Legislators are making decisions RIGHT NOW on this year’s State Budget. With family physicians and patients facing multiple crises, we need YOU to contact your legislators IMMEDIATELY urge them to take action to help. Please read the information below so that you can call your legislators and ask them to take THREE specific actions:
The Song-Brown program provides funding for primary care residency training programs with a proven track record of graduating physicians who practice primary care in underserved areas serving underserved populations, including seniors, children, and those with special needs. The Governor’s budget proposes to cut it by $33 million – more than 90 percent of its funding. It is the last thing we should cut during a health care crisis.
In the last three years alone, Song-Brown helped to create and fund:
The program helps get needed services to communities immediately. Each family medicine resident provides an average of at least 600 additional primary care patient visits per year while in training. Supporting family medicine residency programs also has significant long-term benefits for communities, as the majority of residents stay and practice in the areas in which they train.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken our society to the core, sending millions of Californians reeling, and leaving no sector of the economy unaffected. Recent studies indicate nearly 80 percent of primary care clinicians are experiencing “severe” or “close to severe” financial strain as a result of COVID-19. Shortly after physical distancing measures went into effect around the state, CAFP surveyed our members and more than 90 percent of respondents were concerned about the financial sustainability of their practice. Patients are forgoing essential care for chronic disease management, preventive services, and mental health care. This results in a significant deterioration of patient health, but also risks the closure of primary care practices throughout the state. We must immediately save our primary care infrastructure from fiscal collapse to ensure it can meet the needs of the current state of emergency, as well as the pent-up post-pandemic demand sure to follow. And we can do that without any impact on the State’s General Fund.
California’s health plans and insurers remain quite profitable as they continue to collect patient premiums without paying out as much for services. In fact, Moody’s Investors Service predicts most health insurers will remain profitable over the next few years.
If there is one positive to emerge from the current catastrophe, it is that a unique opportunity now exists to reorganize primary care and address long-festering problems at the heart of our health care system. Not only will this help ensure that primary care physician practices remain solvent, it can also play a pivotal role in optimizing the larger health care system. Even before the pandemic began, lack of support for primary care left us with an insufficient workforce and the continued decline of patients having a usual source of primary care. We must ensure that patients have access to the chronic care management and disease prevention that primary care provides. While prospective payment is a necessary lifeline to keep primary care practices open, we must take action to ensure California does not return to its broken and dysfunctional health care system when the initial stages of this crisis pass. This prospective payment should act as a jumping off point to build upon important payment reform.
Please call your legislators IMMEDIATELY to deliver these messages using this link, and encourage all of your colleagues to do the same. Then let us know you have taken action by clicking here.