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Thursday Nov 03, 2011

Protect Funding for Primary Care Training

Did you know that there is only one federal program that provides funding specifically to academic departments and programs to educate and train primary care physicians?

That program, Section 747 of Title VII, has been proven to improve and increase the primary care workforce. In fact, primary care physicians graduating from Title VII programs are up to four times more likely than other graduates to practice in underserved areas.

Unfortunately, Title VII is operating with nearly 60 percent less funding than it was just eight years ago. As funding started to decline in the late 1990s, the number of medical students choosing a career in primary care also declined.

Obviously, Title VII programs need better funding. But there is reason to be optimistic about the program's future because the Obama administration has proposed increasing Title VII funding to $140 million in 2012. However, with all the focused efforts in Washington to reduce the national deficit, we have to aggressively protect this relatively small amount of money to maintain the system of family medicine education.

Your Academy has recently asked you to contact your legislators as part of a national grassroots advocacy campaign to influence issues vital to the future of family medicine. In the past two weeks, more than 1,000 AAFP members have responded to calls to action regarding graduate medical education, or GME funding, and repealing the sustainable growth rate, or SGR. These members have generated more than 1,900 messages to Congress.

Today, I am asking for your help one more time. Many of you will receive an e-mail from me this week with a link to a video about Title VII and why it is imperative that funding for this program not be threatened by federal budget cuts. The video also can be accessed online.

I urge you to contact your members of Congress and tell them to pass the administration's proposal for Title VII. Family physicians are an important investment, and Congress needs to hear that message directly from you.

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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.