• American Rescue Plan Invests in Health Care Workforce and Expands Access to Coverage to Support COVID-19 Recovery

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Wednesday, March 10, 2021

    Statement attributable to:
    Ada D. Stewart, MD
    President
    American Academy of Family Physicians

    “The American Academy of Family Physicians applauds the passage of the American Rescue Plan, legislation that makes significant investments in public health and the health care workforce for the nation’s COVID-19 response. This plan represents a path forward for health care workers and patients alike, as it will expand access to health care coverage and COVID-19 vaccinations, testing and treatment.

    “The American Rescue Plan represents a critical step in helping the United States to gain control of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is more work to be done. Primary care practices are a critical gateway to vaccination, testing and treatment. Patients rely on their primary care physicians to screen, diagnose and treat symptoms of COVID-19 and educate them about and administer vaccines.

    “The AAFP is pleased that the plan includes several of our advocacy priorities, including the provision of federal funding for states to cover the cost of Medicaid COVID-19 vaccine administration for one year after the end of the public health emergency. We hope this will encourage states to pay clinicians adequate rates for vaccine administration, increasing access to COVID-19 vaccines for underserved populations and helping to address equity concerns.

    “Beyond funding for vaccine administration, the plan also includes significant public health funding for preparation, promotion, administration, monitoring and tracking COVID-19 vaccines, as well as funding to support advanced research, development, manufacturing, production and purchasing of vaccines and therapeutics. Equally important is the investment in education and outreach activities to promote vaccine confidence.

    “Family physicians are relieved that this legislation will make health care coverage more affordable for many of their patients, a longtime AAFP priority. During a pandemic, timely access to primary care keeps patients out of hospitals and can make the difference between life and death. The legislation will help Americans who have experienced job loss retain employer-sponsored insurance by providing COBRA subsidies. It also expands Premium Tax Credits to help more individuals and families afford plans offered through the Marketplace. The plan provides incentives to states to expand Medicaid eligibility to women for 12 months postpartum, which will expand access to coverage and help address maternal mortality and disparities in maternal health outcomes. Additionally, the legislation provides financial incentives for states to adopt Medicaid expansion, which would increase access to health care, improve health outcomes and reduce racial disparities in access to care.

    “In order to strengthen the health care workforce, the plan makes critical investments through funding for community health centers, the National Health Service Corps, and expansion of the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program.

    “While this legislation paves the way to expand access to health care, Congress should do more to strengthen our primary care system, such as increasing Medicaid payments for primary care to ensure that physicians are able to meet the increased demand for services. Because primary care physicians screen, diagnose and treat patients for COVID-19 while managing chronic conditions that increase the risk of severe illness, we remain concerned that high deductibles prevent some patients from seeking needed care. We have outlined recommendations for legislation that builds upon the American Rescue Plan.

    “Family physicians and other primary care physicians have been on the front lines of responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency, and we welcome the support and relief that the American Rescue Plan provides for the health care heroes who have been holding the line against this pandemic for a year. Buoyed by this plan, we will continue to play our critical role in caring for our patients and improving the health of our nation.”

     

    Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Stewart, contact Megan Moriarty, 800-274-2237, Ext. 6052, or mmoriarty@aafp.org.

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    Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 133,500 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the largest medical society devoted solely to primary care. Family physicians conduct approximately one in five office visits -- that’s 192 million visits annually or 48 percent more than the next most visited medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.  To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.familydoctor.org.