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Academy Leaders Carry Family Physicians' Message to White House, Capitol Hill
By James Arvantes • Washington
Goertz, who was invited to stand on the podium behind President Obama during a speech in which the president asked Congress to vote on the revised health care proposal, had an opportunity to meet one-on-one with the President. In a subsequent interview with AAFP News Now, Goertz said that he told Obama that family medicine and the medical home are both essential cornerstones of any health care reform plan.
"I appreciate the opportunity we have had to try and influence the health care reform debate," said Goertz. "We have never had that opportunity before, and to be there at the highest level of discussion is what we have worked so hard for."
The AAFP is no longer sitting on the sidelines, said Goertz. "We are an organization trying to advocate for who we are. Family medicine is part of the answer to improving the health care system."
Goertz and the other AAFP leaders also met briefly with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and had a longer meeting with her staff members. According to Heim, they discussed physician payment, the PCMH model, regulation of health information technology and physician training issues.
"It was really a honed message to everybody tailored to their particular programs and very much around the same themes," said Heim. "We drove home the value of primary care and how primary care and family medicine are absolutely essential and central to any health care reform."
Academy leaders also met with Mary Wakefield, R.N., Ph.D., administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, or HRSA. According to Heim, they discussed various HRSA programs, such as Title VII, Section 747, of the Public Health Service Act, which provides federal support for training family physicians. In addition, said Heim, they discussed the role of community health centers in providing care to the indigent and medically underserved.
AAFP Thanks AMA for Support
"We had a very good discussion with them about where we were in synergy with health care reform and their support for the patient-centered medical home," said AAFP President Lori Heim, M.D., of Vass, N.C.
Heim noted that the AAFP also thanked AMA leaders for supporting the primary care payment bonuses contained in the House and Senate health care reform bills.
"As a family physician, Dr. Benjamin recognizes the need to not only focus on the child, but also to focus on the whole family," said Heim. "Part of our discussion was how we can work with the surgeon general's office to make sure that we have a message that targets children and also works through the family to get to the children."
As part of additional advocacy efforts, AAFP leaders visited several Capitol Hill offices. They met with Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas, a member of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, and Rep. Walt Minnick, D-Idaho. In addition, they met with staff members from the offices of Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.; Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C.; Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.; and Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. AAFP leaders also met with staff members from the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over health care reform.
In each meeting, AAFP leaders stressed the importance of making primary care and family medicine a key component of any health care reform plan, and they called for replacing the sustainable growth rate formula. In addition, Heim said the AAFP also emphasized the need for medical malpractice reform.
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