Family Physicians and State Legislators Discuss Issues Impacting Patients, the Primary Care Workforce, and the Practice of Family Medicine

April 2, 2021—Despite being held virtually, this year’s Michigan Family Medicine Advocacy Day on Mar. 23 proved effective at joining nearly 70 advocates and state legislators to talk about issues impacting patients, the primary care workforce, and the practice of family medicine.

Hosted annually by MAFP and Michigan Association of Osteopathic Family Physicians, Advocacy Day is a platform for members to talk directly with state representatives, senators, and their staff about how they can support family physicians and their role in keeping Michiganders and communities healthy.

Among the presenters was Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Representative Mary Whiteford, who delivered a keynote address. Chair Whiteford spoke of her dedication to improving behavioral health outcomes across the state, how physical and behavioral health are intertwined, and the importance of treating the whole patient—a hallmark practice of family physicians.

Advocates were then assigned to smaller breakout “rooms,” where they talked in-depth with and answered questions from legislators and legislative staff about the Academy’s main policy priorities for 2021:

  • Allocating $5.1 million in the state budget to fund the continuation of MIDOCS, a community-based program that, to-date, has created 52 new primary care residency positions with the goal of increasing access to care in rural and urban underserved communities in Michigan.
  • Investing $1.5 million in the Michigan State Loan Repayment Program (MSLRP), which helps employers recruit and retain primary medical, dental, and mental healthcare clinicians by providing loan repayment to those who commit to practicing in medically underserved areas of the state. 
  • Supporting legislation that would bring much needed consistency and transparency to the prior authorization process. Prior authorization reform legislation (Senate Bill 247) has been introduced in the Michigan Senate which is similar to Senate Bill 612 of 2019, except that step therapy has been removed and will be introduced as a separate piece of legislation.
  • Protecting the physician-patient relationship and physician-led healthcare team by voting against legislation that calls for expanding scope of practice for non-physicians. Many such bills come before the legislature; among those are House Bill 5302 and 5303 of 2019, which aimed to establish naturopathic licensure, and House Bill 4359, which would give autonomy to certified registered nurse anesthetists.

“While this year’s virtual Advocacy Day looked much different than those of years’ past, it was equally effective at educating lawmakers about the role of family physicians in the healthcare system and the issues that impact their practice of family medicine and their patients. We thank all who participated in the 2021 Michigan Family Medicine Day,” said Matt Black, MAFP Director of Government Relations.