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February 2017
News Archive

Congratulations to 2017 award winners! Feb. 28, 2017
The Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians is pleased to announce its 2017 Family Physicians of the Year, Anna Doubeni, MD of Philadelphia and Mary Fabian MD, of Allentown, and its 2017 Exemplary Teacher of the Year, Richard Bruehlman, MD of Allison Park, Allegheny County! Meet the winners here! 
 
Drug overdose deaths more than double since 1999 Feb. 27, 2017
Deadly drug overdoses have spiked in the new millennium, aided in part by the opioid crisis gripping the United States. According to ABC News, the rate has more than doubled since 1999 in the U.S., rising from 6.1 deaths to 16.3 deaths per 100,000 and outpacing suicide and car accidents as a cause of death. 
 
Speak Out' against NP independence legislation Feb. 24, 2017
The newly introduced Senate Bill 25 would eliminate the important patient safeguard of a required written collaborative agreement between a nurse practitioner (NP) and two physicians in Pennsylvania; a House version is also expected. Use the AAFP's Speak Out tool to tell your legislator to oppose this bill.  
 
GOP won't repeal and replace: former House speaker Feb. 23, 2017
John Boehner, former House Speaker, says he doesn't think a full repeal-and-replace of the Affordable Care Act is going to happen. Politico reports Boehner called the idea that such a plan would easily pass through Congress "happy talk," and predicted that any changes to the health care legislation would likely be modest. 
 
Pennsylvanians voice concerns at health care town hall Feb. 22, 2017
Pennsylvanians concerned about a repeal of the Affordable Care Act discussed their fears in Allentown yesterday. According to PennLive, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey was invited but declined to participate in the event. Similar town halls in support of the health law have been cropping up across the U.S. in recent days. 
 
Flu season hits its peak Feb. 21, 2017
It's the apex of the flu season. According to the Allentown Morning Call, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) characterizes flu activity in Pennsylvania as "high." Physicians should remind patients that it is not too late to get the flu shot - in fact, most flu activity occurs in January or later. 
 
Early bird deadline for Harrisburg CME ends today Feb. 17, 2017
The early bird gets the worm - or in this case, a discount off the price of registration for the PAFP's Harrisburg CME Conference, March 16-19, 2017 at the Hilton Harrisburg! Register now for $30 off the full conference or single-day rate. But don't wait - the offer ends at 5 p.m. EST. Click here for conference details! 
 
APRN independence legislation introduced Feb. 16, 2017
State Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington) has introduced legislation, Senate Bill (SB) 25, to eliminate collaborative agreements between physicians and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), reports The Beaver County Times. The PAFP and all other state physician associations oppose on patient safety grounds. 
 
Humana quits Obamacare exchanges Feb. 15, 2017
Health insurance giant Humana has become the first insurer to fully exit the Affordable Care Act. Politico reports it will stop selling individual coverage in 2018 amid uncertainty over the future of the health care law. Other major insurers are threatening to follow suit if the GOP doesn't shore up the law before replacing it. 
 
New consent form issued for opioids to minors Feb. 14, 2017
In Pennsylvania, a consent to prescribe opioids form is now required to be signed by the parent or guardian of a minor. The form indicates the physician has discussed the risks and allows a minor to be prescribed a maximum seven-day supply of opioids, or a single 72-hour supply with the consent of a non-guardian adult. 
 
Providers, patients facing uncertainty over health law Feb. 13, 2017
While Republicans in Congress face the tall task of replacing the Affordable Care Act, providers and patients are stuck at a crossroads. According to USA Today, anxieties are mounting over the future of health care in America; even patients who don't care for their ACA coverage fear the alternative could be worse.
 
Rep. Tom Price confirmed to head HHS Feb. 10, 2017
It's official: Rep. Tom Price has been confirmed as the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. The New York Times reports no senators crossed party lines in the vote. Price is the first physician to lead the department since 1993. He will oversee the Affordable Care Act replacement process. 
 
Health secretary nominee headed for final vote Feb. 9, 2017
The U.S. Senate has voted along party lines, 51-48, to break a Democratic filibuster and advance the nomination of Rep. Tom Price for secretary of health. According to CNN, the Senate will allow 30 hours for debate before a full vote on Friday. Price, an Obamacare critic, faces questions from Democrats over ethics. 
 
Wolf's budget proposal slashes 500-plus health jobs Feb. 8, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf recently announced plans to consolidate four health departments, and according to his budget proposal, that includes the elimination of 500 positions. WITF reports the strategy to join the departments of Aging, Drug and Alcohol Programs, Health, and Human Services could save $100 million. 
 
GOP says ACA repeal will start this spring Feb. 7, 2017
Despite President Donald Trump's claims that an Affordable Care Act replacement may last through 2018, Republican legislators are assuring the repeal starts in the spring. The Hill reports lawmakers are working off a timeline created by House Speaker Paul Ryan which would move repeal legislation by the end of March. 
 
Pa. abortion proposal scheduled for vote Feb. 6, 2017
Legislation that would place stricter limits on abortion in Pennsylvania is scheduled for a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee today. According to Philly.com, the committee will vote on whether to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy except in medical emergencies; current law bans abortions after 24 weeks. 
 
Get ready for an exciting CME event in Harrisburg Feb. 3, 2017
If you haven't registered for the PAFP's Harrisburg CME Conference, March 16-19 at the Hilton Harrisburg, what are you waiting for? From a primary care collaboration with Penn State Health and clinically relevant CME sessions to a state health policy symposium, Research Day, and more, now's the time to register!
 
 
Insurers are concerned over health care uncertainty Feb. 2, 2017
Uncertainty over the future of the Affordable Care Act and its replacement has insurers considering how much they'll continue to participate. NBC News reports this is a more immediate concern than whether - or how - the health law will be replaced, as millions already have plans under the insurance exchanges.

 
Gov. Wolf seeks to consolidate health departments Feb. 1, 2017
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is proposing to consolidate the departments of Health, Human Services, Aging, and Drug and Alcohol Programs. PennLive reports the governor wants to unify the departments as the Department of Health and Human Services and create a new cabinet position to combat opioid abuse. 
 
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