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

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Policy briefs

From the June ACP Observer, copyright 2006 by the American College of Physicians.

ACP supports new legislation to boost insurance coverage

The College last month voiced its support of a newly introduced bill in the U.S. Senate that would expand health insurance coverage through state-based health reform projects.

In a letter sent in May, ACP President Lynne M. Kirk, FACP, applauded the introduction of the Health Partnership Act (S. 2772) by co-sponsors Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio) and Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.). In his remarks introducing the bill, Sen. Bingaman credited ACP for its "advice and support" in crafting the bill.

If passed, the new legislation would allow Congress to authorize grants to individual states to try new strategies to increase health care coverage. Those grants would also be used to ensure that patients receive appropriate and high-quality care, improve the efficiency of health spending, and use information technology to improve health care infrastructure.

According to Dr. Kirk, the act would allow states to test different reforms that would “strengthen and support the role of primary care physicians."

More information about the legislation and letter is online.

College endorses tax credits for living organ donors

ACP has come out in favor of providing some tax credits to living organ donors.

In a recent letter to Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), ACP President Lynne M. Kirk, FACP, expressed support for Rep. Wilson’s introduction of the “Living Organ Donor Tax Credit Act of 2005” (H.R. 2474). The bill would provide a tax credit of up to $5,000 to organ donors to make up for any unreimbursed costs or lost wages associated with organ transplantation.

Dr. Kirk pointed out that such a credit is in line with the College’s "Ethics Manual, Fifth Edition," which discourages any direct financial incentives for organ donation. The manual states that direct incentives linked to organ transplants have the potential to exploit families of limited means. Rep. Wilson's bill, Dr. Kirk wrote, is less likely to raise the same ethical concerns.

Dr. Kirk’s letter to Rep. Wilson is online.

Information about ACP’s "Ethics Manual" is also online.

ACP adopts new policy on personal health records

At its April meeting, the Board of Regents approved a new policy statement regarding the use of personal health records (PHRs).

PHRs allow patients to partner with their health care providers to maintain a record of important health-related information. A PHR can include any information related to a patient’s health, including traditional health records information, as well as information a physician may not normally know, such as a patient's exercise routines or dietary habits.

According to the new policy, ACP supports the use of PHRs as a mechanism to create patient-centric repositories of clinical information—as long as the information contained in the PHRs remains secure and adheres to current privacy and security standards. The policy recommends features that should be included in PHRs and spells out physician responsibilities. It also states that physicians should be paid for time spent creating, updating and reviewing a PHR.

The policy statement is online.

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