AAFP Statement: AAFP Commends U.S. House Committees on Outline for Health Care Reform

Friday, June 12, 2009

Statement attributable to:
Ted Epperly, M.D.
American Academy of Family Physicians

“Health system reform must provide universal access, ensure an adequate number of primary care physicians and control costs if it is to be both meaningful and sustainable. The AAFP commends the House Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Education and Labor committees for proposing legislative ideas that address these challenges.

“Much like the Senate efforts, the House is working to increase availability of health insurance, increase the number of primary care physicians, improve access for low- and moderate-income families, enhance prevention and public health programs, and increase efficiency — goals long-supported by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

“In order to rectify many of the current system’s problems, health system reform must establish basic benefit packages. It must prohibit insurers from excluding pre-existing conditions and rating applicants based on gender, health status or occupation. It must afford Americans a choice of coverage by strengthening competition among insurers. And it must ensure reasonable costs for that coverage by offering premium assistance for those who otherwise could not afford insurance.

“At the same time, health system reform must ensure that Americans have access to the most appropriate and cost-effective health care professionals. The committees’ proposal works to ensure this access by expanding community health centers, boosting training for primary care physicians, increasing support for the National Health Service Corps and improving support for medical school scholarships and loan forgiveness programs.

“The AAFP supports the Committees’ call to replace the sustainable growth formula that determines Medicare physician pay rates. This flawed formula undercuts stability in Medicare beneficiaries’ access to care, threatens to slash physician compensation by 40 percent over the next five years, and fails to control costs or to encourage coordinated, integrated preventive and chronic health care services that will save money for the patient and the system.

“The AAFP commends these committees for addressing the multiple challenges of comprehensive health care reform. We look forward to working with Congress in passing legislation that resolves access, quality and affordability of health care for all.”

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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 124,900 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five office visits -- that’s 192 million visits annually or 48 percent more than the next most visited medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.

To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions(5 page PDF) on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit
www.aafp.org/media. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.FamilyDoctor.org(www.familydoctor.org).