As part of its Family Medicine Matters campaign, the AAFP has issued a Speak Out alert and a two-minute video that urge Academy members to contact their representatives in Washington now to help stop deep cuts in the nation's graduate medical education, or GME, programs.
"Congress needs to wake up and realize that if they cut GME and fail to protect primary care in the process, Americans simply won't have the family doctors they rely on," says AAFP President Glen Stream, M.D., M.B.I., of Spokane, Wash., in the video. "We can't let politicians make decisions that harm family physicians and our patients without hearing from us first. Tell Congress: Protect graduate medical education funding."
Stream tells AAFP members, "It's time to stand up and fight for our profession, our practices and our patients." He directs members to a website that allows them to contact their Washington representatives directly to voice support for GME and against proposed cuts to these programs.
Both Congress and the Obama administration have proposed steep cuts in GME funding that threaten the future of family medicine, says Stream. The president's fiscal commission recommends cutting $6 billion from GME, and the House wants to cut $14 billion, says Stream in the video. The Congressional Budget Office, meanwhile, has suggested turning GME into a grant program to save $25 billion, and now the bipartisan Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction -- also known as the "supercommittee" -- may target GME for cuts, notes Stream.
"GME is the source of most residency program funding," says Stream. "Without federal funding, teaching hospitals won't be able to sustain residencies, particularly primary care residencies. This means fewer well-trained family docs. And I don't have to tell you that this country needs us now more than ever."
The AAFP launched the Family Medicine Matters campaign on Oct. 14 in response to the federal government's search for ways to reduce the federal deficit. The campaign is designed to rally member and congressional support for three issues vital to the continued success of family medicine:
- repeal of the sustainable growth rate formula,
- protection of GME funding, and
- increased funding for Title VII health professions training grants.