AAFP Statement: Family Physicians ‘Extremely Disappointed’ With Failure of S. 1776

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Statement Attributable to:
Lori Heim, MD
American Academy of Family Physicians

“The American Academy of Family Physicians and its more than 94,600 members are extremely disappointed that the Medicare Physician Fairness Act of 2009 (S. 1776) failed to garner the 60 votes required to send this legislation to a full U.S. Senate vote.

“We applaud the efforts of Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) who, as principal sponsor of S. 1776, worked to put an end to the annual congressional scramble to prevent severe cuts in payment to doctors who care for America’s elderly and disabled patients. Moreover, we commend the senators who joined Sen. Stabenow in voting to allow S. 1776 to proceed to a full Senate vote.

“The failure to bring this legislation to a full Senate vote continues a status quo that cannot be sustained and increases the ultimate cost of resolving Medicare physician payment problems. It maintains a system that contributes to the instability of the Medicare program and the continuation of a broken system that pays for procedures rather than for quality. It prolongs a system that increasingly threatens Medicare beneficiaries’ access to needed health care services. In short, it props up a system that contributes to the problems that health care reform must resolve.

“The AAFP will continue to work actively for the repeal of the sustainable growth rate formula and enactment of payment reforms that support the value of primary medical care. America’s elderly and disabled patients must have access to the care they need from the physicians who best provide that care.”

Editor’s note: To arrange an interview with Lori Heim, MD, contact Leslie Champlin at 800-274-2237, Ext. 5224, or lchampli@aafp.org.

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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 129,000 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five office visits -- that’s 192 million visits annually or 48 percent more than the next most visited 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.

To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit
www.aafp.org/media. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.familydoctor.org(www.familydoctor.org).