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Internists take ACP's messages on tobacco, fraud to Congress

From the June 1998 ACP Observer, copyright 1998 by the American College of Physicians.

WASHINGTON—During ACP's Leadership Day last month, more than 100 College members from 27 states talked to their Congressional leaders about topics including tobacco legislation, fraud and abuse in health care and quality in managed care.

In a briefing session, Robert Berenson, FACP, director of the Center for Health Plans and Providers at HCFA, talked about HCFA's evaluation and management (E/M) requirements. Rep. Charles Norwood (R-Ga.), who is also a dentist, gave an update on his proposal to protect patients. Matt Meyers, executive vice president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, urged internists to tell Congress not to pass a "sound-good, do-little bill" on tobacco legislation.

ACP chapters were encouraged to send at least one representative to Capitol Hill. Participants included ACP Governors, Governors-elect, Associates and Members.

In talking to members of Congress, ACP members focused on the following issues and messages:

  • Tobacco control legislation. The College supports the bipartisan bill proposed by Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) as an important first step toward more comprehensive legislation. The bill calls for FDA regulation of tobacco as a drug, raising the price of cigarettes and limiting the marketing and advertising of tobacco to youth.
  • Quality in managed care. ACP supports the bipartisan bill proposed by Rep. Norwood, which includes a patient bill of rights. In briefing the internists, Rep. Norwood told the group, "We will get patient protection in our bill."
  • Fraud and abuse. The College wants Congress to clarify that inadvertent errors that physicians make in documentation should not be considered fraud.
  • Medicare. ACP wants the government to protect Medicare's role as a public insurance program.

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