AAFP Federal Advocacy Update, April 2023

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

AAFP Endorses Strengthening Medicare for Patients and Providers Act

Medicare’s physician payment system is undermining physicians’ ability to provide high-quality, comprehensive care. The AAFP applauds Representatives Raul Ruiz, MD, Larry Bucshon, MD, Ami Bera, MD, and Mariannette Miller-Meeks, MD, for their leadership in introducing the Strengthening Medicare for Patients and Providers Act (H.R. 2474). This bill would enact a positive annual update to the Medicare physician fee schedule conversion factor based on the Medicare Economic Index—a top priority for the AAFP and an important step toward building a sustainable Medicare payment system.

What we’re working on:

  • The AAFP continues to highlight how statutory budget-neutrality requirements and the lack of annual payment updates to account for inflation will, without intervention from Congress, continue to hurt physician practices and undermine patient care.
  • The AAFP and hundreds of other medical groups have consistently urged Congress to end the statutory freeze on annual updates to the fee schedule and enact a positive annual update to the conversion factor based on the Medicare Economic Index.

AAFP Responds to Proposed Ban of Noncompete Clauses

In January 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposed a new regulation that would ban noncompete clauses in employment contracts. Noncompete clauses are uniquely challenging to family medicine’s emphasis on longitudinal care and can be used inappropriately to prevent physicians from maintaining patient relationships when they change jobs. The AAFP has long opposed restrictive clauses in employment contracts, which can negatively affect care continuity and physician well-being as well as worsen health care consolidation.

What we’re working on:  

  • As many as 45% of family physicians in group practices have contracts with noncompete clauses. The AAFP advocates for policies to limit the inappropriate use of such restrictions and ensure ongoing access to care.

AAFP Applauds Final Prior Authorization Rule

The AAFP applauded the 2024 Medicare Advantage final rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which includes new policies supported by the AAFP to address prior authorization. This will strengthen coverage requirements and reduce administrative complexity so that physicians can spend more time with patients.

What we’re working on:

  •  The AAFP is hopeful these policies will advance timely, equitable access to care for beneficiaries and urged CMS to apply the same principles to prescription drug coverage across payers.
  • We continue to urge Congress to reintroduce and pass the Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act, which would codify some of these policies into law and protect Medicare Advantage patients from unnecessary delays in care for years to come.

AAFP Alarmed by Federal Court Ruling on the Affordable Care Act

A federal court’s March 30 ruling in Braidwood Management Inc. v. Becerra renders unconstitutional the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for insurers and health plans to cover preventive services recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), jeopardizing equitable, affordable access to evidence-based preventive services for millions.

What we’re working on:

  • Preventive care, which family physicians routinely provide, is necessary to keep our nation healthy and reduce health care expenditures. The AAFP issued a press statement and a joint statement with the Group of Six expressing our alarm and disappointment at the ruling. We are calling on lawmakers, insurers and employers to ensure ongoing access to preventive care at no cost to patients.
  • The AAFP continues to advocate to ensure that all patients receive equitable, reliable access to preventive services. Research demonstrates that health care systems prioritizing access to primary and preventive care have better patient outcomes and lower health care costs, including decreases in costly hospitalizations and emergency department visits.

AAFP Recognizes Minority Health Month & Black Maternal Health Week

The AAFP consistently advocates for policies that close equity gaps, including inequities in maternal health outcomes. Family physicians play a key role in mitigating health disparities, bias and discrimination. We are committed to developing strategies that promote health equity through identifying and addressing unmet social needs in all health care delivery systems, with the goal of prioritizing preventive health and management of chronic conditions.

What we’re working on:

  • The AAFP looks forward to the reintroduction of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act and supports the work of the Black Maternal Health Caucus to advance this important national dialogue about improving maternal outcomes for women of color.
  • The AAFP’s position paper on birth equity outlines actions physicians, educators and policymakers can take to improve patient health, close equity gaps and ensure that birthing people have the care they need.

Match Day 2023 Reinforces Need to Invest in Primary Care Workforce

On the heels of Match 2023, AAFP President Tochi Iroku-Malize, MD, MPH, FAAFP, wrote in Medical Economics how this year’s Match emphasizes the importance of a strong family medicine workforce. Match results offer reason to celebrate, but the U.S. faces pressing workforce and health equity problems: We need more primary care doctors, and we need them practicing in underserved communities where a family physician or primary care doctor is often the only one trained to meet area patients’ health care needs.

What we’re working on:

  • We’re pleased that Congress has reintroduced the Conrad 30 & Physician Access Act, which allows foreign doctors studying in the U.S. to remain following their residency in exchange for practicing in medically underserved areas and ensures timely access to care.
  • The AAFP has long supported programs that invest in the primary care workforce, such as the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (GME) Program. We are also urging policymakers to design federal GME programs that meet the health care needs of our nation, including assessing how federal funds are allocated and whether they are addressing physician shortages. 

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

Post author: AAFP

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s