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SkinPAC Raises $185,000

Dermatologists raised $185,000 in the last election cycle as part of the American Academy of Dermatology Association's political action committee. SkinPAC, which raised the money from 205 AADA members, distributed the funds to 68 congressional candidates. The federal, nonpartisan PAC has focused on addressing physician payment issues, medical liability reform, increasing funding for skin disease research, and enacting indoor tanning legislation, according to Cynthia Yag-Howard, M.D., chair of SkinPAC board of advisors. Reporting on the PAC's progress at the AADA business meeting in February, Dr. Yag-Howard urged more dermatologists to give to the PAC. "It is an essential component in the reality of our political system," she said. "Your involvement equals visibility on the Hill. It equals credibility on the Hill and tangible results."

Bioterrorism Referral List

The American Academy of Dermatology is asking dermatologists with an interest or expertise in cutaneous manifestations of bioterrorism to add their names to a list of volunteers who might be called on to help in the evaluation and treatment of bioterrorism victims. The list is being compiled by the AAD's Bioterrorism Task Force, which was formed in October 2001 following the anthrax attacks. The task force members are still compiling names for the list, which they are currently planning to pass along to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of February, they had nearly 100 volunteers. For more information about the Bioterrorism Task Force or to add your name to the referral list, contact Connie Tegeler of the AAD at 847-240-1733 or e-mail

ctegeler@aad.org

Lip Cancer Awareness

The public is still unaware of the risks of lip cancer from sun exposure, according to a recent survey. While 94% of people surveyed said they were aware that unprotected sun exposure can damage the skin, only 70% said they knew about the risks for lip cancer. Since lip cancer is less prevalent, it has received less attention, even among health care professionals, according to Richard F. Wagner Jr., M.D., a dermatologic surgeon at the University of Texas, Galveston, and coauthor of the study published in the February issue of Dermatologic Surgery. Dr. Wagner and his colleagues surveyed 299 beachgoers and asked them about their awareness of skin cancer and lip cancer.

Eczema Impact

A majority of atopic eczema patients are in a state of constant concern over when their disease will flare up next, according to the results of a multinational survey called the International Study of Life With Atopic Eczema (ISOLATE). The data, which were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, are from a subset of 400 U.S. patients and caregivers. Only 24% of patients and 27% of caregivers said they are completely confident that they can manage the condition. The survey was developed by the National Eczema Association for Science and Education (NEASE) and other patient-focused organizations around the world. "This survey demonstrates the seriousness of the condition and the tremendous need for effective treatment options that patients can use safely to control their disease long term," NEASE CEO Vicki Kalabokes said in a statement.

Fiscal 2006 Budget Request

The president's 2006 budget request got mixed reviews from health care groups. Although some groups objected to a lack of appropriate funding for health professions programs, others decried the $60 billion in proposed cuts to Medicaid over the next 10 years. The Association of American Medical Colleges is opposed to cuts "that will further stretch the already taut health care safety net provided by teaching hospitals and medical school physicians," Jordan Cohen, M.D., AAMC president, said in a statement. Although pleased with a $300 million boost for community health centers, Daniel Hawkins of the National Association of Community Health Centers noted that proposed cuts to Medicaid and the National Health Service Corps presented a funding conflict. Not everyone was unhappy with the budget: The American Medical Association praised the budget's efforts to fund tax credit initiatives and expand health savings accounts.

States Meet Their Match

States have been known to recycle payments returned by health care providers to draw down additional federal dollars for Medicaid, and the feds are tired of it. The administration's budget request seeks to curb such tactics by only matching those funds kept by health care providers as payment for services. States also can make Medicaid payments to health care providers that are far in excess of the actual cost of services and then use the additional money to leverage federal reimbursements in excess of their Medicaid matching rate or for other purposes. To halt this misuse of funds, the government proposes to limit reimbursement to no more than the cost of providing services. Both proposals are expected to save $5.9 billion over 5 years. "None of these efforts should affect the way physicians get paid under Medicaid," Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Bill Pierce said in an interview.

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