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Tuesday May 15, 2018

Four Days of Family Medicine Advocacy

"One who never asks either knows everything or nothing."
-- Malcolm Forbes

Next week, hundreds of family physicians and medical students will gather in Washington, D.C., for the AAFP's annual Family Medicine Advocacy Summit (FMAS). The summit is a four-day event focused on family medicine and advocacy-related activities.

[front of U.S. Capitol building]

The event is sold out for 2018, but we are moving to a larger venue in 2019 so make a mental note to join us next year!

Events gets started on May 20, with the meetings of the Family Medicine Political Action Committee (FamMedPAC) Board and the Academic Family Medicine Advocacy Committee(www.stfm.org)  (AFMAC). With the 2018 mid-term congressional elections six months away, the FamMedPAC Board has lots of ground to cover during this meeting as it works to position family medicine and our policy priorities at the center of current and future debates.

As often stated by FamMedPAC Board Chair Jason Dees, D.O., "FamMedPAC puts family doctors at the table where health care policy decisions are made.”

On May 21, the FMAS convenes. Participants will hear policy and political updates from government officials, national policy leaders and from AAFP leadership and staff. We are excited to feature speakers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), and we also will have a panel discussion on opioids and substance abuse featuring two senior congressional staffers who are at the center of the legislative process on the issue. In the afternoon we will shift the agenda to focus on skill development for our participants with sessions on media communications for advocacy and how to use HealthLandscape resources(www.healthlandscape.org) in your advocacy efforts.

May 22 is the Family Medicine Day of Action -- a day focused on the promotion of the important role family physicians play in the lives of patients, communities, our country and the world. The day will start with the presentation of the Champions of Family Medicine awards to two members of Congress and two congressional staffers who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in promoting family medicine and primary care. FMAS participants will spend the day meeting with their elected officials and advancing the AAFP's legislative priorities. I focus on how you can engage with us a little later in this post.

May 23 – the fourth and final day – features the meeting of the AAFP's Commission on Governmental Advocacy (CGA). The CGA, under the leadership of Chair Karen Smith, M.D., will be reviewing several AAFP policies. Among the items the CGA will be reviewing are policies on the criminalization of medical practice, long-term care, good Samaritan laws and the National Health Service Corps. In addition to its review of existing AAFP policies, the CGA will focus on the analysis of several opioid and substance abuse bills under consideration in Congress.

Family Medicine Day of Action

Family Medicine Day of Action is a day focused on celebrating family medicine, elevating our discipline in the eyes of the public, and amplifying the numerous contributions made by family physicians to their patients, communities, and the country.

As you know, a centerpiece of comprehensive primary care is the focus on treating both the body and mind. As the nation focuses more intently on the importance of mental and behavioral health, we see an opportunity to amplify the message that family physicians provide a majority of mental and behavioral health services. According to a 2015 CDC report(www.cdc.gov) the percentage of mental health care provided by primary care physicians is increasing. The CDC estimates(www.cdc.gov) that roughly 20 percent of all visits to primary care physicians include at least one mental health indicator.

One in five Americans will experience some form of mental illness in their lifetime and, most likely, they will turn to their family physician to help them diagnose and manage their condition. The AAFP and Familydoctor.org have excellent resources(familydoctor.org) and a guide to help(familydoctor.org) assist you and your patients understand mental health. These resources help individuals overcome the stigma associated with mental health and provide guidance on when they should seek help. We also have resources to assist you and your practice provide high quality care to patients with mental and behavioral health issues.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we are focusing Family Medicine Day of Action on promoting the role family physicians play in treating individuals with mental and behavioral health conditions. We urge you to join us in this effort by joining our #MentalHealthMatters Thunderclap campaign(www.thunderclap.it) to share the message that family physicians treat the whole person -- mind and body -- and patients should reach out to you when they need help.

Wonk Hard

Have you ever asked yourself what percentage of office visits are provided by family physicians or what is the age distribution of primary care physicians? Well, the Robert Graham Center(www.graham-center.org) has assembled answers to all the questions you have and a few you probably haven't thought about asking.

The Robert Graham Center has published the State of Primary Care in the United States: A Chartbook of Facts and Statistics(www.graham-center.org). This publication is a great resource that provides a variety of data for policy-makers, researchers and health care decision-makers that answers questions about who, what, where and how primary care is being provided. It also is a tremendous resource that will assist the AAFP in our advocacy activities. I think you will find this to be a great resource and, if nothing else, it will drive conversations at your summer barbeque.

Coming Soon

In June, In the Trenches will become a featured section of the Fighting for Family Medicine Newsletter. The newsletter will feature comprehensive coverage of the AAFP's advocacy efforts, and I will continue to provide perspective on priority policy and political issues. The newsletter and In the Trenches will arrive in your inbox every other Tuesdays, just as it does now.

Posted at 08:00AM May 15, 2018 by Shawn Martin

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Stephanie Quinn, AAFP Senior Vice President of Advocacy, Practice Advancement and Policy.

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The opinions and views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the opinions and views of the American Academy of Family Physicians. This blog is not intended to provide medical, financial, or legal advice. All comments are moderated and will be removed if they violate our Terms of Use.