AAFP Welcomes President Obama’s Proposed Investment In Patient Access to Primary Care

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Statement attributable to:
Wanda Filer, MD, MB
President, American Academy of Family Physicians

“President Obama’s fiscal year 2017 budget continues to support patients’ access to primary care. The President would increase low-income families’ access to health care, invest in the National Health Service Corps, and invest in research that affects cost and quality of care and patient safety.

“The American Academy of Family Physicians applauds these proposals.

“Family physicians welcome President Obama’s proposal to extend federal funding of Medicaid coverage for people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. This would go far in bringing health care to millions of Americans. Research shows the number of uninsured patients has plummeted in states that expanded Medicaid coverage. Those people now have access to primary medical care, preventive services, and chronic care management that improves patients’ outcomes and helps control costs for individuals and the system as a whole.

“By re-establishing increased Medicaid payment for primary care medical services, the budget would enable more primary care physicians to accept more beneficiaries. Although seven in 10 family physicians accept Medicaid patients, their ability to expand the number of beneficiaries has been limited by inadequate payment. Current payment -- which, in some states, is as low as 43 percent of Medicare’s rates -- makes it impossible for primary care physicians to expand the number of Medicaid patients they can see without putting their practices at serious financial risk.

“The budget also addresses the urgent need to build a primary care physician workforce that can meet demand. By continuing investment in the National Health Service Corps, the President ensures Americans in underserved areas will have access to primary care and encourages young doctors to specialize in family medicine. Family physicians who care for underserved communities reduce their six-figure medical debt through NHSC scholarships and loan forgiveness programs. This is a benefit to patients and the health care system as a whole.

“Additionally, the AAFP welcomes the proposed budget’s funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Congress and the Administration rely on data and research to develop policies that affect the cost of care, the quality of outcomes and patient safety. Only the AHRQ conducts research that provides such integral information. Continued funding for this vital agency ensures America’s health care policy will continue to be based on evidence.”

Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Filer, 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 129,000 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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