By Samantha White
TAFP continued working diligently in 2013 to serve our members all across the state. The year including a legislative session meant staff and physicians alike advocating for the specialty on numerous occasions. The year also saw high attendance at Academy events, a large number of scholarships awarded, and numerous members winning accolades and achieving prestigious positions.
Advocacy: The 83rd Texas Legislature convened in 2013 and your TAFP advocacy team worked diligently all year for the specialty of family medicine. The regular session ended with mixed scores on health care’s most perplexing problems, but compared to last session, organized medicine and Texans have numerous reasons to celebrate.
After a 43 percent cut to the state’s graduate medical education funding in 2011, lawmakers were determined to address GME by partially restoring funding to existing efforts and by investing additional funding in new initiatives designed to increase the number of training positions available in the state. As a result, total state GME funding will increase by $30 million, or about 45 percent in the upcoming biennium, and planning grants will help develop new residency programs in needed specialties.
Family medicine residency programs receive a special line of direct state funding that goes to train the bulk of Texas’ future primary care physician workforce. Those funds were slashed by almost 74 percent last session, but in the next two years, the programs will receive $12.78 million, more than doubling their appropriation.
TAFP worked with chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, to file a bill to strengthen primary care in Texas. The original bill was amended throughout the session and finally attached to another bill that passed and was signed by the governor. The bill created a set of incentive programs to create new residency training positions and to encourage medical schools to produce more primary care physicians.
Lawmakers appropriated $33.8 million for the Physician Education Loan Repayment Program, which is an almost 500 percent increase over the previous budget. The program will cover up to $160,000 in medical education debt for physicians who agree to practice for four years in an underserved community.
Last session, the combination of the deficit threat and a political determination to deny state funding to Planned Parenthood had a devastating effect on women’s health care programs in Texas. Next biennium, programs that provide preventive and contraceptive care for women will be almost completely restored to their 2010-2011 levels, thanks to a dedicated group of lawmakers and advocates, like the Texas Women’s Healthcare Coalition.
The Legislature increased state funding to the DSHS Family Planning Program by $32.1 million to replace federal funding under Title X awarded to the Women’s Health and Family Planning Association of Texas, and it gave the DSHS Primary Health Care Expansion an additional $100 million for the biennium for women’s health care. About $60 million of that is expected to go for family planning services including contraceptive care. The budget also adds $71.3 million for the Texas Women’s Health Program.
After years of work and negotiation the Academy succeeded at securing the passage of legislation to streamline regulations for physicians delegating prescriptive authority to nurse practitioners and physician assistants, while maintaining the physician’s position as captain of the health care team. Click here to read more in-depth coverage of the 83rd Texas Legislature.
Education: TAFP held four annual symposia in 2013: the C. Frank Webber Lectureship in Austin, TAFP’s 64th Annual Session and Scientific Assembly in Fort Worth, and Primary Care Summit in Houston as well as Dallas. These programs combined had nearly 1,325 attendees and offered the opportunity to earn up to 80.25 CME credits.
TAFP also offered fourteen SAM Group Study Workshops during 2013 to help American Board of Family Medicine diplomates meet Maintenance of Certification requirements. Nine of the workshops were held in conjunction with TAFP symposia and five standalone programs were held in Houston, Dallas, Corpus Christi, and San Marcos. The Academy plans to host 11 SAM workshops in 2014, nine coinciding with symposia and two by themselves.
The National Procedures Institute also stayed busy in 2013, presenting procedural training workshops for primary care physicians on various topics. NPI offered 81 courses and welcomed over 1,000 medical professionals this year.
NPI will host six programs in 2014, offering more courses per program and brand new courses. The six programs will be held in Fort Worth, San Diego, Las Vegas, Chicago, Orlando, and Phoenix. New course topics include ICD10, geriatrics, and laparoscopic suturing. To see the 2014 event schedule and register for upcoming programs, visit the NPI website at www.NPInstitute.com.
