AAFP Statement: Family Physicians Applaud HRSA Appointment

Mary Wakefield Is a Voice for Underserved, Uninsured Americans

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

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

The American Academy of Family Physicians and our 94,600 members congratulate President Barack Obama on his appointment of Mary Wakefield, PhD, as administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

This appointment sends a strong signal about President Obama’s commitment to ensuring that all Americans have access to health care, regardless of their geographic location or insurance status.

Our health care system needs a strong advocate for the 56 million medically disenfranchised Americans who cannot gain access to health care because they live in underserved areas, and for the 47 million uninsured Americans and 25 million underinsured adults who cannot afford health services. As the agency that oversees community health centers and that allocates funding for primary care physician training and the National Health Services Corps, HRSA is instrumental in both building the health care system and in ensuring that its services reach the people who need them.

By appointing Wakefield as director of HRSA, President Obama has given his administration access to impressive expertise in rural health care, Medicare payment policy, health workforce issues and public policy. Wakefield has a strong background in health policy as a result of serving as director of the Center for Health Policy, Research, and Ethics at George Mason University and as a member of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. She also brings experience as chair of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee on Health Care Quality for Rural America and as a subcommittee chair for President Clinton’s Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry.

Her experience and expertise will prove invaluable as HRSA acts to ensure that Americans have access to health care and that our nation has a primary care physician workforce that can meet demand for services.

The American Academy of Family Physicians congratulates Mary Wakefield on her appointment as director of HRSA and looks forward to working with her as health care reform proposals take shape.

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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 136,700 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the largest 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(familydoctor.org).