During the 2014 National Conference of Special Constituencies (NCSC) held here May 1-3, AAFP chapter delegates representing the five constituency groups -- women, minorities, new physicians, international medical graduates (IMGs), physicians who self-identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (GLBT) or who support GLBT issues -- acted on resolutions considered by the Reference Committee on Organization and Finance.
Will Sawyer, M.D., discusses a resolution he co-authored that recommends that AAFP chapters identify local resources to help with physician contract negotiation and to make them available to members.
Two resolutions the delegates adopted addressed intertwined topics of particular interest: physician contract negotiation and compensation benchmarking.
The first of the two asked that the AAFP encourage state chapters to identify local resources to help FPs with contract negotiation and make them available to members.
"As a relatively young physician, I think having access to additional resources to help you develop a contract would be extremely valuable," said minority delegate Khalil Alleyne, M.D., of Topeka, Kan., during the May 2 reference committee hearing
Will Sawyer, M.D., of Cincinnati, co-author of the resolution and a self-described "old physician," agreed that such resources would be valuable.
"It is very important for us to push this through so that resources are available for all of us to be effective in reimbursement and negotiating issues that we aren't even aware of," said Sawyer, who joined the discussion while attending the concurrent Annual Leadership Forum. "If we had experts in each state, we could all be appropriately valued. Twenty-eight percent of students … would enter family medicine instead of 7 percent."
- Delegates to the 2014 National Conference of Special Constituencies adopted, among other things, a resolution that recommended AAFP chapters identify local resources developed to help with physician contract negotiations and make them available to members.
- A second resolution adopted suggested the AAFP research and provide members data on physician compensation broken down by (at minimum) region, compensation model and practice type.
- A third measure delegates adopted asked the AAFP to explore a cost-effective method to gather membership data on physicians who self-identify as disabled.
The second resolution piggybacked on the first and stemmed from a growing number of physicians saying there was no reliable source for gauging what compensation was appropriate for them. Delegates eventually adopted a substitute resolution presented by Alleyne during the May 3 business session that suggested the AAFP research and provide members with data on physician compensation broken down by (at minimum) region, compensation model and practice type.
"Where do we go to get reliable data on what (compensation) we should ask for when negotiating with hospitals?" Alleyne asked. "Right now, we don't know."
He noted that there are current resources for physician compensation benchmarking, but they aren't necessarily all that relevant to FPs. For example, Medscape collected compensation data from about 24,000 physicians for a recent survey, but only about 17 percent of them were family physicians.
"I cannot imagine another organization with a stronger mandate to step up and advocate for the physicians of the AAFP," said Alleyne.
Spencer Gainey, M.D., a new physician delegate from Spartanburg, S.C., who co-authored the resolution on local chapter resources for contract negotiation, also expressed his support for this second measure.
"We need all the information we can get to help us," Gainey said. "We're fighting a losing battle. If more family medicine practitioners are aware of this resource, that could be a benefit of joining the AAFP -- a reason to swell our numbers even more."
In her turn at the mic, Fabiola Fairgrieve, M.D., of Deland, Fla., acknowledged upfront her inactive member status with the AAFP. Fairgrieve explained that injuries she sustained in a traffic accident precluded her from continuing to practice medicine. That's precisely why, she said, she supported a resolution asking the AAFP to direct the Commission on Membership and Member Services to explore a cost-effective method to gather membership data on physicians who self-identify as disabled.
She said this resolution would be a step in the right direction to recognize AAFP members with disabilities.
"This would definitely be a great benefit to (physicians with disabilities) and would give us a voice that counts," said Fairgrieve. "I'm hoping today, through your votes on this resolution, that my voice will count through you."
Angela Sparks, M.D., women's constituency co-convener from Olympia, Wash., pointed to the resolution as a sign that the AAFP and NCSC are moving toward further inclusion of member interest groups.
"In the future, there may be groups that need representation the way our special constituencies are represented now," Sparks said. "(Physicians with disabilities) has always been my example of a group that would really benefit from that kind of representation and have asked for it. Now that there is a road map for it in our new policy, I think that this is a great way to move things forward."
That road map was described this week by AAFP President Reid Blackwelder, M.D., of Kingsport, Tenn., in his blog "Member Interest Groups to Provide Forum to Share Interests, Connection to Academy."
Among other measures considered by the reference committee, NCSC delegates voted to
- recommend that the Academy modify its policy titled "Gender Equity on Prescription Drug and Diagnostic Testing Coverage" to add medically indicated surgical procedures to the list of health care benefits employers and health care plans should provide without discrimination based on gender, and
- offer a networking session for IMGs at the National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students.
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