FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Senior Public Relations Strategist
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237 Ext. 5224
WASHINGTON — Immediate improvement in payment for primary care medical services got strong support from business, patient, health plan and medical organizations today when the American Academy of Family Physicians’ Primary Care Valuation Task Force convened for its inaugural meeting.“This is a really energized group that is committed to doing the right thing for the patient,” said Lori Heim, MD, AAFP board chair and chair of the Valuation Task Force. “They want to create a system that serves patients’ needs.”Task force members “agreed on the need to pay primary care physicians better; they see the need for immediate payment improvement,” Heim continued. “They recognized that primary care has been undervalued, that the primary care workforce depends on appropriate payment for their services, and that we’re facing a crisis in the primary care workforce. Given that, everyone agreed we need both immediate actions on an across-the-board improvement in payment for primary care and we need a sustainable, improved model for delivering primary medical care.”The Valuation Task Force was formed by the American Academy of Family Physicians in July in an effort to identify solutions to a system that, over time, has contributed to inequitable and devalued payment for primary care medical services. Twenty-one organizations and individuals — ranging from the Urban Institute to Harvard Massachusetts General Hospital to the Commonwealth Fund to CIGNA Healthcare — joined the task force.During their inaugural meeting, task force members identified four work groups that will focus on specific questions to be answered.
Heim noted that the non-physician groups brought valuable perspective to the discussion. In addition to task force members who represent patients, business, policy analyst, hospital and health plan organizations, the meeting included observers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, Rep. Jim McDermott’s congressional office, the American Osteopathic Association, the Society for General Internal Medicine, and the American College of Physicians.
“This is not physician-driven,” she said. Members of the task force “are people for whom — from a policy standpoint — this really matters. It was gratifying to hear these other organizations voice the concerns that we’ve expressed for years. I was really pleased with the members’ energy, commitment and desire to be a part of something that can fundamentally change payment for primary care.”
The AAFP formed the Valuation Task Force after prolonged negotiations with the AMA/Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee — commonly known as the RUC. During those efforts, AAFP called for
The task force consists of 22 thought leaders with extensive health care system and policy expertise:
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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 115,900 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.
Approximately one in four of all office visits are made to family physicians. That is nearly 214 million office visits each year — nearly 74 million more than the next largest 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 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).
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August 23, 2011