AAFP Statement: Family Medicine Applauds Senate on Stimulus

Recovery and Reinvestment Act Marks Important Step in Helping Americans Get High-Quality Health Care

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Statement Attributable to:
Ted Epperly, M.D.
American Academy of Family Physicians

The American Academy of Family Physicians applauds the Senate for passing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (HR 1), and looks to a swift resolution of differences between the House and Senate versions of this important legislation.

The need for fast action is not in doubt. The most immediate challenge is ensuring continuity of health care for the millions of uninsured and newly unemployed Americans. Equally important is building an infrastructure that enhances efficiency, reduces medical errors and improves quality of care.

The Senate legislation does both.

The bill preserves access to care for millions of Americans by supporting Medicaid coverage of people who are involuntarily unemployed and whose family meets eligibility criteria; subsidizing COBRA premium payments for the newly unemployed; and allowing long-term employees over age 55 to maintain COBRA coverage until they qualify for Medicare or gain coverage through a subsequent employer.

In addition, the Senate American Recovery and Reinvestment Act moves toward establishing universal use of electronic health records. By creating incentives that help physician practices buy and implement electronic health records, this legislation will contribute to significant savings through reduced medical errors, better care coordination, and improved quality of care.

Family physicians and their patients look to House and Senate conferees to quickly reconcile differences between their bills. We call on them to recognize the need for increasing support for Section 747 of Title VII in the Public Health Service Act. This program is integral to rebuilding the primary care physician pipeline and ensuring that patients will have the primary care physician workforce promised to them by insurance coverage.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will go far in helping American workers remain healthy despite economic stress and in moving U.S. health care toward a more efficient and quality-focused system.

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Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 134,600 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

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