April 1, 2022

Advocacy is Imperative

U-M family physicians descended on Michigan’s capitol last week for a day of advocacy and connecting with law makers.

On Michigan Family Medicine Advocacy Day, the physicians and students met with many of Michigan’s senators and representatives to advocate for patients across the state and for the importance of the family medicine specialty. 

"Patients give us the immense honor of caring for them and their families. With this honor comes a responsibility to use our voices for good. As a resident in training, it may be easy to feel that your voice doesn't matter - but it matters all the more as we are the future of family medicine. I am energized to advocate on behalf of my patients and loved ones," said Carol M. Shetty, M.D., HOII. "This year, sharing personal stories with legislators helped them to put a name to a face, gain insight into real issues that patients and providers face, and prioritize which policy items to push forward. We were also able to make personal connections with administrators and legislators in our district and are already planning to collaborate on a health fair and ongoing advocacy work to improve the health of our patients and community this upcoming year!"

Among the most important issues discussed this year was prior authorization reform. Michigan’s House of Representatives was set to vote on Senate Bill 247 the same day, which will bring increased transparency, equality and clinical relevance to the prior authorization process. These changes will reduce delays in patients' care thereby enabling patients and physicians to make important health care decisions together. The vote on the bill has been three years in the making and our advocates were thrilled to make a final push for change and be in Lansing to see it pass.  See more on this from the MAFP.

This group of physicians were able to speak with many legislators and advocated on many additional health care related topics including:

    • Uplifting the Medicaid reimbursement rate for primary care physicians to inspire more physicians to accept Medicaid and boost access to primary care for Medicaid patients. 
    • Improving the Michigan State Loan Repayment Program which offers loan repayment to those entering into full-time primary care. 
    • Retaining funding for the MIDocs program, a statewide initiative that aims to increase the number of primary care residency slots. 

"It is important for us as Family Physicians to advocate for our patients and their care to our legislators.  There is no other specialty that cares for patients of all ages and backgrounds from cradle to grave that can share the experiences of the communities we serve,” added Eric P. Skye, M.D., professor and associate chair for educational programs. 

Department attendees included: Eric P. Skye, M.D.Elizabeth K. Jones, M.D.Christine J. Medaugh, M.D.Erin Hendriks, M.D.Nora H. Dagher, D.O.Carol M. Shetty, M.D.Sebastian Schoneich, M.D.Louisa Howard, M.D., M.A.Nadia Ilhardt, M.D., and Raven A. Batshon, M.D., M.P.H.