AAFP Statement: Important Safety Net Health Legislation Passed, But Cutoff of Physician Training May Undercut Purpose
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 31, 2002
James C. Martin, M.D.
“The bill also includes a one-year reauthorization of the Council on Graduate Medical Education (COGME), which will be more fully examined in a reauthorization bill next year. This is important because it gives time for thoughtful consideration in determining the long-term details of the program.
“The piece that is missing for the future of health care in America is: Will there be enough physicians to work in community health centers? Nearly half the physicians now working in community centers are family physicians and general practitioners. But Title VII of the Public Health Service Act, the only federal initiative that provides funds directly to medical schools to help support family medicine training, faces drastic cuts. President Bush’s proposed 2003 budget recommends cutting all federal funding for family medicine training programs.
“Research by the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Practice and Primary Care shows that students attending schools receiving Title VII family medicine funds are more likely to go into family medicine or primary care, practice in a rural area, or practice in underserved areas.
“Family physicians are the recognized usual source of health care for 68 million Americans, with millions more seeing family physicians at the facilities they go to for their health care. Family practice is the only medical specialty that distributes its doctors proportionately with the population: 21 to 23 percent of family physicians practice in rural areas.
“Without federal funding for health professions programs, fewer physicians will choose family practice as their focus and millions of citizens could suffer the absence of basic health care. Who will community health centers hire to treat their patients without family physicians in the health professions training pipeline?
“The AAFP urges members of Congress to continue funding the health professions programs at adequate levels, including passing a Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill when they return to Washington after the elections, one that continues funding for these critical programs.”
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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 240 million office visits each year — nearly 87 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.