Revitalizing Primary Care Said Key to Success of Health Reform

Employers have grown frustrated with buying health care in which no one seems to be accountable for patients’ overall health care needs.

For America’s employers, whether in the public sector or the private sector, health care is a problem. And while the movement toward integrated, collaborative care is being driven by many forces, there is no doubt that the nation’s employers have been crucial, with a critical interest in the so-called “triple aim” of health care reform: improving quality of and patient satisfaction with care, improving the overall health of populations, and reducing the per capita cost of health care.

“Since the 1980s, health care has become the biggest challenge for employers,” psychiatrist David Nace, M.D., vice president for clinical development at the McKesson Corp., a health care services and information technology company, told Psychiatric News. “Employees are a company’s most valuable asset—if it doesn’t have a healthy workforce, it doesn’t have a productive company. But for the past 30 years, health care costs have grown at a faster rate than inflation. Very recently the rate of that rise appears to be slowing down—and that’s good news—but health care continues to be a huge proportion of employer costs and an enormous concern. And employers have become increasingly frustrated and tired of buying high-cost, frequently low-quality health care that is poorly coordinated.”

That problem led some member companies of the ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC, an association representing self-insured companies) to form in 2006 the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative (PCPCC), a broad-based coalition of large and small employers, primary and specialty care medical groups, clinicians, health system administrators, patient and family advocacy groups, and other stakeholders dedicated to advancing an effective and efficient health system built on a strong foundation of primary care.

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