AAFP Federal Advocacy Update, October 2022

See What the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Federal Advocacy Team Has Been Working On.

AAFP Leaders Advocate on Capitol Hill for Improved Access to Primary Care

In October, the AAFP’s president, president-elect and board chair traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress and their staff to advocate for key AAFP legislative priorities:

  • Stopping impending Medicare payment cuts and working towards a long-term solution for sustainable physician payment.
  • Reforming prior authorization by passing the Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act (H.R. 3173/S. 3018), which would reduce administrative tasks that interfere with and delay patient care by streamlining prior authorization in Medicare Advantage plans.

Child & Adolescent Health Groups Sound the Alarm on Mental Health Crisis

Last October, the AAFP joined the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Children’s Hospital Association in declaring children’s mental health a national emergency. One year later, the AAFP and our partners are calling for further legislative action to address this crisis.  

What we’re working on:

  • The AAFP is advocating for the Senate to pass the bipartisan Improving Access to Behavioral Health Integration Act (S. 4306), which would establish a federal grant program for primary care practices to implement evidence-based behavioral health integration programs.

Conrad 30 Program Essential to Strengthen Primary Care Workforce

Why it matters:
The Conrad 30 Waiver Program allows foreign physicians trained in the U.S. to remain in the U.S. without having to return home if they agree to practice in an underserved area for three years. Many communities, including rural and low-income areas, have problems meeting their patient care needs and depend on the physicians in this program to provide health care services.

The Conrad 30 program was temporarily extended through December 16, 2022, as part of the most recent continuing resolution, but additional action is needed to maintain and expand the program.

With communities across the country facing physician shortages, the Conrad 30 Waiver Program ensures that international physicians who want to continue practicing in the U.S. can continue to provide care for patients during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

What we’re working on:

AAFP Urges Health & Human Services (HHS) to Delay Information Blocking Deadline

Why it matters:
AAFP told HHS that family physicians and most other stakeholders need more time and improved guidance to ensure compliance with electronic health information (EHI) sharing rules. This includes a broad and potentially burdensome expansion of how EHI is defined.  

Family physicians need accessible, actionable patient health information at the point of care, which is why the AAFP has long advocated to advance interoperability. However, without improved data sharing functionality, we’re concerned this latest implementation deadline could lead to more administrative burden.

What we’re working on:

  • We are advocating to improve health data sharing and patient access to their electronic health information without increasing administrative workload for physicians or compromising data privacy.

AAFP Submits Comments on Nondiscrimination Rule

The AAFP submitted comments to HHS in response to their Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities proposed rule. Family physicians know that access to inclusive, person-centered care improves health outcomes.

The AAFP urged HHS to strengthen non-discrimination protections in all health settings and programs including medical services, insurance coverage and benefit design. The AAFP also weighed in on new provisions to address discriminatory clinical algorithms and urged HHS to ensure new health IT or translation requirements under this rule are accessible and financially feasible for all practices, especially small and solo physician practices.

Family Physicians Provide Majority of Obstetric Care in Maternity Care Deserts

New research from the Robert Graham Center shows that in many maternity care deserts (MCD) family physicians are the sole maternity care clinicians. The data demonstrate the significant role family physicians play in MCDs and nationwide.

 Key findings include:

  • Family physicians deliver babies in more than 4 in 10 (40.7%) of all U.S. counties, and more than 5 in 10 (52.4%) of these counties are located in nonmetropolitan areas.
  • Family physicians are the sole maternity care clinicians delivering babies in 181 maternity care deserts (about one in six of all maternity care deserts), serving more than 400,000 women.
Sources: American Board of Family Medicine, 2011–2019; Area Health Resource File, 2021

For the latest policy updates impacting family medicine, follow AAFP Advocacy at @aafp_advocacy.

Post author: AAFP National, aafp.org/advocacy

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