New AAFP president pledges to ‘hound Congress’ on administrative relief for practices

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 - Michael Munger, MD
Michael Munger, MD

Michael Munger, MD, assumed the role of president of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) during its 2017 Family Medicine Experience (FMX) in San Antonio, Texas. In his opening speech, he both praised the progress in moving toward value-based care and echoed members’ angst about the increasing administrative burden in their practices.

Munger is vice president of medical affairs for Saint Luke’s Physicians Group in Overland Park, Kansas. He’s served on the AAFP board for three years. During that time, he said the most common theme which came up in conversations with other family physicians was what can be done about the overload of administrative work taking time away from meeting with patients.

“You all love interacting with patients and being a part of their lives, but are drowning in the administrative complexity and nonvalue-added tasks we all face daily,” Munger said. “It's standing in the way of meaningful patient care. In fact, on the most recent member survey, administrative complexity was listed as the No. 1 issue you need help on from your AAFP.”

Simplifying and streamlining administrative processes will be one of the AAFP’s strategic priorities under his watch, saying its already begun pushing for changes with prior authorizations, interoperability and documentation guidelines. Efforts to reduce administrative burden would do extend to board certification, with Munger arguing board exams and maintenance of certification shouldn’t be “used as a sole criterion” for employment or commercial payer participation.

AAFP will “continue to hound Congress, as well, that something must be done,” he said.

The increased burden AAFP complain about has often been blamed on the transition from volume to value, but when it comes to payment reform, Munger said he believes the industry is moving in the right direction. In his own practice, he said he’s seen payment that “reflects the delivery of comprehensive coordinated care.” He praised some CMS programs, like Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+) and the Quality Payment Program, though adding the later still needed some tweaks in its “overall complexity.”

"After much talk for years about the move from volume to value, I fortunately have finally started to see changes in my practice," Munger said.

AAFP used the CPC+ model as the basis for its own alternative payment model, which it submitted to the Physician-Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Committee earlier this year.