AAFP: Omnibus Appropriations Bill Moves in the Right Direction

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
Friday, March 23,  2018

Statement attributable to:
Michael Munger, MD
President
American Academy of Family Physicians

“The Consolidated Appropriations Act passed by Congress today moves in the right direction on addressing violence involving a gun and the opioid misuse crisis.

“The American Academy of Family Physicians welcomes language in today’s omnibus legislation that clarifies the parameters of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research into violence involving a gun and increases funding to fight the epidemic of opioid misuse. This legislation sets the stage for developing solutions to both challenges.

“There is no single answer for preventing violence involving a gun, and we need better information about its causes and treatments.This is where research comes in. The omnibus language will enable the CDC to approach this from a public health standpoint and study all the facets of inappropriate gun use — including mental health and law enforcement — and develop recommendations that can improve the safety of all Americans.

“We also welcome increased funding for the fight against the opioid misuse epidemic. The $4.6 billion to combat this crisis represents a $3 billion increase over the fiscal year 2017 level. Our national policy must tackle the epidemic on multiple fronts. We must prevent addiction, treat those already suffering from opioid misuse disorder, understand the causes of the problem and develop alternative pain management options. This legislation does that by increasing funding for opioid misuse prevention and treatment as well as for research into the causes of opioid addiction and non-pharmacological management of chronic pain.

“The Consolidated Appropriations Act maintains the strength of the health care system’s infrastructure by allocating a total of $88 billion, an $10 billion hike over fiscal year 2017, to the Department of Health and Human Services. Within that total, the National Institutes of Health receives $37.1 billion, up $3 billion over fiscal year 2017 appropriations, and the CDC receives $8.3 billion, a $1 billion hike from 2017. Each of these agencies underpin the progress in identifying, diagnosing and treating medical conditions.

“Equally important, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality will maintain its independence and will see a $10 million funding increase. With its research into the way health care is provided, this agency has contributed to reductions in the rate of inpatient infections and prevention of 1.3 million harmful incidents and 50,000 deaths.

“However, we’re disappointed that, despite its overall funding increases for health programs, the legislation fails to address the health security of Americans by funding cost-sharing reductions or reinsurance provisions that would reduce insurance premiums. Independent analyses have shown both these provisions could lower premiums by up to 27 percent in 2019, increase enrollment in insurance plans and increase coverage by up to 1.7 million Americans. Without these provisions, the cost of insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses will climb sharply.”

Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Munger, 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 131,400 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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