AAFP Statement: AAFP Calls on Obama to Include Health IT Support in Economic Stimulus Package
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 19, 2008
Jim King, M.D.
American Academy of Family Physicians
“Health care is a significant component of our economic system. Increasing health care costs and uneven quality are linked to patients postponing or even canceling needed care; facing personal bankruptcies related to medical debt, and perpetuating health care disparities and the oft-quoted statistic that Americans spend the most money for health care worldwide but suffer poorer outcomes.”
With that, Jim King, M.D., chair of the American Academy of Family Physicians Board of Directors, urged President-elect Barack Obama to include federal investment in health care information technology in his economic stimulus proposal.
“We applaud your commitment to Health IT and your pledge to ‘use health information technology to lower the cost of health care; (and) invest $10 billion a year over the next five years to move the U.S. health care system to broad adoption of standards-based electronic health information systems, including electronic health records,’” King wrote in a letter to Obama.
In addition, King offered suggestions that would enhance the economic benefit of the HIT provisions in the stimulus package. Among them:
- The stimulus package should focus on the individual practice level in providing support for Health IT.
- Electronic health records should follow patients as they move among the various sectors of the health care system.
- Health IT systems should be used to remove the complexity and costs associated with multiple payer claims administration, patient eligibility for coverage and verification of patients’ copayments.
- The Internet infrastructure must be upgraded to provide broadband access to all homes and physician practices, including those in rural and low-income areas.
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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.
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