Members and Leaders: TAFP membership crossed big thresholds in 2013, adding over 100 active members and more than 250 medical student members, ending the year at 8,116 total members. AAFP ended 2013 with just over 110,600 total members.
Many TAFP members ascended to the leadership of various organizations or received various awards. Samuel Mathis was chosen as the AAFP Student Representative to the American Medical Association’s Medical Student Section. Adrian Billings, Ph.D., M.D., was appointed to the National Advisory Council on the National Health Service Corps. Amy Mullins, M.D., was hired as the AAFP Medical Director for Quality Improvement. Carlos Jaén, Ph.D., M.D., was chosen as a new member of the Institute of Medicine. Troy Fiesinger, M.D., was given the J.T. “Lamar” McNew Award by TMA Resident and Fellow Section. Douglas Curran, M.D., was re-elected to the TMA Board of Trustees, and Gregory Fuller, M.D., was elected as TMA Alternate Delegate to the American Medical Association.
TAFP’s new officers were installed at the 2013 Annual Session: President Clare Hawkins, M.D., M.Sc., of Baytown; President-elect Dale Ragle, M.D., of Dallas; Vice President Tricia Elliot, M.D., of Houston; Treasurer Ajay Gupta, M.D., of Austin; and Parliamentarian Janet Hurley, M.D., of Whitehouse.
The Academy recognized its award recipients during Annual Session. Jasmine Sulaiman, M.D., was named Texas Family Physician of the Year. Both George Zenner, M.D., and David Pillow, M.D., were recognized as Physicians Emeriti. Janet Realini, M.D., received the Presidential Award of Merit. Sen. Jane Nelson was presented with the Patient Advocacy Award. Nora Gimpel, M.D., was awarded the Public Health Award. William Huang, M.D., received the Exemplary Teaching Award. Bruce Echols, M.D., received the Special Constituency Leadership Award. Tim Lambert, M.D., was named the TAFP Foundation Philanthropist of the Year, and Xavier Muñoz, D.O., was awarded the TAFP Political Action Committee Award.
The Academy was well represented on multiple AAFP commissions in 2013: Justin Bartos, M.D., and Christina Kelly, M.D., Commission on Membership and Member Services; Joane Baumer, M.D., and Tricia Elliott, M.D., Commission on Education; Melissa Gerdes, M.D., chair of Commission on Quality and Practice; Rebecca Hart, M.D., and Ashok Kumar, M.D., Commission on Health of the Public and Science; Clare Hawkins, M.D., Commission on Continuing Professional Development; Erica Swegler, M.D., Commission on Government Advocacy; and Charles Willnauer, student representative to the Commission on Governmental Advocacy.
At the end of 2013, TAFP saw three new appointments to AAFP commissions: Lindsay Botsford, M.D., Commission on Quality and Practice; Ajay Gupta, M.D., Commission on Finance and Insurance; and TAFP COO Kathy McCarthy, CAE, Commission on Membership and Member Services.
TAFP Foundation: The TAFP Foundation continued efforts to raise and distribute funds for scholarships for medical students planning to pursue careers in family medicine, office-based family medicine research, family medicine interest group activities at medical schools across the state, and family medicine resident activities. The Foundation would like to thank all donors, especially our 75 monthly donors, for contributing to these efforts and we look forward to continue working with you to meet our goals to support the specialty.
After budget cuts during the 82nd Texas Legislature, TAFP took over administration of the Texas Statewide Family Medicine Preceptorship Program. The TAFP Foundation created the Family Medicine Student Interest Endowment and awarded the first 13 scholarships in 2013. The stipends were given to medical students who spent two or four weeks with family physicians around the state getting real life experience in community health care settings.
The Foundation also gave 19 scholarships during 2013, totaling over $23,000 for medical students and residents across Texas. Among the recipients was Anastasia Benson, D.O., who received the James C. Martin Scholarship and spent two weeks doing advocacy work for TAFP in Austin.
TAFP is actively preparing for programs and events taking place in 2014, including preparing for the 84th Texas Legislature that will take place in 2015. Thank you to all of our members for everything you do for your patients and the state of Texas.