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Winter 2016 Newsletter


19th Annual Winter Update
Hotel Alyeska, Girdwood, AK   March 10-12, 2017

3rd Annual Family Medicine Summit
Captain Cook Hotel, Anchorage, AK   June 29-July 1, 2017

Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics                                      
Anchorage, AK   November 11-12, 2017

Use up your 2016 CME funds

Register for our upcoming CME on or contact us at

Dear Colleagues,

The October 2016 Family Medicine Summit Conference was a great success. Good, practical CME was enhanced with panel discussions, which resulted in good discussions from the attendees. It was also a forum for colleagues to meet other physicians from around the state and nation. The conference enabled conversations about different practice styles, addressed the opioid dilemma, solutions to the burnout dilemma, and preparation for the implementation of MACRA. In addition, we were introduced to the Fascial Distortion Model. This is a technique taught in the DO realm, being shared with the MD practices. Many other aspects of medicine were presented, resulting in 16 good CME credits.

We had the election of officers for the Board of Directors. Jacquelyn Serrano MD for President Elect, Allison Smith MD for Treasurer, Elizabeth Roll MD as Secretary, David Zetterman MD as Delegate and Amy Bukac MD as Delegate. There are still slots for alternate delegates and members at large. If anyone is interested in those positions, please contact me. We like a diverse board from the entire state. We are looking for people from Northern, Western and Southeastern Alaska, to assure regional representation.

We have many CME opportunities with the annual and winter conferences. This year we will have a summer annual meeting that will coincide with the Alaska Family Medicine Residency’s 20th Anniversary reunion. June 29-July 1, 2017 Captain Cook, Anchorage, Alaska.

Next fall, one of our members from Valdez, Dr. John Cullen, will be running for President-elect of the National AAFP. We want to support him by attending the conference and taking part in the Monday evening Hospitality Suite campaign event, September 11 -13, 2017 San Antonio, TX.

Visit our website for ongoing news of the academy. We want the website to enable networking between colleagues, give access to conference registration, honor our Family Doctor of the Year and link you to our national academy for additional resources to enhance your practice of medicine.

Our goal is to develop a quarterly newsletter that informs you about Family Medicine issues in our state.


Jean Tsigonis, President AKAFP


An Update of National Issues from AAFP Board Member John Cullen MD, Valdez, AK

Dear Members,

I spent the last week at the American Academy of Family Physicians Board of Directors meeting and have previously reviewed Senator Ryan A Better Way and thought I might share some thoughts about the likely implications from the recent election and areas of potential improvement and risk for health insurance in Alaska.

As you know Tom Price has been nominated as head of CMS.  He essentially was the coauthor of Paul Ryan’s A Better Way.  Although this document suggests that there are significant differences from the ACA, a lot of the ideas are actually quite similar if rebranded.   The biggest difference is an emphasis on Medicare Advantage, a form of Medicare managed care that works best in areas with high medicare population density.  There is little penetration in rural areas of the country.  Alaska, for example, has no Medicare Advantage programs at all.   My suspicion is that changing to this emphasis will likely be disadvantageous to smaller and rural states as Medicare Advantage will likely cost more money to the Feds than current Medicare, especially as there have been price controls that are likely to be removed.  This may decrease funds available for regular Medicare. There will likely be an increase in the age to start Medicare as well.

There should be continued Medicare as we know it, though Medicare pays less than overhead in Alaska.  For that reason many Alaskan physicians, specialists in particular, are in favor of balance billing of Medicare. This would allow physicians to charge more than Medicare pays with the patients picking up the remainder, which is not allowed currently.   Although beneficial for Alaskan physicians, this would increase costs for Medicare patients and may be more than many can afford, though it would help with access in the Anchorage area.  Senator Murkowski has proposed legislation for this and it is included in A Better Way..

Seema Verma is likely to be the head of HRSA.  She is less in favor of block grants for Medicaid than Medicaid reform.  She oversaw Medicaid Expansion in Indiana.  This may mean a continuation of the Medicaid expansion program, although Senator Ryan’s a Better Way specifically calls for ending Medicaid Expansion.  

There will likely be a push for less employer based insurance and more individual market insurance.  This would have a negative effect as our insurance marketplace is expensive.  There may be an opportunity to fix the Insurance marketplace which does not work well for Alaska given our small population density.  The solution may be forming a multi state compact with other states with similar demographics which I believe is allowed under the ACA, and if not could be instituted with changes from the new administration.   If we could combine our populations from an insurance risk point of view, this should increase the number of insurers in the market and drive down premium prices, This would be different from selling insurance across state lines which would have little benefit and substantial risk for our population for a variety of reasons. 

There is likely to be a renewed push to improve EHRs.  Senator Price is a Doctor after all.  Of concern is the probable impact on reproductive rights and payment for contraception.

The ACA is a massive piece of legislation, and even if repealed it likely will continue for several years essentially unchanged.  There will likely be a rebranding of many of the elements of the ACA and a different emphasis. There is room for improvement in the changes from the ACA,   but Alaska should be wary of changes that adversely affect states with low population density.  It is important to recognize the world we live in rather the one we want to live in.  The AAFP will be working on these issues very intensely in the next few months and we are well positioned to make a difference.

John Cullen MD  -  AAFP Board Member

Please support Dr. Cullen’s AAFP President Elect Campaign  donate on



It is that time of year again when we are recruiting for people interested in attending the Annual Chapter Leader Forum/National Conference of Constituency Leaders.  This is billed by the National AAFP as the conference “for current and aspiring leaders.”  It is an uplifting educational experience which will give you advocacy tools and leave you energized about the specialty.  We have airfare funding for those wanting to represent our chapter.  The NCCL to advocates for traditionally underrepresented groups (note you do not have to be a member of a group to be an advocate): women, minorities, foreign medical grads, new physicians, and GLBT.  The 2017 conference will take place April 27-29, 2017 in Kansas City.  More info at: .  Please let us know if you would like to attend as an official representative.


Calling for Nominations: Family Physician of the Year 2017

Do you know a doc in your community who has been quietly working away year after year, deeply appreciated but who perhaps doesn't know it?  Would you like to recognize that person?  Consider nominating him/her for the AKAFP Family Doctor of the Year.  Nominations are due no later than May 15, and should be submitted AKAFP 35555 Kenai Spur HWY, Soldotna, AK 99669 fax 530-326-5612 or emailed to

Use up your 2016 CME funds

Register for our upcoming CME on  or contact us at


AKAFP 2017 CME Conferences

19th Annual Winter Update
Hotel Alyeska, Girdwood, AK  March 10-12, 2017

3rd Annual Family Medicine Summit
Captain Cook Hotel, Anchorage, AK   June 29-July 1, 2017

Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics                                      
Anchorage, AK   November 11-12, 2017


AAFP 2017 Conferences  AAFP.ORG

AAFP Leadership Conference Kansas City, Missouri
4/27/2017 - 04/29/2017 - [Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center] 

Family Medicine Congressional Conference Washington, DC
05/22/2017 - 05/23/2017 - [Washington Court Hotel] 

National Conference of Family Medicine Residents & Medical Students Kansas City, MO
07/27/2017 - 07/29/2017 - [Kansas City Convention Center] 

Congress of Delegates San Antonio, TX
09/11/2017 - 09/13/2017 - [Grand Hyatt San Antonio] 

AAFP FMX San Antonio, TX CME Conference
09/12/2017 - 09/16/2017 - [Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center] 

Pay your 2017 Dues online


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