AAFP Statement: Family Physicians Urge Congressional Conferees to Move Quickly on FY 2010 Federal Budget

Friday, April 03, 2009

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

“The American Academy of Family Physicians commends both the U.S. House and Senate for moving quickly to approve the Fiscal Year 2010 budget proposals within their respective chambers.

“In order to provide efficient, high quality health care to all Americans, the U.S. health care system must be grounded in a patient-centered medical home model that provides comprehensive preventive services, meets acute care needs, manages and coordinates chronic conditions and ends the current fragmentation, duplication and unnecessary costs.

“The FY 2010 budget resolutions passed by the U.S. House and Senate are an important advance toward meeting that goal. These resolutions reflect nearly two decades of research demonstrating better health outcomes and less cost in health care systems that are based on primary care.

“Moreover, these resolutions take a major step forward. The first step — provided for in both resolutions — is providing funding that will enable health system reform to occur. This funding will enable Congress to establish incentives that encourage efficiency and high quality health care; improve payment accuracy and ensure that primary care receives appropriate payment; and improve coordination of care among all health professionals who care for patients.

“Equally important is revision of the baseline on which Medicare physician payment is determined. This revision will enable Congress to effectively replace the flawed SGR formula with an appropriate, accurate payment system that will enable physicians to remain in business without breaking the federal budget. Without these changes, Medicare payment to physicians will plummet by 21 percent, a decline that threatens the financial viability of many medical practices.

While both the House and the Senate budget resolutions would revise the baseline for Medicare’s payment for physicians, the House resolution does not require offsets in the current budget to pay for this readjustment. Therefore, the AAFP would urge the legislators in the budget conference to accept the health care provisions in the House resolution.

“The AAFP urges House-Senate conferees to come to agreement on differences between the two proposals and pass a federal budget that improves access to health care, rebuilds our primary health care system and maintains fiscal responsibility.”

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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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