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Friday Oct 21, 2011

Stand Up for Family Medicine

The United States is expected to face a shortage of more than 90,000 physicians by the end of this decade. That number could be far greater if Congress does not act to protect Medicare financing for graduate medical education, or GME, amid the focused efforts to reduce the national deficit.

The AAFP and more than three dozen other health organizations recently sent a letter(www.aamc.org) (www.aamc.org)to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction -- the "supercommittee" tasked with reducing the deficit by more than $1 trillion during the next 10 years -- urging committee members to invest in, rather than cut, physician training programs.

The House, the president's fiscal commission and others have targeted GME funding for billions of dollars in cuts, making it unlikely that one letter will make a substantial difference.

That's why your Academy is asking you to help.

On Oct. 14, The AAFP launched a nationwide campaign to rally member and congressional support for three issues critical to the continued success of family medicine:

  • protecting GME funding;
  • repealing the sustainable growth rate, or SGR; and
  • increasing funding for Title VII health professions training grants.

This month, thousands of you will receive e-mails from me urging you to contact your legislators on these vital issues. The Academy also is asking you to share your stories about how these three issues affect you and your practice.

Today, many of you will receive an e-mail from me with a video about GME funding and why the proposed cuts would put family medicine in peril. The video -- and customizable letters you can use to contact your lawmakers -- also can be accessed online.

Other videos will follow in the coming weeks related to the SGR and Title VII funding.

GME is the single-largest contributor to physician education and training. We are advocating that if cuts are made to Medicare funding for GME, such cuts should not be across the board because primary care programs would be disproportionately affected. Primary care, which already faces workforce shortages in many parts of the country, must be spared if we are to build a physician workforce that will deliver better health care more efficiently.

I ask again for your help during this critical time. The future of family medicine is at stake. It's time to stand up for our profession, our practices and our patients.

Posted at 04:51PM Oct 21, 2011 by Glen Stream, M.D., M.B.I.

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