AAFP Statement: Family Physicians Commend President Obama for Focus on Health Care Reform

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

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

The American Academy of Family Physicians applauds President Barack Obama’s message to Congress and its focus on health system reform as a key element in the nation’s economic recovery.

President Obama’s leadership will ensure that health care reform remains a national priority - as it should - despite immediate economic challenges. His message demonstrates an understanding that health reform is essential to economic recovery and our future economic stability.

The need for that reform is abundantly clear. Even as the nation prepared to hear Obama’s speech, the Department of Health and Human Services reported health care costs will jump to more than $8,000 per person this year and will grow to $13,100 by 2018 without health system reform. This escalation comes while our payment system undermines its own foundation by undervaluing primary care, which is shown to improve quality and help control costs.

As President Obama observed, this trend cannot continue. Health care reform that enables Americans to have a patient-centered medical home - in which their personal physician coordinates their care with a team of health professionals - is essential. Health information technology that ensures accurate medical records and clear communication among health care professionals is vital. Investment in preventive health care that can improve the quality of life and help people avoid illness is fundamental.

By emphasizing health care reform this year, this administration sets the stage for expanding Americans’ access to the most appropriate medical care. In calling for investment in health information technology, President Obama has emphasized the need to control costs by sharing information, reducing errors, and ending expensive fragmentation and duplication of care.

The AAFP commends President Obama for his foresight and insight into the inescapable link between a healthy economy and an affordable, efficient and high quality health care system. We look forward to working with his administration in developing reform proposals that will meet the health needs of the American people while helping to control health care spending.

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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).