Ready to Get Involved and Improve Primary Care? Start Here

January 02, 2019 08:36 am News Staff

AAFP members don't have one all-purpose, sure-fire path to advocacy success where they practice.

[blue advocacy button on keyboard]

They actually have several flexible, proven resources to strengthen their grasp of issues, amplify their voices and push toward legislative wins that empower the specialty. So, as 2019 dawns and lawmaking gets underway again, it's worth adding a couple of bookmarks to your browser -- and resolving to take action where you are.

Of course, no one state is a constant haven for primary care. But it's worth looking to Oregon for examples of the important advances that can be made when family physicians work together to build powerful coalitions.

In 2017, Oregon lawmakers voted to increase primary care spending to 12 percent(olis.leg.state.or.us) starting in 2018. As AAFP News reported from New Orleans just before the 2018 Congress of Delegates opened, "Glenn Rodriguez, M.D., a delegate from Milwaukie, Ore., said the legislation was successful for two reasons: unified support for the bill across specialties, and the leadership of family physician and state Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, M.D., of Portland."

Sure, it helps when a bill favoring primary care is sponsored by a practicing family physician. And yes, Hayward, whose exceptional background also includes teaching, research and volunteer work, has made a second career out of lifting up her first calling. She writes, in her official state bio:(www.oregonlegislature.gov) "I am working to create transparency in drug pricing and recently passed a bill to incentivize the use of primary care as a preventive health care model."

But Rodriguez, who is an Oregon AFP officer, also has been key to ongoing efforts to improve health care there as part of the state's recently mandated Primary Care Payment Reform Collaborative.(www.oregon.gov) And chapter wins such as Oregon's highlight strategies that other states can replicate.

The AAFP and your chapter leaders can show you how.

In December, for instance, the AAFP's Government Relations staff led a conference call with 15 chapters that are working on issues related to primary care spending. Five of those chapters plan to introduce legislation on that topic, with guidance from the Academy's Primary Care Spend Advocacy Toolkit, one of several such resource packages designed for chapter staff.

The toolkits include model legislation, sample letters to elected officials, reference research, case studies and other material for chapter leaders as they advocate for the Academy's priorities.

For their part, members can keep up with the Academy's work via the advocacy hub, a regularly updated webpage focused on the AAFP's work in the states and in Washington, D.C. There, you'll find a comprehensive archive of letters, statements, news stories and topic primers.

And the Fighting for Family Medicine (FFFM) newsletter arrives in member email inboxes every other Tuesday. (The first FFFM newsletter of 2019 is coming Jan. 8.) Together with the In the Trenches blog -- AAFP Senior Vice President for Advocacy, Practice Advancement and Policy Shawn Martin's biweekly peek into the D.C. Beltway scene -- the newsletter rounds up the Academy's latest salvos on behalf of primary care.

As usual, you can expect plenty of action. And January is a good time to get in on it.

Related AAFP News Coverage
Leader Voices blog: No Need to Yield: Advocacy Is Our Lane
(12/12/2018)

2018 State Legislative Conference
Chapters Report Varied Approaches to Common State Issues

(11/13/2018)

More From AAFP
In the Trenches blog: Teaching Health Centers Funding a Top Priority for 2019
(12/4/2018)