AAFP Welcomes Support for Primary Care

Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014

Statement attributable to:
Reid Blackwelder, MD  
American Academy of Family Physicians

“The American Academy of Family Physicians applauds the proposal, reportedly included in the President’s 2015 budget, which would invest significantly in the primary care workforce. The policies proposed by the President are consistent with recommendations the AAFP has long advanced as important steps needed to meet the primary care workforce needs of our country. This proposal would expand the number of funded residency positions for primary care physicians and expand the eligible sites for training to include community-based care settings – better aligning the training environment with future practice environments.

“Multiple studies have shown that a growing and aging population is increasing demand for primary medical care at a time when a more health professions students are choosing subspecialty careers. A budget that focuses on building the primary care physician workforce would do much to help resolve projected shortages in family physicians, general internal medicine physicians and general pediatrics.  Additionally, since research demonstrates that newly minted physicians tend to practice within 50 miles of their residency training programs, it is important that we identify and finance training sites that may be outside the traditional hospital setting. The recommendations are consistent with the AAFP’s call for increased graduate medical education training targeted to primary medical care in community-based settings.

“As an advocate for improving health access for people in underserved areas, the AAFP is also very pleased by the proposed expansion of the National Health Service Corps to almost double its current size. We have strongly supported growth in this critical program. By providing scholarships and medical school loan forgiveness options, the NHSC offers an avenue by which more students can choose primary care without facing insurmountable debt. Moreover, the NHSC helps resolve the maldistribution of physicians by placing new physicians in areas where they are needed most.

“The AAFP has urged Congress to extend parity between Medicaid and Medicare payments for primary care services, and look forward to working with our lawmakers to make such a proposal possible. However, we strongly recommend that this extension be for 5 years to create a period of access stability as our members continue to transform their practices into effective patient-centered medical homes.

“We look forward to working with President Obama and Congress to establish the infrastructure that will increase the number of primary care physicians and ensure Americans have access to the right care at the right time from the right health professional.”

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

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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).