June 5, 2019
Ten MassAFP members attended the Family Medicine Advocacy Summit (FMAS) in D.C. on May 19-21, to speak up for key bills that have been introduced to congress which impact family medicine and our patients.
Speakers on 5/20 gave great presentations on current legislative priorities. Rep. Kim Schrier, MD, the only woman physician in congress gave a rousing keynote address. We learned that a 2019 JAMA study found that for every 10 additional primary care physicians/100,000 population was associated with a 51.5-day increase in life expectancy. The inverse is also true with additional 10 specialist physicians in the same population decreasing life expectancy by 20 days. Your work saves lives!
We had a packed day on 5/21 speaking with legislators and staff: Sen. Warren, Sen. Markey, Rep. Neal, Rep. McGovern, Rep. Trahan, Rep. Kennedy, Rep. Clark, and Rep. Moulton. Overall our congressional delegation is very supportive of our work.
Our asks for our Representatives included joining the Primary Care Caucus which focuses on the advancement of primary care. We urged support of the Primary Care Patient Protection Act. This allows patients with high deductible plans to have 2 primary care visits covered/year without out of pocket charges. We discussed the problem of rural primary care access and needed changes through the Advancing Medical Resident Training in Community Hospitals Act, a similar bill in the senate (Rural Physician Workforce Production Act).
With all legislators and staff, we urged support for teaching health centers with Training the Next Generation of Primary Care Doctors Act. This bill provides funding for 5 years (instead of 2 at a time), which would support expansion in rural and undeserved communities. We know that most family physicians stay and practice within 100 miles of their residency site. Teaching health centers retain 66% graduates in primary care vs. 33% for other GME programs. Finally, we urged support for gun violence research, as this is an underfunded public health crisis.
While it is exciting to see the buzz of congress on a busy spring day, our legislators will recess in August. You can reach out and be a resource for family medicine, and remind them of our priorities. Without physician voices, healthcare decisions will be made by people who have never stepped a day in the shoes of a physician. Your voice matters!
Julie Johnston, MD, FAAFP
MassAFP Vice President and Legislative Chair