Championing Healthy Kids Act Needed

But So Is Public Health and Prevention Fund

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017

Statement attributable to:
Michael Munger, MD
President
American Academy of Family Physicians

“The AAFP welcomes the introduction of the Championing Healthy Kids Act that reauthorizes the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program and the National Health Service Corps. It’s imperative that Congress approve the bipartisan policies this bill contains.

“However, we are deeply concerned the bill would gut public health and prevention programs, which address issues such as diabetes prevention, immunizations and lead poisoning, to meet these bipartisan policy goals. These programs are critically important to our health care system, and are strongly supported by the AAFP. However, we are deeply concerned that the financing of the reauthorization of these programs is achieved through dramatic near-term cuts in programs that promote health and wellness for all Americans. While not a complete elimination of the prevention and wellness fund, the severity of these cuts over the next few years would undermine many essential public health priorities. We believe that it is important for the legislative process to continue negotiations that can identify alternative financing.

“Future access to health care for children in low-income families and Americans in underserved areas depends on this legislation.

“The value of CHIP, the Teaching Health Center GME Program and the National Health Service Corps lies in the numbers.

“Today, nearly all of America’s children have access to health care because of CHIP combined with Medicaid and private sector insurance. However, the expiration of CHIP has put nearly 9 million children at risk of losing access to health care services and has caused states to scramble to avoid disenrollment notices to families and the launch of waiting lists that will create chaos in program administration and confuse families.

“Teaching health centers and the NHSC scholarship and loan repayment programs work. In fiscal year 2017, teaching health center residents provided an estimated 1 million patient visits to people in underserved rural and urban communities. Upon completing their training, these new physicians remained committed to providing primary care and practicing in vulnerable communities. We see the same dedication from NHSC participants. A 2016 survey of NHSC participants found that almost all stayed in underserved communities two years after they completed their NHSC obligation and nearly two out of three remained in these communities 10 years after completing their NHSC commitment.

“These programs result in real, on-the-ground benefits that bring needed health care to children and Americans living in rural and urban underserved areas. We applaud House and Senate action on their extension. But they should not come at the expense of the equally vital public health and prevention programs. Congress must meet the challenge of ensuring children’s access to health services and Americans’ access to primary care physicians.”

Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Munger, contact Leslie Champlin, (800) 274-2237, Ext. 5224, or lchampli@aafp.org.

 

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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 129,000 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 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).