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Health Care Successes in 2005 Omnibus Appropriations Bill
Section 747 Health Professions Training Programs Received $89.5 Million
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237, Ext. 5224
“Our members appreciate that members of Congress listened to the perspective of family physicians and considered it in their final decisions,” said Mary E. Frank, M.D., president of the AAFP and a practicing family physician in Rohnert Park, Calif. “Even in a time of restricted budgets, the need for effective health care continues.”
Section 747 of the Health Professions Education Partnership Act received a small increase, from $82 million in FY04 to $89.5 million for FY05. This amount will be subjected to an across-the-board .8 percent reduction in federal discretionary programs and is expected to be reduced to $88 million. Funds provided under Section 747 help train family physicians, the health care specialists most likely to support underserved rural and urban populations. Research shows that students attending schools receiving Section 747 family medicine funds are more likely to go into family medicine or primary care, practice in a rural area, or practice in a health professions shortage area.
Significantly, the Senate committee report on the appropriations for the Labor, HHS, and Education Departments states, “The Committee reiterates its support for this program and recognizes its importance in increasing the number of primary care physicians in underserved areas.”
“It’s very meaningful that Congress recognizes that the loss of Section 747 funding could mean smaller residency programs, fewer faculty, fewer family physicians and, potentially, no residency programs at all,” said Frank. “That would spell trouble for those for whom family physicians care, as well as have an impact on the jobs these physicians create and businesses they support.”
In an important step to advance the search for solutions for the large number of Americans who do not have health insurance, Congress added $3 million for the Citizens’ Health Care Working Group. The working group will hold public hearings to examine the American health care system and make recommendations to Congress for reducing the number of uninsured people. The working group, proposed by Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), was included in the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. The omnibus appropriations bill provides the funding necessary for the working group to be appointed and start its hearings. The $3 million was added to the appropriations for the Department of Health & Human Services.
“Lack of health insurance isn’t just a problem for the 45 million who are living without it – it affects all of us,” said Frank. “The working group will focus the national discussion about health care and provide Congressional legislators and staff with valuable information from the public to guide them in reforming the health care system. We look forward to participating in this effort.”
In addition, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality will receive $319 million. This includes $15 million for new research that compares the effectiveness of different medications. AHRQ is the federal agency responsible for translating basic science research into everyday medical practice. The agency supports research on medical conditions affecting most Americans. AHRQ received $304 million in FY04.
“It’s my responsibility to work with each patient to assess his or her medical condition and develop a treatment plan, which includes prescribing medications,” explained Frank. “The more information I have the better the treatment plan will be. AHRQ’s comparative effectiveness research will help physicians make the best recommendations for each individual patient.”
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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.
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