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AAFP Statement - Family Physicians to President Bush: Call for Improved Health Access is Only One Step to Comprehensive Reform
Date:1/28/2008

LEAWOOD, Kan., Jan. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Academy of Family Physicians is pleased that President Bush's State of the Union address signaled his interest in improving access to health care. In doing so, the president has helped advance the debate about health system reform.

Improving Americans' ability to pay for health care is but one step in helping create a health system that provides care to all, ensures the financial viability of those who provide those services and reins in the spiraling cost of health care. But providing health coverage to every American will not repair the broken system.

Regardless of how a person pays for health care, the system's reform must grow from a foundation of primary care provided in what is called a medical home, where patients receive comprehensive, whole-person services that help them maintain their health, prevent chronic conditions, efficiently manage those conditions if and when they develop, and ensure access to subspecialist care when appropriate.

For years, the primary health care foundation has been crumbling from neglect. Annual threats of slashing Medicare reimbursement for services rendered -- and the private sector plans that pin their reimbursement on Medicare's example -- discourage medical students from entering primary care and encourage practicing physicians to retire early. Today, our nation is grappling with a primary care physician shortage that is predicted to worsen with time.

That fundamental fissure threatens the future health care for all Americans, and they are beginning to recognize it. Poll after poll have demonstrated Americans' concerns over access to and cost of health care. Most recently, Gallup reported Jan. 24 that 72 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the cost of health care. Health care remains one of the four "most important" problems facing our nation today. Equally important, the Commonwealth Fund this month reported that 86 perc
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SOURCE American Academy of Family Physicians
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