AAFP Welcomes Bipartisan Budget Agreement, Urges Passage

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Statement attributable to:

Michael Munger, MD

President

American Academy of Family Physicians

“The American Academy of Family Physicians applauds the introduction of the bipartisan budget agreement and urges the Senate and House to quickly approve this legislation. Passage of the budget agreement ensures patients will have access to care, regardless of where they live, and offers a reprieve for vital programs on which the foundation of our health care system is built.

“This legislation continues health care programs that impact millions of people. Additionally, it provides a reprieve to programs that will build the primary care physician workforce of tomorrow. We appreciate the extension of the overwhelmingly successful Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program. While the AAFP has called for much longer funding—and preferably permanent funding—for teaching health centers, we are pleased that the program will be extended and funded. Family medicine residencies that comprise the vast majority of teaching health centers are three-year programs. Graduating medical students must be assured they can complete their residency training at the program to which they’ve matched. Two-year funding for THCs will discourage newly graduated medical students from choosing this option.

“We’re pleased the legislation supports rural health care with provisions that maintain the financial viability of rural hospitals that are the lifeline for patients in small communities across America. The resolution’s greatest impact includes increased inpatient payment for low-volume—and often rural hospitals, the extension of the Medicare-Dependent Hospital program that supports rural facilities that care for a large number of elderly patients, and the extension of the Geographic Practice Cost Index that ensures rural physicians can continue to provide care to their patients. We also appreciate the extended funding for the National Health Service Corps, a program that successfully recruits primary care physicians to underserved areas. Together, these programs help ensure Americans will have access to needed care, regardless of where they live.

“The AAFP applauds the extension and expansion of the Independence at Home demonstration program. The IAH model uses home-based primary-care teams who implement care plans tailored to the needs of Medicare beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions and a history of hospitalization and other high-cost services. To date, IAH has demonstrated improvements in patient care and cost savings.

“The continuing resolution provides health security for millions of children and adults. The AAFP also applauds the 10-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Not only will continuation of CHIP ensure uninterrupted care for children with serious health challenges, but it enables parents to take their children in for necessary preventive care. Equally important, federal support of community health centers—the only source of care for uninsured, under-insured, and underserved people across the country—maintains a lifeline to 24 million Americans.

“Moreover, we are encouraged that $4.9 billion in increased Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands is included. The increase will ensure our fellow Americans have access to care while they continue to grapple with the devastation of Hurricane Maria."

Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Munger, contact Leslie Champlin, (800) 274-2237, Ext. 5224, or lchampli@aafp.org.

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Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 129,000 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

To learn more about the AAFP and family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. Follow us on and like us on Facebook. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.familydoctor.org(familydoctor.org).

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