AAFP Statement: Federal Budget Investments in Rural Care, Primary Care Physician Workforce, Research Will Reap Future Benefits

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Attributable to:
Lori Heim, MD
American Academy of Family Physicians

“The American Academy of Family Physicians is pleased that the fiscal year 2011 federal budget invests in programs that promise to give Americans a high quality, efficient and accessible health care system based on a strong foundation of primary care. Such investment in primary care education, access to care in underserved communities, and continued support for health care information technology and health-related research will reap multiple benefits in the future.

“In an austere budget environment, we commend the administration for proposing level funding for Health Professions Grants in Title VII. We will work with Congress to raise that support to ensure adequate appropriation for primary medical care education. This program has been essential to innovations in medical education and training that encourage students to become primary care physicians and that support family medicine residents’ commitment to patient care. With time, we will see the impact of Title VII in more innovative teaching and training that reflect new models of patient care.

“The budget strengthens our nation’s system for ensuring that Americans in rural and underserved areas will have access to care. By adding $27 million to the National Health Service Corps, the budget opens an additional 449 opportunities to new physicians who want to provide medical care to rural and underserved communities while reducing their medical education debt. We applaud the budget’s increase of $290 million to continue expansion of community health centers, including creation of 25 new centers in communities that do not currently have access to medical care. Such an increase means these health centers will see 20 million patients in fiscal year 2011.

“Americans need a seamless system in which they have a personal relationship with a physician who provides comprehensive preventive services and coordinates their care with all health care team members during illness. The AAFP appreciates the proposed budget’s commitment to demonstration projects of the patient-centered medical home and other models that are based on such an approach to seamless health care.

“We continue to support federal efforts to build a strong infrastructure for health care information technology. We appreciate the budget’s continuing efforts to strengthen and broaden physicians’ health care information technology capabilities. Properly implemented, these efforts will improve coordination of care, reduce duplication and fragmentation, and improve quality of care.

“Equally important is ensuring that the care provided to Americans is the most effective and appropriate. That’s why the AAFP has supported evidence-based medicine and the research that gives physicians and their patients the most current information about what treatments work the best. We welcome the budget’s $286 million support for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to continue and grow comparative effectiveness research.

“The American Academy of Family Physicians looks forward to working with both the Obama administration and Congress in building up the primary care physician workforce and ensuring that all Americans — regardless of their home town or economic situation — have access to high quality care.”

Editor’s Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Heim, contact Leslie Champlin, 800-274-2237, Ext. 5224, or lchampli@aafp.org.

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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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