AAFP Statement: American Academy of Family Physicians Supports Choice of Public and Private Health Plans for Consumers

Friday, June 12, 2009

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

“The American Academy of Family Physicians supports including a public health plan option in health reform legislation. AAFP has consistently called for health system reform that ensures health care coverage for all and, to the extent that a public plan would ensure that — and adhere to several conditions for fair competition — the AAFP would accept a well crafted public plan.

“A key element to meaningful health system reform is offering a choice of health plans and the information patients and employers require to select the option that best meets their needs and their budgets. A carefully crafted public plan option promises to increase access to health care coverage while preserving the strength of the marketplace.

“Equally important is ensuring that a public plan option contributes to establishing a health care system that values family medicine and primary care.

“A public plan option must compete fairly with the private insurance industry to ensure that patients have comprehensive, affordable health coverage.

“In order to maintain a level playing field among private insurers and a public plan, the AAFP calls for legislation that:

  • differentiates the public option from Medicare and its payment rates;
  • does not require physicians to participate;
  • requires public and private plans to adhere to the same rules and regulations, including those that address reserve funds; and
  • precludes a public plan from gaining unfair advantage in enrolling uninsured or low-income beneficiaries who would qualify for subsidies in the new marketplace.”

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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).