May 11, 2009

Dr. Ted Epperly Speaks for FM with Obama

Dr. Epperly, the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, blogged about his meeting with President Obama on Healthcare.
And then the most amazing thing happened. The AAFP hadn’t been assigned a speaking role at the summit, but suddenly, to my complete surprise, our country’s president said he wanted to hear from the nation’s physicians—and he called on me for comments. I was shocked to have this opportunity drop into my lap. What should I say? I hadn’t prepared anything! So I stood up about 10 feet from the president, looked him in the eye, and said the words that flowed from my heart.

I thanked him for his leadership in assembling the group and said I was honored to be there. Speaking for family physicians, I told him that we believe health care coverage should be expanded to everyone in the United States, but I also warned him of the need to fix the primary care workforce so patients actually have access to that care. I told him that the nation’s FPs are ready to roll up their shirtsleeves and do everything possible to make reform work, because it’s the right thing to do.

And then I sat down, elated that the president had called on the AAFP to speak for the nation’s physicians. He could have called on one of the other medical groups at the summit, including the AMA, but he didn’t. He chose us. He chose family physicians!

I think this speaks volumes about the respect the Academy has gained in Washington and the respect the people on Capitol Hill have for family doctors in the trenches. They know family physicians and the patient-centered medical home will play a key role in the reform that’s coming. They know we are part of the solution.

I know that things have looked dire for primary care for a long time now so it is reassuring to hear Dr. Epperly's enthusiasm and passion for the future of Family Medicine.

Quite frankly, I feel very lucky to be poised on this new front of change for health care. People will be looking at my generation (and at me!) for new ideas, conviction and dedication to primary care. That's the main reason why I am excited to go to the Family Medicine National Conference in Kansas City, Missouri this summer. I'd like to get involved somehow.

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