Managed care, antitrust bills on Congress's agenda
The so-called "Campbell bill" (H.R. 1304)
that offers antitrust relief for physicians negotiating collectively
with insurers may be marked up in the House Judiciary Committee
the first week that Congress returns to legislative session next
year. It was scheduled to come before the committee in late October,
but was pulled at the request of House Speaker Dennis Hastert
(R-Ill.). Twenty of the 37 members of the committee support the
bill. Next year, the House-Senate conference committee is expected
to merge two bills on managed care reform. The House approved
a bipartisan bill, supported by almost all Democrats and 68 Republicans,
that guarantees patients a number of rights including the right
to sue insurers; the Senate approved a bill that is more limited
in scope and does not include the right-to-sue feature. Also,
watch for possible hearings by the House Commerce Committee on
opening to the public the National Practitioner Data Bank and
information on malpractice suits against physicians.
Proposed rules for negotiating law are proving tough
Physicians in Texas may have been overjoyed when
the state approved a new law that allows health care professionals
to negotiate collectively with insurers on contract issues, but
now reality has set in. The proposed ground rules which the state
attorney general is developing are proving to be tough. The rules
must be strong enough to protect physicians from violating federal
antitrust rules and the attorney general must oversee the negotiations.
Physicians must prove that they need to negotiate collectively.
The state attorney general is expected to hold a public hearing
on the rules in December.
HHS tells new 'safe harbors' for anti-kickback law
The Office of the Inspector General of Department
of Health and Human Services announced eight new final regulatory
"safe harbors" to the federal anti-kickback statue,
which prohibits the knowing payment of anything of value to influence
referral of federal health care program business, including Medicare
and Medicaid. The new safe harbors, which protect certain arrangements
from prosecution under the anti-kickback statute, address: investments
in underserved areas; practitioner recruitment in underserved
areas; obstetrical malpractice insurance subsidies for underserved
areas; sales of physician practices to hospitals in underserved
areas; investments in ambulatory surgical centers; investments
in group practices; referral arrangements for specialty services;
and cooperative hospital service organizations.
AAOS collaborates on falls guidelines
The Academy is collaborating with the American Geriatrics
Society (AGS) and the British Geriatrics Society in developing
the AGS Clinical Practice Guidelines on Approaching Falls and
Fall Prevention in Older Adults. "As the baby boomers generation
explodes into the millenium, the need for caregivers to gain an
understanding of the needs of the elderly will be much greater
than it is today," says Kenneth J. Koval, MD, project vice
chair. The guidelines are expected to be available in January
Need volunteers to build playground
You can help build a lasting legacy of orthopaedists'
support for a community and raise awareness of the specialty by
helping to build a playground in Orlando, Fla. on March 14, 2000,
the day before the Annual Meeting begins. Members of the Academy,
state and specialty societies and their spouses will build the
playground at a public school that serves students with mental,
developmental and physical challenges. The day long project will
end with ribbon-cutting ceremonies attended by local officials.
For more information, contact Teena Austin, department of public
and media relations, at (847) 346-2267, ext. 4031 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
FDA reclassifies PMMA bone cement
The Food and Drug Administration said it has reclassified
from class III to class II polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) bone
cement that is intended for use in arthroplastic procedures of
the hip, knee and other joints for the fixation of polymer or
metallic prosthetic implants to living bone. The reclassification
was reported in a letter to the Orthopedic Surgical Manufacturers
Association at a meeting of the Orthopaedic Device Forum on Oct.
17. The reclassification order will be published in the Federal
Need Y2K help? See AAOS homepage www.aaos.org
If you're still looking for help to prevent Y2K problems, look at the "Y2K Alert for Orthopaedic Surgeons" in the "Members Services" section of the AAOS home page www.aaos.org. The Computer Link column in the June 1999 Bulletin in the "Library" section of the AAOS home page discusses how to get your home computer ready. To find out what other orthopaedic practices are doing to prevent computer problems, see the article, "BONES gets ready for Year 2000 glitches," also in the June Bulletin.