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Monday Oct 24, 2011

On the Hill

I recently asked you to contact your lawmakers in Washington about issues vital to the future of family medicine as part of a grassroots advocacy campaign.

On Oct. 20, AAFP leaders and staff delivered that message in person.

Board Chair Roland Goertz, M.D., M.B.A.; President-elect Jeffrey Cain, M.D.; AAFP EVP/CEO Douglas Henley, M.D.; and I, along with nine other members of the Academy staff, had a series of meetings with congressional staff and administration officials to advocate for family medicine.

Those meetings included time with key staff for two members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction -- the "supercommittee" tasked with reducing the deficit by more than $1 trillion during the next 10 years -- as well as staff for House leaders from both parties.

Our message was simple: 

  • protect primary care graduate medical education funding from budget cuts; and
  • repeal the sustainable growth rate, or SGR, formula.

     

In addition to repeal of the SGR, we asked that Congress set a payment rate for the next three to five years so that different payment systems can be studied, and, within this rate, give primary care physicians a 3 percent higher payment rate compared to that for non-primary care physicians. If Congress does not act to fix the flawed formula by Dec. 31, our Medicare payments will be cut by 29.5 percent.

We also met with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to discuss issues related to interoperability, quality measures and meaningful use.

And we had two meetings with CMS to discuss health insurance exchanges and the Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative. Academy staff, including Dr. Henley, discussed the Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative during a meeting with America's Health Insurance Plans, urging that organization to encourage its members to participate in the project, a collaborative effort between public and private payers intended to strengthen primary care.

This was my first Capitol Hill experience as AAFP President, and it won't be the last. But advocating for our needs isn’t something that your officers can do alone. We need your help. Now is the time to protect the future of family medicine by contacting your legislators in Washington.

I encourage you to share any feedback you receive from your lawmakers right here on the blog by posting a comment. Don't forget you also can follow my efforts on your behalf on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Comments:

I really appreciate the Academy spending time on our behalf working with Congress. I do wonder why, however, we are spending our resources to advocate for Primary Care GME funding instead of Family Medicine GME funding. We are the AAFP. We really do not need to advocate on behalf of Pediatrics. General IM is dying and virtually no longer producing any significant primary care. Some try to throw General Surgery (rural need) and OB/GYN in the primary care mix, but we all know the data is true primary care which is really only done by us. There is no need to advocate for anyone else - we are the answer and we need to act like it.

Posted by Anthony Day on October 27, 2011 at 12:48 PM CDT #

Thanks for your comment Anthony. Your point is well taken. I would respond by saying we actually do both, advocate for primary care in general and family medicine specifically. Congress tends to lump primary care specialties together. By advocating for primary care we have synergy with those advocating for other primary care disciplines. Such coalitions are a means to be more effective in advocacy efforts. We do strongly and clearly articulate to Congress that family medicine is the most important primary care specialty in America, provides the greatest geographic coverage, provides the most comprehensive care, and that the AAFP is the only medical professional society that exclusively represents primary care physicians.

Posted by Glen Stream, MD on October 28, 2011 at 07:51 AM CDT #

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The opinions and views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the opinions and views of the American Academy of Family Physicians. This blog is not intended to provide medical, financial, or legal advice. All comments are moderated and will be removed if they violate our Terms of Use.