Politics & policy

Insight into federal and state health care legislation & CMS regulation

Family Physicians Give Administration Mixed Reviews on Budget, Reform Plan

The American Academy of Family Physicians likes the Clinton administration's consumer bill of rights proposal, especially its call for choice of primary care doctors. But it doesn't like the provisions dealing with increased access to specialists, treatment and medical care. AAFP likes the president's plan to tax cigarettes and ban tobacco company advertising that appeals to youngsters. But it doesn't like the president's attempt to limit the rights of smokers who seek to be compensated for tobacco-related illnesses. And the 85,000-member organization likes the administration's initiative to increase funding for biomedical research. But the physicians don't like its meager funding of primary care medical research.

In short, AAFP's reaction to the administration's health care plan is much the same as many other interest groups: There's definitely something to get behind, not perfect, but, compared to the ill-fated 1994 health care reform initiative, it's a whole lot better.

The buzz here is, because the administration — unlike four years ago — is trying to achieve consensus first, there's a chance that at least some major initiatives may actually see the light of day.

AAFP is clearly supportive of one major program outlined in Clinton's State of the Union Address and fiscal 1999 budget: expansion of Medicare. Neil Brooks, M.D., president of AAFP, says family physicians "worked with Congress and the administration last year to help insure poor children. Now we support this year's goal of providing affordable care to near-retirees."

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