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Friday Nov 11, 2011

Spreading Our Message

Many of you have heard me say that when family physicians work together we can be an unstoppable force. Now you're proving it.

I recently asked for your help related to three issues vital to the future of family medicine:

  • protecting funding for graduate medical education, or GME
  • protecting funding for Section 747 of Title VII; and
  • repealing the sustainable growth rate, or SGR

More than 1,500 of you have responded so far, sending more than 3,200 e-mails to members of Congress. For those of you who have participated in the Academy's grassroots campaign, thank you. For those who have not, it's not too late.

With members of Congress focused on reducing the deficit, GME and Title VII funding are both in peril. The deficit reduction talks also offer our best opportunity to date to fix the SGR -- the flawed formula that CMS uses to set Medicare payment rates.

In addition to repealing the SGR, the AAFP is asking Congress to set a payment rate for the next three to five years so that different systems can be studied. Within that rate, we have asked that primary care physicians receive a 3 percent higher payment rate compared to that for non-primary care physicians.

We delivered that message again this week in multiple venues. AAFP President-elect Jeffrey Cain, M.D., met with Congressional staffers Nov. 9 in Washington to discuss the SGR and other issues important to family medicine.

On Nov. 10, I provided written testimony about the need to repeal the SGR and our support for alternative systems during a meeting of the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee

The SGR remains a pressing issue because earlier this month, CMS issued a final rule that -- barring a change in the law by Congress -- will cut Medicare payment rates by 27.4 percent effective Jan. 1. Congress has acted to avert similar payment cuts 10 times in recent years, but we cannot simply assume that legislators will prevent disaster again.

If you have not already, I urge you to contact your members of Congress and tell them to repeal the SGR and stop the payment cut from taking effect. Together, we have a powerful voice. And together, we are an unstoppable force.

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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.