President's Message

November, 2019

Jennifer Sparks, MD – MASSFP President

Jennifer Sparks, MD

"See One, Do One, Teach One"

It was a dark and stormy day, perfect for Dim Sum. Despite such torrential weather, family physicians across the state came out representing independent practice, employed models: for profit and not-for-profit, and urban underserved communities. It was a wonderful time to share our experiences as family doctors and learn from others. We were stage right, set in front of the symbol for happiness, and boy were we!

“Each family doc I met opened a fascinating window to a world of the family doc's life, practice location and arrangement, and how the family doc's resourcefulness meets the challenges of our changing practice environment. The informal setting was nourishing in body, mind and spirit. I also left the 2 hours of chatting and fun over food struck by the diversity in backgrounds and talents of my family medicine community” Zen-Jay.

I have great appreciation for Zen-Jay and his inspiration and desire to kick the first meet-up off, and look forward to future options in various parts of the State. If you may be interested in helping inspire/arrange a networking meet up in your local area please outreach MassAFP.

In addition to hearing needs, concerns, and ideas on health care transformation, administrative burden and wellbeing of our members, MassAFP heard from senator and state representatives in private meetings, attended the Health Policy Commission’s Cost Trends Hearings, and has pending testimony to the Joint Committee on Public Health regarding the Academy’s stance on Scope of Practice legislation.

In our meetings with Senator Friedman, Representative Benson, Representative Driskoll, Representative Mahoney, the MassAFP requested support for An Act to Improve Access to Family Physicians: HB 1914 SB 1282 for workforce development and continued support for Nurse Practitioner supervision of as part of the health care team rather than individual practice. Many were receptive to the concerns about scope of practice, but were also cognizant of the need for more practitioners in health care while also noting Optometry, Dental hygienists, Podiatry, and Nurse Anesthetists looking for increasing scope of practice. Concerns individuals shared with the MassAFP include the following: Rep Benson is concerned about the opioid crisis and how to ensure such a thing does not happen again with any other drug, Rep Driskoll is concerned with step therapy and its impact on patients and physicians as it pertains to administrative burden, Rep Mahoney is interested in limiting prior authorizations and reducing burden to both patients and clinicians, and Senator Friedman is also concerned about step therapy, prior authorizations and the disruption in health care delivery to patients while also keenly interested in increased primary care spending saving money in the long run as seen in Rhode Island.

In the Health Policy Commission’s Cost trend hearing I was impressed to see the commission pressing the pharmaceutical and insurance companies on the impact of lack of price transparency, negotiated prices, and surprise billing. Most notable to the MassAFP cause, Dr. Marie Ganim, Health Insurance Commissioner for the State of Rhode Island and Mr. Chris Koller, President, Milbank Memorial Fund presented on state policy options to increase investment in primary care. I find this to be a big movement for our leaders to be listening to a nearby state who has increased their primary care spend and the cost savings as a result. Likewise, the Governor is interested in increasing the primary care investment.

The Governor’s health care bill was also submitted to the state house this last week. It has broad and expansive goals, so much so, various members have noted it may need to be broken down in to parts addressed by committees at the statehouse. Despite its breadth, at the forefront is the importance of primary care and the need to prioritize our workforce. The MassAFP will continue to advocate for primary care prioritization within those meetings providing testimony where possible. Stay tuned!


Jennifer Sparks, MD
MassAFP President

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