initiating steps to help primary care physicians respond to a biological or chemical attack. Those steps are outlined in a new position paper on bioterrorism.

In addition to expanding ACP-ASIM's Bioterrorism Resource Center, Dr. Hall said that the College is making a series of recommendations to procure more resources for physicians from federal, state and local governments and public health departments.

The College's recommendations call for increased funding for health departments and hospitals to help them develop crisis management strategies, stock adequate supplies and expand training for medical personnel. The full text of the College's bioterrorism position paper is online at (http://www.acponline.org/hpp/attack_prepare.htm).

The College has also added new information to its Bioterrorism Resource Center to help physicians distinguish diseases caused by biological agents from other conditions. Images include cutaneous anthrax, smallpox and an inhalation anthrax chest X-ray. The Bioterrorism Resource Center is available online at (http://www.acponline.org/bioterro/index.html).

Free CD-ROM Immunization Resource to be Sent to Members

The ACP-ASIM Adult Immunization Initiative will release a CD-based Adult Immunization Toolkit the first week of April 2002. This free CD-ROM will be distributed by mail to general internist members and will be available on request to all members. It will include a variety of immunization resources, including:

  • An immunization program from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CME credit available)
  • Electronic files of all the immunization educational materials developed by the Adult Immunization Initiative
  • PDA downloads with vaccine reference information
  • A copy of the Guide to Billing and Coding for Adult Immunization
  • A presentation module including slides and speaking points for members who want to educate the public about adult immunization
  • The Adult Immunization Harmonized Schedule from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices

Additional components may include reminder recall materials, professionally designed ads to help members advertise their immunization services, and more. Copies of the CD-ROM Toolkit will also be available at the Adult Immunization Booth in the exhibit hall at Annual Session 2002. For more information on the Adult Immunization Initiative please contact Leslie Gurowitz at 800-523-1546, ext. 2477 (lgurowitz@acponline.org).

ACP-ASIM Email Campaign

ACP-ASIM wants your email address. In an effort to ensure that you receive urgent health communications from the College, go to (http://www.acponline.org/college/aboutacp/email_change.htm) and submit your current email address. ACP-ASIM will not sell or share your e-mail address and will ensure the judicious use of your e-mail address.

From the Desk of the Governor-elect

Bob Englund, MD, FACP

It is with pleasure that I gear-up for the position as Governor of the New Hampshire Chapter. In these last few months, I have been inundated and overwhelmed by information from Headquarters in Philadelphia. I attended a meeting for Governors-Elect in Philadelphia on January 4, 2002. As I get things sorted out, it appears that everything will be manageable. It has become evident that the National ACP-ASIM Organization is made up of exceedingly capable people in leadership positions and an efficient, highly qualified staff.

We have expanded the New Hampshire Chapter Council and our second meeting was held in Concord in mid-January. Preliminary details for the Annual Fall Educational Session are complete. The meeting will be held at the Concord Holiday Inn on Friday, October 18, 2002-Save the date!! In these next couple of months, the Council will be deciding on a theme and setting up the program. Feel free to contact me with suggestions or ideas at (robert.j.englund@hitchcock.org).

Medicare Reimbursements to Fall in 2002

Medicare beneficiaries and providers will soon feel the sting of a 5.4 percent cut in Medicare reimbursements scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2002. Congress failed to vote on the "Medicare Physician Payment Fairness Act," legislation that would have reduced the Medicare payment cut, prior to its adjournment on Dec. 20, 2001. The legislation will not be considered until the new year.

Although nearly two-thirds of legislators in both the House and Senate support a fix of the fee schedule cut, the measure fell victim to Congress' unwillingness to provide any additional funding to the Medicare program at this time.

In its report accompanying the Fiscal Year 2002 appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services, Congress expressed concern about the impact of the payment reduction and included language expressing its intent that the Medicare Payment Advisory Committee (MedPAC) study the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula that ties physician reimbursement to the Gross Domestic Product. Conferees intend for MedPAC to examine alternatives that more fully account for changes in the cost of providing physicians' services and report back to Congress by March 1, 2002.

While the 5.4 percent reduction will not be halted prior to taking effect on January 1, 2002, ACP-ASIM will continue to work with Congress to obtain prompt relief from the cut early next year. In addition, the College and its allies will join together with MedPAC, the administration, and Congress to identify a suitable new formula that all agree is needed for future updates to the fee schedule.

President Urged to Appoint Physician Spokesperson on Bioterrorism

In a letter to President George W. Bush, the College suggested that a physician spokesperson on bioterrorism from the executive branch would alleviate much of the confusion and misinformation concerning public health aspects of bioterrorism. As an example of the public information problem, Dr. William Hall cited the recent experiences of Capitol Hill staff and visitors or postal workers who did not know whether, when or how they should be tested for possible anthrax exposure.

According to the College, the public is likely to have the greatest degree of confidence in the information that is provided to them on the health consequences of bioterrorism if it comes from a physician from within the Executive Branch. The ACP-ASIM recommended that the Surgeon General of the United States, or the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), be considered for the role.

Contact Information

Peter Walkley, MD, FACP
Governor, New Hampshire Chapter

Catrina Watson
New Hampshire Chapter Staffperson
Phone:603-224-1909