The American health care system is a tapestry of options for patients. But it suffers from misplaced priorities that produce overspending and underperformance, resulting in a population that is less healthy. And with an unprecedented set of challenges that include escalating health care costs, and a health care system that is prioritizing and incentivizing the wrong types of services, the future of American health and the health care system is uncertain.
A May 2021 study from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) concluded that primary care is the only discipline of medicine where a greater supply is equated to improved population health, longer lives, and greater equity. Building on NASEM’s report recommendations, Primary Care for America has outlined the following guiding principles to transform primary care in America:
PCfA will create change by elevating the value of primary care through thought leaders and policymakers. We realize the health care industry has lost focus on comprehensive primary care, its value to individuals and communities, and the quality of health and health maintenance. Our goal is to re-establish and elevate primary care as a foundation for individual and community health and to return to ongoing patient-primary care relationships to improve health outcomes and reduce costs.
The current public health emergency has affected primary care and shined a light on its current state in two ways:
Primary care physicians and clinics are a vital community partner. The pandemic showed the health care industry that primary care is a key community partner for patient care and education. However, primary care is underfunded and under-resourced.
Primary care practices are at a financial disadvantage. The fee-for-service model doesn’t appropriately compensate for the preventive/continuous care that primary care teams provide. Financially, this doesn’t provide the appropriate stability for practices. Value-based care and payment models deliver stronger financial support for clinicians (and improve patient outcomes).