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From the President
Annual 'Report Card' From AAFP Members Provides Guidance for the Future
Fixing Payment Will Be Top Priority
This year's survey was in the field at the height of the frenzy over health care reform, and the survey results reflect the frustration and uncertainty you were feeling then. Key survey findings are summarized on the AAFP website (1-page PDF; About PDFs), but I'd like to mention a few of them and how they'll help us going forward.
You're Loyal, but Many of You Are Mad
However, we also learned that fewer of you were satisfied with the Academy, and fewer thought AAFP leaders were taking the Academy in the right direction, when compared with last year. No leader likes to hear that news, but it's important to know it.
The news also was mixed regarding the AAFP's advocacy priorities. Although more than half of you agreed with those priorities, a third of you indicated ambivalence, and 15 percent actively disagreed with our overall positions. Having only a small majority agree with our priorities is far from a mandate. We know we have work to do to win back some of your hearts and minds.
Much of members' discontent about advocacy can be traced to the Academy's efforts on health care reform. The Congress of Delegates, the Academy's policy-making body, has consistently called for the AAFP to support health care reform, so marching orders for the Board of Directors were clear when health reform finally moved forward this year. Some of you wanted us to insist that payment reform and tort reform be included -- and truly, we would have preferred the same thing. But our assessment was that it was not politically possible given the environment in the U.S. Congress, and that not supporting the reform bill because those elements were missing would have harmed family medicine in the long run.
If you're among those who weren't with us on health reform, we hope you'll agree with our upcoming efforts as we work to get the new law implemented in a way that preserves and protects your interests. We must focus on making it work for family medicine.
Payment Reform is Job No. 1
We've already been working hard on payment reform with some success, but you probably haven't seen much difference in your pocket -- yet. This will change during the next four years, when you should see the 7 percent to 8 percent payment increase called for in CMS' 2010 rules. That increase, plus any money you receive from the stimulus act or for health information technology, came about because of our advocacy. But we all want and need more.
We'll return to Capitol Hill this fall to continue our push for replacement of Medicare's sustainable growth rate formula. We'll also keep hammering at the underlying problem with the current payment system -- that it doesn't recognize the value of cognitive services or pay nearly enough for them. In my opinion, if they're going to value primary care, they need to increase primary care payments by at least 30 percent. Doing that would be a game changer!
By the way, the Academy just launched a new Medicare Action Toolkit that enables you to add your voice and the voice of your patients to the call for payment reform. I hope you'll use the toolkit to help us impose a full-court press on Congress this fall.
CME's Importance Reaffirmed
In addition, CME moved ahead of advocacy this year when survey respondents were asked to allocate $100 among the Academy's four strategic objectives. Last year, advocacy got the most bucks.
I think this switch occurred because some of you disagreed with the AAFP's advocacy positions -- but most of you look to the Academy for great CME. Rest assured that we'll continue to provide the most innovative, evidence-based CME available, including the CME at our flagship event, the AAFP Scientific Assembly. (It's interesting to note that survey respondents who had attended Assembly were more satisfied with the Academy than those who hadn't attended, and I can see why -- excellent CME, the camaraderie of colleagues and easy ways to learn more about the Academy's activities, all in one place.)
Here are a few other things we'll do as a result of the survey.
- We'll ramp up our tort reform efforts because you said this should be the Academy's second-highest priority. We know it's a hot topic for many of you, though not nearly as hot as payment, your top priority.
- We'll strive to make our communications with you more effective, which will help you better understand what we're doing on your behalf. Most of you cited e-mail as your preferred method, so we'll look for ways to improve our e-mail outreach.
- You gave the AAFP website strong marks for importance and satisfaction. We'll search for ways to highlight the most critical information to make the site even easier to use.
- You also gave FamilyDoctor.org good marks for importance and satisfaction. We'll keep refining the site to make it the best online health information source for your patients. (By the way, the Spanish version of FamilyDoctor.org is getting more visits than ever before -- 6 million since January 2010. Be sure to direct your Spanish-speaking patients to this valuable resource.)
New Avenue Coming for Member Feedback
Responses from this new panel, combined with the input you provide through our surveys, focus groups, e-mail discussion groups, bulletin boards and in other ways, will guarantee that the Academy is even more richly endowed with member feedback in the future.
I hope you're proud to belong to an organization that cares so much about your opinion, and one that is actively trying to solve the problems of health care for you and the American people. Keep talking to us in the months to come. We want to hear what you have to say.
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