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Tuesday Aug 26, 2014

Bringing You Up To Date: New Information on Previous Posts

It's been a little more than two months since the AAFP launched this blog to provide members with timely information on health policy matters and what the Academy is doing on your behalf to address those issues. This edition of In the Trenches will take a look back at our initial posts and provide updates on the work we have conducted, relevant new tools and resources that are available, the advocacy wins we have secured and ways that we can collaborate to improve our ailing health care system.

Direct Primary Care
In our first blog, we introduced you to the AAFP’s work on direct primary care. This work continues, and the AAFP will offer three practice development programs on DPC this fall and winter. The first program will be held Nov. 8 in Tempe, Ariz.; followed by programs on Jan. 10 in New Castle, Del.; and Feb. 25 in Atlanta. You can learn more about these programs and register on the AAFP website.  

Medicaid Parity Payment
On July 1, we discussed the work AAFP is doing to extend the Medicaid parity payment policy  established by Section 1202 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Those efforts are producing results. On July 30, Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Patty Murray, D-Wash., introduced the Ensuring Access to Primary Care for Women and Children Act (S. 2694), legislation that would extend the payment policy for two years.

The AAFP supports this legislation and has communicated our support in a letter. We are engaged in an active grassroots campaign to build support for this legislation, and we could use your help. During the Labor Day weekend, please take a few minutes to Speak Out and send a letter to your senators urging them to support S. 2694.  Ask your colleagues to do the same.

Veterans Affairs
In our July 15 posting, we discussed the vast challenges at the Veterans Health Administration  and our work to provide expanded access to veterans. As noted in that blog, the AAFP was the first physician organization to call on the Obama Administration and Congress to make fundamental changes that would allow civilian family physicians to provide care to veterans. As a result of our letters and lobbying efforts, Congress included provisions allowing expanded use of civilian primary care physicians in the VA health care system.

On August 7, President Obama signed into law the Veterans’ Access to Care Through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act. On August 13, the Veterans Administration announced that is expanding the Patient-Centered Community Care(www.va.gov) contracts as a means of expanding access to primary care services and reduce wait times. You can learn more about the PC3 program and how you can participate through the Department of Veterans Affairs.(www.nonvacare.va.gov) This law authorizes the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to create 1,500 new graduate medical education positions and instructs the Secretary of Veteran Affairs to place a priority on creating new primary care and mental health residency positions. The AAFP actively lobbied for these new positions, and we are pleased that Congress responded.

Home Sweet Medical Home
In my previous post, I shared with you the advocacy work the AAFP was doing with respect to patient-centered medical home (PCMH) recognition programs. Now I want to share with you information on the work we are doing to assist physicians with the transformation process and what tools and resources we have created for you and your practices.

The AAFP has long recognized that the PCMH transformation process may be more difficult for solo and small practices. These practices face challenges on at least two levels -- time and money. Solo and small practices often lack the staffing necessary to aggressively transform their practices and implement the full cadre of services outlined in the Joint Principles of the Patient-Centered Medical Home. They also lack the financial capital to make investments in staff and technology that would facilitate this transformation more rapidly. This is not meant to suggest that a solo or small practice cannot become a PCMH -- many have done so -- only an acknowledgement that it can be more difficult for them.

To assist these practices, we developed the PCMH Planner, an online, “do-it-yourself” tool that allows a practice to conduct a self-evaluation of its capabilities and start, or continue, progressing in its transformation to a PCMH. The Planner was researched and written by PCMH subject matter experts and provides practices with easy-to-follow, step-by-step work plans and links to downloadable tools and resources. This resource is available to AAFP members at a rock-bottom price and allows for multiple users from the same practice. No matter where you are in your journey -- evaluating the merits of practice transformation, just getting started, or well on your way -- I strongly encourage you to purchase the PCMH Planner. I am confident that you will find it valuable to your efforts.

For those practices that require additional assistance, you can contact TransforMED,(www.transformed.com)the Academy's wholly owned subsidiary.  TransforMED has a distinguished record of helping practices with transformation and is widely recognized as a national leader in this area. TransforMED’s services will require a financial investment on your part, but the outcomes should produce an appropriate return on your investment.

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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.