AAFP Statement: Health Care Budget Cuts Thwart President Bush’s Vision of a Healthier, Safer and More Hopeful America
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Larry S. Fields, M.D.
American Academy of Family Physicians
“Family physicians are deeply disappointed with the White House’s proposed elimination of funding for essential family medicine training programs. Fewer students training to be family physicians means fewer physicians to care for our most underserved populations – the elderly, poor, disabled and those who live in rural areas and the urban core. An investment in family medicine training by the Bush Administration would have helped slow the rapidly increasing health cost of health care due to sub-specialization and would have helped staff the President’s community health centers. By zeroing out all funding for these training programs, the Americans' access to quality, affordable heath care has been compromised.
“The lack of any plan to change Medicare payment to physicians leaves in place the specter of continuing annual cuts to this program, thus threatening access to quality health care for our parents, grandparents, friends and patients.
“A strong Medicaid program is essential to provide continuing health care for the most vulnerable patients who, in many cases, depend on Medicaid for survival. By passing the Deficit Reduction Act, Congress has paved the way for future cuts in benefits to Medicaid recipients. Family physicians advocate for very careful, evidence-based consideration of Medicaid cuts and how they may affect the long-term health of the poor and disabled. Short-term cuts with no consideration for long-term consequences have the potential to propel Medicaid recipients into a spiral of poorer health for which all of us will be ultimately responsible.
“We will continue to support the Administration’s call for medical liability reform and its emphasis on health information technology. However, we must emphasize to the Administration that those who invest in electronic health records, such as small physician practices where most people get the majority of their care, must receive financial support for their investments.
“We call on the Administration to look at the bigger picture. One way we can guarantee a healthier, safer and more hopeful America is by working with the Administration and encouraging it to look at the budget priorities through the eyes of the patients we serve. We need to provide our patients with the best care we can give.
“Most of all, we call on Congress to reject budget proposals that will ultimately reduce access to care by people throughout the country who depend on family physicians. Investing in health care means a healthier, more productive society, and the Administration’s budget significantly shortchanges this goal.
"Family physicians want to continue to honor our pledge to stand by our patients no matter what fate or illness befalls them, to keep them safe from medical harm and to always do the right thing. We hope our own government will stop contributing to the difficulties we face in fulfilling that pledge."
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Note to journalists: To interview Dr. Fields, please contact Leslie Champlin at (800) 274-2237, Ext.5224 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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.