AAFP Statement: American Academy of Family Physicians Lauds House Passage of SCHIP Reauthorization, Calls on Senate to Act Quickly

Thursday, January 15, 2009

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

Family physicians across the United States applaud the House action on HR 2, the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, known as CHIPRA.

This legislation meets several goals supported by the AAFP: stable access to health care for all children who are eligible for State Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage; a stable and predictable funding mechanism to ensure consistency on those children’s coverage, and a method of paying for SCHIP that encourages healthy behavior.

By providing $32.3 billion over 5 years and $65.4 billion over 10 years, this legislation ensures that currently enrolled children can continue to receive coverage under SCHIP and enrolls children who, although eligible, do not receive SCHIP coverage due to lack of adequate funding. As a result, 4 million additional low-income children will receive SCHIP services.

At the same time, this bill establishes a strong and predictable financial structure for states. By allotting funds according to each state’s demographic needs and national spending trends, this legislation lays a foundation that truly meets the various socioeconomic realities of each state. Moreover, the bill ensures continuity of care for children because it provides adjustment payments to states that are meeting enrollment goals but are facing a funding shortage.

Of equal importance are provisions that support private sector insurance by allowing state SCHIPs to offer premium assistance subsidies for qualified, cost-effective employer sponsored coverage offered through those children’s parents’ employers.

The AAFP calls on the U.S. Senate to move forward in passing CHIPRA’s companion bill, the CHIP Reauthorization Act.

Reauthorization, expansion and stabilization of SCHIP is a vital investment in the health of low-income children, whose working parents either have no access to or cannot afford health insurance. Only by investing in today’s children will we ensure a healthy future for them and the nation.

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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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