American College of Physicians: Internal Medicine — Doctors for Adults ®


Policy briefs

From the May ACP Observer, copyright 2005 by the American College of Physicians.

ACP comments on proposed Medicare e-prescribing rule

The College has submitted comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on the agency's proposed rule on e-prescribing and the prescription drug program.

While the College said it supports the CMS' suggested implementation of specific foundation standards for e-prescribing, the College made the following recommendation in an April 1 letter to CMS administrator Mark McClellan, FACP:

  • The CMS should make sure that planned formulary representation and medication-history standards it adopts can successfully interact with the foundation e-prescribing standards. According to ACP, evidence for successful interaction is now lacking and pilot programs are needed to ensure the standards' usefulness.

  • The CMS should expedite the development, pilot testing and implementation of a common e-prescribing dictionary and structure to accommodate the use of different drug databases.

  • The CMS should broadly interpret the language included in 2003 Medicare reform legislation that would preempt state law regarding e-prescribing. There are wide disparities among states regarding electronic prescription transmissions, the letter stated, which prohibit the implementation and development of a functional national e-prescribing system.

The letter is online.

College helps launch new commission to end health care disparities

ACP has joined with other national medical societies and 30 health care organizations to create a new commission to end health care disparities.

The commission, which was launched earlier this year, is designed to educate physicians and other health care professionals about racial and ethnic health care disparities and develop strategies to close those gaps. Other society members include the AMA, the National Medical Association and the National Hispanic Medical Association.

The commission has established committees to review the current health care system and recommend ways to improve patient care. The commission is already surveying physicians about the causes of health care disparities and is working on a physician training program to increase doctors' cultural awareness.

In announcing the commission's formation, commission members cited a Jan. 14, 2005, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that said that non-Hispanic blacks face substantial health care disparities that include earlier death, a decreased quality of life and fewer economic opportunities.

The College's position paper on ending racial and health care disparities is online.


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