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Internists ask President-elect Obama to include aid for primary care in stimulus proposal
Date:12/17/2008

Washington At the request of the presidential transition team, ideas on advancing health care reform in the stimulus package were provided today by the American College of Physicians (ACP). ACP represents 126,000 internal medicine physicians and medical student members. It is the nation's largest medical specialty society and it is the second largest physician membership organization.

"ACP believes that it is essential that the stimulus package provide a 'down payment' on expanding health insurance coverage and delivery system reforms to reverse a growing shortage of primary care physicians," ACP President Jeffrey P. Harris, MD, FACP, wrote Tom Daschle, Secretary-designee of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Dr. Harris recommended that the stimulus package include funding for a 10 percent increase in Medicare payments for all services billed by primary care physicians over 18 months, as a first step toward reversing a growing and potentially cataclysmic primary care workforce shortage. The College also recommended inclusion of incentives, directed toward primary care physicians in smaller practices, to acquire specific health information technology applications to support care coordination in a Patient-Centered Medical Home, as part of a broader plan to encourage universal adoption of HIT.

Dr. Harris recalled that President-elect Obama's concern was "right on the mark" when he noted during the campaign that "primary care providers and public health practitioners have and will continue to lead efforts to protect and promote the nation's health. Yet, the numbers of both are dwindling."

Recent studies project a growing shortage of 45,000 or more primary care physicians. This shortage can be attributed to increased demand for primary care associated with an aging population with more chronic illnesses, a sharp downturn in young physicians choosing primary care, and the accelerating number of established primary
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Contact: David Kinsman
dkinsman@acponline.org
202-261-4554
American College of Physicians
Source:Eurekalert

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