• AAFP urges Congress to avert Medicare payment cuts, fights expanded scope of practice for nonphysicians, and more

    By AAFP’s Federal Advocacy Team

    This month, the AAFP advocacy team has fought for family medicine on several important fronts, including a major effort to call for congressional action to avert impending Medicare payment cuts for physician services. AAFP president, Dr. Tochi Iroku-Malize, Dr. Patricia L. Turner, executive director/CEO of the American College of Surgeons, and Dr. Ryan Mire, president of the American College of Physicians, outlined the risks of not address looming Medicare cuts for physicians in an opinion piece for Modern Healthcare.

    “Continued financial challenges, administrative burdens and staff shortages, coupled with outdated Medicare payment policies, make it more difficult for physicians to maintain their practices and operate in their communities…. Congress must take action to protect patients’ access to care by halting the payment cuts that will take effect Jan. 1.,” they wrote.

  • Member voices: Let’s push for free medical school

    By Larry Kravitz, MD, Natalie Close, and Jonathan Tao

    To quote Robert Grossman, the dean of New York University Health, free medical school tuition “recognizes a moral imperative that must be addressed, as institutions place an increasing debt burden on young people who aspire to become physicians.”

    Seven medical schools offer free tuition in the United States: NYU, Cornell, Columbia, UCLA, Kaiser Permanente, Cleveland Clinic, and Washington University, although only NYU, Kaiser Permanente, and Cleveland Clinic cover 100% of their students. Some schools, such as TCU, University of Houston, and Dell Medical School offered free tuition for their initial entering class.

  • Funded delegate spots and scholarships available for NCCL

    Each year, AAFP holds the National Conference of Constituency Leaders and Annual Chapter Leader Forum together in Kansas City, Missouri. NCCL representatives and ACLF attendees from across the nation gather to discuss various issues, suggest policies and programs to AAFP, and receive leadership training. In 2023, the conferences will be held May 9 - 11 and TAFP is looking for members to serve on the delegation or apply for scholarships to attend.

    Texas Delegation to NCCL

    Spots are available for 10 TAFP members to represent each of the five constituencies: new physicians (physicians who have been out of residency for seven years or fewer), women, minorities, international medical graduates, and LGBT physicians. TAFP reimburses up to $1,400 for expenses for each of the five delegate and five alternate delegates. In addition, TAFP offers two other opportunities to attend NCCL with funding. These scholarships will be awarded to one third-year resident and one minority physician.

  • AAFP advocacy win: Texas physicians now eligible for federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness

    Tags: public service loan forgiveness, AAFP advocacy

    By Jonathan Nelson

    The U.S. Department of Education has updated its eligibility criteria for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program so that physicians in Texas and California are now eligible to apply, a change that should attract more physicians to practice in safety net hospitals and specialize in primary care. The program is designed to discharge the remaining federal student loan balance for professionals working in public service for governmental and nonprofit organizations after they have made 120 payments on their loans.

    The existing PSFL regulations inadvertently excluded Texas and California physicians who treat patients in private, nonprofit community hospitals, children’s hospitals, and rural hospitals from participating because state laws prohibit private nonprofit hospitals from directly employing physicians. In an August 2022 letter, AAFP urged the Department to modify existing PSLF eligibility requirements to support the inclusion of all physicians providing patient care at nonprofit hospitals regardless of employment type — direct employee or contract employee.

  • Huntsville FP launches podcast to explore the future of primary care

    By Jonathan Nelson

    Need a new podcast to liven your commute? Lane Aiena, MD, hopes you’ll check out his new project, “Doc to the Future,” a half-hour podcast aimed at exploring the ever-changing field of primary care. The first three episodes just dropped on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and other podcast services. Guests include TAFP CEO Tom Banning; medical director of Lone Star Family Medicine in Conroe, Daniel Porter, MD; and nationally recognized physician leader, Peter Valenzuela, MD.

    The first three episodes constitute a deep dive into value-based care, a concept that drove Aiena to create the podcast. At this spring’s C. Frank Webber Lectureship and Interim Session, an executive from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas spoke to the TAFP Board of Directors about the company’s value-based care contracts and how they will likely affect patients and physicians over the next few years. Aiena, who was present for the discussion, says he left the meeting with many questions.

  • AAFP leaders advocate for improved access to primary care and more this month on Capitol Hill

    Tags: AAFP Federal Advocacy Team, primary care access, prior authorization, administrative burden

    By AAFP’s Federal Advocacy Team

    On October 12, AAFP’s president, president-elect, and board chair traveled to Washington D.C., to meet with members of Congress and their staff to advocate for key AAFP legislative priorities. Here’s what they discussed:

    Stop Medicare payment cuts

  • Alpine FP tells Public Health Committee to invest in rural health care

    Tags: Adrian Billings, public health committee, rural health care

    By Jonathan Nelson

    Last week, Adrian Billings, MD, PhD, traveled from his home in Alpine, Texas, to Austin to testify on behalf of TAFP and the Texas Medical Association at a hearing of the House of Representatives Public Health Committee. The hearing focused on assessing the challenges rural Texans face when trying to access health care.

    “I stand before you today privileged to advocate on behalf of rural patients and communities. I do not want to fail these incredibly resilient rural human beings,” Billings said.

  • House Select Committee on Health Care Reform hears testimony on rising costs, price transparency

    Tags: health care reform, house select committee

    By Jonathan Nelson

    The House Select Committee on Health Care Reform wrapped up two days of hearings last week in pursuit of their interim charge to provide policy solutions before the January start of the next Texas Legislature. Committee chair Rep. Sam Harless, R-Spring, kicked off more than 15 hours of invited testimony by outlining the committee’s charge.

    “We are directed to look at the rising cost of health care and health care plans as well as transparency of health care plans, confusing and unequal pricing and more,” Harless said. “Our goal is to increase access and improve affordability for medical care for all Texans including the uninsured and the underinsured.”

  • Is self-care selfish?

    Tags: anticipate joy, wellness, mental health

    By Anticipate Joy

    As a physician you may be struggling with caring for the needs of others, while prioritizing your personal needs and you may be asking, “Is self-care selfish?”

    It’s a common question.

  • Texas comptroller increases state revenue projection in advance of 88th Texas Legislature

    Tags: legislature, 88th texas legislature, budget

    By Jonathan Nelson

    As Texas lawmakers prepare for the 88th Texas Legislature scheduled to begin January 10, 2023, they will have an estimated $27 billion in extra revenue to spend, according to a letter to state leadership last week from Comptroller Glenn Hegar. On top of that, the state’s “rainy day fund” will have swollen to $13.6 billion when the Legislature convenes, an increase of $3.5 billion since the comptroller’s last report. Inflation on consumer goods and high prices for oil and gas have led to unprecedented revenues from sales taxes for the state.

    The July 14 letter detailed a revision to the comptroller’s Certification Revenue Estimate, which is presented to the Legislature in advance of each regular legislative session.