Keep Family Medicine Issues Front and Center During Congressional Recess, Urges AAFP

August 02, 2012 05:35 pm News Staff

As Congress adjourns for its summer recess, the AAFP has launched a grassroots campaign to make sure family medicine continues to resonate with members of Congress during the remaining weeks of summer.

A new page on the AAFP website urges members to set up meetings with their congressional representatives during the summer break to talk with them about the importance of three issues vital to sustaining and strengthening the practice of family medicine: Medicare physician payment reform, adequate funding for primary care workforce programs and support for legislation that would test innovative models for training primary care physicians.

The Web page also links to a letter AAFP members can send to their legislators in Washington and provides information on how FPs can submit their personal stories to lawmakers online.

Congress is scheduled to adjourn for the summer on Aug. 6 and return to Washington after Labor Day. The AAFP Web page urges members to schedule time for legislators to visit their medical practices so lawmakers can see what happens daily in those practices.

"In the coming weeks, congressional legislators will travel to their communities to learn what is important for their constituents," says the AAFP Web page. "They will schedule town hall meetings and look for time to meet with community leaders. We need to make sure family medicine has a prominent position on the various congressional recess itineraries."

The AAFP is rallying support for the Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act, a bipartisan House bill that seeks to revamp the Medicare payment system by eliminating the sustainable growth rate formula and initiating various payment reforms to reward the provision of primary care services. These reforms include a 2.5 percent payment increase for primary care physicians. Without congressional action, physicians face a 27 percent reduction in the Medicare physician payment rate on Jan. 1.

The AAFP also supports the Primary Care Workforce Access Improvement Act, which would establish a pilot project to test and support primary care training models in nonhospital settings.

Additionally, the AAFP is calling on Congress to appropriate $71 million for primary care training programs funded through Title VII, Section 747, of the Public Health Service Act and at least $300 million for the National Health Service Corps.

The Academy also suggests other ways AAFP members can generate support for family medicine issues. For example, family physicians can offer to serve as a resource for congressional representatives "as they make tough decisions about family medicine."

HHS, meanwhile, is planning to hold a series of forums in various U.S. cities this month to give states and stakeholders a chance to learn more about the state-based health insurance exchanges called for in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The first forum will take place in Washington on Aug. 14, followed by forums in Atlanta, Aug. 15; Chicago, Aug. 21; and Denver, Aug. 22.

The AAFP is urging members in these areas to attend the meetings to better learn how the Affordable Care Act will be implemented.