AAFP Statement: Economic Stimulus Package Promises Important Progress in Strengthening Health Care Infrastructure

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
Friday, January 16, 2009

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

The American Academy of Family Physicians applauds the economic stimulus package released today by the U.S. House Appropriations Committee.

Family physicians and the AAFP look forward to learning the details of these proposals and in working with Congress – particularly the Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif.; the Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif.; and the House Appropriations Committee, chaired by David Obey, D-Wisc. – and the Obama administration to ensure that the American health care system continues to move forward in providing high quality, primary health care to all Americans.

The economic stimulus package promises important progress in strengthening the infrastructure of America’s health care system. It recognizes the integral role that primary care physicians and their colleagues play in ensuring patient access to high quality patient care and it offers pragmatic solutions to the challenges that face Americans as they seek health care services.

Several provisions in this package address multiple challenges facing our health care system. Specifically:

  • Access to care: By calling for $600 million in support for primary health care education and the National Health Service Corps, this package addresses both the primary care physician shortage and underserved patients’ access to health care. Equally important, by calling for $1.5 billion to support community health care centers and $550 million to improve Indian Health Service facilities, this package will increase access to high quality health care in adequately equipped facilities for millions of uninsured patients and Native Americans.
  • Efficiency and quality of care: By investing $20 billion in health information technology, this proposal will increase physicians’ ability to implement electronic health records and thereby improve accuracy, efficiency and communication among health care professionals.
  • Prevention and wellness: By emphasizing prevention and wellness programs with a $3 billion investment, this package will help reduce the number of costly health conditions that drain the nation’s coffers and diminish the quality of life for millions of Americans.
  • Health care research and quality: By setting aside $1.1 billion for research into the effectiveness of different medical treatments, this proposal moves forward in ensuring that Americans receive the most appropriate treatment at the most appropriate time and in the most appropriate setting.

These provisions will help ensure that Americans have access to primary medical care – the foundation on which an efficient and high-quality health care system must be built.

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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).