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Family Physicians Agree With President That ‘Now is the Time to Deliver” on Health Care Reform

By Ted Epperly, MD
President
American Academy of Family Physicians

The American Academy of Family Physicians commends President Barack Obama for urging action this year on health system reform. As frontline physicians who have seen the impact of our current broken system on our patients, we agree that the time for reform is now.

America needs a health care system that provides security and stability to those who now have insurance and that extends coverage to the 14,000 Americans who are losing health care coverage every day, as well as the 12.6 million non-elderly people who can’t get insurance due to pre-existing conditions.

Our members have seen the fallout of our current system, as patients postpone or forgo needed preventive or early illness care in the face of skyrocketing coverage costs and job loss. We’ve seen the fragmentation and duplication that adds unnecessary expenses to care. We’ve struggled to provide care to our patients, regardless of their ability to pay and in spite of a payment environment that values procedures to treat conditions that could have been prevented.

The vision of health system reform described by President Obama is an important step in bringing more Americans under the umbrella of insurance coverage, working to ensure they can see their personal physician and reining in health care costs.

Affordable health coverage must be available to all Americans, regardless of pre-existing conditions or medical history. Health insurance must continue to cover patients after they become sick. It must be available regardless of a person’s income or job status. The reform envisioned by President Obama works toward those goals.

As we reform our health care system, we must reshape the health delivery system. We must rebuild our primary medical care infrastructure, so that it opens doors, through which patients can see their primary care physician for preventive care, diagnosis and treatment for most health concerns, and coordination of care when subspecialists are needed for specific diseases. It must encourage young people to become primary care physicians by establishing an environment that values and rewards medical expertise that reduces the need for medical procedures and promotes good health.

Our health care system can provide security to all Americans. It can ensure that everyone can see their personal physician for preventive and early illness intervention. But, as President Obama said, now is the time to deliver on health care. Our patients can no longer wait.

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