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.