Seven of the nation’s largest primary care physician organizations released recommendations Dec. 22 on the urgent need to change the way primary care is delivered and financed. The American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Board of Family Medicine, the American Board of Internal Medicine, the American Board of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians, and the Society of General Internal Medicine represent more than 400,000 physicians and have created a unified vision to change the conversation and modernize primary care as we know it.
This collaborative work comes at a critical time when the health of the population has weakened, and the primary care setting has been severely strained by COVID-19. Handling nearly 40 percent of all health care visits, primary care clinicians have made incredible adaptations to continue to provide care during the pandemic, yet they have been largely left out of national pandemic relief legislation. A series of clinician surveys conducted during the pandemic has shown widespread closures and layoffs among primary care practices despite the critical role these practices and clinicians play in pandemic recovery efforts.
These seven national organizations developed specific recommendations to advance primary care as a public good, shift the model of financing primary care and dismantle the regulatory and financing structures that interfere with optimal individual and population health. The unified vision includes a shift from cost-based attributes of the current model (sick care, organized around episodic, transactional, and fragmented care delivery) to a model grounded in health equity and investment — with attributes based in health and organized around longitudinal, relational and integrated care delivery.
In an open letter to policy makers, payers, purchasers, and the public, the seven organizations call on:
- The federal government to increase investment in safety net programs, public health agencies and community-based services and support so that they may partner with the medical care sector in addressing structural racism and social drivers of health.
- Health care organizations to invest in existing community-based social services and ensure that the flow of dollars supports services such as food banks and other safety net programs that address social drivers of health.
- Fellow physician and clinician societies to create a roadmap for dismantling the policies and regulatory structures that enshrine the current paradigm, and to build multi-stakeholder support for a roadmap.
The collaboration was convened by the Larry A. Green Center and facilitated by X4 Health as part of their continuing effort to change the conversations around primary care in support of improved health for all Americans and the strengthening of primary care.
More information about any of these organizations and the new vision for primary care finance can be found at www.newprimarycareparadigm.org.