The AAFP is urging Congress to not pass a bill that would repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act(frwebgate.access.gpo.gov), saying in a prepared statement that overturning the Affordable Care Act would "return us to a fragmented, duplicative, expensive system that has progressively weakened primary care in America for more than 30 years."
"To do (a total repeal) now -- when abundant evidence shows that an efficient, high-quality health care system depends on primary care -- would result in blocking some of the exact changes the health care system must make to better serve Americans," said AAFP President Roland Goertz, M.D., M.B.A., of Waco, Texas, in the statement.
The AAFP issued Goertz's statement on Jan. 17, two days before the Republican-controlled House voted, 245-189, to repeal the Affordable Care Act by passing H.R. 2(www.govtrack.us), known as the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act. The Senate, with its Democratic majority, is unlikely to approve the House measure, making the House vote more of a political statement than an actual threat to overturn the Affordable Care Act.
Goertz, in an interview with AAFP News Now, said the House-passed bill represents a "necessary" vote for many of the newly elected House members. He expressed hope, however, that members of Congress would soon work together.
"I am really interested in hearing some constructive discussion on those things that need to be done to change our health system for the better," he said.
In his statement, Goertz said the Affordable Care Act "is not perfect," but it nevertheless represents progress on several issues. The Affordable Care Act contains key support for family medicine and primary care. At the same time, it provides some important insurance industry reforms, thus making it possible for the AAFP to support the measure, Goertz said.
"From our position, the status quo was not acceptable," Goertz told AAFP News Now. "Family medicine and primary care were being devalued and undersupported. To return to the way it was does not offer a very positive picture of family medicine for the future."
The changes created as a result of the Affordable Care Act are starting to take form, he said, producing "a more positive and robust future for family medicine and primary care."
Meanwhile, the AAFP has vowed to work with Congress and the Obama administration to ensure "effective implementation of health reform provisions that expand coverage, that emphasize access to primary medical care and that support a healthy primary care physician workforce," Goertz said in his statement.
"These are issues that have had bipartisan support in the past and should continue to have that support in the future," he noted.
Goertz also said the AAFP will work with Congress to enact needed improvements to the health care system, including a permanent solution to the Medicare payment formula and medical liability reform.
"Our health care system must preserve patients' ability to buy insurance coverage for themselves and their children," Goertz said. "It must prohibit practices such as denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions and limiting yearly or lifetime benefits. It must continue progress toward implementing medical homes that ensure patient-centered, coordinated and comprehensive care tailored to each person's needs. It must include provisions to increase the number of primary care physicians, particularly in underserved and rural areas."