• Academy Lauds Lawmakers as Champions of Family Medicine

    May 22, 2019 03:12 pm Scott Wilson Washington, D.C. – "That's it. That's the tweet." So goes the meme acknowledging the obvious simplicity of a thought delivered via social media.

    That's it. That's the message was essentially the takeaway at a brief morning event during the 2019 Family Medicine Advocacy Summit here on May 21, as the summit's focus shifted from preparation to action and family physicians readied to call on legislators in a daylong blitz of critical meetings.

    The simple message: Build relationships with leaders to let patients build relationships with you. (Judging by #FMAS2019 on Twitter, AAFP members and staff successfully aired that message.)

    As summit participants prepared for the barrage of meetings ahead, Academy President John Cullen, M.D., of Valdez, Alaska, again extolled the importance of one-on-one interactions between family physicians and their elected officials. He then introduced a lawmaker who said he welcomed just that kind of connection.

    "Relationships matter as you go to the Hill," said U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill.

    U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., spoke during the 2019 Family Medicine Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C., about his efforts to support family medicine and primary care.

    "The relationships you're going to build today with members of Congress will tell them what you're seeing on the front lines," he added. "And we need to let patients build relationships, build continuity of care with family physicians."

    Schneider and Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., who was unable to attend the event, received the AAFP's Congressional Primary Care Champion Award. The two were honored for co-sponsoring the Primary Care Patient Protection Act of 2018, which sought to help patients strengthen relationships with their primary care physicians.

    The Academy supported the legislation when it was introduced last year.

    "Requiring high-deductible health plans to include a set of primary care visits independent of cost for patients will bring necessary health services within the financial reach of millions of Americans," said (then) President Michael Munger, M.D., of Overland Park, Kan., in a statement.

    Schneider and Stefanik reintroduced the bill(www.congress.gov) for this congressional session just last week.

    Also this session, the two have co-sponsored the Opioid Workforce Act of 2019, which seeks to provide additional residency positions to help combat the opioid crisis.


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    The Congressional Primary Care Champion Award, which debuted last year, recognizes members of Congress who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in advancing public policy that promotes the value of family medicine and primary care to individuals, families and the U.S. health care system.

    Cullen praised Schneider and Stefanik for developing bipartisan legislation that, he said, gets to the heart of what the Academy would be asking for during the day's meetings.

    A news release announcing this year's awards touted the accomplishments of both lawmakers: "Rep. Schneider has emerged as a leading voice for common-sense reforms to our health care system that promote access to affordable health care for all Americans. He continues to promote policies affecting Medicare, women's health and improvements to the (Patient Protection and) Affordable Care Act. He also has been a leader in drawing attention to the health consequences of changes in our climate.

    "Rep. Stefanik is a nationally recognized leader on health care issues. She has introduced legislation to assist veterans, secure access to care in rural communities and support community health centers. In addition, she has become a vocal advocate for increasing access to obstetrical services in rural communities and the need to support families and caregivers who are providing care and support to Alzheimer's patients."

    Schneider told summit attendees that his efforts to support primary care centered on "four basic pillars."

    "One, we want to go to the doctor in the course of the year to get healthy and stay healthy," he said. "Two, we want to be able to go for the bumps and bruises of everyday life, to get fixed. Three, we want quality of life to get back to normal when we have, God forbid, a diagnosis of asthma or diabetes or cancer.

    "Ultimately, if we face a horrible diagnosis, you want a fighting chance," he added, describing the last pillar. "That all starts with you. So, thank you for your help.

    "With your help, we're going to pass this bill and get people the care they deserve."

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