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AAFP names new president and Family Physician of the Year


Jeffrey J. Cain, MD, FAAFP, a family physician in Denver, Colo., assumed the role of president of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) on Oct.17 at the organization's annual meeting and Scientific Assembly in Philadelphia. AAFP also announced that Thomas E. Albani, Jr., MD, a solo practitioner in Canfield, Ohio, (pictured at left, with AAFP immediate past president Glen Stream, MD) has been named the 2013 Family Physician of the Year.

Previously, Cain served three years as a director on the AAFP board and one year as president-elect. The AAFP represents 105,900 physicians and medical students nationwide. He will advocate for positive change in the U.S. healthcare system on behalf of family physicians and patients nationwide.

In an address to Assembly attendees, Cain noted family practice's most formidable challenge: Medicare payment cuts scheduled to take effect as a result of the sustainable growth rate formula and the Budget Control Act's sequestration provision. He said large-scale cuts to Medicare would have "disastrous results" for elderly and disabled patients, as well as military veterans.

He countered that scenario with what he termed as good news. "We have always believed that family medicine is the way to improve healthcare and bend the cost curve. Now we have proof that primary care, specifically the patient-centered medical home model, reduces unnecessary emergency room visits and hospitalizations and delivers higher quality care. A strong primary care system is the path to achieving the triple aim of better health, high quality outcomes and lower healthcare costs," he said.

In addition to his duties as AAFP president, Cain serves as the chief of family medicine at Children’s Hospital Colorado. He has been in this role since 2001. He also practices the full scope of family medicine, which includes obstetrics, at the AF Williams Family Medicine Center in Denver. Additionally, Cain serves as an associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

At the state level, Cain has been an active member of the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians since 1985, where his roles have included president and chair of the board. He currently serves on the Colorado’s Medical Services Board, which oversees the state’s Medicaid and Child Health Plan Plus program. In this role, he was influential in passing and implementing legislation defining the medical home in Colorado and improving access for the underserved.

At the national level, Cain co-founded the Tar Wars tobacco-free education program that has reached more than 8.5 million children in 50 states and 16 countries.

An amputee as a result of an aviation accident, Cain is a former member of the national board of directors of the Amputee Coalition, where he also served as chair of its Advocacy Committee and as a member of its Medical Advisory Board. His leadership and advocacy efforts with the Coalition have resulted in passage of prosthetic fairness laws in 22 states as well as introduction of bipartisan federal prosthetic insurance legislation. Additionally, Cain has competed and taught nationally in adaptive sports. He holds the first gold medal in adaptive slalom snowboarding from the U.S. National Snowboarding Championships and introduced a new adaptive ski device — the ski-bike — to North America.

Albani, the newly named Family Physician of the Year, was honored, according to AAFP, as the "one outstanding American family physician who provides patients with compassionate and comprehensive care, and serves as a role model professionally and personally in his or her community, to other health professionals, and to residents and medical students."

Albani has been a practicing family physician for nearly 30 years. In addition to his solo practice in Canfield, he helped establish the Midlothian Free Health Clinic, where he serves as medical director and provides care to the community’s “working poor” who do not have access to needed medical care. Established in 2008, the Midlothian clinic receives no public funds and is staffed entirely by volunteers who provide patients with a medical home for their primary healthcare needs. Albani and his staff also help patients navigate the healthcare system when more advanced, sub-specialty care is required.

In 2008, Albani helped establish Access Health Mahoning Valley, a multi-county initiative designed to provide comprehensive primary care to residents of Mahoning and Trumbull counties, aged 19 to 64, who are uninsured and ineligible for public assistance. The initiative is supported by local businesses, health and political leaders who aim to reduce medical costs to the community by helping patients avoid expensive and unnecessary emergency room visits.

Albani is also an assistant professor of family medicine at Northeast Ohio Medical University College of Medicine and volunteer faculty member at St. Elizabeth Hospital Family Practice Residency program. In addition, he shares his time with young people -- from middle school-aged children to medical students -- encouraging them to pursue careers in family medicine and other health professions, and to use their skills in service to others.