AAFP Statement: Health Care Must Remain a Top Priority for Presidential Candidates

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Statement attributable to:
Glen Stream, MD, MBI
President
American Academy of Family Physicians

“The American Academy of Family Physicians is pleased that both presidential candidates point to health care as a major issue for the American people. Tonight’s debate focused attention on a health care system that — without reform — continues to be bogged down in fragmented, duplicative, and often unnecessary services that hinder access to quality care, and impose unnecessary costs on both individual patients and the nation. We welcomed the discussion about reforms that encourage coordination of care, ensure preventive services for Americans and payment for the value of care rather than the number of procedures provided. The candidates’ comments point to progress in our nation’s efforts to improve access to, and quality of, health care for all Americans.

“As advocates for our patients, family physicians and the AAFP have advocated for health care coverage for all for more than 20 years. Only by ensuring health care coverage for everyone can we improve Americans’ ability to get the primary medical care that addresses short-term illnesses and that provides care that prevents disease or complications from chronic conditions.

“Moreover, the AAFP has long supported health delivery reforms that build on the patient-centered medical home, in which patients have a long-term relationship with their primary care physician, and all members of the health care team work together on the patient’s behalf. By providing and paying for comprehensive, coordinated services — a concept both candidates mentioned during the debate — we can improve the health of our patients, avoid unnecessary medical interventions, ensure seamless care when it is needed and help restrain the cost of health care.

“In order to make these reforms possible and to meet projected demand, our Medicare physician payment system must end the annual threat of devastating cuts to physician payment. We’re disappointed that neither candidate addressed the flawed sustainable growth rate formula. This failed formula jeopardizes elderly and disabled Americans’ access to needed health care and is unsound fiscal policy for the Medicare program. Only by stabilizing Medicare physician payment — including a higher payment rate for primary medical care and by paying for quality of care — can we build a health care system that serves both the individual and the nation.

“Regardless of the election outcome, health care reform will continue. The AAFP calls for reforms that ensure Americans’ access to health care by building the primary care physician workforce, laying a path that enables all Americans to have health care coverage, and improves the quality and lowers the cost of health care services.”

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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 110,600 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).