February 2000 Bulletin

IN THE NEWS

Managed care bill may be sent to Clinton in April

A managed care bill, including a limited right-to-sue, is expected to be sent to President Clinton by mid-April. Rep. Dick Armey (R-Texas), House majority leader, said a patient protection bill should allow lawsuits, but only in federal courts and only after a patient goes through the health plan’s review process. That’s similar to a plan that House Republican leaders supported as they tried to defeat a Democratic-Republican coalition HMO bill with a broader right to sue. The House approved the coalition’s bill in November 1999. The Senate passed a bill without the right to sue in July. It’s now up to a Senate-House conference committee. Rep. Armey said he and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, (R-Ill.) would urge the committee to send a bill to President Clinton by Easter—April 23.

Basic science to get boost in Clinton’s budget

President Clinton’s fiscal 2001 budget to be presented to Congress on Feb. 7 will include a $2.8 billion boost in basic scientific and medical research. The proposal represents a major change in how research funds have been allocated in recent years. Biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has seen huge increases since the mid-1990s while funding of basic science has remained more static. Medical funding is politically popular in Congress because it promises cures for diseases and is often accompanied by emotional presentations from affected patients. Basic science into chemistry, physics, etc. has been overshadowed. Clinton’s budget proposal would give the National Science Foundation an increase of 17 percent, or $675 million over the current budget of $3.9 billion. The NIH would have $1 billion added to the nearly $18-billion budget. In addition, nearly $1 billion would be poured into information technology, which includes supercomputing, and nanotechnology, an attempt to make machines and computers as small as molecules that could revolutionize many fields, including space travel and medicine.

Osteoarthritis group to form research plan

The aging population is putting increasing emphasis on finding new clinical interventions for osteoarthritis. However, the development and testing of treatments for osteoarthritis through clinical trials are now limited because good biological markers to serve as surrogates for disease endpoints are not available. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, the Food and Drug Administration and numerous pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies formed a consortium to develop and support a project that will facilitate development of surrogate biomarkers of the disease. (Bulletin October 1999) The Osteoarthritis Initiative—A Public-Private Research Collaboration meeting will be held Feb. 28-29 in the Lister Hall Auditorium at the NIH campus, Bethesda, Md. to develop a strategic plan for the initiative. Contact NIAMS Extramural Program, (301) 594-5055.

NIH consensus conference to focus on osteoporosis

What is the optimal evaluation and treatment of osteoporosis and fractures? What are the directions for future research? Those are some of the key questions to be addressed at the NIH consensus development conference on osteoporosis prevention, diagnosis and therapy on March 27-29 in Natcher Conference Center of the NIH campus, Bethesda, Md. NIH conference registrar is at (301) 593-8600.

FDA reclassifies shoulder/joint prosthesis to Class II

The Food and Drug Administration has reclassified the shoulder joint metal/polymer/metal nonconstrained or semi-constrained porous-coated uncemented prosthesis that is intended to be implanted to replace the shoulder joint from Class III to Class II. The Academy supported the reclassification. The FDA action was reported in a letter to the Orthopaedic Surgical Manufacturers Association.

Florida starts online system for credentialing

Florida has implemented CoreSTAT, an online centralized electronic credentialing system to save physicians time and paperwork problems. Health providers such as hospitals, HMOs and insurance companies are required to use the system to obtain core credentialing information on the state’s 60,000 physicians rather than requesting it directly from doctors. Legislation approving the system redefined the core credentials to include information on a physician’s education, training, licensure, specialty board affiliation, and Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates certification. The data also include hospital or other institutional affiliations; evidence of professional liability coverage or financial responsibility; history of claims, lawsuits, judgments or settlements; final disciplinary actions; and Medicare or Medicaid sanctions.


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