State of Union Address Points to Progress in Health Care Reform; Continued Bipartisan Efforts Needed to Maintain Momentum

Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014

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

“The data on implementing the Affordable Care Act are still rolling in, but there is much to be acknowledged about the implementation of the law. As President Obama noted in his State of the Union address, health care reform is taking shape and millions of Americans now have access to health care coverage. As family physicians, we know that coverage is key to opening the door to health care services.

“We also recognize that much work remains, and we call on the Administration and Congress to work in a bipartisan fashion to ensure that the law works as intended.  We must set aside those things that divide us and work in a collaborative manner to ensure that all Americans have a true health care system that works for them and their families.

“New and transformative changes in health care delivery are being implemented. As payment systems move toward offering incentives for quality improvement and value rather than volume under the ACA, more patients have access to a primary care patient-centered medical home. It’s in the PCMH where patients get comprehensive, coordinated and team-based care that prevents disease or complications from chronic conditions, improves patients’ health outcomes and overall satisfaction, and saves money for the patient, the community and the health care system. This approach will be the new foundation for our future health care system.

“And in an effort to build that foundation, the Affordable Care Act’s Primary Care Incentive Payment last year distributed more than $664 million in incentive compensation to primary care physicians. These payments helped to acknowledge the increasingly complex medical services that primary care physicians provide within the patient-centered medical home.

“Additionally, the law worked to encourage primary care physicians to accept additional Medicaid beneficiaries by bringing Medicaid payment up to Medicare rates. The PCIP and Medicaid parity were beginning efforts to reduce payment disparity and compensate for the costs of providing patient-centered medical home services — essential components of the Four Pillars( of a high quality, efficient primary care workforce. Those pillars are a strong pipeline of medical students who choose primary care careers, a curriculum that provides positive primary care clinical experiences and strengthens on-campus presence of family medicine, continued transformation of practices into patient-centered medical homes, and improved payment parity between primary care and subspecialist physicians. All of these pillars must be firmly in place before we can sustain the strong primary care physician workforce this country needs that will increase high quality, efficient care for everyone.

“However, neither the PCIP nor Medicaid payment parity are permanent. The AAFP will continue to work with the Administration and Congress to ensure extension of these programs and to demonstrate to prospective physicians that legislators and health policy makers remain committed to building and sustaining the nation’s primary care physician workforce.”

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

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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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