Interim Session features healthy debate on the medical home

Tags: interim session, report, president's letter

By Linda Siy, M.D.
TAFP President, 2007-2008

Happy spring! Our 2008 Interim Session has concluded, and the weekend was a success. The C. Frank Webber Lectureship boasted record attendance this year, and the lectures were of excellent quality. The committees and commissions all met over the course of two days, and the Board of Directors meeting was held Saturday evening, March 15, with much being accomplished. The annual Student and Resident Conference is held in conjunction with Interim Session, and had 26 students and 68 residents from 17 programs attend. A lively residency and procedures fair highlighted their conference, with the opportunity to interact with other active TAFP members.

Our award-winning communications department unveiled a new advocacy video called “Doctor’s Orders,” which focuses on the importance of advocacy and getting involved with your professional organization. It can be downloaded and shown at your local chapter meetings, residency programs, student interest groups and other occasions where the encouragement to become more active and involved with family medicine’s cause is needed. I encourage you to watch the video, which can be seen through our TAFP Web site, and show it to someone else or present it to a group in your community. The more people on board, the stronger we are, and we are going to need our strength in numbers for the next legislative session in 2009!

A recurring theme at many committee and commission meetings at Interim Session was the concept of the “medical home” and the impact of a certification process for becoming a recognized medical home. Not since the launch of Maintenance of Certification has such a controversy erupted within our ranks, so much so that the Board approved a motion to form a task force on the medical home to focus specifically on medical home issues and implications on the practicing family physician.

If you’re still unclear about what a medical home is and why there’s such debate over this, take another look at the cover story of the last TEXAS FAMILY PHYSICIAN. There are pilot programs taking place in other states where insurers are actually paying more to physicians who are “certified” as medical homes. Medical home is just another phrase for “primary care” and that’s what we do!

Unfortunately, doing what we do, and doing it well, has not resulted in better pay. We continue to be undervalued, and as Dr. Roland Goertz put it, if we keep doing what we’re doing, we can’t expect things to change. No one has paid us more for doing the right thing for our patients or for being cost-efficient, quality-care physicians.

I am not a fan of having to jump through more hoops, and spend time and money to get a “certification” for what I already do. I find myself hard-pressed to “sell” this idea to the general membership, our practicing physicians who are out there taking care of patients every day. But I can’t say that we’ve been very successful with our past approach of trying to prove our worth to the payers.

Despite the abundant body of evidence now available to prove the value of primary care, we have not seen the relative-value system change to reflect this. At least now, they seem to have awakened to the idea of a primary care-centered health care system, and I believe if we play our cards right, we will finally benefit.

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