Archives / 2009 / August
  • Health care politics 101

    Tags: academy update, reform, health care, policy

    By Tom Banning
    TAFP Chief Executive Officer/Executive Vice President

    At the risk of sounding overly cynical, epiphanies in politics are rare, if they exist at all. Ground-breaking legislative reforms are more likely to evolve from several years of toiling in the political trenches. Even then, legislative breakthroughs may be a result of sheer unanticipated luck, stumbling by an opponent, an inadvertent absence of a determined adversary, or the weird and largely unplanned alignment of mutual interests, as politics makes strange bedfellows.

    Legislative reform is by definition a reactionary sport. Reforms typically occur after, not before, the proverbial train wreck, plane crash, biblical storm or financial meltdown. Health care reform is no different and in many respects will be much more difficult to achieve, as reformers are attempting to transform the system before it collapses.

  • Reflections of three years on the AAFP Board

    Tags: perspective, aafp, board of directors, goertz

    By Roland A. Goertz, M.D., M.B.A.

    Three words describe the three years I have served on the American Academy of Family Physicians Board of Directors: challenges, changes and opportunities. In a brief three-year period, the board has dealt with everything from declining non-dues revenues to deciding how to optimally impact the best opportunity in over a decade to reform an ailing health care system. We live in an interesting time as family physicians in today’s health care system, and as such, my tenure on the board has been quite a journey.

    After only a brief period spent enjoying the euphoria of a successful election, new board members are handed a packet outlining their first responsibilities. Meeting dates are placed on calendars and primers on the inner workings of the Academy are reviewed. You are thrust into a constant and voluminous flow of information distributed in multiple formats. If one has not already developed a method of efficient data management, interpretation and use, necessity quickly breeds invention as a board member.

  • Seeking a system that respects the patient-physician relationship

    Tags: president's letter, legislature, physician, patients, relationship, youens

    By Robert Youens, M.D., M.M.M.
    TAFP President, 2008-2009

    Recently in a neighboring community to mine with practicing family physicians, a hospital, surgeons, obstetrical care, ER coverage and multiple visiting specialists, two interesting developments have occurred. First, a new clinic has opened with a $1 million grant and the backing of the local community and a citizen champion. The plan is to have it qualify as a Federally Qualified Health Center “look-alike” that will allow it to receive Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement at significantly higher levels than the locally practicing physicians. This clinic is able to see any patient: Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance or private pay. Incidentally, the guiding force behind the clinic says they currently have a nurse practitioner and a “family practice” doctor, but he wants to get a pediatrician because his primary reason for starting the clinic is to help children.

    Second, with the help of local and federal politicians, a Veterans Administration clinic is to open this summer to care for veterans in the area who need their services, thus decreasing travel distances to a more remote VA clinic. This clinic was awarded on a bid contract to a company who apparently does this in other places and is to be staffed by various ancillary personnel hired for the business as well as a general practitioner from the area.