The ‘House of Medicine’ Launches Effort to Ensure Access to Primary Care for Uninsured, Low-Income, Working Families

Wednesday, December 05, 2012


WASHINGTON — The American Academy of Family Physicians and 40 of its constituent chapters, joined four other national medical associations and their local chapters to launch a full-court press to preserve low-income, working families’ current and future access to health care.

The action came in a joint letter to Congress from the AAFP, the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Osteopathic Association as well as their state and local chapters. The letter urged Congress to oppose elimination of the Medicaid primary care payment increase.

At issue is a proposal that would prevent the scheduled 26.5 percent cut in Medicare physician payment by using funds set aside for bringing Medicaid payment for primary care services up to Medicare levels. Currently, Medicaid — whose payment rate varies by state— pays 66 percent of Medicare reimbursement on average. In 44 states, Medicaid pays less than Medicare rates for primary care services. The Medicaid-Medicare parity policy, which would go into effect Jan. 1, would close the gap between the two programs’ overall payment rates for primary care.

“Elimination of this policy further burdens the already challenged Medicaid system of today,” the joint letter says. “Patients will face obstacles to connecting with a patient-centered medical home and will be forced to rely on episodic, acute care services provided in other settings after the patient’s health has deteriorated, forgoing the more cost-effective coordinated and preventive care services that primary care physicians provide.”

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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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