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Funding for Primary Care GME Possible Target of Deficit Reductions
AAFP Members Swing Into Action With Letters, Phone Calls to Congress
By News Staff
The AAFP sent a similar request to members of its Connect for Family Medicine (Members Only) grassroots program. In addition, the Academy urged AAFP key contact members to follow up with phone calls to their congressional representatives. As a result, more than 550 AAFP members have contacted their legislators, deluging House and Senate offices with approximately 970 messages and registering the AAFP's strong opposition to any proposal that would cut or eliminate GME funding for primary care.
"Family medicine residency programs rely on GME funding more significantly now because so many are located outside of academic centers in community teaching hospitals," said AAFP President Roland Goertz, M.D., M.B.A., of Waco, Texas. If significant cuts occur, programs in these community teaching hospitals don't have the option of transferring the cost of residency programs that academic centers might have, he noted.
The AAFP recommends that any reductions in GME payments be structured to preserve primary care training programs, said Goertz. However, if federal funding is not maintained, reductions in residency slots or the closing of primary care residency programs, which have been predicted for years, become a reality, he added.
According to the AAFP's Speak Out alert, lawmakers are still rethinking Medicare's GME funding. But, "At this critical time, they should be reminded of primary care's importance," says the AAFP. "Our representatives have an opportunity to change this program so that it encourages the innovations in primary care training that will help build a workforce our communities can count on. If you haven't already, please join us as we remind those on Capitol Hill not only how important primary care is to our communities, but how it is an investment in cost restraint."
Goertz, meanwhile, vowed to continue fighting for family medicine residency programs and GME funding. "All members, indeed all family physicians, and the entire public have a stake in making sure the production of well-trained family physicians is adequate to care for America," he said. "This is needed in order to ensure access and quality and to maintain a reasonable cost of our health care enterprise."