The single federal program that provides funding for training primary care physicians "is in critical condition," according to AAFP President Glen Stream, M.D., M.B.I., of Spokane, Wash. Congress needs to ensure that Title VII of the Public Health Service Act receives the $140 million it needs to continue functioning.
Stream decried the threat to the primary care medicine training program during a new video released as part of the AAFP's Family Medicine Matters campaign. The campaign has been calling on members to contact their legislators and send them videos on funding for graduate medical education and repealing the sustainable growth rate, as well as on funding for Title VII.
Thus far, more than 1,000 AAFP members have sent more than 1,900 communications to Capitol Hill. "This is a great response in a fairly short period of time," said Stream. "The campaign has only been going for three weeks."
In the latest video in the campaign, Stream describes the Title VII grant program as "essential to maintaining our profession and creating well-trained family physicians." However, he notes, the program "is in critical condition."
- As part of its Family Medicine Matters campaign, the AAFP is rallying member and congressional support for a key provision in the Title VII health professions grant program.
- The health professions grants in Title VII support family medicine residency programs, faculty development and medical school education.
- The program is "essential to maintaining our profession and creating well-trained family physicians," says AAFP President Glen Stream, M.D., M.B.I., in the latest video in the campaign.
The Title VII program has experienced continuous declines in funding, and today, it has nearly 60 percent less funding than it was allocated in 2003, says Stream in the video. "All this while the U.S. population has grown by more than 18 million," he adds.
Funding for medical education programs is under scrutiny as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction -- the "supercommittee" -- continues to look for ways to reduce the federal deficit by Thanksgiving. According to the Speak Out alert that accompanies the video, the health professions grants in Title VII fund "all aspects of primary care training, including residency programs, faculty development and medical school education. These competitive grants have helped the family medicine workforce infrastructure to respond to the nation's growing need for family physicians."
Others have recognized the value of the program, too, and the Obama administration recently increased funding for the training program to $140 million for 2012. However, that allocation is being eyed as the supercommittee looks for ways to reduce the deficit.
"We need this (level of funding) to maintain a family medicine workforce that delivers high quality, cost-effective health care," contends Stream in the video. "Family physicians are a crucial investment, and we have to make sure Congress knows it. We must tell Washington to pass the administration's proposal. It's time to stand up and fight for our profession, our practices and our patients."
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