Vigilance and Victory: Analyzing AAFP Advocacy During the 115th Congress

Fighting for Family Medicine

Vigilance and Victory: Analyzing AAFP Advocacy During the 115th Congress

Fighting for Family Medicine

The Academy's Government Relations team went to the Hill more than 1,000 times to fight for family medicine in 2018, and spoke out 66 times on federal regulations affecting AAFP members. Examining these critical campaigns — and crucial wins — points the way forward as the battle goes on and the 2020 elections near.

Taking Action Against the Opioid Crisis

The Academy's commitment to promoting safe pain management and opioid prescribing while addressing a national crisis of increasing opioid dependence yielded a significant win when Congress passed the Opioid Crisis Response Act (H.R. 6), legislation reflecting key Academy priorities:

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Family physicians remain at the crux of this issue, and the Academy continues its powerful advocacy for pain management and dependence therapy protocols that make patient-centered, compassionate care the foundation of treatment.

Funding Teaching Health Centers

The 25 by 2030 goal is set, and the clock is running: U.S. health care needs 25% of medical school graduates to choose family medicine as a career by the year 2030. A big win: the AAFP secured $126.5 million for Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education programs in 2018, with an enhanced $150,000-per-resident amount.


Expanding and bolstering the THCGME program — which provides vital training for primary care residents while extending care access to underserved communities across the country, in rural as well as urban areas — remains a top Academy legislative priority. The AAFP has strenuously supported 2019 THCGME legislation.

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Pushing Back Against Debt

Academy advocacy for student loan debt relief scored $310 million for the National Health Service Corps to continue providing scholarships and debt relief to family physicians while addressing severe health professional shortages.

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Defending Access to Coverage

Caring for uninsured children through Medicaid is a vital element of U.S. primary care: Some 9.6 million children are covered through the Children’s Health Insurance Program. That's why the AAFP fought for CHIP reauthorization, and why the result — $78.9 billion of funding over 10 years, increased from five, at an overall savings to taxpayers — is a big Academy win.

Chopping Away at Administrative Complexity

The Academy delivered on proposed changes to E&M documentation, working with CMS to cut reporting burdens through the agency's Patients Over Paperwork( initiative. With AAFP input, the 2019 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule reduced administrative burden and improved patient access to care.

The AAFP's ongoing quest for site-neutral payment payment — physician visits at a hospital were $68 higher on average than those at stand-alone offices — won advanced Medicare payment neutrality across sites of service.

And the AAFP prevented an across-the-board payment cut for rural and other lower-resource community physicians.


Research by the Robert Graham Center( provides key data fortifying the Academy's constant push to ensure high-quality primary care in U.S. communities of every size. We know that more than 8% of family physicians are practicing where the total population is less than 20,000 people. And if a community where the population is less than 2,500 has a health care provider, it is a family physician. It's a powerful message that the Academy is determined to deliver to regulators and lawmakers nationwide.

What else? A lot — with more on the way.


In 2018, the grassroots Family Medicine Action Network doubled in size.

Academy members with important stories to tell sent more than 2,500 emails to Congress in 2018 — providing elected officials with trustworthy, evidence-based background information and direction.

You can Speak Out, too!

Who's watching 15,000 state bills? We are.

State chapters waged and won their own fights for family medicine in 2018 with key support from the Government Relations team.

With state policymakers tackling Medicaid reform, physician payment, workforce shortage and numerous other issues, the Center for State Policy has ramped up its efforts to prepare chapters and members to advocate for family medicine. That means chapter resources and Speak Outs and backgrounders and toolkits and webcasts, among other tools. And it means thousands of dollars in grant funding to support chapter advocacy days.

The Family Medicine Advocacy Summit keeps growing.

More than 250 family physicians traveled to Washington, D.C., for the 2018 Summit to engage in the most effective advocacy method: face-to-face meetings with legislators. It's your fight, too, and your story makes a difference.

Save the date for 2020!