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Tuesday Sep 12, 2017

Family Physicians to Debate Policy, Elect Leaders at COD

For that moonlit pass by the Alamo, and rose my rose of San Antone.
-- Patsy Cline

Congress has returned from its annual summer recess. As reported in my previous post, the list of items that Congress must address this month is long and fraught with political complications. The tragedy caused by Hurricane Harvey has added to legislators' "must-pass" list, but it appears that financial resources for south Texas and Louisiana will not be subjected to political gamesmanship -- at least not initially.

[AAFP Congress of Delegates]

The rest of the agenda, however, will not be protected from politics. Although it appears that there is bipartisan agreement to avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1, there does not seem to be a clear path forward for other legislation -- namely the reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the MACRA extenders, which includes teaching health centers.

While I remain optimistic that Congress will find a path forward on many AAFP priorities this fall, I am growing extremely concerned about the future of the teaching health center program. If Congress does not act by Sept. 30, this important program could cease to exist. The THC program is an important component of family medicine's workforce development agenda, and we need this program to be reauthorized and funded. Please take a few minutes to send a letter to your representative and senators urging them to support this vital program.

Congress of Delegates

The AAFP Congress of Delegates (COD) is holding its annual meeting this week in San Antonio. The COD is the AAFP policy-making body charged with representing the views and opinions of family physicians.

The COD consists of two delegates and two alternates from each state(0 bytes) as well as representatives of U.S. territories and other constituencies. The COD meets annually to develop and set policy for the AAFP. The COD, as a body, is the voice of the members and is the setting where the AAFP's policies on a wide variety of issues are developed, debated and acted upon.

This week the Congress of Delegates will consider more than 50 resolutions submitted by constituent chapters. The resolutions submitted focus on the most timely and relevant issues to family medicine and family physicians. For example, there are a series of resolutions that seek to reduce the administrative and regulatory burden on family physicians by streamlining prior authorization programs, harmonizing quality reporting programs, improving the functionality of electronic health records and placing appropriate limitations on maintenance of certification programs.

Other hot topics include resolutions regarding the need to increase graduate medical education positions for family medicine, establishing resources for members struggling with burnout, and several resolutions aimed at timely public health issues.

Additionally, there are a series of resolutions that seek to establish AAFP policy that would designate health care as a right.

In addition to establishing and reaffirming AAFP policy, the COD has the important responsibility of electing the next president of the AAFP, three new members to the Board of Directors and the speaker and vice speaker of the Congress of Delegates. You can learn more about the candidates here, and watch for election results and other coverage of the COD this week in AAFP News.  

Wonk Hard

Last week, the AAFP team wished director of communications Sarah Thomas best wishes on her retirement. Sarah's thoughtful leadership has been central to the success of the AAFP, and she successfully and professionally guided the AAFP through some tricky issues and times. Many of you may not know Sarah personally, but you all know and have benefited from her work. She has been a collaborator on this blog since the beginning, and I am sincerely appreciative of Sarah's support and friendship. She will be missed, but the AAFP team is happy for her and wishes her the best in this next chapter of her life. #rockchalk

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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.