Fight for Family Medicine

All FPs Called on to Continue Momentum Generated at Congressional Advocacy Summit

On May 20-21, family physicians from across the country convened in Washington, DC, for AAFP’s 2019 Family Medicine Advocacy Summit (FMAS). Michigan’s delegation included nine family physicians who took time away from their practices to advocate for their specialty, as well as MAFP Chief Executive Officer Karlene Ketola, MSA, CAE and Legislative Liaison Matt Black.

"The importance of legislative advocacy cannot be overstated in a time when every news story has a medical tilt, whether that is prescription drug pricing, high-deductible health plans, the physician shortage, or speculation regarding a Medicare for all vs. single-payer vs. socialized medicine model," said veteran FMAS attendee Tina Tanner, MD, FAAFP (Montague).

After participating in conference-style sessions on making the case for primary care, delivery system and payment innovations, innovations to modernize graduate medical education, healthcare in the media, and rural health disparities, advocates hit the Hill on May 21 to meet with Members of Congress and their staff to educate them about the importance of investing in primary care, teaching health centers, and graduate medical education. As we know, investing in these areas is critical to increasing access to care and bolstering the healthcare workforce, which is projected to be as many as 52,000 primary care physicians short by 2025.

""Our legislators need to hear from us, as we are the experts in these areas," said Dr. Tanner.

Michigan advocates met with Senators Debbie Stabenow (D) and Gary Peters (D), and Representatives John Moolenaar (R-4), Fred Upton (R-6), and Dan Kildee (D-5). They also met with staff from the offices of Representatives Bill Huizenga (R-2), Elissa Slotkin (D-8), Andy Levin (D-9), and Debbie Dingell (D-12).

“The tone of the meetings was extremely positive and supportive of family medicine. Michigan’s Congressional delegation recognizes the value of primary and preventive care in terms of improved health outcomes for their constituents and cost savings to the American healthcare system as a whole,” said Mr. Black. “Building and nurturing relationships with our elected officials is so important for ensuring the issues impacting family physicians and the patients they serve are heard loud and clear as Congressional fixes for access, reimbursement, and administrative burden issues are crafted. The MAFP advocacy team is committed to helping members, at all levels, build relationships with their elected officials. The importance of relationship-building was reinforced several times during AAFP’s Family Medicine Advocacy Summit and cannot be underscored enough.”

To continue the momentum generated by this week’s Summit and Hill visits, please join AAFP’s Family Medicine Action Network, if you haven’t done so already. This will connect you with resources to help strengthen your advocacy skills, stay up-to-date on issues impacting your specialty, and also ensure you receive call-to-action alerts when contacting your Members of Congress about a particular issue or piece of legislation is needed. Thank you in advance for joining the Fight for Family Medicine.

"I also encourage every family physician in Michigan to consider going to Family Medicine Advocacy Summit in the future," said Dr. Tanner. "I was intimidated the first time, but soon found talking with legislators is not any different than what family physicians do each day as we build relationships with and educate our patients. Over the past seven years that I have attended FMAS, I have built relationships with many of our legislators and and their staff. It is within those relationships that we elevate a strong voice for family medicine, our patients, and our communities. I invite you to add your voice and attend FMAS. I promise, I will be there and I will be happy to show you the ropes."

A single person can move a boulder; an entire group can move mountains.